Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Loopmasters gives astonishing customer service

Loopmasters -- my favorite source of music production loops and samples for my Str8 Sounds projects -- gives 3 huge 200 MB loop package zip files as Christmas gifts this year ... and I've never bought a single product from Loopmasters.

I've just registered at their website and downloaded a free sample introductory package, plus tons of free sample loops every time a new loop package is made available.

They create about 6 new products each week. I get an email message with links to each new loop package. When I log in to the site, I can download free loops from each new package.

I have previously purchased all my loop packages from Sony ACID and have been very pleased with them. But now Loopmasters is luring me into their realm, enticing me with gifts, and convincing me to start buying loop packages from them. They are vastly more productive than Sony, pumping out a lot more product. Sony has about 3 new loop package per month. Loopmasters offers about 10 per week.

A few days ago, Loopmasters emailed me a 200 MB zip file called "Loops of Christmas Past". Today I received "Loops of Christmas Present". On December 31, they said they'd send me "Loops of Christmas Future".

These are not loops of Christmas music sounds like jingle bells, these are kick-ass dancehall burning bits of drums, percussion, sound FX, bass, synth melodies, and other hot sounds you can mix into your music creations.

Even though I have not actually paid them a single penny yet, I am treated like some major big spending customer! I mean, this is shocking. Most companies treat customers like crap. Most companies act like they expect you to be loyal and buy a lot, but won't lift a finger to deserve it.

Loopmasters is my favorite company for 2011.

They are generous and treat even the least profitable, non-paying customer like gold. They not only sell music production loop packages, they also provide great information about mixing and other production topics in their blog.

For example, this post: "10 Ways to Dirty Up Your Sounds"

What's more, on their website, at the bottom of the home page, they link to industry sites like Computer Music magazine, product hubs like Sonic State, and various DAW sites. It's easy to see that they want to be of maximum service to the computer musician, digital recording artist, and professional DJ communities.

Loopmasters does product innovation, customer service, free samples, and blogging in a superior, professional, and memorable manner.

If you make computer-based music in a digital audio workstation (DAW) environment like Sony ACID, Ableton, Pro Tools, Logic, Cubase, Reason, Cakewalk, or Audacity, you should check out this premiere provider of royalty-free sounds.

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Saturday, December 24, 2011

Merry Modern Christmas to all

Let's be thankful for the Christmas message: peace to the earth and good will to all. A savior has been born to rescue us from the forces of darkness, violence, and despair. A man who was more than mere man. A being who can heal and astonish and redeem.

Creativity itself became a little baby and lived a life of poverty and blessing so we could be citizens of heaven.

Innovation. Art. Success. Love. Joy. Productivity. Think outside the box by being outside the box. Put a new twist on what you do, in ways that will benefit and delight others.

Be extra-ordinary, over-achieving, super-celestial, hyper-fantastic in every single detail. Thrive by helping others survive. Triumph by enabling others to succeed.

Radiate the best that is in you and increase in goodness and truth. Ascend to the highest heights of glory and majesty by remaining humble in selfless service to all.

Friday, December 23, 2011

Christmas Gift to You 15 FREE Online Tools

Merry Christmas to all.

As this year's Christmas present to my online friends and fans, here are 15 of my favorite, some of them formerly top secret, valuable, useful FREE online tools.

Plus FREE downloadable 320 kbps MP3s of two recently produced songs by Str8 Sounds: "Christian Meditation" and "New Heaven New Earth" -- from the CD "Music for the End Times".

15 of My Favorite FREE Online Tools

(1) YouTube to MP3 Converter


(2) QR Code Generator by Delivr


(3) Internet Archive and Way Back Machine


(4) AT&T Natural Voice Text to Speech Converter


(5) Loopmasters


(6) ɹǝpunoɹɐ ɹǝddıךɟ ʇxǝʇ


(7) BankRate Mortgage Calculator


(8) Math.com Basic Calculator


(9) Sound Dogs


(10) TinyChat


(11) ShoutCast Internet Radio


(12) JetAudio


(13) WFMU Free Music Archive


(14) Canadian Electroacoustic Community (free CD mp3s)



(15) Looperman


Christian Meditation by str8sounds

Click on the down arrow in the players to download the FREE 320 kbps MP3s to your hard drive.

New Heaven New Earth by str8sounds


Thursday, December 22, 2011

Chris Pirillo Customer Service Nightmare at Target VIDEO

This video fits in nicely, being published one day after my latest blog post "7 Essential Tips on Improving Customer Service", which itself is a precursor or foretaste of my upcoming article for InterBusiness Issues magazine, entitled "Customer Service: The Achilles Heel of American Business."

