Archive for the 'Rants ‘n’ Such' Category


Sunday, February 24th, 2013


So there’s this manner of speaking, right? And it’s getting really annoying — more annoying than uptalk, I think. It seems to be very common among political pundits and tech podcasters, right? And it’s becoming more  pervasive all the time. Chris Hayes on MSNBC is a particularly frequent user of this verbal tic, and it might be even more irritating than his relentless fast-talking, right? Because once you’re aware of it, it seems to be everywhere and it’s profoundly annoying, and it takes the listener’s focus away from the point being made and toward a level of annoyance that just gets greater and greater all the time.

So, yes: right. We get it. Just stop asking us, drop the word from your vocabulary and move on.

Am I wrong, Dude?

Work from Home? Yahoo! Says: No!

Saturday, February 23rd, 2013


Yahoo! has sent a memo (read it here) to all employees that essentially says: Effective in June, all employees need to physically be in the Yahoo! office, regardless of whether remote working was part of the agreement you made when you took your job.

As someone who has been a remote worker for the better part of the last two decades, and who has worked directly with all sorts of remote workers for the better part of the last two decades, I have to say that this is a blitheringly stupid idea. Some of the best tech people value their independence and will walk as a result of this policy. Net result: Yahoo! will lose some of their best tech people.

There are countless studies that have found remote workers to be happier, more productive and more cost-effective for companies of all types and sizes. Here’s one Harvard Business Review article that does a pretty good job of summing it all up.

True, to be a successful remote worker you need to have a certain type of personality and work ethic. Putting myself in the shoes of a CEO, though: I’d rather have people with that type of personality and work ethic than Dilbertesque drones who arrive tired to work because of the traffic, watch the clock to see when it’s time to leave, and accept the lowest-common-denominator cubicle lifestyle like employees in Office Space.

My guess is that Yahoo! will either reconsider its policy or that the policy is a proverbial canary in the coal mine signaling a serious step toward serious (further?) decline for the company.

Or maybe they just need more people physically in the office to help with their TPS reports.

How To Lose A Lot Of Money

Tuesday, February 12th, 2013


I was astonishingly fortunate to attend the MusiCares tribute to Bruce Springsteen last Friday. More than a tribute, it was a fundraiser for a great organization. To swipe their home page copy:

MusiCares provides a safety net of critical assistance for music people in times of need. MusiCares’ services and resources cover a wide range of financial, medical and personal emergencies, and each case is treated with integrity and confidentiality. MusiCares also focuses the resources and attention of the music industry on human service issues that directly impact the health and welfare of the music community.

Now, I have been to a number of charity events over the years, and I have participated in my share of auctions. I’ve never seen anything like what MusiCares offered in their pre-event silent auction. There were nearly 900 items, from jewelry to sports memorabilia to trips and so much more … and, of course, the music memorabilia. An original Peter Max painting of Springsteen. Signed guitars and concert posters. Framed museum-quality photos of Springsteen, Frank Sinatra, Jerry Garcia, Janis Joplin, Hunter Thompson and so many others. Original art by Yoko Ono. Imagine another 850 or so items, and you begin to get the idea.

The worst part of it all, though, was that they lost a lot of money because the technology used for bidding didn’t work well at all.

Each item had a small tablet that was tied in to a central database for taking and managing bids. More often than not (at least in my experience, as well as the experiences of everyone I spoke with about the bidding process), the tablets seemed to take the bid, but the bid didn’t register. Which meant that you had to fight the crowd to get to one of the few kiosk computers that were working properly.

Bottom line? Lots of bidding went unregistered and lots of items sold for far less than they otherwise might have. I’m guessing some went unsold that otherwise might have sold had the bidding system worked properly. It’s a shame. A ton of money was probably left on the table.

Takeaway for marketers: If you’re involved in something like this, test the technology. Then test it again. Then again. Then stress test it. Then test it once more. In the end, it’ll be worth it.

Large Pizza, Hold the Email

Tuesday, January 8th, 2013


Some time ago, I added one of my email addresses to the Papa John’s mailing list. The kids liked their pizza and wings for a while, and we had fun ordering online.

In recent months, I have read plenty of articles about John Schnatter that lead me to the conclusion that I really don’t feel like supporting Papa John’s with my business anymore. Here’s a piece in Forbes that gets into some of the details, and here’s one from Politico. I’ll leave it at that.

