Old School Marketing Done Right

May 10, 2008

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Large companies often run sweepstakes or contests offering a a prize in exchange for filling out a form or making a purchase. The odds of winning one seem about as remote as hitting the lottery. The prizes? Generally tchotchkes. Overall, not very enticing. The photo web site Luminous Landscape has run a few contests and just announced their most recent one. Unlike their rote corporate siblings, the Luminous Landscape ones have a refreshing feel. To start with, the site's ambiance is much more like a small labor of love than a monster corporate site. The natural implication is significantly fewer visitors than the big boys meaning there is at least a slightly better chance of winning. Still probably measured in the thousands, there's not that great a chance, but it's way better than when there are a few million other folks entered with you. They aren't screwing around with their prizes either. The latest contest is Win The lens of Your Choice. There is a little fine print, but most of it is in bold near the top: Any Lens For Any Camera Valued Up To $2,000. So, you can't get a $6,800, 12 pound, 400mm f/2.8 L IS USM, the $2,000 limit is more than reasonable, and will allow for the vast majority of lenses to be in play. And let's face it, while I'd LOVE to have one of those lenses, it's way down the list for the type of shooting I do. Two other refreshing aspects: 1) the fact the reason for the contest ("To entice you to purchase one of our products") is put right out there in front, and 2) the way to enter is to purchase something that is actual of value. I've been interested in one of the tutorial offerings (called "From Camera To Print") for a while, but never pulled the trigger. I haven't been shooting that much recently because of my work schedule and at almost 7 hours, it's a pretty big tutorial. I probably would have ended up getting it at some point, but adding the (remote) possibility of winning a new lens is enough to make the purchase. Chalk one up for marketing strategy. A final note, I appreciate the upfront 'no purchase necessary' statement:

And finally, to satisfy the law in some countries – no purchase is necessary. You will be entered into the competition by simply registering your name in our store. But, if you do this, while within the letter of the law you are of course defeating the purpose of the whole exercise. You must decide if that's really what you want to do.

If this was a big company, I'd consider the no purchase option. Since it's more of a guy running a site on a subject he's passionate about, there's no way I would do that.


How to say it

May 06, 2008

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The tag line for the web site Forvo.com is "All the words in the world. Pronounced." Using the power of people who want to contribute, they are creating a catalog of audio recordings of how words are spoken. You can contribute too, if you like. Behold yet another awesome tool provided by the intertubes. The site could use some better bablefish type cross-referencing. Even without that, a creative person could probably assemble a pretty good foreign language course using this as a back bone. Sentence construction would be tough, but for the simple individual word standpoint, there's some nice potential. Now that I think about it, the potential of the internet to provide foreign language education is HUGE. A quick search makes it look like at least one site is working on this: phrasebase.com. Using a Wikipedia approach to foreign language teaching/learning should be well within the realm of possibility.


NATO Phonetic Alphabet

May 06, 2008

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In case you ever want to know what the official telephony pronunciations for letters are, Wikipedia has an article up for ya here. It includes a handy, dandy cheat sheet.


Cognitive Surplus

May 06, 2008

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This article entitled "Gin, Television, and Social Surplus" has come up a time in the various sources I visit. While I don't buy into it completely, it's got more than enough interesting concepts to warrant a recommendation. Key concepts that caught my eye are the idea that the entire Wikipedia represents ~100 million hours of human thought and that we, in the U.S. spend 200 billion hours watching TV each year. In other words, 2,000 Wikipedia projects a year spent watching television. I think we'll always tend towards relaxing entertainment when it's available, but I like it's fun to think about what we might come up with by using a small portion of the surplus. Or, more to the point, if somehow we shift towards "active" entertainment. Check back in five years.


Sync

May 06, 2008

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For those of you wanting to sync up multiple mechanical metronomes, this looks like a good way to do it: Ahhhhhhhhh…. Physics.


Checking web page efficiency

May 01, 2008

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This is more a note for myself so that I can find it later. But if you ever want to see more about what's going on when your web browser pulls pages over the internet you can use a few Firefox extensions to gain a lot of insight. Key ones to use are:

  • FireBug - edit, debug, and monitor CSS, HTML, and JavaScript
  • Web Developer Toolbar
    • Adds a menu and a toolbar with various web developer tools.
  • YSlow - Add on for FireBug that adds more reporting about how the page is performing.

There is an article at IBM Developworks that has some info about a two of those and GreaseMonkey. It's worth reading as well.


No Ninjas in E-mail

April 21, 2008

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At least not in my work e-mail's spell check dictionary. A little sad, but not really surprising.


Manufactured Accent

April 19, 2008

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While listening to one of the generic pop stations on the radio recently, "Our Song" by Taylor Swift came on. I wouldn't have classified the station I was listening to as "Country" at all, but I wasn't surprised to hear something in the pop-country genre. Often the only difference I can tell between regular pop and pop-country is the accent of the singer and maybe some slide guitar. In Taylor's case, the accent raises another issue. While obvious she was attempting to sing with a southern twang, she struggling mightily with it and ultimately failed to pull it off. After hearing a song so clearly aimed at the pop-country market with such an unnatural accent I had couldn't believe she was from The South. According to everyone's favorite Wikipedia, Taylor Swift was born in Wyomissing, Pennsylvania. At age 11, Swift made her first trip to Nashville, then started to "regularly visit Nashville" at age

  1. Seriously? Visiting Nash at 14. Good recording engineers can do amazing things, but providing a southern accent when you don't have one doesn't appear to be on the list. If you haven't heard the song yet, here's a YouTube link.

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