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Posts Tagged ‘ecommerce’

The Bad Job Correlation: How Bad Companies Encourage New Business

Friday, April 15th, 2011

College is a time for learning and really bad jobs.  Some of us work at Subway, while others (me) had to participate in a parade of horrible jobs.  I worked for my father and he had a wide range of business endeavors – commercial real estate, mini-storage and estate auctions.  He also had partners that had really side businesses.  One installed cable antennas in rural North Dakota; the other built homes.

Unlike working at the pool or some awesome restaurant, I was my father’s indentured servant.  My days consisted of looking for some type of wrench or nail (I’m not very mechanical) or sitting on a steep pitched roof in Valley City, ND, with a 40 foot piece of metal, waiting to hear if the TV. inside showed any signs of life.

One extremely hot day, on some metallic roof (applying some type of glue or something), I said to myself “I cannot be an outside working guy.  I have to get an office job.”  So, I took out an outrageous amount of student debt, and got an office gig.

But all is not as it seems in corporate America.  In talking with friends and former classmates, I think 90% of people I meet don’t like their day job.  Whether it’s a manager or corporate culture (e.g. type of place where everything has to be in a CYA email), people are scratching their head for an idea.  One that gets them out of their office and into their own business.

A friend of mine recently quit his job as a general counsel for a Fortune 500 company.  His main complaint was the lack of control over his career and not a lot of exciting moments during the day.  So, what is he trying to do now? Work with some young Tech company?  Nope.  He’s scouting locations for a self-serve yogurt shop.

Another guy I know roams the sterile hallways of his corporate job, thinking of any concept that could get funding…anything from mineral rights to a new way to run match-making sites.  All of this is because he has a boss that he can’t stand.

So, in a way, America owes a lot to terrible work environments.  Otherwise, there’d be much less entrepreneurial spirit.

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Posts Tagged ‘ecommerce’

Two Worlds Clashed and Delivered this Awesome Margarita Machine

Friday, March 18th, 2011

In one of the classic Seinfeld episodes, George Costanza doesn’t want his girlfriend to become chummy with his friends…as his worlds would collide and all would be lost.  Well, recently during some shopping tasks the online and offline shopping worlds have collided and I couldn’t be more excited. 

I could bore you with a story about how we saved some money on a recent home renovation purchase, but let’s get down to the brass tacks – thanks to the colliding worlds, I scored a very nice Jimmy Buffet Margaretville Fiji Series margarita machine. 

This baby does it all, margaritas, daiquiris, pina coladas and smoothies (who the hell cares about smoothies, but it is a feature, so I thought I’d mention it).  I’ve been coveting this beverage maker for a while – but it’s been a bit price prohibitive.  Something like $350 for a fancy blender that shaves ices didn’t seem like a prudent use of savings.

Then the world collision occurred…thanks to the ole’ iPad.  My wife was at a retail store and saw the gleaming beauty on the shelf…but with the same outrageous price.  However, she found it the store’s online store for $199.  Suddenly, margaritas at the dojomike household were flowing.

Let’s go over a few rules with this device:

  1.  Measure the amount of alcohol:  When you’re at home making margaritas, it’s easy to wing it.  Ok, that’s fine with the first pitcher.  But pitcher number two, your ability to wing it becomes clouded.
  2. Adding fruit improves the taste, but the alcohol level remains the same.
  3. The theory of the “ice will water down the alcohol” doesn’t work.

Now go out there let your worlds collide.  And while you’re out there, can you pick me up some lime juice?

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Posts Tagged ‘ecommerce’

What our Business Blog is Learning from Charlie Sheen

Friday, March 11th, 2011

We’re a small group at KikScore and I’ll be the first to say that writing a blog post at the end of the day sometimes isn’t the first thing on my mind.  But every week we put out new content and (Raj) works the Tweet machine thingy every day.  We research topics, think of fun entries and find funny photos to associate with our content.

