hypocritical : talking the talk without walking the walk

March 31, 2007

Kumquat growing during March 2007

Kumquat is a little project on which I've been working for some time. I haven't been that vocal about it, because there really hasn't been that much "there there."

Now, we all know that I tend to complain--a great deal--about people doing the things the wrong way. I tend to do this, most often, because they are easy targets. Far from my reach or influence. But if I were in their shoes, it might seem reasonable to do the same things that they do.

I like to think that's not be the case. But really, who knows?

Well, now we might. Because, now, I am in their shoes.

So I thought it might be interesting to be as forthcoming as possible about Kumquat from a marketing standpoint. Giving you some insight into what we're seeing, what we're experiencing, where we're screwing up. That sort of thing.

So here's the first status report. Highlights as it were.
  • March 1, 2007
    0, zip, zilch, nada as far as visitors go; well actually as far as the site goes, too


  • March 8, 2007
    More than a living post about Kumquat ("I have a confession to make") causes traffic to spike at 14 visitors


  • March 14, 2007
    hypocritical post about Kumquat ("Hello, kumquat") doesn't move the needle


  • March 21, 2007
    Folks who have registered at the site--all 18 curious kids--receive the first status update on Kumquat


  • March 23, 2007
    Museum of the Modern Beta posts Kumquat to its ever-growing list causing traffic to jump to 108 visitors


  • March 24, 2007
    Following on the heels of the Museum of the Modern Beta post, a StumbleUpon user (Nickeloss) gives Kumquat a thumbs up (I quickly agree); traffic spikes at a record high of 198 visitors


  • March 26, 2007
    Killer Startups posts a review of Kumquat; without having spoken to us, they seem to have nailed the concept pretty much dead-on (we begin to think we may actually be communicating)


  • March 30, 2007
    Second email update goes out to the subscriber base, now sitting at 75 subscribers with 21 additional email addresses awaiting confirmation

So, for those of you keeping score at home, the total number of visitors to the Kumquat site in March 2007 was 645. This resulted in 75 folks joining the list. Alexa traffic rank sits at 3,123,857 (for context: this is not good).

I promise some pretty graphs of this stuff as we gather more relevant data.

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Kumquat growing during March 2007

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March 29, 2007

Ze kumquat, she is back

Please cease and desist with the weeping and rending of clothes.

hello, kumquat is back online.

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Ze kumquat, she is back

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Technology is your friend

Just as an FYI to the two readers out there who care, the hello, kumquat site is looking a little sparse as of late.

This is due to the fact that the FTP service crashed midstream, blowing away the main page but not uploading the new one.

Oopie.

Once FTP access is restored, I'll make sure that page is uploaded.

And, no, this is not an "exciting" unveiling. Not yet, anyway.

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Technology is your friend

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March 27, 2007

I am lazy

Dearest Genius,

I really loved your last post.

I was wrapt with intrigue. Astounded by your wit and your turn of phrase. Immersed in your analogy. And hanging on each rung of the ladder descending the unfathomable depth of your insight.

And were it just the wit.

Oh my heart. Enamoured of your design, my eyes welled with tears of appreciation. I longed to hug my monitor for fear of losing touch.

It would be wonderful to continue this conversation. To improve this relationship.

And yet...

Alas and alack, I cannot.

Why?

Quite simple, really.

I ask. And, I ask again. And yet, you still fail to do one simple thing.

I swear. If it were picking up your socks or something, I could deal with it. I'm not that lazy.

But holy handgrenades you insuffereable schmuck, could you please take the simple ounce of energy and forethought it takes to put your RSS feed where it can be found?

Please for the love of all that is sacred. Just make the RSS feed obvious. So I can subscribe.

I am lazy. I don't want to search your code for the "application/rss+xml" meta data. Because, quite frankly, you're not seeming so smart any more.

But just in case, I decide to quell my anger and return, would you put your RSS feed in an obvious spot? Would you do that for me? Please?

Only you can save this relationship, Einstein.

Hugs and kisses,
Rick

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I am lazy

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March 23, 2007

MyBlogLog on its way over to the Yahoo servers?

I just got the most random message from MyBlogLog. And believe me, I get a lot of random messages from MyBlogLog.

