Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Google has their hooks into me....

It's starting.

While I have always had a gmail account that I used for email delivery and contest testing, and just recently started up this Blog, I am starting to get sucked into the world of Google.

I have always used their search but for some reason, never thought about it so while Google might think of their search as a great way to get people, I think it's their suite of solutions outside of search that create the "sticky" points in our relationship.

The blog was a great way for them to amp up the interaction... I start looking for ad ons to my blog to make it more interesting and in doing so, ran across Reader. While it appears to be nothing more than RSS reader, I like that they make it so easy. I was able to search and find some great feeds in a matter of minutes.

Now it seems like they have hit that tipping point where I am actively searching out for their other solutions.

Could this be the end of my longstanding affair with MSFT?

One of the reasons I am still with hotmail is that I can send emails from my @alumni.sauder.ubc.ca domain through web-based hotmail. I tried to upgrade to their LiveMail application but couldn't do that one feature and switched back so they lost me... perhaps for good.

Monday, April 28, 2008

My Mobile Destiny

I started reading Dan Steinbock's "My Mobile Revolution" today and have managed to read about a good quarter of the book already.

Highly recommended reading for anyone thinking about getting into Mobile technology.

It's funny, whenever I talk to people about mobile technology or the mobile industry in general, they bring up the operators... Rogers, Telus, Bell Mobility.

I think the book does well, on about page 4, to show mobile operators are, in some ways, becoming less important as time goes on.

Why?

In the U.S., you have $99 all you can eat type plans. In a few years, we will see this in Canada and at that point, your mobile operator will simply be the pipe through which you access content. All kinds of plans based on weekday and weekend minutes will probably be old news.

So your relationship with your mobile phone company will probably end up being like your cable provider... except there is still the point of hardware and software. Will the mobile operators use the fact that they currently provide both of those things to keep us hooked on them?

Most likely. I would bet that most people have never paid anything close to the retail price of a new phone - unless you have broken or lost your phone - so we're completely spoiled.

And this question is what I am currently mulling over as I work on my relationship marketing assignment.

Friday, April 25, 2008

greenwashing

I've been taking this Environmental Marketing class at school and it has been really interesting.

First of all, it is the first time I have taken a course in the Sustainable Development (Sus Dee as I call it) side of the program. Second, it is interesting because there are a few people in the class who are from the Sus Dee side and a few of us from the marketing side.

In the course, we talk about what environmental marketing is and how companies market their green products. I did a project about an ad for Dell severs placed on the back cover of The Economist that was for their servers - but with a green twist in that their solutions could "slash energy consumption up to 45%".

During the presentation, we looked why they would have spent a CPM of about $395 to reach IT decision makers, how effective the ad might be and then we analyzed Dell's green strategy.

It's funny though - you make a product and market it the traditional way and nobody says anything but once you put a green spin on things, you are all of a sudden held under a microscope.

The example I used to explain this to someone was this:

You make a household cleaning product that works better and you can say in your ad that because it works better, it saves you time so that you can go onto doing the things you enjoy doing, instead of cleaning.

You make a "green" version of that product and say that it doesn't harm the environment and people start researching your environmental record and claims... which begs the question.. why even bother?

Well, the reason is that most people don't really understand or care to investigate those claims, so for marketeers, this is an easy win.

A recent survey by Cone Inc said that while 39% of Americans prefer to buy products they believe to be beneficial to the environment, only 22% understand what those claims mean. Read the summary here.

So is using green benefits a viable way to differentiate your offering or is simply the cost of entry in today's market??








Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Idol Recap

I just finished watching last night's Idol show... interesting... this week was the songs of Andrew Lloyd Weber.

First thing that hit me was the fact the Andrew Lloyd Weber has got to be one of the best mentors they have ever had on the show for the contestants. He was insightful, helpful and I really feel that he gave each contestant solid advice that helped lift their performance. In Carly's case, he was smart enough to see her song wasn't working after one line and urged her to change to her second choice.

But this might not have been the best week for show tunes... at a time when the show is getting press (as I previously posted about) about ratings, they have a theme that I would say doesn't really appeal to everyone.

Anyways, Syesha was amazing but she has a background in musical theater so that was no surprise. But that's a problem for the show because she is going to be huge on Broadway.

Jason Castro did Memory from Cats and I thought it wasn't all that bad but he shouldn't' have sat down the whole time. He will be bottom three.

Brooke is a train wreck and screwed up the first verse and had to restart - major no-no. She might be going home. I admit I was glad to see her screw up as I believe she acts too cocky during the comments from the judges.