All of this has lead to a steadily growing readership and followers.  We’ve found integration partners and new customers.  Heck, the blog has been called out by the New York Times.  But let’s be honest.  Charlie Sheen got 1 million followers in 25 hours, and over 74,000 people want to be his intern.  Charlie Sheen is killing us in the use of Social Media.  His torpedoes of truth have hit our hull and unless we change course, we’ll sink.  We surrender, Charlie.  We’re now learning from your lead:

1.  Blog Drunk or Otherwise Be Wildly Entertaining:  I haven’t missed a single blog steam of Charlie’s.  Is it because I’m mad at CBS or the producers of Two and a Half Men?  No.  I hate all CBS comedies and that stupid show in particular.  Look, it’s a nerd and his fat son living with a swinging bachelor.  Hee-larious.  No.  The reason I watch is because I love seeing how irrational Charlie acts.  It’s a new car wreck each night. 

2.  Stick to a Theme:  Mr. Sheen is not waxing poetic about politics or international relations.  He has a very narrow focus…”Charlie Sheen” [read in strangely intense voice].  He owns that topic and lives in every nuance.  Just like the blog Calculated Risk owns Macro Economics, Charlie owns the effects of massive amounts of money and drugs on a coddled, half-wit celebrity.

3.  Less is more:  If Charlie sent constant updates about what was on his iPod right now, I would stop following him on Twitter.  No.  Charlie gives a random “Du-uh” and something odd about “Trolls” and “Warlocks” (by his usage I’m assuming Trolls are bad and Warlocks are good) and the readers eat it up. 

4.  It Doesn’t Hurt to Seem Completely Unstable:  Not a lot of analysis here.  Just stating the obvious.

 So look for KikScore to do some wildly erratic things in upcoming posts and then bask in a wave of undeserved or logical attention.  We’re counting on you, America.

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Posts Tagged ‘ecommerce’

My Diet Pepsi Could Give Me a Heart Attack or Stroke: When Your Product Gets a Little Bad Press

Friday, February 11th, 2011

Part of my morning routine is having Morning Joe on in the morning.  It’s a great mix of politics, policy, news and pop culture (this isn’t what this post is about, but if you can check out the show).  I was expecting to hear another news update on Egypt, the deficit, or a freak snow storm in Georgia (it’s a great show, but pretty predictable).

As I’m brushing my teeth, I hear Misha (Joe’s sidekick) talk about a recent study on how people who drink at least one diet soda each day double their risk for heart attack or stroke.  Not good.  I hammer down about 5-8 cans of Diet Pepsi or Diet Mountain Dew each day.  Math is not a strong suit, but by my calculations, I should be going through my 10th heart attack right about now.

With that news, I left my hotel room (I’m traveling, I’m not in a fight with my wife) and dedicated myself to making a change.  Herbal teas.  Spring water.  Fruit juices.  I’m going to be a new man.  By 11:00am (4 hours since hearing the study), I was opening my first of 3 Diet Pepsis.

Why did I change my tune?  Was the well articulated response from the beverage industry?  Did they put out a list of counter-arguments to the findings (i.e. that people that drink diet soda or more likely to be overweight and thus more likely to have a health problem)?  Nope.  Partly it’s because I have a problem and I love my morning soda.  But the other reason was the more I thought about the study, the more it kept raising the brand in my mind.  Diet Pepsi is bad for me… Diet Pepsi is bad for me….mmmm Diet Pepsi.

So keep this in mind when your product gets written up or criticized in a blog or something…there definitely will be loss of revenue, but to your die-hard customers, it will just be a reminder that they need another Diet Pepsi.

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Posts Tagged ‘ecommerce’

Advertising Evolves to Become More Effective and Relevant Amidst Privacy Concerns

Monday, January 17th, 2011

If you own a house in the Baltimore-Washington metropolitan area or any state where door-to-door soliciting is legal, there’s a good chance you’ve had your fair share of canvassers come knock on your door. If the canvasser introduced himself as Mike and tried to say something about a free estimate for windows before you told him to get lost, we’ve probably already met. Like myself years ago, most canvassers are teenagers in high-school, attracted by the commission-based pay and opportunity to work outside. A backlash against door-to-door marketing has grown as disenchanted workers and homeowners accused companies of exploiting unskilled youth labor and invading personal privacy. Minors are barred from canvassing and telemarketing in many states, according to the US Department of Labor