So what’s the marketing issue at play here? Well, aside from political blowback affecting sales: In recent weeks, I’ve repeatedly tried unsubscribing from the Papa John’s mailing list. The unsubscribe process didn’t work, the emails kept coming and I posted the following to the Papa John’s Facebook page:

Your emails will NOT allow me to unsubscribe. They are not coded properly. This is a violation of federal CAN-SPAM laws. Fix it.

Okay, a little inelegant, I suppose, but to their credit they responded quickly. Just two hours later, this was  their reply:

Craig, please send us a private message via Facebook with your email address so that we can help you. Thank you.

To which I responded:

That will help me — but it doesn’t address the CAN-SPAM issue. I have been trying to unsubscribe for weeks, now. The “unsubscribe” link in the email takes me to an “email preferences” page. So far so good. I complete the form (including my reasoning: John Schnatter’s political views are blitheringly idiotic, as they are evidently a parroting of hyperpartisan demagoguery, so I will never buy PJ pizza again), click the “update” button and the page reloads; clearly doing nothing. And your emails keep coming. This is a clear violation of CAN-SPAM, which calls for “a visible and operable unsubscribe mechanism present in all emails.” Your unsubscribe mechanism is clearly not operable. Maybe Schnatter ought to worry less about 14 cents per pizza for employee health care and more about his own company running afoul of federal law, which can result in fines of hundreds of thousands of dollars. 

(Okay, what can I say? It’s Tuesday and I’m cranky. I mean, how many emails hawking three-topping pizzas for $9.99 can I delete?)

No response yet on the Facebook page, but I’ll update this post if and when the conversation continues.

NOVEMBER 11 UPDATE: No response from Papa John’s, but I did get an email imploring me to add a second large pizza for $9.99. The email unsubscribe function clearly still doesn’t work.

NOVEMBER 12 UPDATE: No response from Papa John’s, but I did get an email introducing Papa john’s Chicken Poppers. The email unsubscribe function clearly still doesn’t work.

NOVEMBER 13 UPDATE: No response from Papa John’s, but I did get an email offering me 50% off an online order. The email unsubscribe function clearly still doesn’t work.

NOVEMBER 14 UPDATE: No response from Papa John’s, but I did get an email imploring me to buy a  large 1-topping pizza for $6.99. The email unsubscribe function clearly still doesn’t work … Response from Papa John’s: “Craig, we’re sorry you are having issues unsubscribing from our email program. We’ve tested the links and found them operable. Please send us your email address via private message on Facebook so that we can look into the issue further.  Thank you!” … My reply: ” I’ll be happy to forward the email somewhere so you can see how it’s not working; I’m less concerned about my email account specifically and more concerned about the links in the email not working generally.” … Their response: “Craig, that would be great if you could also forward the email you were having issues with so that our technical team can see what you are seeing in the email. Your email address is important so that we can troubleshoot log files as it pertains to your email address. This will help identify any potential issues with the unsubscribe process for not only you but for others. You may either contact us via private message on Facebook or send your email to Thank you!”

Takeaway for marketers: You might want to double-check to see that your unsubscribe link — and the functionality on the page to which it directs users — is working. Just saying.

Is Facebook Killing the GOP?

Sunday, December 16th, 2012


Republican candidate for Senate Steve Welch think so, and writes a piece in today’s Philadelphia Inquirer saying flat out:

Facebook is not only responsible for creating unwarranted expectations, it is killing the Republican Party. Facebook pushes combative tones, extreme views, and single-issue agendas to the forefront, while even-tempered discussions about comprehensive reforms are buried and rarely seen at all.

Welch is wrong, and the argument is absurd.

While Facebook is the face of the internet to many people, it  is just one piece of a giant online jigsaw puzzle that includes innumerable blogs, sites, discussion forums, Twitter and so much more.

And that’s only the web-based portion of things: Let’s not forget about what’s happening in cable news and talk radio, not to mention the dynamics of the various factions inside the GOP.

Blaming Facebook for the crumbling GOP is like blaming a single town’s road repair crew for the crumbling national infrastructure. Facebook may be a convenient scapegoat, but someone who blames Facebook for the crumbling GOP needs to step back and look at the larger picture.