David Archuleta was classic David. Carly did Jesus Christ Superstar and rocked. Both were boring though.

The final performance was David Cook. He did music of the night and it was ridiculous. It was like watching a douchebag, play a douchebag but come off looking like a douchebag. I can't stand him. Send him home... please.

Bottom three tonight should be interesting. Obvious are Brooke and Jason Castro... and I wonder if the third might actually be Carly... should be interesting to see who it is.

Picture says one thing

Some people say a picture is worth a thousand words.

Sometimes, pictures are worth only one. IN.

See you there.


Tuesday, April 22, 2008

American Idol - on the outs?

There is much talk today of the recent L.A. Times article on the falling ratings American Idol.

You can read the article here. A must read, I believe, for any fan or non-fan of the show.

In short, the article's headline is "Ominous Signs for American Idol". So what are those signs?

  1. Ratings are down 7%
  2. Show has lost 1/5 of women audience 18-34 and about the same with kids 2 - 11.
  3. Last week's two shows with Mariah Carey got the worst ratings for Idol - ever - for the core demographic of adults 18-49.
The author goes on to talk about how the show still draws over 24 million views and points out that most other shows are down over 10%.

What do I think?

Simon Cowell said that this year's show is suffering from boring contestants and lackluster song choice.

I have to agree.

There were a number of weeks where many of the talented performers chose crappy songs and then went on to under-perform.

David Archuleta is probably going to win this year and I still stand by my thought that his version of Imagine was unreal but he's BORING. He has only one gear - emotional slow jams. He has negative dance moves and he has very little personality.

Many of the other performers like Brooke and Jason choose to sit and play instruments... David Cooke is a total douche... So, while I think that there is a talented field this year, many of them are older more seasoned performers who can consistently deliver ok performances because they have been singing in front of people all their lives.

These older boring performers are NOT going to appeal to the young kids so I am not surprised they are dropping out... and once Michael Johns got booted, I am not surprised that the women dropped off....

Either way, this all means that tonight's show is going to be interesting.... too bad I have class!

Sunday, April 20, 2008

new mix

I bought a few tracks today and made this mix. I will post a tracklist soon.

NOTE: quality of recording isn't great so don't bother burning to CD... however it is probably ok on mp3 player.

Thursday, April 17, 2008

Baseball in 1864

Here is a funny clip of Conan O'Brien playing baseball, 1864 style... back when sport was sport....

Be sure to watch through the end and it keeps getting funnier and funnier...

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Practice what you preach

Perhaps one of my biggest pet peeves in the entire world is when people or companies don't practice what they preach.

Being a marketer, that means that I should use my marketing knowledge and apply it to my own life. I am constanstly shocked to see companies, schools and students that show little evidence of actually doing this.

I came to this conclusion a few years ago but being back at school has really solidified the importance of it. Here are a few examples of how I have applied some simple marketing concepts to my own life:

Value Proposition: I have taken the time to define a clear value proposition for myself that I believe is clear and to the point. When I get into interview situations, it helps me communicate what I can offer potential employers and do it quickly.

Segmentation & Targeting: I see alot of students out there wasting time trying to target everyone and anyone for a job. You need to understand what types of companies your skills will appeal to and target them. I you don't have the skills they are looking for then get involved, volunteer or beg your way into opporunities to get those skills. They are all around you, but you have to go out and find them.

Channel Strategy: As with marketing any product or service, you need to have a clear channel strategy. Find out where your potential employers hang out and who they hang out with and then attend those events. Make your resume look awesome as it will serve as your ad and lastly, MARKET YOURSELF AT ALL TIMES. Make sure everyone knows who you are, what you can do and what you want do to... this way you can start to build some word of mouth.

Marketing Plan & Measurement: Take the time to write your plan and goals down. Set clear objectives so that you can measure yourself against them. I have a weekly goal to put at least three new opportunities in my "sales pipeline" every week. It's hard because I am juggling many balls and because there are times where I'm not seeing tangeable returns BUT you need to build up a funnel with some real prospects if you have any chance of finding a job/internship. I also go into every networking event with three or four main goals like meeting 3 new people in my field or making sure to make good eye contact... after the event is over I take 5 minutes and see how I did and write down what to work on next time.

Finding internships and jobs is exactly that... A JOB. And there is no reason why you shouldn't apply the knowlege you intend on using in the position to find the position itself.

Given this then, how do you think my blog fits into my promotional strategy?????