I love Chris Pirillo's style of video ranting. He is a very popular geek personality. I interviewed Chris recently on my Blog Talk Radio program: Streight interviews Chris Pirillo, boy genius.

I agree about talking on the phone. I hate it. Especially, as he says, when it's an online problem you're trying to solve.

His list of things he shops for (food items, items for my home, geeky things, goods and services) made me laugh. Like Chris had to explain what he shops for, to prove he is indeed a consumer.

Business owners hope for a miracle, rather than be self-aware and analyze what they're doing wrong.

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

SOPA as Hypocritical Scheme to Control the Internet VIDEO

The companies who support the idiotic SOPA bill are the same companies that distributed and promoted the file sharing software and encouraged piracy. Michael Mozart explains this scam that our lawmakers are falling for like dopes.

#1 culprit is CBS/Viacom.


Tuesday, December 20, 2011

7 Essential Tips on Improving Customer Service

In the year 2012 that we are rapidly approaching, we must get perfect in customer service -- or perish.

Perfect customer service?

Of course. What other kinds are there? In the minds of your customers, service is bipolar. It's either great or it's horrible. Very rarely is customer service considered okay or merely adequate. People tend to rave happily about a business -- or complain bitterly. There's almost no neutral ground.

Customer service is the Achille's heel of American business. That's where the vast majority of your competitors are vulnerable. Most of them refuse to even consider how to perfect their relationships with customers. Arrogance, deficiency in self-awareness, lack of marketing savvy, fear of change, fear of confronting mediocre employees, and passively hoping for a miracle are responsible for much of this inertia.

The prevailing ideology seems to be: provide desirable products at a good price. Why is it then that this business model is failing? Why are so many customers disgruntled? Why are customers running off to each new competitor that sets up shop in their community? Why are customers lacking in loyalty and sluggish about telling their friends about a company?

Here are some basic, fundamental insights into how you can enhance your customer service to gain a competitive advantage and ensure the survival and growth of your business.

On a personal note, as a marketing consultant and web content provider, I take these recommendations seriously and strive to implement them in my own business.

7 Essential Tips on 
Improving Customer Service

(1) Know thyself -- how do you really feel about customers?

Ask yourself if you really, sincerely, deeply care about your customers in the first place. Are they just wallets that you hope will open and from which cash and plastic money springs forth?

Or do you really sympathize with the needs, hopes, dreams, and desires of the people who shop at your store or pay you for your services?

(2) Know your products -- how are customers really using them?

Don't assume that because you know the product description and stats, you understand the needs these products are fulfilling. You might be astonished at the actual reasons why people buy a particular product, or what they really do with it and how they personally feel about the product.

You don't understand products by talking to vendors, viewing TV commercials, studying brochures, or reading catalog copy. The only way to truly comprehend what a product means to a customer is to do some customer research.

One way to accomplish this research is to simply get out by the cash registers and ask some customers how they plan to use a product or what they like about it. Most customers will feel flattered that the boss, owner, manager, or CEO is actually asking for their opinions and showing interest in their feelings.

(3) Know your customers -- by talking with them in person.

Do you spend much time talking with customers? Do you try to get to know their needs and what they're trying to accomplish through the purchase of products? Or do you hide in your office in the back of the store or company headquarters? Could you sketch out a realistic composite description of a typical customer, what their average age, income, education, experiences, philosophy, mood, lifestyle, family is like?

(4) Know your customers -- by interacting with them on social media.

Go beyond just setting up social network profiles and fan pages. Get in there and click on Like and Share buttons. Post comments on other people's status updates. Reply personally to comments on your page.

Do NOT just delegate these duties to an outside consultant, an intern, a designated employee, or your internal marketing staff. They may be speaking and interacting on your behalf, which is what you're paying them to do, but they need you to set an example now and then. Would it kill you to step in from time to time and speak in your own voice and share your thoughts, your expertise, or your industry savvy?

(5) Know your competitors -- check out what they're doing to satisfy customers.

Go to the websites of your competitors. Do they suck? Are they ugly, dysfunctional, difficult to use and to navigate? Are there no photos of the staff? Do the sites seem cold, aloof, uncaring, boring?

Go to the blogs of your competitors. Are they consistently providing interesting information? Are they sharing expertise and insights? Or are they just hyping and pushing sales messages over and over?

Go to the stores or business offices of your competitors. Are you treated like a friend or a wallet? Do you feel welcome? Does the staff treat you with respect and joy? Or are you treated like a nuisance?

What are your competitors doing to satisfy customers? Are there any ideas that you could use and adapt to your own business? Are there any blind spots you can take advantage of? Any lessons, positive or negative, to be learned from how your competitors treat customers?

(6) Know your staff -- are they conscientious and continually in training?