Looks like they're testing it on the Yahoo! servers.



toddsampson has left you a message at MyBlogLog

Your Message from toddsampson

----

xabcDcbA

----

View -> http://dev1www1.mbl.corp.sp1.yahoo.com/buzz/members/turoczy/messages/
Reply -> http://dev1www1.mbl.corp.sp1.yahoo.com/buzz/proc/?i=mr200703...
Delete -> http://dev1www1.mbl.corp.sp1.yahoo.com/buzz/proc/?i=md200703...
Spam -> If you think this is spam, please forward to customerservice@mybloglog.com


I can't hit any of the links. Clearly they're behind the Yahoo wall.

Interesting.

Thanks for the heads up, Todd Sampson.

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MyBlogLog on its way over to the Yahoo servers?

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March 19, 2007

37signals Highrise is live

37signals Highrise is here.

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37signals Highrise is live

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37signals Highrise teaser added to front page

Just to continue along with my borderline-psychotic fanboy-like adoration of the upcoming release of 37signals Highrise, I thought I would mention that it has been added to the front page of the 37signals site. In the second slot, no less. Just below Basecamp.

This is also the first shot of the mark for Highrise. A nod to 37signals' hometown Chicago skyline with a mini John Hancock Center tower,

Must be getting close now.

37signals Highrise

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37signals Highrise teaser added to front page

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March 14, 2007

Hello, kumquat

If you’re anything like me, your career has been relatively devoid of feedback.

It's sad, really.

You've been driven by your own desire more so than the opinion of your superiors and peers. And your requests for guidance have often fallen flat or been completely ignored.

Worse yet, this feedback--when it comes--only comes on a quarterly or annual basis.

And it usually contains such thoughtful and career-altering guidance as "Great job," "Nice work," and "Smells nice; seems to shower often."

Yes, my friend, it’s a sad and sordid tale.

Maybe you’re in the traditional corporate-review setup, where you’re only as good as your last project. Or maybe the project before that.

If you’re out on your own or at a small company, you have absolutely no structure to support a formal review process.

It's a problem. And it's pervasive. Fun.

Is this really the most valuable environment for furthering your development?

(Of course, the answer is no. Why would I ask the question, otherwise?)

Well, I thought I'd get some friends together and we'd try to fix that problem. Unfortunately, we're idea people. So we had to hire some other people to pretend to be our friends and help us.

The result? Kumquat.

With it, we're going to try to fix this no-feedback problem. You and me. Together. With our peers. And these other folks helping us, who despite their best efforts, have become friends, as well.

Will Kumquat succeed? Will Kumquat ever even launch?

Who knows? But I like you, so I thought I would invite you along for the ride. Or the train wreck. Just our little secret, snookums.

Join us, won't you?

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Hello, kumquat

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March 13, 2007

Media Temple Grid Server, as in "grid lock," redux

The Media Temple Grid Server architecture has been crashing all over the place, again. This, unfortunately, has brought More than a living crashing down, as well.

I--and I'm sure I speak for Media Temple, as well--apologize for the inconvenience.

For those of you missing your More than a living fix, you can access the RSS feed, which is hosted by the fine folks at FeedBurner. As such, it's still accessible.

Hypocritical and Kumquat remain online, because, well, they're not hosted on the Grid Server.

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Media Temple Grid Server, as in "grid lock," redux

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PRstore: Target or WalMart?

I just saw that we had a PRstore franchise open in Portland, Oregon. (Tigard, to be more exact. No, not like the Pooh character, more like "regard." Although I don't know that Tigard and regard have ever been used that closely together. But, I digress.)

For those of you not familiar with the concept (I wasn't), the PRstore claims to offer all of your marketing communications needs for a price far below your usual, run-of-the-mill designer or PR agency. (UPDATE: Some folks from the PRstore have been kind enough to stop by and comment.)

Now, why you would ask for full service marketing and "branding" from a company that calls themselves the "PRstore" is beyond me. But we'll let that one slide. I mean, the shoemaker's children and whatnot.

And, nevermind the fact that they claim to do branding. I'm going to completely ignore that. (If you don't want me to ignore that, please feel free to read my previous ranting.)

