Don’t send bloggers stuff for free unless it’s good

A lesson to corporate types: it’s good to catalyze conversations by sending out free stuff, but only if you’re pretty sure you’re already best of breed. For an example read Joel Spolsky’s report on a Sprint Phone he got to try out cause he’s a blogger.

Now, if Sprint listens to Joel and improves its next product? This will turn into a win. But, for now, I don’t see how this helps Sprint out in any way. Do you?

Free samples are good when it’s a new concept you’re trying to introduce to the marketplace. Sonos, for instance, has gotten great mileage by sending sample units out to bloggers and other influentials. That’s a totally new idea for an audio system and can’t be easily explained through a video — it’s something you need to experience to understand.

Now, if I had a sucky product (or was the #3 search engine like Microsoft) I’d keep bringing influentials in to LISTEN to them and improve the product so that they stop bitching.

Oh, wait, that’s what Microsoft was doing with its MSN Search Champs. They are getting better. Will they ever pass Google? Well “ever” is a long time and Microsoft has a lot of money they can spend on that problem.

Anyway, if all this corporate talk bores you, hey, the Ruby programming language site has a nice spiffy new design! I found out about that over on the Ruby on Rails blog. (Ruby on Rails is the framework that powers a lot of Web 2.0 sites).


Productivity Tips from Merlin Mann

I had breakfast with Merlin Mann and Irina this morning. I really need his help more than usual. I’m missing lots of appointments and screwing people. Not good at all. I’m gonna take a couple of days off and get a handle on it.

But, who is Merlin and why am I talking about this? He writes a blog called 43 Folders. It’s all about tips to make you more organized and more productive. Great stuff if you’re like me and just letting everything hit the floor.

He used a new term I hadn’t heard before, though: email bankruptcy. It’s where you get so deeply in trouble that you just declare email bankruptcy. In other words, you email everyone and say “sorry, I got your email but I just can’t deal with it/am deleting it, so if it’s important email me back.”

I’m very close to email bankruptcy. But my inbox is clean. I gotta get back onto David Allen’s program. Merlin inspired me to get back on.

Anyone have any productivity tips? Especially for dealing with 1,537 emails? (I have them all triaged in separate folders). The pain of it is I have other stuff I need to get done.

As to my calendar, the first folder I’m going to crunch on is my calendar/events folder.

The advertising problem of the Web industry: banner ads

Like TechCrunch I too noticed that Yahoo dropped like a rock today and wondered what that means for Silicon Valley. Why is Yahoo in peril here? Banner ads.

Ford, for instance, has literally stopped spending anything on non discretionary things. Just one company can have a huge impact.

So, what’s discretionary? Banner ads.

You know, those colorful banners that you’ll see on lots of sites, particularly old-school sites.

So, why isn’t Google seeing a huge drop like Yahoo did? Easy. Google’s income relies on text ads that only pay when people click on them.

Those “cost per click” kinds of ads are NOT discretionary.

This reminds me of the 1980s when I helped do the advertising for LZ Premiums, a now-defunct camera/appliance store in Silicon Valley. Advertising for us back then in the Mercury News was discretionary. We did it only when we had some money from a camera manufacturer that was slated for advertising. Our ad in the Yellow Pages, though, was NOT discretionary. Do that and your business would almost stop.

Google is the new Yellow Pages. If a business stops doing Google advertising it might as well just fire everyone and send them home.

That’s the difference between the advertising world today and the advertising world back in 1999.

Back then we didn’t have any advertising types that weren’t discretionary. Search the word “car” on Google for instance, and you’ll still see GM advertising there.

In a recession I think Google will even see MORE advertising as businesses get more desperate to find buyers.

Hint: banner advertising doesn’t bring buyers (at least not provably so). Text ads do.

Winner here? Google. Which is why Google is only down a couple percent today while Yahoo is down 13%.