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Showing posts from July, 2008

Book Review: The Logic of Life

A book written by an economist, that attempts to use economic theories to explain pretty much everything in life, probably sounds more like a cure for insomnia—perhaps even masochism—than a page-turner. But in The Logic of Life: The Rational Economics of an Irrational World, author Tim Harford, writer of the Undercover Economist column for the Financial Times, pulls off a truly amazing feat, making economics not merely interesting, but fascinating.

Just to make sure he's got your attention, Harford begins his book with discursions on the economic rationales underlying teen sex, Mexican prostitutes, and the world of professional poker. In this last topic, Harford introduces us to Chris "Jesus" Ferguson, a doctoral student at UCLA who used John von Neumann's game theory to become one of the top professional poker players in the world:
"By the late 1990s Ferguson was one of the most recognizable sights in poker, earning the nickname `Jesus' as he hid his face beh…

Using Google Knol as a B2B Marketing Tool

Yesterday, Google officially launched Knol, its Wikipedia-like tool for crafting encyclopedic expert articles. As with Wikipedia, subject matter experts can write or contribute edits to a Knol page on a specific topic. Unlike the case with Wikipedia, however, the author(s) is identified, so readers know who contributed to the article and understand any biases the author(s) may bring to the topic. For example, a technology vendor may write a very different page on a specific topic than what a user would write. Politically, a Libertarian is likely to define a term such as "healthcare reform" very differently from a Green.

This makes Knol at least potentially much more democratic than Wikipedia, a significant problem with which has been the ability of a small cabal of self-appointed high priests to unilaterally delete content for any reason (or apply their "rules" differently for different contributors). Also unlike Wikipedia, Knol will permit multiple Knol pages on …

Google and the Parable of the Turkey

In The Black Swan, Nassim Nicholas Taleb writes about the life of the turkey: for 100 days, the turkey is sheltered, fed and cared for by the farmer. The turkey grows to trust the farmer completely, even perhaps developing a fondness for the farmer (and of course the feed). Then, on the 101st day (with Thanksgiving quickly approaching), the relationship between the turkey and the farmer changes abruptly and permanently. The rationale behind the farmer's apparent benevolence become clear in a final flash before the turkey takes the necessary step preceding de-feathering, vacuum-packing, freezing and shipping off to the market.

Taleb's lesson for us from this: don't be a turkey. More succinctly, don't assume that the future will resemble the past, or, in the words of mutual fund prospectuses, "past performance is no guarantee of future results." Also, remember that there is no such thing as a free lunch.

Of course, that doesn't take into account the perspec…

B2B Marketing Fast Fixes

The slowdown across some sectors of the economy is forcing B2B marketers to pull back on spending, yet continue to produce great results (or else). With that in mind, MarketingSherpa last week presented their Top 10 B-to-B Marketing FastFixes: How to Generate & Nurture More Qualified Leads. Here are the highlights from the webinar.
Revisit SEO

Technologies, needs and customers change over time. If your website is still optimized for the same keywords as 18 months ago (or longer), now is a good time to re-validate your key search phrases. Start by looking in your analytics program to identify the top phrases prospects are using to find you.

Next, run those phrases through a keyword tool to find similar phrases and their relative search frequency. Finally, make sure your site is well optimized for those phrases that are both frequently searched and most relevant to your prospects.

In addition, since those phrases resonate with your prospects, make sure to incorporate them in your copywr…

Book Review: Marketing That Matters

ON24 Launches Virtual Tradeshow Platform with Real Potential

The concept of virtual tradeshows has been around since at least 2001. The appeal, to both exhibitors and attendees, is obvious. No travel costs. No lost productive time due to travel. No limit on the number of employees you can use to staff your booth or "send to the show." No need to limit the duration of the show to just a few days. No geographical boundaries (assuming you have a way to staff the odd hours). No environmental concerns. No panic because your booth staff flew to Chicago—but your booth ended up in Atlanta.

Yet in practice, uptake has been very slow. This is partly for cultural reasons (can I buy you a virtual drink?) but also because the technology has never quite delivered a user experience that's a viable substitute for physical presence. Now, the folks at ON24 believe they may have changed that. Their new Virtual Show platform combines the company's expertise in webcasting with rich graphics to create a compelling visual environment with useful tool…

What Works Now in B2B Lead Generation, Part 2

Part 1 of this review of MarketingSherpa's just-released 2008 B2B Lead Generation Handbook discussed the dramatic changes in B2B marketing practices over the last decade, why SEO and SEM have become critical components of any successful B2B lead generation strategy, and why B2B companies should consider hiring an integrated marketing-PR-online agency to help with these programs. Here are a few more nuggets of wisdom mined from the report.

Blogs and Microsites Can Help with SEO—Eventually

Creating a blog or topic-specific microsite can supplement SEO efforts by providing a venue to share thought-leadership content, in a more casual tone than a corporate site, free from content management or other technological constraints that may apply to a company website. However, as the MarketingSherpa report points out, "This is NOT a short-term strategy. Getting a brand new URL ranked for important keywords can take six months or longer...If you launch a new site for SEO purposes, conside…