To answer that, I will only give you one simple tid-bit: If I want to help companies market themselves online that are either online companies or trying to reach online customers, does it not make sense that I maintain some type of web presence myself?

The simple process of setting up this blog, buying my domain and getting it out there taught me 5 things I will use going forward and maybe I will blog about them soon.

Have a great day!

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

note on Idol updates

I have a night class on Tuesdays for the next 6 weeks so I won't be watching Idol live... as such, Idol updates/commentary will have to go down on Wednesday.

P.S. This is going to be a huge week for American Idol.

Sunday, April 13, 2008

I Can Make You Thin

I don't have cable tv. I just don't have time to sit around watching tv.

But I do get a few channels. My cable is still plugged into the wall and I guess it spits out a few channels, some not overly clear but watchable. One of them is TLC.

I am watching a show called I Can Make You Thin. The host, Paul McKenna, is from the U.K. and he's a combo of mentalist and weight watch guru. This means that he makes people, the studio audience and THE VIEWER relax and think about how they see themselves in the mirror. Then he makes them think about how they would feel if they actually enjoyed how they looked. Then he retrains you to think that way all the time.

Essentially, he uses mind tricks to make you lose weight. Unbelievable.

Here is a clip from what I believe is the U.K. version. He teaches people to eat slowly so they eat less and loss weight. This is network television!




Saturday, April 12, 2008

The next big thing...

So I have read a few things about Leona Lewis lately and I happened to catch her on Jimmy Kimmel last night.

She won the UK version of Idol called X-Factor a few years ago (I think) and I think she's going to be huge. Check this out. Both songs she does are really good.

Friday, April 11, 2008

So long MJ...

I've been waiting to comment on the Michael Johns ejection from Idol.

At first, I wasn't really sure it was actually happening but that's because I don't have cable TV and CTV doesn't come in so well. Then I realized that the contest was really over for Michael Johns. I wasn't impressed with him until a few rounds in and he killed it last week with Dolly.

Interesting things are happening at this stage of the fight. Syesha didn't perform too well and our friend Carly Smithson (formerly Hennessy) is going home soon if she doesn't do well next week.

Kristy Lee Cook has pulled herself out the basement. She was almost unwatchable a few weeks ago and she wasn't even in the bottom three this week.

Things are starting to get interesting.

Here's a great Mad Men picture to celebrate me finishing the first season. Great show!

Thursday, April 10, 2008

Back to Reality

Well, I'm back from my quick visit to Langley. Learned a few great things:

1: The U-Pass is gold. The U-pass is subsidized by UBC and costs me only $22 a month. I was able to get out to Langley with no hassles on my U-Pass in only 1h45m. Pretty nifty.

2: In order to combat loitering, the Langley 7-11 blasts French CDs on their outdoor speaker system. I don't know what is funnier... the fact that it works or the fact that they have chosen French music. Here is some video I grabbed.





On Tuesday night, my friend and I watched American Idol (of course). A few of them killed it, some of the didn't and a few of them are on the bubble this week for sure... Carly could be one of them. I didn't watch too much Idol Gives Back last night because I had work to do.

Last thing of note about my trip was the pizza we ordered from a place I have never heard of. It's chain from the U.S. called Me & Ed's. Amazing pizza... certainly not cheap but really tasty. The interior of the place is really swanky and they have a great bar and lots of big TV's. So far, they have locations in Burnaby, Coquitlam and Langley in BC. I didn't get a chance to ask where else they were going but my friend and I discussed their strategy...

I have always agreed with the saying "take one thing and do it better than anyone else" and it is easy to see what Me & Ed's is doing... taking pizza and doing it better than anyone else. I just wonder though... is now the time when people are going to start paying significantly more for a pizza?

It seems like suburbia is awash in chain restaurants. If you wanted to, you could eat a different type of food at a different chain any night of the week and pizza has been getting pretty close to being a commodity recently that I really doubt Me & Ed's will be able to distinguish themselves from everyone else fast enough to justify what I'm sure was a huge investment by the franchisees. Either way, the pizza was great and I wish them the best of luck.

If you see a location sometime, I recommend you stop in and try it out.

Tuesday, April 8, 2008

24

I am about to take 24 hours off. After this post, I am going to watch 2 episodes of Mad Men and then take public transit out to Langley.

I am going to Langley for three reasons. First, I am going to see an old buddy from university. Second, I am going to see if I can get there using my U-Pass (transit pass). Third, I have never been to Langley so I am interested in seeing what it is like (and I will also go through Surrey). Should be interesting.

