Archive for May, 2006

Medical marketing often misses the mark

Wednesday, May 31st, 2006

Somebody finally decided to ask us consumers of medical care whether we “get” their approach to warning us about cholesterol. The answer: a resounding no.

“Throughout the focus groups, participants claimed that cholesterol numbers were not an effective means to understand their risk for CVD [cardiovascular disease] and indicated that they did not personally relate to the abstractions that cholesterol numbers represented… None of the participants recognized the [National Cholesterol Education Program] slogan ‘Know your cholesterol numbers, know your risk,’ and none found it compelling.”

Yep. Members of the scientific/medical community spent so much time learning the vast and complicated terminology for the multitude of complex medical concepts that they tend to forget that most of what they say means nothing to the end-user–clearly not a good situation if you’re genuinely interested in practicing preventive care and getting your patients to cooperate in guarding their own health. Read the rest here

Plain English is always the best policy–especially in marketing or promotion. If you need your complex concepts translated into language your prospects will actually understand–so they’ll know if they should buy your service/products/ideas–give me a call.

Free wifi snags in San Francisco

Tuesday, May 30th, 2006

Just happened to see a comment on one of my earlier posts about free wifi. Looks like this blog is getting to the heart of the problems San Francisco is running into trying to implement universal free wifi.

Looks like politics is an issue–but how could it not be, right? Territories, man, territories. ’tis ever the way with us humans–and most other animals, too.

Guess there’s no parallel in nature for free wifi across an entire community–unless it’s the shrill calls by which gophers, birds and other creatures warn of danger. Be interesting to see whether there might be such a parallel among aquatic creatures–whales and dolphins. I’m just writing this month’s newsletter and talking about this issue. I’ll put a link in here when I’m finished.

Marketing with your heart

Friday, May 26th, 2006

Did a presentation on this at the recent DM Days Conference at the University of Akron. My advice to marketers is to think with your heart first–think yourself into the heart of your customer.

And now I get to link to this lengthy article that backs me up–I love when that happens. Seems some marketers got involved with a federal agency dealing with the homeless. Listen to this great story:

“…federal agency, used basic marketing research to arrive at a likely solution to homelessness. The agency simply went out and interviewed homeless people and asked them what they wanted. Their answer was that they wanted a room of their own. So they could pursue Happiness, presumably.
That research-driven insight led to a program, called Housing First, that puts homeless people into apartments, which as it turns out is far less expensive than keeping them on the streets. The success rate, with success defined as ‘not returning to the streets for five years’ is pegged at 88% in New York, where some 400 homeless have been given rooms. In Phoenix, the success rate is set at 92% and San Francisco says its homeless rate has dropped 40%.”

That’s a single example–but oh, man, it’s a powerful one. And you might feel like the writer is lecturing–and yeah, he is a bit–but sometimes it’s important to say what you really think, no matter who gets aggravated about it. On the other hand, sometimes (he refers to a survey that says 80+% of Americans agree that our country is “too materialistic”) you could be surprised how many people agree with you. If you’ve got a few minutes, read the whole thing.

"Tree-Hugging Capitalists"

Tuesday, May 23rd, 2006

That headline was too good to rewrite, so I took it right off the Forbes article trumpeting the good news that venture capitalists are getting all excited about “green” projects.

Yep, it’s good news. Because I know you want your grandchildren and theirs to enjoy our world with the same freedom of choice you do, right? One of the scarier statistics in this story says that because we humans are flocking back to cities in great numbers, we’re going to be upping our energy consumption significantly. Here’s one scenario:

…the world’s energy usage is estimated to triple to 30 terawatts per year between now and 2050. Energy conversion creates heat. If global warming heats up the globe by just a few more degrees per year (and more than a few scientists sweat this scenario), Iceland will melt just enough to swamp Manhattan and San Francisco in 20 feet of water.

Being buried under 20 feet of water is a surefire way to cut down your choices about how you’re going to live your life…

Commercial real estate developers know that more of us are preferring the “togetherness” of cities as opposed to the sprawl of suburbs–witness the multi-use live-work-play environments (like Crocker Park in Westlake, Ohio) they’re building these days instead of mega-shopping-only-malls.

Read about some of the other amazing eco-friendly inventions VCs are supporting here.

The spam war is getting ugly

Sunday, May 21st, 2006

Spam companies are not only getting away with their outrageous tactics for selling porn, drugs and other illegitimate stuff, they’re also able to intimidate legitimate players from fighting back. Read more here in this Washington Post article.