There are other things about which I'm curious. (And I'd encourage anyone considering the PRstore to ask similar questions.) My questions are things like:
  • They position themselves as an alternative to big agencies that small companies can afford. Hunh? What small company in their right mind is walking into a Wieden + Kennedy or Waggener Edstrom asking for help?

  • They've moved into a town (Portland, Oregon) that may, arguably, have more agencies per capita than any other town in the United States. And a vast diversity of agencies, at that. I mean, there is every flavor of agency here. Every size. Why here? Why are they needed?

  • Who is running the joint? Seasoned marketing professionals or someone who had the franchisee money to invest?

  • Where are they getting their talent? Who is doing the work? Seasoned designers and PR professionals or recent grads? Are they full-time or temp? (UPDATE: Apparently, they don't use local talent for the creative. Unless, of course, local for you is Charlotte, North Carolina.)

  • What level of quality do they churn out at such cheap prices?

  • What level of creativity do they churn out at such cheap prices?

  • What kind of coverage are they getting from their PR services?

  • How personal and targeted can a service like this be?

  • Is price the real problem? Or is it really availability and promotion?

I guess what I'm wondering--at its most basic--is this: Is the PRstore Target? Or is the PRstore WalMart? Target being a place to get unusual and creative solutions at a low price. WalMart being a place where you get the same old crap, only cheaper.

For most agencies here in town, I don't see this even showing up on the radar. It's a whole different realm. But it will be interesting to see what happens to the little guy, in the short term.

Using a car analogy, this is like a "pre-owned" car dealership moving into the neighborhood. The BMW and Lexus dealers couldn't care less. The Toyota and VW dealers might cock an eyebrow. But the other used car dealerships start getting a little nervous.

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PRstore: Target or WalMart?

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March 11, 2007

Fabulous call signs

Airport control call signs are a remnant of military influence. Not exactly the brand association that many airlines are pursuing these days. And if you listen in on the flight deck proceedings when you're en route (I'm on my way to Chicago, so I'll listen for you), it's like war games with all of the Yankee Foxtrot whatnot.

Come to think of it, "foxtrot" is pretty fabulous in its own right.

Anywho...

Call signs need a brand refresh. So I'm taking the first stab. Please allow me to present the new "fabulous call signs":

  1. Ascot or Anywho

  2. Beaujolais

  3. Chihuahua or Champagne or Cutie

  4. Denouement

  5. Endive

  6. Fabulous

  7. Glamorous

  8. Hello or Hypocrite or Hypnotic

  9. Incognito

  10. Je t'aime

  11. Kumquat

  12. Louvre

  13. Merlot or Macchiato or Madonna

  14. Nantucket

  15. Oh my or Ocelot

  16. Pinot or Poodle or Patootie

  17. Quinine or Quintessential

  18. Remoulade or Roux

  19. Shiraz or Soy

  20. Tsk tsk

  21. Ugh or Uh-unh

  22. Vegan

  23. Whatever

  24. Xanadu

  25. Yolanda or You go girl

  26. Zinnias or Zigfield or Zealot


How much more interesting is my flight now? Got a better one? By all means, comment. This is an open source project. Roger, that?

 

Fabulous call signs

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March 08, 2007

I'm looking for some insincere sincerity

Yeah, hi.

I know someone who is going through a hard time right now. And I don't really care. But I want to pretend that I do.

I mean, I don't want to write them a personal note or anything.

I'm just looking for something canned and trite. That smacks of insincerity. But makes it look like I put forth the expected effort without even trying.

You know, kind of like everything else I do in life? You know what I mean?

You do?

Oh yes, you do. Thank you, Hallmark!

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I'm looking for some insincere sincerity

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March 05, 2007

Best blog post ever...?

I can't quite put my finger on why, but I have the sneaking suspicion that this may be the best blog post I've ever read. Ever.

My name is not really Penelope

If you can tell me why it's the best, I'd love to hear it. Because quite frankly, I can't really tell you why, myself. It's just an eerie feeling that I have. A feeling that I have just read the best blog post ever.

It's akin to that feeling you have after seeing 2001 or some Bergman flick, when you begin to think that you might actually be starting to get it. That kind of feeling. Like reading Pynchon? You know what I mean.

Eerie.

If it's not--in your opinion--the best blog post ever, then feel free to tell me which one is.

