Archive for February, 2012

WoD – Religion in the 21st Century

Perhaps I am conflicted in life because I like Chinese takeout, am not sure I want to worship any gods, like bacon AND hummus, but wish I had magical underwear…

WoD – religion flow chart

Thursday:

KLEMT BEIM HARTZ*  (klehmpt bime HARTS)

Clutches at my heartstrings

Every time I see “It’s a Wonderful Life” it klemt beim hartz.

*Klemt is similar to verklemt or verklempt, made famous by Mike Myers in his SNL “Coffee Talk” skits…

WoD – Analog to Digital

I wish I could say today’s ideas are mine, but they’re from a great post I read (a while ago now) from David Pogue.  A WoD not his own?  (insert LP record scratch sound here…)

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The Fading Sounds of Analog Technology
I’ve always loved the musical “Company,” a Broadway show by Stephen Sondheim that opened in 1970. It was about a 35-year-old Manhattan guy, still unmarried even though all of his best friends are married couples. The set, the tone and the score were all ultrachic, ultramodern, ultraurban. So urban and modern, in fact, that the first thing you hear as the show begins is a busy signal — in its day, the ultimate technological symbol of a fast-paced, full-up lifestyle.
After a few repetitions of that insistent, one-note beep, the overture begins building off its rhythm. The busy signal became a musical theme for the entire opening number.
But when I went to see the revival of the show in 2006, the busy signal was gone. Mr. Sondheim later told me that nobody knows what it is anymore.
I had to admit that he was right. When’s the last time you heard one? These days, voice mail (or just sending a text message) has almost completely eliminated the busy signal. Still, that left the opening number of “Company” stripped of the original idea — and a really clever one — that had inspired it!
Then there’s the record-scratch sound, still used frequently in ads and comic scenes to indicate someone’s train of thought going off the rails. Isn’t it weird that we still use that sound? For the most part, the last 20 years’ worth of viewers and listeners have never even heard that sound in real life! (In a 2008 NPR segment, the host asked some teenagers if they could identify the sound. They couldn’t. “I have no idea…. I know I saw it on TV.”)
And then there’s the rewind/fast-forward gibberish sounds — of TAPE. What will they do in the movies, now that random-access digital video formats deprive producers of that audience-cuing sound?
What about modem-dialing shrieks? Sure, we’re all thrilled to have always-on Internet connections. But wasn’t there something satisfying, something understandable, about that staticky call-and-response from our computers to the mother ship?
We’re losing the dial tone, too. Cellphones don’t have dial tones. Only landlines do, and those are rapidly disappearing. And without the dial tone, how will movie producers ever indicate that someone’s hung up on a character? (Even though that was an unrealistic depiction to begin with.)
Funny thing is, we’re replacing these sounds mainly with … nothing! What’s the sound of broadband? Of rewinding a CD?
The point, of course, is that as digital technology takes over, we’re losing the sounds of analog technologies. And sometimes that’s a real loss. Cash registers don’t go “ka-ching” anymore, either. But we still SAY “ka-ching,” and there’s your proof — sometimes, our culture simply cries out for a certain audio meme, a certain sonic cue that used to have real meaning.
Every now and then, in fact, you find a case where the old analog audio cue is so important, the manufacturer actually installs a recorded version of it — right into the otherwise silent digital device — because the sound has a purpose. Digital cameras, for example, play a digitized version of an analog shutter. I recently tested an electric motorcycle that plays a recording of a gas motorcycle, just so you don’t mow down unsuspecting citizens sharing the roadway with you.
I’m not going to play Andy Rooney here and bemoan the pace of technological progress. Something’s always lost when we move from one format to another; that’s just the way it goes.
At the same time, I’d like to commemorate the loss of those record scratches, busy signals, tape-rewinding chatters, and ka-chings. Maybe with a moment of silence.

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Tuesday:

DRECK (DRECK)

Junk (crap), inferior merchandise or work, feces, dung

That powerpoint is dreck!  Now get back to your cube and move those commas around…!

WoD – 877-578-8700

Or 902-989-9765.  Or 923-550-3111.

Telemarketers.  

They try all these tricks now.  You know what I mean, right?  The obfuscated phone numbers, the ones where you answer and say, “hello?” only to be greeted by silence for 3-5 seconds, and you know what it is and what is coming – the automated dialer software that waits until it corroborates a live person on the line, then connects you with someone in some far away land.  

Today I got probably the 8th or 10th call from “GE” (in quotes because of course it isn’t actually someone from GE calling me, but some Kuala Lampur-based person to whom they’ve outsourced their telemarketing), asking me to do a fire and safety survey.  But he swears he isn’t selling me anything.  Phew, what a relief he isn’t selling me anything!  I tried to ask politely if he could remove us from the list, but he said he cannot, because we haven’t completed the survey.  Wtf!

Ok anyway, the point of this is something deeper than a telemarketing gripe.  Rather it is this – and it is very Seth Godin-like today – I think companies are doing themselves a big disservice, bigger than they are calculating, when they conduct telemarketing like this.  Here is what is going on — some junior finance person is running ROI’s on various marketing tactics and channel strategies, and they have concluded that “calling people and asking them about their fire and safety needs and seeing if they will take a very brief survey first, has much higher conversion rates and therefore lower cust. acquisition costs and higher LVC’s than just outright asking to sell them something.” (I’m purposefully trying to use businessschoolspeak here.)  So they call.  And call.  And call.  

But I think they’re not factoring in a huge variable into this “strategic marketing and ROI analysis.”  And it is this – for every customer they convert (even at the higher rates than the regular old telemarketing methods), they are now PISSING OFF many many other customers on their overall brand and products.  But this “Pissed Off Factor” does not and cannot get calculated into any ROI analysis.  And I think the overall negative impact and effect of overly aggressive and obfuscative telemarketing more than offsets the “conversion uplift” they get from these sneaky and intrusive means.  

Let’s take this example of GE.  I highly respect GE as a company and like it on many levels.  However, today I like GE a lot less than yesterday.  15 years of goodwill and positive sentiment towards the company is in large part washed out because some person in Malaysia called me (again) and can’t remove me from their fire and safety survey list.  I am not a regular shmoe who is getting annoyed, that is not what I mean.  I am an ex-GE employee who now thinks Jeff Immelt and the top team are disconnected from how the underlying businesses are conducting marketing.  The overall effect is definitely that I am less likely to like or buy GE lightbulbs, a GE fridge, or a GE whatever now.  But I am certain that this is not factored into their math.  And is that really worth it?  All I know is, Jack Welch would never have stood for this type of telemarketing connivery…  

Wednesday:

LIBLING (LEEbleeng)

Darling, pet

Happy birthday, libling!



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