How to Take Advantage of Apple’s Marketing Budget

Thanks to Matt Inouye and Distrosnack:

Leverage relevant big brands’ existing marketing spend, tailgate off their ride:

1. Bid on their branded AND longtail keywords

2. Write content about them: the ultimate integration guide to [ BIGASS BRAND NAME HERE ]

I’ve seen Apple used a lot for this. Check out these 2 great examples from Yahoo Finance I found. They’re not about Apple but adding Apple to the headline makes them interesting. I’ve edited out “Apple” for comparison.

Are Emojis The Fastest Growing Language In History?
Apple’s Middle Finger: Are Emojis The Fastest Growing Language In History?

Big Tech Companies Are Next After EU Starbucks Tax Ruling
Apple, Amazon Are Next After EU Starbucks Tax Ruling

Dissatisfied Customers Become Your Most Vocal Advocates?

In 2009, Ellen Brasse launched coop@home, a grocery shopping app for Coop, a Switzerland-based grocer. After the app took off, Brasse actively began seeking feedback from customers to better meet their needs. Through consistent surveys, Brasse realized that the most loyal customers were those who had voiced a complaint and had their problem resolved, not those who had never had a problem with Coop’s services. Although it may be tempting to ignore customers’ negative feedback, this case study shows that dissatisfied customers provide a means for process improvement and can become a company’s most loyal and vocal advocates.
Quote and emphasis courtesy of the esteemable Dan Walsh (source)

How to: Rediscover Books You Abandoned

The book “Invisible Cities” has been sitting on my virtual Kindle bookshelf for months.

This morning, I came across a quote from its author in this amazing video about GPS tracking for trash, and was reminded of my abandoned book.

These days, I prefer listening to books to reading books. So, I went online to see the price of the audio book on Audible. Like most books on Audible, it’s listed as $20 🙁

“I feel like a dummy, I don’t want to waste $20. Maybe I’ll make another feeble attempt with the Kindle book”

Redemption! Whisper Sync

Then I noticed this cool service Amazon has where I could buy the Audible book for just $3.95. It’s called WhisperSync.

This is a chance for redemption. “I want to read this book. I haven’t read it in six months. I repent. Give me audio”.

“Give It Another Try”

I imagine an option on my Amazon account where, if I haven’t finished reading a book in 6 months, Amazon automatically gives me a cheap/free copy of it on Whisper Sync. It’s called the “Give It Another Try” program 🙂

Screenshot 2015-02-26 09.40.04

Rachel Carson’s Silent Spring: Bald Eagles vs Salamanders?

Just a thought my mom had while drinking coffee. Rachel Carson’s book Silent Spring is credited with inspiring the creation of the EPA (Environmental Protection Agency). Heres the thought:

Rachel Carson wrote about how DDT was destroying Bald Eagle eggs, the symbol of American independence.

Rachel showed that because of DDT, Bald Eagles were laying eggs with brittle fragile shells and dying off. That powerful image carried her idea around the country.

If she had written about just bees or salamanders instead, would her message have been lost?


Automatically Add Your “Currently Reading” GoodReads Book to Your Email Signature

Imagine if your signature automatically had a link to your latest updates, like this:

Email Sig Screenshot

I’ve been trying to find a way to add my latest tweet, blog post, and “currently reading” to my email signature. After a lot of searching, I found a Safari/Chrome/Thunderbird plugin called WiseStamp.

You can automatically include your top GoodReads “Currently Reading” book in every email signature. Twitter and Facebook, and other RSS feeds too!

Here’s how to add your GoodReads “Currently Reading” book to your email signature.

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This New DNA Test Will Eat 23andme’s Lunch


Screenshot 2014-11-13 08.32.48


Yes, the website totally reeks of trying to sell work-out products. Look below the surface. This new “MuscleGenes” test shows the future of genetic testing — a narrow focus on solving a problem.  See how the underlying business of DNA sequencing is changing? I’m not even an athlete and this sounds way more valuable to me than the nebulous “DNA test” from 23andme.

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Twilio Customer Support – What was the cake I ate at your office last night?

Here’s a fun one. Last night at 9:23 PM I wrote Twilio customer support the following:

Mystery Solved! I just checked my email at 10 am this morning. Here’s the answer, plus  a PHOTO of the original cake. (When I saw it, there was just a small slice left with the Salesforce logo on it.)






Huge props to Twilio Support!

My two cents, on top of being totally overjoyed. I think there’s more too this than “wow, Twilio has great customer service! How cool”. If I never wrote Twilio this weird email about cake, they never would have had the opportunity to try to do something amazing. Something about my visit to Twilio made me feel like “This is a crazy question to ask. But I think it’ll work out”.

How do you encourage people to give you the opportunity to do amazing things?

This is tricky. If every question to Twilio support was about normal, predicable, rational software support questions, like how to reset passwords and how to get software working, it would be hard to amaze customers. Great, fast response time to resetting my password. Yawn. How could a company like Twilio set themselves up for amazing interactions with others? (post comments with ideas!)