How good are your employees when it comes to satisfying customers and treating them properly? Do you spend the time necessary to observe them or test them? Do you tolerate bitter, surly, careless employees, or do you have a high standard of service that is constantly and fairly enforced?

Do you have some employees that do their job, but without joy, without caring much about the customers or products, without trying to remain kind and helpful at all times? Do your employees really know enough to assist customers in solving problems and picking the right product for their purposes?

Training should be perpetually ongoing to some degree. It can cost you nothing. There are so many tutorials and informative blogs and free training sites online, you can easily assign training material to your staff, then test them on  it.

Buy them books on topics related to your field, and make them write book reports or take a quiz on the information contained in the books.

Give them special projects in sales training, industry expertise, competitive analysis, and product knowledge. Make it mandatory. Weed out the slackers and the mediocre, the disrespectful dolts and the indifferent clock watchers.

Help your dedicated employees to keep progressing in their understanding of your general field of service and in the nuts and bolts of what you sell.

(7) Know your impact on employees -- set a good, imitated example.

Don't just mandate better customer service. Show your employees how it's done. Be the shining role model they expect you to be. Meet a customer need, right there on the sales floor where everyone can watch it happen. Make a big sale. Welcome a new customer. Congratulate a current customer on going with a great product choice.

Make small talk chit chat with people as they enter your business. Crack a few jokes. Ask some pertinent questions. Express genuine interest in customers, their families, their occupation, their hobbies, and their needs that are related to what you sell.

Your goal should be to replicate your own zeal, compassion, enthusiasm, and knowledge in each person who works for you, as you yourself keep surpassing your own achievements and savvy.

CONCLUSION: Keep these tips in mind and you'll be well on your way to superior customer service, perfecting it on an ongoing, deeply committed basis.

You'll benefit from a startling increase in customer loyalty, increased sales, and new customer acquisition.

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Against Sticky Websites and the Facebook Timeline Rollout

Someone said today on GooglePlus that, in spite of all the hostility and backlash toward Facebook's rolling out their intrusive, invasive, non-permission based Timeline and Ticker garbage, at least these nefarious, diabolical spyware gimmicks might increase the "stickiness" of Facebook.

Facebook is a Web Disease. A minefield of rogue apps, malware, phishing exploits, spammy game invites, stalkers, predators, and identity theft. Who wants that mess to be sticking like bad gum on the shoes of your web surfing?

Web users have tasks to accomplish. They are not seeking sites that hold them, imprison them, confine or corral them like cattle, detaining them needlessly. They don't want to spend a lot of time on any website. They want to get something done, then go elsewhere. Website design should facilitate this.

The concepts of "stickiness" and "sticky websites" is a horrible, old fashioned, outmoded concept. It hearkens back to the Web 1.0 days when all you could do is stare at a web page and maybe buy some junk. There was little to no interaction. Companies didn't want to listen to any input, suggestions, questions, complaints, or feedback from customers. They had a message to shout at you and products to sell. They cared about nothing else.

They wanted their ecommerce or corporate fluff sites to be "sticky", meaning you were stuck there, like in a trap, even though it was mostly irrelevant, boring, and We-oriented.

But the purpose of web design is to help the user ignore most of the content, to zero in, to focus on what is immediately relevant, a piece of information, a task, a tool that meets a current need -- and then move on to other things.

"Welcome to our website!!! Look around, enjoy yourself, hang out." was the stupid message that greeted users on old fashioned corporate fluff websites. Sometimes they even disabled the Back button, to force people to "stick around" like they had nothing better to do.

If Facebook is hoping that the Frictionless (non-permissive, invasive) Sharing of the Timeline and Ticker are going to keep people on Facebook longer, luxuriating in all the idiotic trivia of other people's every move and motion, they're dead wrong.

The new Timeline and Ticker are designed to collect more data, to track your every move on the internet, and then sell that information to advertisers and organizations who will use it to exploit you.

These gimmicks are some of the last, desperate gasps of a dying and rotten web platform, a social media that is really a surveillance trap.

We will be so happy when Facebook finally dies and disappears off the face of the internet.

Long live GooglePlus.

Saturday, December 3, 2011

Small Business Failure Checklist

As the economy continues to decline, with horrible Federal Reserve policies, turmoil in the Middle East, and the financial collapse of the European Union contributing to the uncertainty, there are some simple things you can do to protect your business.

One of the worst attitudes you can have is to just hope that the economy improves, so customers will start buying more product off your shelves. This is a common practice with small business owners. Instead of making tough decisions, they prefer to just fret and complain and hope for a miracle.

To make the necessary business survival steps more vivid, let's view them from the negative angle: what to do to make sure your company goes bankrupt.

