January 31, 2008
About 6 years ago someone that I was dating mentioned a television show that he loved. It was called Lancelot Link Secret Chimp. I’d never heard of this program but I figured if I looked on the internet I could find a copy. Sure enough ebay had one for $15. Now I can’t say the show impressed me but to each his own and there it was for the taking. At that point in time I wasn’t thinking about The Long Tail I just knew that I could find it online. Back then I was taking the internet for granted. It was something that I didn’t know much about but it usually delivered what I wanted. Now when I search for Lancelot Link I can find tons of clips on Youtube. Apparently he wasn’t the only one who missed the show. Six years ago Youtube didn’t even exist.
When it came to reading this book I was using the concept of The Long Tail without even knowing it. I searched online to find it as an audio book for my ipod. I came across a site called Audible that had it for only $8 and it was mac compatible. I happily listened my way through the book while fighting traffic to and from work. It was great getting something accomplished while sitting in the car.
I’ve just been enjoying the fruits of the internet without thinking twice about it. Kind of like it’s hard to remember what things were like without the microwave. The internet just is. In fact lots of times it’s easier to shop online than at a store. No crowds, the right size, the right color, and the product is in stock. As long as shipping is included we’re golden. When I stop to think about it boy is it a good thing. I don’t have to settle for what’s on the shelves because somewhere out there in net land is exactly what I want. Unfortunately not all retail stores have the same taste as I do and with the internet they don’t have to.
January 31, 2008
It was cold and rainy outside of Madison Square Garden but inside things were about to heat up. Lines of people converged on the escalators as they made their way to assigned seats for the show. Families, couples, large and small groups of friends settled in for the evening. The lights went down and Jewel began to sing the national anthem very very slowly. I mean the song took about twice as long as it usually does. Then the letters USA blazed forth on the dirt floor of the arena. After a guy who called himself Bama from Alabama did a little dance for the crowd urged on by the clown we were ready to go. The cowboys and more importantly the bulls were introduced. We were ready for some bull riding from the PBR (professional bull riders). The young girl in front of us had her cowgirl doll and the men in back of us were rooting for their favorite rider. They didn’t care if he didn’t do well since, “he’s still cute”.
The gate opened and out came the rider on a very large bull. I kept my hand in front of my eyes for most of the first ride. I mean who wants to see someone crushed under the weight of a bull? Some screams were definitely escaping from my lips in between gasps for breath. After a few rides though I started to get into it. The bulls really are amazing to watch. They are huge. I know this since we went out and bought a pair of binoculars before the show. I certainly would never want to sit too close. The riders legs looked like they were flopping around like rag dolls because of the tassels coming from the chaps that they wore. After the 8 second horn blew the riders jumped off and ran for the hills while the bullfighters distracted the animal. Usually the bulls would make their way back into the pens but one bull was ready to run and was roped by a cowboy on horseback and lead home. It really was something to see. Who knew you could see bull riding in NYC?
On the way out fans bought cowboy hats, cowboy calendars, and their favorite stuffed animal bulls. Apparently the bulls have as much of a following as do the bull riders. Not a bad way to escape from a cold rainy night.
January 25, 2008
No matter how many times a company tests a product before it goes to market occasionally something will go wrong. As for making a mistake I believe that customers realize this can happen and are forgiving if apologized to. One of my friends used to call my Mercury Mystique, Mercury’s Mistake. It was recalled an awful lot. I didn’t mind because it was always fixed free of charge and heck, I’d rather go in and get the seatbelt fixed than not have it work. I loved that car. Basically, what happened was yes, the product didn’t hit the showroom floor 100 percent ready to go but Mercury was able to find the mistakes and fix them in a timely manner. They’d mail a letter out each time there was another recall to let me know it was time to come in. When manufacturers admit to their mistakes and fix the products for free they don’t lose customer loyalty. When they try to hide mistakes and not fix them customers find out anyway and are angry because of the deception.
Now let’s take this one step further as discussed in Naked Conversations. Why not use the internet to let customers know when something needs to be fixed? It’s faster than snail mail and when the brakes need to be fixed finding out sooner is better than later. I know many times I’ve found out about recalls by watching the news. This is not a good way to find out that the product you own is not safe. Companies need to take responsibility for their products and have pride in what they create. When we find out by means other than the company directly we suspect that they are trying to hide their mistake even if they aren’t. Slow response time is deadly since there’s always someone out there ready to get the news out especially with citizen journalists waiting with fingers raring to go. They are holding companies accountable even if companies aren’t holding themselves accountable. Forming a perfect plan takes too long and quick response time is a must. Saying nothing is interpreted as saying that the consumer isn’t important. When companies use the internet they can avoid this public relations nightmare. Yes, mistakes might be made while companies scurry to get information out there but the alternative is worse.
The best part about using the internet is that talk is cheap. It costs millions of dollars to get airtime during the Superbowl to sell your product. Setting up a blog costs a whole lot less and can be used for more than 30 seconds. The internet is very economical for companies to use and can reach a broader base. Though it is a great idea to address problems with your product as soon as possible it is also important to have trust. It’s hard to build trust after sending out a defective product. If companies build good will for their products before errors occur consumers are more likely to let a mistake or two slide. When they feel that employees of a company care about the product produced they realize that something faulty was not sent out on purpose with the hopes of it being overlooked. Let’s face it we let our friends get away with a lot more than our enemies. Good will is priceless to the growth of a company and doesn’t have to cost a lot.
January 24, 2008
I’m amazed at the response that I’ve already gotten from my profile on Facebook. I created a profile last Wednesday night. I added “friends” from my email contact list. About five minutes later I received messages from a former intern of mine as well as a former employee. I was shocked that the response was so immediate. I mean it was 10:05pm. I found out that my former intern is now working at a think tank about a block away from my office and is married. I wonder if her brief sojourn into television news turned her off and lead her in a different direction? It seems like just yesterday that she was a senior in high school. I guess it’s been more like 7 years. I thought it was kind of ironic that I was her teacher all those years ago and now I’m a student again. As a student I joined Facebook, which in turn helped me reconnect with her. We plan on meeting up in the future.
Within a few days of joining Facebook I found out that a former co-worker is expecting his second child and he found out that I’m engaged. We hadn’t spoken since I left my old job over two years ago. Not only did I receive many messages from people on my contact list but I also heard a voice from the past. One of the women that I shared an apartment with my senior year in college, 13 years ago, wrote to me. She had found me when I signed on and sent me a message letting me know that she was married and living in London England. We’re set to meet up when she returns home. Ironically, this February is the end of her two year stint there. She’s also invited me into a group on the site called, “why can’t we wear jeans to work”. The purpose of the group is pretty obvious. Unfortunately, I’m afraid to post since I might get kicked off. You see, I’m allowed to wear jeans to work everyday and I choose to only wear them on Fridays. This would be sacrilege to the group.
I’ve also had a response from the LinkedIn profile that I created. Another of my former co-workers, and current friends, contacted me after I invited her to “connect” with me. I told her about my social media class and found out that she works in the social media division of her federal government agency. She seems as excited about this class as I am and I promised to pass on the knowledge that I learn. In fact, I mentioned that blogging would be a great thing for her to look into.
Now, I can’t say that I’m the best when it comes to keeping in touch but boy does this make it easier.