Tuesday, December 27, 2011
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.
Saturday, December 24, 2011
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
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
(6) ɹǝpunoɹɐ ɹǝddıךɟ ʇxǝʇ
(7) BankRate Mortgage Calculator
(8) Math.com Basic Calculator
(9) Sound Dogs
(11) ShoutCast Internet Radio
(13) WFMU Free Music Archive
(14) Canadian Electroacoustic Community (free CD mp3s)
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
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.
Wednesday, December 21, 2011
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
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
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
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.