Small Business Failure Checklist

* Just hope that the economy improves -- and customers magically start spending more money in your store.

* Blame your sales slump on the competition -- and hope they fail so you don't have to do anything to improve what you're doing.

* Keep ordering more product, and cluttering your store with things nobody cares about, rather than determining which products are selling best, and focusing on them.

* Scatter your product categories all over the store, rather than grouping them together, so that when a customer is shopping for a specific category, they won't see all the alternatives and options in one place, but have to hunt and hope they found everything available.

* Purchase whatever your vendors suggest, trusting them to be concerned with your best interests rather than their own profits.

* Don't exhibit products based on the change of seasons, holidays, news stories, internet buzz, trends in the industry, focus groups, surveys, customer suggestions, competitive maneuvers, or any other data -- just leave things alone and hope for the best.

* Don't have daily morning inspirational briefings with your staff, to keep them excited and informed.

* Don't talk to customers to find out how you could improve your operation.

* Don't ask your staff for ideas on how to improve things, because then they might start thinking you're not an all-knowing being with godlike powers and unquestionable authority.

* Trust the media salesmen who want you to keep buying advertising on radio, TV, and newspapers, but don't provide statistics on how effective these media buys are for you.

* Delegate social media strategy to employees who have no business education or proven marketing skills.

* Treat your customers the same way you always have, without looking for ways to reach out to them in creative, innovative ways.

* Ignore what your competitors are doing to meet customer needs, stick your head in the sand, and continue to hope those methods will fail, because you don't want to change anything you're doing.

* Never tie in with holidays, just hope that customers will come to you for their holiday needs, even though you don't decorate your store appropriately, provide holiday-oriented products, or offer holiday-oriented discounts.

* Remodel your store but refrain from remodeling your sales staff with good motivational material.

* Don't bother training your staff, even with free material they can view on the internet, because people don't like homework or exerting themselves to save their jobs or keep their employer prosperous.

* Don't have any gift card programs to reward customers for usable testimonials, because you just don't care about investing in genuine, customer-generated marketing.

* Ignore any marketing ideas from employees or outside consultants, because you know everything, and how dare they suggest there might be something you could learn.

* Don't use blogs, Facebook, Twitter, GooglePlus, QR codes, or any new technology to promote your business -- because you don't want people to think you are keeping pace with modern methods and strategies.

* Ignore the reality of online sales, cell phone shopping, partnering with other local businesses, and local search -- since these emerging trends are confusing and you are too busy shuffling papers around on your desk.

* Don't provide a Suggestion Box in your store, with note paper and pens, or if you do, don't bother reading the suggestions.

* Delegate social media work to someone, then stay away from it, don't jump in from time to time with your own remarks and content, because you're paying someone else to represent you, and you don't want to present your own thoughts to online community members.

* Ignore changes in the market place -- if your competitors are selling hot wings and pizza, you don't have to do so, because why worry about what customers want or expect?

* Strut around like a big deal and treat employees and vendors like slaves or nobodies -- after all, you are highly exalted and superior to everybody else.

* Don't educate your customers about how you are different and better than your competitors -- just assume they already know this and don't need any reminders.

* Don't help your customers choose the product best suited for their needs -- just display product and hope they select what they need without any assistance from you or your staff.

* Don't confront any employee who comes in late all the time, is rude to customers, wastes time on the job, has a bad attitude, violates company policy, or spends too much time on personal activities -- who cares about excellence or company morale?

* Just push product on social media, rather than sharing expertise, personal interests, funny anecdotes, company history, product selection and comparison tips, human warmth, genuine interactions with social media participants, or non-commercial content.

* Stay in the back of the store, in your office, with the door closed -- why get out and mingle with customers or provide a salesmanship role model for your staff?

* Don't promote your blog, ecommerce site, or social media web addresses aggressively with the URLS printed on business cards, tee shirts, coffee mugs, pens, hand-outs, or signs in the store -- just hope customers find your online presences by magic or luck.

* Tell people "check us out on Facebook" -- but when they arrive, they're greeted by an incomplete profile, no photos of store, or products, or happy customers, and there are only a few wall posts and no interaction with other people on Facebook.

* Decide you "don't have time" to engage in social media participation. A placeholder presence is enough. If customers want to know more about your business, they can go to your website, which is a dismal disaster, has broken links, is not updated, and is poorly designed.

If you follow these simple tips, that require no brains or effort, I guarantee your business will close within 6 to 12 months. Trust me. I've seen it happen, but I refrain from naming names to protect the ignorant.


Wednesday, November 30, 2011

InterBusiness Issues articles by Steven Streight

Here is a link to some of my articles published in InterBusiness Issues: Steven Streight on InterBusiness Issues.