Here’s 2 quick ideas

1. Host a Meetup in your office: Twilio did. It was on Python and Music. They had everyone sign in, and we got to use their main meeting hall to learn about how to digitally analyze music using Python. There were free bottles of wine and beer. That’s cool, and you’re bringing in so many people who never otherwise would have visited your office. For the record, I have no idea what it is that Twilio does.

2. Make support easy to find: Their support line was easy to find, and I didn’t need an “account” to send a message. If I had needed an account, I would have abandoned my cake-search. To get there, I clicked “Help” on their homepage, and then “Talk to support” (great, understandable name for a support link!). Some web services I use have fast, excellent service, but every time I have a hard time finding it on their site.

Thanks, Twilio!

(By the way, I think a great way to encourage people to drink wine at an event is to open all the bottles. When I’m at events and I see a corked bottle of wine I think 1. e-gad, that’s going to take work to open 2. I’m only going to have a glass, maybe I’ll skip it so they can save the unopened bottle for their next event. Twilio had several bottles of open wine 🙂


Marketing – Food Delivery

3 near-identical ads. 2 un-interesting, 1 surprisingly compelling. Just change a bit of wording and formatting. Read on to find out what makes these ads curiously different.

IMG_8592.JPG  IMG_8596.JPG

IMG_8594.JPG is a food delivery “startup”. They’ve plastered Montgomery Station with about 20 advertisements, to encourage people to try their service.

Ad #1 – Delivery by Caviar

“Love Great Food?”

Yes but who doesn’t? This is like online dating profiles where your “match” likes “hanging out, eating great food, and traveling!”. Next. Oh and the primary headline is “Delivered by Caviar”, and the domain is the biggest thing on the poster. Blowing up the name of the business is a telltale that this ad is a dud.

Ad #2 – Ike’s Place

Name of a Restaurant! The Name of a Restaurant!

The Name of a Restaurant isn’t a headline. It says nothing. It’s like going into a crowd and saying “John!” loudly over and over again. No one cares. (Maybe if the Restaurant was well known, like “McDonalds”, this would work?). Ike’s Place Delivered would have been better.

Ad #3 – Ike’s Delivered

I liked this ad the most. It made me realize what TryCaviar was really about.

I had a vegan meatball sandwich from Ike’s 6 months ago. Memorable and amazing. They only make delicious sandwiches. The issue with Ike’s is the hour long wait. You stand in line for an hour to get one of their sandwiches. It’s *that* good. I’m excited about going again and “Ike’s Delivered” caught my eye. – “I can sit at home and watch Buffy Vampire Slayer, and get Ike’s put into my mouth. WIN.”

Size matters?

I don’t think it’s a coincidence that I found the shortest ad to be the most effective. It’s not that more words is bad. It’s that with the bigger format ads, the designer added in a bunch of weak copy. With the ad on the pole, they had to trim it down to the bare minimum, and in the process they accidentally (?) came up with a great ad. I would take that ad, identify 10 other restaurants that meet the same criteria as Ikes, and put those variants on the walls of Montgomery station.

Other restaurants – Little Star

I love Little Star Pizza. There’s a set of Caviar ads in Montgomery Station featuring Little Star Pizza (swap out “Ikes” for “Little Star”, you get the point). But getting Little Star delivered is less appealing to me. Little Star is a destination, I can hang out there and have a party, and even though the pizza takes awhile, it’s a fun event. I can get delivery by calling up the restaurant, too. Ike’s really resonated with this idea of food delivery, but Little Star didn’t.

Other restaurants – Cha Cha Cha

I’d never heard of the 6 or so other restaurants before. These ads carry no value to me. I don’t care they exist, and don’t need them delivered.


As an advertiser, these ads don’t enable you to figure out which posters were effective! Simply putting a 3 digit code after the URL would be great. I guess you could look at inbound traffic where the visitor typed in the URL, but that’s tough. I checked out Caviar’s website, and Ike’s was the 3rd restaurant I clicked, even though that was the ad that got me interested. If they’re going to pursue this line of advertising, they should use more tracking to figure out what restaurants resonate with their “iconic food” campaign.

#3 is Best

I liked ad #3 a lot more than #1 and #2, and much more than any of the other restaurants featured in the campaign. I thought it was interesting that of all 20 posters in the campaign, only 1 spoke to to me. But is #3 a good ad? I’d say it works great for Ike’s restaurant. Are there other restaurants with the same criteria where sounds appealing?

Ike’s = insanely delicious food + long wait times + lame location + no delivery + I have heard of it

Maybe Ike’s is the only place that fits this campaign well. (Papalote’s Burritos and Tartine may good candidates for me.) But this is a pretty narrow criteria to say “X Delivered” and have it be meaningful. Overall, the message of this advertising campaign might be too narrow to bet the whole business on. But for me & Ikes, it works great. I’ll be ordering Ike’s lunch this week and watching Buffy, and in true food delivery fashion, I won’t be wearing pants.