Since beginning college at American University, I’ve left the unfortunate trade of canvassing in favor of unpaid internships that do not induce ego rot caused by constant rejection by cold-call leads. The state of advertising has evolved since, becoming more personalized by utilizing the personal information that most Americans make available online. Cold call marketing, such as through telemarketing and canvassing, is being replaced by personalized ads on the internet. Business owners are no longer left to shoot in the dark. Facebook has pioneered this front by allowing businesses to create ads (using this simple form) that appear to users based on personal information posted in their profiles. Although I’ve discovered a few good bands through these ads, aimed specifically toward me because I like 50+ artists, most are no more relevant than anything I’d expect to hear from a telemarketer. Despite Facebook’s efforts to deliver relevant ads, promotions for Methadone treatment and Doom Metal bands still make their way to bewildered consumers.

Those who have seen Steven Speilberg’s film adaptation of Philip K. Dick’s Minority Report remember a scene where Tom Cruise is immediately identified by ubiquitous retina scanners when walking into a mall, and bombarded with personal advertisements. “Hey, Tom, you really look like you could use a Guinness.”

embedded by Embedded Video

YouTube Video

With the consistently growing presence of advertisements in our culture, this dystopia may be an accurate prediction of the future for consumers. Is Facebook already crossing the line by utilizing users’ personal information to direct advertisements? Or is this a better alternative to being harassed by telemarketers and canvassers?

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Posts Tagged ‘ecommerce’

What Makes a Good Partnership for Your Business

Friday, October 1st, 2010

No matter what type of product or service your business provides, the question of partnerships will come up.  There are several types of structures a partnership can take,  but it usually breaks down into two real forms: Complementary and Marketing.  Complementary relationships focus on offering a service to an existing platform (and group of potential customers for your business).  Marketing relationships is really just an offshoot of that, but the focus is less on filling a need than attracting the attention of an audience. 

Which is right for your business really depends on your product and the potential audience.  For example, we here at KikScore just announced an integration with Shopster.  To us, it really is an ideal arrangement.  First off, it broadens the awareness of our product and has been generating a lot  of new customers.  But it also filled a need for Shopster — providing a cutting edge trust/security service for its platform customers.  In other words, we’re providing a service that is needed to a customer base that we both want to reach. 

Sounds pretty straightforward, right?  But it’s not.  You need to find the right partner.  Our integration and relationship with Shopster would never be successful if we didn’t share the same view about customer service and quality. It’s hard enough to build concencus with your own team, but unless you communicate well with your partner, and are on the same page, things can get really difficult.

We’re feeling pretty good about our newest partnership, and we’re excited about the buzz it’s creating, but it only reinforces all the preparation and deliberation we took in working with Shopster.  So here’s to partnerships and finding the right one.  We feel we did.

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Posts Tagged ‘ecommerce’

Fans, Followers and Actual Customers For Your Small Business

Saturday, September 18th, 2010

I’m looking forward to the new Facebook expose movie, The Social Network.  Why?  Because if I can’t be a billionaire like Mark Zuckerberg, I may as well get to revel in a less than flattering depiction in a  “historically inspired” film.  Now let’s be clear, if KikScore becomes half as successful as facebook, I’ll act way worse than Mr. Zuckerberg.  I’ll not even mind a movie painting me to be a rich recluse.

In thinking about Facebook, its impact on our social lives is obvious.  But its impact on small business is also growing.  As with Twitter, one of the first thing a business now does is to request individuals to become a fan, follower or friend to the business.  Now its still not clear as to what that actually does for the business in terms of credibility, but it is a growing trend. But trust aside, having your customers as your social network friends/followers keeps a business closer to its customers and what they are thinking.

The real business question is which should you focus on:  Facebook or Twitter?  In a perfect world you could do both.  But in a perfect world, you wouldn’t have to update your status, it would always just say “rich and retired”.  Twitter seems to have taken the initial lead, with companies using it for customer service response.  But Facebook is coming on strong, with more companies using the multi-media demension of FB to tell more of a story than microblogging can.