I am currently wrapping up a new article, "GooglePlus Invades the Social Media Scene",  for the January 2012 issue.

Friday, November 11, 2011

Audience Reactions vs Inner Vision

Which is the Best Audience Reaction?

(1) Audience is skyrocketing in wild popularity and raving ecstatically about how great your content is.

(2) Audience is steadily growing and somewhat pleased with your content.

(3) Audience numbers are modest, slightly increasing, and mildly approving of your content.

(4) Audience is holding steady, with mixed reactions, or general indifference, to your content.

(5) Audience is declining, with growing negativity toward your content.

(6) What audience? Universal contempt or apathy toward your content.

What do you think about these 6 common reactions of an audience?

Which reaction would motivate you the most to generate high quality content?

Which reaction would make you feel that your work was important, relevant, and may have enduring value?

Which reaction would you be most proud of?

Which reaction would increase your feeling of legitimacy, worth, and self-esteem?

Which reaction is ideal?

Which reaction would make it all seem worthwhile and would spur you on to greater and greater achievements?

ANSWER = None of the above.

Audience reactions are important only when selling product. Your marketing must appeal to and please your customers. Or when you're running for political office. Or trying to get a date.

Your personal output, self-expressive art or philosophical musings, should not be tied to any external standards of popularity vs obscurity. Your work must not be influenced by public approval and disapproval.

You should build a body of work and keep improving it and expanding it, according to your own vision, goals, and standards.

If nobody likes it, if everybody hates it, that should not matter in the slightest. In some cases, it may mean your work is horrible, ugly, destructive, or irrelevant, and you should consider examining your vision, standards, and goals.

If everybody loves it, if all people praise it, that should be more annoying than satisfying.

Universal admiration should make you wonder if your work is too mainstream, too similar to what's already popular, too safe, too trendy, too mediocre, or too much in tune with the vulgar, violent, and perverse interests of the masses and not representing any threat or critique of ruling powers.

But in most cases, indifference and hostility are the hallmarks of innovation or prophecy.

Biblical prophets, for example, were generally proclaiming unpleasant realities, antagonistic rebukes, and stern warnings.

Prophets were killed, not adored. Only many years later did the hypocrites erect monuments to the dead prophets, in an attempt to transfer the credibility of the prophets, proven right by history, to themselves.

As long as you feel good about what you're doing, keep at it.

As long as your content is a good representation of your expertise or ideals, don't give up.

As long as you know within yourself that your work could be of value to others, if someday it is discovered, understood, and correctly implemented, continue grinding it out.

Producing content is good for you, no matter who loves or hates it. By not giving up, you increase your own tenacity and reinforce the idea of working without reliance on external support.

Just creating quality work can be its own reward.

When the applause or rotten tomatoes come, and they probably will eventually, be steeled against caring one way or another.

Praise and support can sometimes be more destructive than ridicule and opposition, especially when the adoration is insincere and manipulative.

Let your work exist in and for itself. If it remains in perpetual obscurity, be happy knowing that your talent and specialty keep improving day by day.

Luke 6:26 "Woe unto you, when all men shall speak well of you! for so did their fathers to the false prophets."

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Glass Half Full or Half Empty or

How Would You Describe a Glass Containing Water Up to the Midway Level?

(1) half full (said the optimist)

(2) half empty (said the pessimist)

(3) twice as big as it needs to be (said the engineer)

(4) too far for me to reach it (said the cynic)

(5) full of irrelevance (said the drowning man)

(6) full of pollution (said the paranoid)

(7) a new source of tax revenue (said the socialist)

(8) a profit opportunity (said the capitalist)

(9) a free drink anyone can claim (said the anarchist)

(10) poor customer service (said the consumer advocate)

(11) since it's on our table, it's something to which we can affix a hidden surcharge (said the bank)

(12) the property of The Proletariat, which the Party shall now confiscate (said the Communist)

(13) another random event generated by chance operations (said the atheist)

(14) something to give to the thirsty poor (said the Christian)

(15) a manifestation of nirvana and result of molecular karma (said the Buddhist)

(16) full -- 50% water and 50% air (said the pragmatist)

(17) a dream come true (said the cotton-mouthed pot smoker)

(18) it should be beer (said the guy in the pub) [Contributed by +Matthew Wilkinson ]

(19) not my fault (said the politician)

(20) pretty (said the artist) [Contributed by +John Lewis ]

(21) a rip-off (said the accountant)

(22) assault (said the lawyer)

(23) the exact right amount of water for my needs (said the diplomat)

(24) part of my hush-money golden parachute? (asked the CEO)


Sunday, October 30, 2011

Brands Do Nothing

You often hear "brands have the power to change society" or "brands make life more meaningful" or "brands connect with consumer passions" or "brands are now more interactive with consumers".