According to Symantec Corportion, more than 50% of all email in the last six months of 2005 was spam. For me, that number falls way short–my ratio was closer to an unbelievable 75%. Once I tightened my spam fileters, it cut way down–for a while. But now it’s coming right back up again. And lately, one of the corporate blogs I write is getting bombarded daily with bogus comments–up to 60 or 70 a day for drugs, auto insurance, and so on. What about your statistics?

Remember when we used to complain about junk physical mail? With the latest rate hikes about to hit (to $.41 for a first-class letter), we’re bound to see even more of a slowdown in the mailbox. But as for the inbox, it’s scary to think that eventually the wallet might be the only avenue by which we can stop the spread of spam and virus-infected spam.

Right now, I’m still willing to invest 10 to 15 minutes a day clearing out spam. I don’t know where the point might occur where my time is being so wasted that I’d rather pay for legitimate email–and how much.

Going After Google – Forbes.com

Thursday, May 18th, 2006

In case you had any lingering doubt about the size of the market for Internet search advertising, let it fade away now: “Forrester Research says [it] will grow to $11.6 billion by 2010 from $7 billion this year.”

While Google lords it over Yahoo! and MSN–60% of its first-quarter earnings, or $1.3 billion, came from advertising on Google-owned sites, and most of those ads appear in searches–Microsoft is sinking $1.1 billion in to R&D to bring its MSN group a higher spot in the game. Imagine spending $34 million advertising your stuff and you’re still only third.

But let’s face it. Who knows what marvelous technology advance is going to come along that we all simply can’t live without–and who knows who’s going to discover it and capitalize on it. The game is always up for grabs. Read the rest here.

Global markets demand common parlance

Saturday, May 13th, 2006

Was attracted in a Google news alert by the headline “How safe is your painkiller?”–thinking I might find some new information on this popular subject. Frankly, I was surprised to find that the Hindustan Times had an article full of stuff that, by the terms of most American publications, is pretty old hat–comparing aspirin and ibuprofen, for example. Interestingly, the article then compared aspirin and ibuprofen with cox inhibitors and with Paracetamol, but didn’t say what “paracetamol” is. So I looked it up, and it seems to be another word for acetominophen–a word used in many other countries instead of acetominophen.

Well, if we’re all going global in our markets, we might as well start learning each other’s vocabularies in important areas like health care. While the French may decry Americanisms, they do bandy about terms like “le weekend.” In the business world, it makes great sense to start building a common language as quickly as possible–the Internet is not going away.

Cyber/wireless/telephone privacy myths

Friday, May 12th, 2006

You might like to think that the call you made to your accountant yesterday from your wireless phone was private and untraceable, but you probably realize you’d be kidding yourself.

Privacy has been a bit a joke for quite a while now in America–requiring people to give their social security numbers as ID has been going on for nearly half a century. But this latest is a clear step over the edge…

The three biggest phone companies in America (AT
&T, Verizon, and BellSouth) have handed over millions of wireless phone records to the National Security Agency without a court order.

And though you can encrypt VoIP signals, it’s still a simple matter to trace certain information about those calls–like where they come from and where they go. The fact is, you can’t yell fire in a crowded theater and you can’t talk about anything that remotely smells like sinister and expect to be able to get away with it. Well, at least that’s the intention. The fact that we missed years of subrosa preparation by the Al-Qaeda group is a good sign that even when the government has total access, the stuff they catch might not be the right stuff anyway.

Let’s hope this new invasion of privacy is worth the results.

News flash: people are social creatures

Monday, May 8th, 2006

This falls right into the “Well, Duh” category in my book. A Dutch study shows that family-style mealtimes ease nursing home life. Really? Imagine that–with the slight change in routine of having their meals together instead of served to them alone in their rooms, people are physically stronger, lose less weight, are less depressed, and need less medicine.

It never ceases to amaze me how many business decisions that demonstrate real care for the people involved end up being sound financial moves, too.

Vibrant urban business environments vis-a-vis automobile use

Thursday, May 4th, 2006

Yes, we’ve known that we’ve made America the land of the love-affair-of-the-car by building out-there suburbs and spreading ourselves thin and wide across whatever available land there was around our city centers–and thus decimated many of our downtowns. But there’s hope we can fix it by looking at the constellations of three factors: density, transit, and jobs-housing balance.

If you care about this sort of thing (and what business person wouldn’t care whether the city s/he’s doing business in is vibrant and alive and successful), read this insightful article reporting on a study by Harvard and MIT. Comparing Atlanta, Boston, Chicago, Houston, New York city, and San Diego, they concluded that sprawl equals bigger car demands, racked-up miles for commuters, more gasoline consumption, bigger dents in the ozone layer.

And the #1 most powerful factor on reducing driving statistics was the presence of a far-reaching, well-run public transit system. So support your local Transit Authority, even if you don’t personally use it…yet.