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Best blog post ever...?

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Mythbusting marketing communications platitudes

UPDATE (March 16, 2007): Just wanted to mention that there's a post over on More than a living that continues this rant, entitled "Know thy enemy: 100 ways to kill a concept."


ORIGINAL POST:


Maybe I'm just attuned to stupid.

I guess I could really just stop there.

Oh wait.

Maybe I'm just attuned to stupid--and incorrect--marketing communications platitudes as of late. Or maybe there are just more of them flying around these days. More myths.

We're bandying them about like there is no tomorrow. Myths of marketing communications. Things we say all of the time. Things we say to reassure ourselves that our inadequacies are okay.

If you're in a room and you hear one of these, I suggest you head for your nearest exit. If it's your boss or co-worker saying it, reprimand them. If it's your client, reprimand them.

In no particular order:

  1. X doesn't matter.
    People like to utter this one when they're up against a deadline. We have to do this, this, and this. Do a good job on the first two. The third doesn't matter.

    Guess what? They all matter. No matter how well you do on the first two, the one on which you didn't spend any time will be the one people remember.

  2. We have to do x.
    This one tends to surface during pitches or assignments. It's a tell, belying sheer laziness, masquerading as rigor and valor.

    Guess what? No matter what the rules say, you don't have to do anything. In fact, most people appreciate a fresh take on the problem. (Be forewarned. These myths travel in groups. Accepting that you have to do something usually directly follows "X doesn't matter." As in "X doesn't matter. We have to do x.")

  3. They didn't ask us to do x.
    Do you seriously think the person assigning the task was cogent enough to think through every single permutation of the potential solution? And if so, why are they asking you? Couldn't they just tell you the right thing to do? Maybe thinking about it differently and suggesting some potential, creative solutions would be wise?

    Guess what? People who continually do exactly what I ask them to do, every single time, usually wind up doing less and less for me. I quit asking them. Because they're boring. And because they are not adding anything. I'd rather ask the psycho who comes up with the crazy ideas. Don't give me "reliable" as an excuse. Be reliably crazy on a regular basis.

  4. They'll never notice x.
    Yes. They will. Trust me.

  5. We don't have time to do x.
    Then we don't have time for this project, either.

  6. You're such an x.
    Okay, this one isn't a myth. You caught me. This is what people say to me when I reprimand them. Someday, I'd like to be an x of mythical proportions.


Got some favorites of your own? My list isn't exhaustive by any stretch of the imagination. Let's hear them.

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Mythbusting marketing communications platitudes

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March 01, 2007

Branding and Innovation

Sometimes these blog posts are so easy, they practically write themselves.

Or someone else writes something brilliant and I steal it. Same diff.

Today, it's Scott Berkun waxing genius on the overuse--and resulting impotence--of the word "innovation."

And it dawns on me, as I'm reading, that his insight is directly related to the word "branding."

Any of you regular readers--all two of you--will be familar with my continued ranting on the use of the word "branding." Or my complaints about the misunderstanding of the concept of branding. Or whatever. I complain. A lot. It's what I do.

Anyway. Where was I? Ah, yes. Scott Berkun.

Here's what I'd like you to do. Head on over to Scott's blog and read his post entitled "How to kill innovation hype." Okay. Next, re-read it. This time replace the word "innovation" with the word "branding."

See?

And since this is especially critical for people who are trying to get help from the "branding" types, let me hit some of Scott's high-points in terms of "how to kill the branding hype":


  1. Challenge the word. Never allow the word to be used in conversation without asking “what do you mean by [branding]?” If it’s not clear to you as a listener how the word is being used, the speaker probably doesn’t know either: call them on it.

  2. Avoid compound usage. As soon as you’re throwing hyphens around you know you’re in trouble. [Branding] is a strong enough word to stand alone.

  3. Call bullshit. Asking for examples kills hype dead. Just say "can you show me your latest [branding effort]?" Most people that use the word don’t have examples--they don’t know what they're saying and that's why they're addicted to the [b]-word. Keep pressing and most hype-philes concede what they're doing isn't new. The fastest way to detect BS is to look at facts and at the present. True [experts] rarely need the word: they just show their work.

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Branding and Innovation

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