But...that's crazy talk.

Brands are something, but they do nothing.

A brand is simply a collection of slogans, color schemes, logos, trademarks, identity demarcations, and emotional appeals to a targeted audience. A brand is what is applied to a product, or line of products, in hopes of attracting more attention, enhancing mental positioning, and increasing customer loyalty.

The American Marketing Association defines a brand as a "Name, term, design, symbol, or any other feature that identifies one seller's good or service as distinct from those of other sellers. A brand may identify one item, a family of items, or all items of that seller. If used for the firm as a whole, the preferred term is trade name."

The brand provides no benefits to the customer. It's the product that solves a problem, meets a need. confers bragging rights (inflate the ego and impress peers), or enhances a lifestyle. The branding is just the whistles and bells that are added to the message about the product.

The Coca Cola brand does not help the customer. The Coca Cola brand helps Coca Cola generate interest in theoretically thirsty consumers. It's the actual Coca Cola product that quenches thirst, not the brand.

When an agency or consultant says they "do branding" for a company, it basically just means they integrate all the company's marketing efforts for consistency and relevance to the target audience.

As I've stated many times, the real "branding" of a product is what occurs when the value of the product is "burned" into the consciousness and memory of a customer when they use the product to solve a problem, meet a need, confer bragging rights (inflate the ego and impress peers), or enhance a lifestyle.

My definition is reinforced by this Wikipedia entry:

"The word branding began simply as a way to tell one person's cattle from another by means of a hot iron stamp. The word brand has continued to evolve to encompass identity — it affects the personality of a product, company or service. It is defined by a perception, good or bad, that your customers or prospects have about you.

...People engaged in branding seek to develop or align the expectations behind the brand experience, creating the impression that a brand associated with a product or service has certain qualities or characteristics that make it special or unique."

But a brand is just an aura surrounding a product and it may not be realistic, true, or genuine. It may be deceptive, contrived, or gimmicky.

A product has no intrinsic "personality". All it can do is appeal to and try to fit in with the personality and milieu of the customer who incorporates the product into their life.

There is no "sad soda pop" targeted to depressed people, for example. But the branding of a soda pop may try to make it look as though successful people who are happy and having fun tend to prefer Soda Pop X, and don't you want to join them? Then buy Soda Pop X.

Nobody wants to experience or interact with a brand. They want to identify with a product that symbolizes or represents certain qualities the customer wishes to have transferred to him, or that he really does have. The brand simply attempts to communicate those desirable qualities of the product, and that's all.

A brand does not sponsor a charity event. The company does. A brand does not engage in activism. The employees do. A brand does not engage in interactions with people on social media. The marketing department or intern or PR staff or product spokesperson or media consultant does.

Enough with all this silly talk. No more attributing magical powers to the abstract entity known as the brand.

If product sales are declining, or you want to reach new markets, don't work exclusively on the brand. Get to know what the customer needs, expectations, and interests are, modify or position the product as the solution, and then tweak the branding efforts.

But the connection must be made between the product reality and the customer reality.

Friday, October 21, 2011

Microsoft Windows 7 epic share COMMERCIAL

This is Windows 7 commercial from Microsoft, called "Epic Share",  is one of my favorite TV commercials of all time.


(1) It's short, yet packs a lot of information and product benefit into a tiny amount of time.

(2) I love and make techno music.

(3) It shows a family together having fun in the home.

(4) It tells a compact, concise story that communicates value to people.

(5) It shows how easy it is to perform a desired function (videotaping a dad dancing silly to a techno song, transferring the video to a PC, and watching on social media, in a private share (selected friends, not total public) mode, it just seconds after dad's performance).

(6) It promotes safe use of social media.

(7) It doesn't rely on sex or violence to sell a product.

I searched YouTube for this specific TV commercial. First I searched "Microsoft Windows 7 Commercial" but I got page after page of fan videos and parody videos that were home-made and not official Microsoft commercials.

When I searched YouTube for just "Microsoft Windows 7", I saw a lot of tech pundit videos and various tutorials. Not what I wanted.

So I decided to search YouTube with "Microsoft channel" as the key phrase, then found and went to the official Microsoft channel. There, at the top of the list. was the commercial for which I was looking.

I'm so happy to see Microsoft providing embed code so fans of Microsoft, or fans of this particular commercial, can post it on their own blogs, thus giving Microsoft free promotion.

Why is embed code vital for making videos go viral, making them become super popular, and getting your message, art, or expertise to a wider audience? Because you can promote your video yourself to a certain extent, but you amplify and magnify the promotion by tapping into passionate fans, when you make video embed code available.