So I pose the question to you:  for your small business, is it Facebook or Twitter.

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Posts Tagged ‘ecommerce’

Customer Service 2.0: Is the Phone Number Dead?

Friday, August 27th, 2010

First off, you know you’re getting old when you begin a blog post with the phrase “this new generation”…and then comment on how things used to be done.  Of course, you’re probably not that old if you’re writing a blog post in the first place, but my point is, when you start noticing differences, you’re aging is noticeable.

But this new generation has a different view towards customer service.  In my day (ahhh, the 90′s…Nirvana was popular, there were new “Twilight” books, and I had a full head of hair), customer service meant an 800 number.  A big break through was an email address, but you never really relied on getting a message back…so you called customer service to get an answer.

As our customer base at KikScore grows, there is something very noticeably absent — that would be phone calls.  Instead, people are looking at our product videos, sending us emails, asking questions on Twitter.  It’s great in many respects — phone calls are time consuming to process and that costs money.  But the written word and videos often don’t convey specifically the information what a customer is looking to get…so it can either result in a frustrating customer experience or it results in a lot of interaction to get a question answered.

So, I’m getting older and I can roll with the punches and not complain about how things have changed…but I’m not sure if the extinction of the phone number is a good thing.

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Posts Tagged ‘ecommerce’

The Magic of Metrics

Wednesday, August 18th, 2010

As a small business grows and not only builds the customer base but also expands the solution offerings, a metrics tracking method should be developed. There are a wealth of options of different metrics to track across any business. The hype for small companies seem to focus on SEO and website traffic metrics, but there are other business and process facing metrics that can greatly help a small business grow and succeed.

This article promotesmetrics are magic.  Key areas that can keep all team members in-check are to outline metrics surrounding milestones with dates and deadlines, and tracking of metrics like calls, presentations, programming modules, etc.

Depending up on the size and complexity of your business, utilizing a tool set to track and report on metrics could be very useful.  This provides the business leaders an avenue in which to review and evaluate trends and to determine if new solutions are working as expected and increasing cash flow.

Metrics help to outline the quality and measurement of success for any given business, product or process.  As a small business owner, factoring quality into daily activities helps to keep the entire team focused on top quality solutions and practices

What defines a quality metric and tips how to determine where your solution measures up?  The key is to create a metrics roadmap early in your business cycle so that you can formulate processes and checkpoints throughout that adhere to it.

The metrics you track will change over time, as your business expands (or shrinks).  You must also be diligent in that tracking process and share out not only the positive metrics, but the negative ones as well with your entire team. The only way to improve upon your business processes and ensure quality is to define the metrics and make appropriate changes to continue to improve them.  And allow your business to evolve in a positive light by continuously reviewing the metrics and creating new benchmarks that define your business success.

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Posts Tagged ‘ecommerce’

Build Trust By Listening and Sharing

Wednesday, August 4th, 2010

A couple weeks ago, I focused on the need for valuable and easy to use feedback tools for your customers.  While continuing to research this topic and build best practices for KikScore, a colleague shared this great article with me on How to Make the Most of Customer Feedback.  As a small company, I realized we tend to get caught up in task items of the release schedule we’ve set forth and lose sight of the customer connection – until an issue arises and you are placed in emergency mode.

This article touches well on the subject of empowering customer-facing employees.    As you continue to expand your solution offerings and grow your customer base, this becomes a critical area of focus.  And it’s not just sales personnel, this includes customer support and even marketing resources who are interfacing with customers on a regular basis.  By giving your employees the right tools to not only listen to customer input but also to respond and raise awareness throughout the rest of the organization.  This also goes to the level of communicating in a transparent manner to your customers on what is coming next from your company.  This helps to promote trust between company and customer and shows how your company listens and reacts.

The aspect of close the loop with those giving feedback empowers your customers to then not only see how you take their opinions to heart but also how your company strives to prioritize and stay one step ahead.  Simple steps to promote customer loyalty and make your business a success.

What feedback processes do you have in place and how does your business track and prioritize them?

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