For those who don't know, Mad Men is a show set in the advertising industry in 1960. More than than this, it is a show set a time very much different than today. This was a time in the advertising industry when the way products were advertised started to change. Prior to this time, products were advertised based almost entirely on their functional benefits. In Mad Men, we see an account team lead a tobacco company from using "4 out of 5 doctors use this brand" to making the connection between the brand and the ultimate value of being cool or being relaxed.

In the third episode, there is lengthy discussion about the famous VW ad where they have a picture of the beetle and it says "Lemon" under it (pictured here). This is actually one of the most famous print advertisements of all time because it was one of the first mass advertising examples of a company trying to be funny, quirky and self-deprecating. Until this ad, a company would have never thought to call its product something negative. In many ways this one ad paved the way for the type of ad copy we see everywhere these days.

Mad Men is also a commentary on how different the society was in 1960. For one, EVERYONE smokes in the office all the time in addition to knocking back the odd cocktail. Then, there is the fact that the office was totally male dominated. Here is great clip that pretty much sums up an office in 1960.

Have we really come that far?

Sunday, April 6, 2008

West Meets East - Buntzen Lake & Shabusen


With school over for this period and a weekend off, Shirin and I went to Buntzen Lake on Saturday afternoon.

Buntzen Lake is about 30km outside Vancouver up in Port Moody. It is a BC Hydro reservoir and has lots of interesting and challenging hiking trails.


What makes Buntzen Lake so amazing this time of year is the fact that the trails are fairly empty so we were able to take an amazing 3 hour hike through the beautiful forest alone. Dunja had an amazing time and really enjoyed being able to run around and explore.

It was still nice when we started out but the air was fairly wet. It started to rain slightly as we were ending our walk but it made for an interesting afternoon that really showed off what is so great about living out west - you see things you don't really get to see back east - huge trees covered in moss.

After we got back, we met some friends for all-you-can-eat sushi and Korean BBQ at Shabusen, which is at Granville and 13th. I had never been and wasn't expecting the food to be that great but I have to admit that I was wrong - the food was great. We ordered a bunch of sashimi and a few rolls while cooking up a few plates of meat. Warning: ventilation isn't as good as it should be so we came home smelling like food.... which made Dunja highly interested in my jacket when I took it off. In most other Korean BBQ places they have vents right above the cooking surface but not at Shabusen. My guess is that it's all part of the experience...

Either way, it's Sunday morning now and I'm off to enjoy my last day of freedom for a while. Starting tomorrow it's back to work!

Saturday, April 5, 2008

Period 2 = Done


I have now completed the second of three 6 week periods before we start our summer internships.

My classes for this period were Market Research, Consumer Behavior, Business Strategy and Strategic Human Resources. Two of them were amazing and two of them weren't.

Which pretty much sums up the MBA experience.

Doing an MBA can be both amazing and terrible at the exact same time. You have days where you have classes that are really engaging and filled with great discussion but the class right after will be completely useless. The range of experiences you have each day is unbelievable.

Having the opportunity at this age to go back to school has really been great. In school, you get to try different things out and approach problems in new ways with very few negative consequences. Sure, you might get a bad grade or waste some time but I would argue being able to fail, learn from your mistakes and turn around and try it again is an important skill that everyone needs and I really appreciate being able to do this in an academic setting.



What isn't so great is being out of the job market. It's hard to sit in class while the world of business, or in my case marketing, moves forward all around me. I am really starting to look forward to taking what I have learned here back out into the job market.

To that end, it is time to find an internship. From what I can tell so far, it's an uphill battle here in Vancouver. There isn't as much marketing here as back in Toronto and marketing in Vancouver is done by very small teams. I think I have a great number of skills to offer them so it's just a matter of getting to yes.

Today is Saturday and other than this post, I am resigning myself to taking the day completely off.

Take Care,

D.

Thursday, April 3, 2008

The W W W

I finally got around to getting my own domain up and running so welcome to www.dannystarr.com.

This is the first of many important steps I am taking to increase the width of this blog. Soon, I will start talking about more than American Idol or the New Kids On The Block reunion, which will be announced tomorrow.

Stay Tuned,

Dan

Wednesday, April 2, 2008

It's all wrong but it's all right

So tonight's show was lame at the start and I was disappointed. People are good but the guitar playing distracts them and they should just stand up and giver.

In the end David Archuleta was amazing but he's got that type of emotional thing locked.

Performance of the night: Michael Johns who could have a career. The last two week's have been huge for him and this week he killed it.

Tuesday, April 1, 2008