I am a big advocate of this practice of enabling fans to embed TV commercials -- and I cannot understand why any corporation would not put their TV commercial videos both on their own website and on YouTube.

See my article "Making TV Commercials Go Viral via Embed Code".

Thanks to anonymous comment posters for tracking down the music of the 2nd song used in this video, as follows:

Falcon is a producer. Honor Roll Music is a production house.

"The Born" was created by Falcon for Honor Roll Music and licensed to Microsoft for use in the Microsoft Epic Share commercial.

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Brands are For Cow Hides, Use Social Media to Humanize

A brand is a symbol of a ranch that is burned into the hide of cattle to identify that cattle as legally belonging to that ranch. Once a cow has been branded, it is a crime for some other ranch to capture that cow, add it to their herd, and claim it as their own.

People are not cattle. Consumers aren't looking to have a company's mark burned painfully into their skin.

There is a "brand" of sorts that is burned into the customer: how well the product achieves the goal of satisfying the customer's need. When the customer uses the product to fulfill the purpose for which it was purchased, to solve a problem or enhance a lifestyle, the result is "burned" like a brand into the mind, the consciousness of that customer.

Companies have to stop thinking of themselves as "brands", as something they burn into the skin of consumers as a mark. They are not a "brand", a frenzied mess of symbolic gestures and catchy slogans, dreamed up in ad agency conference rooms.

A company is a collection of people who have produced a product that (hopefully) meets the needs of other people. As such, as concerned individuals, they then interact with those people who potentially could benefit from their expertise and from their product.

That's how a company, or company spokesperson, must behave in social media. Not pushing product, product, product. Not flooding the online community with sales messages, discount coupons, and aggressive hype. Not dropping marketing bombs then zooming away.

Nobody joins social media to receive relentless commercial messages. People seek companionship, friendly conversations, and sometimes they need answers to questions or solutions to specific problems.

Assign someone to handle your social media. Someone who's on fire for what your product can do for those who need it. Someone who understands marketing and sales, but also understands psychology and social media interactions.

Use social media to socialize. Use social media to present a warm, sharing and caring, genuinely human face.

People think of corporations as cold, aloof, arrogant, and uncaring. Provide superior customer service, help people choose which model of your product is most suited for their budget and needs.

Give them insight into the general area of life your product exists within. Share your expertise, even if a particular insight is not immediately followed by a sales message. Position your company in the minds of consumers as the thought leader, the company with good answers and value and solutions.

Nobody wants to interact with a "brand".

Nobody seeks a deeper relationship with a "brand".

People have problems, interests, needs, and questions.

Address those issues, and your "branding" will take a new turn and be a humanized, altruistic success -- with sales growth as a natural and well-deserved consequence.

Saturday, October 8, 2011

Lensing and Shuttering photo blog

I have a new blog wherein I showcase my photographic skills. It's called Lensing and Shuttering.

I'm displaying the images in extra large size, to increase their impact.

My photos are aesthetically pleasing, avant garde, Peoria historic, funny, and almost never posed or predictable. If you enjoy images that are well composed, brilliant in color, and a joy to behold, check out my new photo blog.

Friday, September 30, 2011

STR8 SOUNDS on your death bed VIDEO

Str8 Sounds "On Your Death Bed"

From "Mighty Mental Angels" CD.

What will you think about
when you're on your death bed?
Will you regret a while
things you did and said?
What will you think about
on your death bed?
Will images of insanity
flow through your head?
All the stupid things you did
and all that folly
will you regret it and
will you be sorry?
Don't come over here
and try to tell me
that life is just a
fantastic ride for thee.
Don't tell me you've got one hand
grasping to chocolate
the other has a glass of champagne
and you like to talk a lot.
Don't tell that your life
is just a ride dizzy
and by chasing pleasures
is how you keep yourself busy.
You are a prisoner
of your selfish ego
and where your lusts point
that is where you go.
I was like that and in fact
I still am too often, the attack
is ruining us, putting us down.
We are deaf, we cannot hear the sound
of God calling us in His love and mercy.
But still what will you
think about when you're dead?
All those stupid things you did and said?
On your death bed
as you approach the end of your life
will you be proud of all the
suffering and strife
you contributed to in this land
all the things you did
at your command
the back of your hand?
Will you regret the things you did?
All the things you did and said
on your death bed?

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Diaspora Deal Breaker or Why Designers Hate Readable Text

I signed up to be a Disaspora early tester and now that this new social media site is in alpha, I was sent an invite to join and give it a test drive.

Use this link to Sign up for a Diaspora invite. Check out the Diaspora blog for more information.

I've been on Diaspora for two days now, and I already hate it. Why? Because I can't read anything. Their designers have made a bad, but common, decision: most of the text is light grey on a white background.

Designers may say light colored text on a white or light colored background is "subtle" or "subdued" or aesthetically pleasing. I know why they say such stupid things. They don't like text. That's right. They prefer their art designs and pictures and drawings and photos and borders and boxes. They don't like to read. They don't like text. Text just gets in the way of their design.

Don't believe me? You should. I've worked with artists and designers, both on the web and in print advertising and direct mail, for decades. They're basically all the same.

I used to tell them, "That's the headline. Make it big" and other such things, because, bless their hearts, they just were not oriented to text. They were trained to focus on colors and shapes and figures and grids, but not on words. Words were alien to their sensibilities. I'm not saying they are all illiterate. I'm not saying they don't read books now and then. What I'm saying is that they have a blind spot when it comes to text. Words are just not their cup of tea.

Remember when music was distributed on CDs? If you have any music CDs sitting around in a box somewhere collecting dust, go grab it and look at the artwork. I'll bet you that 8 out of 10 CD covers and inserts are beautiful or interesting to look at, but difficult to read. CD cover artists are notorious for making text, the song listing and musician information, nearly impossible to read.

Designers think text is just another graphic element. One that they don't like dealing with.

They don't see their job as being to create a lovely or compelling setting for the text. Designers want to emphasize their design. They see text as an intrusion, an invasion, a non-pleasing interruption in their color fields. If they could, they'd eliminate text, and just have pictures and other graphic elements. In fact, there are some music CDs that are mysterious and contain no textual information. You have to just know that it's the new album by such and such band.

The music CD itself is another good example. How many music CDs, the plastic disk itself, has no textual information on it? Think way back when those ancient disks were what you listened to music with. Recall how many had just some artistic image on them. You had to just know and remember who the artist was and which album it was.

Hatred of text. This is a deal breaker for me.

If Diaspora does not make text more readable on their social media site, I'm done with it.

Doesn't anybody do usability testing anymore?

Monday, September 12, 2011

RIP Johnny Cash on 8th year anniversary of his death

Here's what real, socially conscious Christian music sounds like. If a Christian band never sings about the poor and downtrodden, the miserable rich and the negligent materialists, the corrupt power structures and misguided patriotism, it's not a spiritual band. 

Jesus himself didn't just praise and worship God with his hands flapping around in the air. He got up and helped people, fed the poor, healed the sick, and condemned the religious leaders and oppressors.

"On this day in 2003, Johnny Cash, American singer/songwriter, died of respiratory failure at the age of 71. He traditionally started his concerts by saying, "Hello, I'm Johnny Cash."

I can’t think of anyone apart from Elvis who has had such an influence and hold on musical culture for over 40 years, the singer became an imposing and influential figure. Johnny Cash didn't sound like county music from Nashville, nor did he sound like a rock and roll singer. He created his own sub-genre, halfway between folk, rock and roll, and the world-weariness of country.....

He is the only person to be inducted into the Country Music Hall Of Fame, The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame AND The Songwriter's Hall of Fame. The image of the Man In Black is as deeply American as the stars and stripes themselves."

-- Neil Cossar, The Morton Report "Johnny Cash: He Walked the Line"

Johnny Cash - "Man In Black"

Well, you wonder why I always dress in black,
Why you never see bright colors on my back,
And why does my appearance seem to have a somber tone.
Well, there's a reason for the things that I have on.

I wear the black for the poor and the beaten down,
Livin' in the hopeless, hungry side of town,
I wear it for the prisoner who has long paid for his crime,
But is there because he's a victim of the times.

I wear the black for those who never read,
Or listened to the words that Jesus said,
About the road to happiness through love and charity,
Why, you'd think He's talking straight to you and me.

Well, we're doin' mighty fine, I do suppose,
In our streak of lightnin' cars and fancy clothes,
But just so we're reminded of the ones who are held back,
Up front there ought 'a be a Man In Black.

I wear it for the sick and lonely old,
For the reckless ones whose bad trip left them cold,
I wear the black in mournin' for the lives that could have been,
Each week we lose a hundred fine young men.

And, I wear it for the thousands who have died,
Believen' that the Lord was on their side,
I wear it for another hundred thousand who have died,
Believen' that we all were on their side.

Well, there's things that never will be right I know,
And things need changin' everywhere you go,
But 'til we start to make a move to make a few things right,
You'll never see me wear a suit of white.

Ah, I'd love to wear a rainbow every day,
And tell the world that everything's OK,
But I'll try to carry off a little darkness on my back,
'Till things are brighter, I'm the Man In Black.


Johnny Cash 
video on YouTube.