Archive for February, 2007

maybe I need a wizard

stonewall2.jpg

As some of you may know I’m in the process of searching for a marketing job. So I’ve been contacting a lot of different companies following up on job leads. This post is about closed organizations. I consider a closed organization one where the barriers to entry for getting basic information are VERY high. I’ve recently dealt with two companies that I consider closed. The first is Scripps Networks, they produce/own the TV shows HGTV, Fine Living, DIY, etc. They have some pretty on demand shows, and they’ve grown a ton. However, they make it hard for people to join their ranks. Like most people I try to do research on a position before I apply for it, I like to find out who I’ll report to, and what they’ve done, and general company info. So I was doing research on the position that was listed on the Scripps website. I couldn’t find the information I was looking for on Google so I figured I’d just call them up directly. I received at the time the curtest treatment I’ve ever received when I was asking about a job – a posted job. Basically, the receptionist told me that the information I was asking about, wasn’t public knowledge and never would be and I couldn’t know it. So you’re thinking it’s some top-secret trade secret right? Nope, just the name of the Director of Innovation. Not their email, or phone number just the name. I find that ridiculous.

The second company is Lynskey Performance Designs. They are based in Chattanooga, TN and they make great custom titanium road and mountain-bike frames. To the tune of a few thousand dollars each for the frame only. So I stopped in at their shop one day to hopefully talk with the Director of Marketing. Well attempted to. The first sign is that you can’t walk in their building. You can see in the door, but you have to get buzzed in from their receptionist. Who WILL give you the third degree before she lets you in. My session with her went like this:

Her: “Name and who are you with”
Me: “Hi I’m Gavin Baker, and I was just hoping to look at your bikes”
Her: “We don’t sell bikes, this is a manufacturing facility”
Me: “I’m sorry, I thought you made custom bike frames? I was just hoping to see one”
Her: “We don’t have any you can look at”
Me: “Oh, well I was just hoping to see a couple. I was just driving past on my way down to Atlanta.”
Her: “From where?”
Me: “Knoxville, TN”
Her: “I’ll see if someone can talk to you”

A couple of notes, I was able to talk to their sales manager, and he showed me a couple of their bikes, and they are beautiful and well crafted for sure. And I appreciate the time he gave me. But I want to break a few things down.

First she can’t see me. So she doesn’t know if I’m Joe Blow, or I am the most important client she’s ever talked to. Secondly, if I owned a company that made CUSTOM frames and someone stopped in to see them, you better believe I’ll show them a few. This isn’t the corner bike shop, we are talking about thousands of dollars per sale. Turning away dollars at the door is not a great strategy. Personally, I think Lynskey should open their shop up, say come on by. Create an owner community. It’s not unheard of for people that custom order cars to fly to the factory to drive it off the lot, or Saturn owners to show up in droves to see where their car was built. The same will hold true of people that are buying a custom frame. Would all that many people stop by, maybe not. The one’s that did, would probably be in the percentage to share with EVERYONE their great experience, and their great bike, and how awesome it is. WOM straight and simple. Maybe it wouldn’t be that many people, but they wouldn’t lose potential customers in the process.

So from my experience with these two companies I’ve become jaded. I sit here and think, these two companies want good people to work with and for them, but they make it incredibly hard for anyone to get to them. Should it be the yellow brick road? Certainly not, but should it be the Great Wall of China?

Have a great day.

collaborativefailure=genius

lightbulb2.jpg

This past weekend I was involved with a photo shoot. I wasn’t the one modeling, but boy I had a lot more fun then I thought I would. I had pretty low expectations, and my brother even said before we left that it wouldn’t be zoolander-like. WOW was he wrong.

We walk in the doors at 10am and the techno music is pumping and it’s in this big industrial warehouse location. Vicki our graphic designer was totally fashion-trendy, our photographer John, was totally emo, and his make-up assistant, Heather, had on pink snow boots, white sweatpants with PINK across the butt, a pink hoody and bleached blond hair up in spikes. So awesome.

What I really found interesting from the experience was being part of the process and watching creative collaboration happen in real-time. We’d normally call this “brainstorming” but that seems to aseptic for what I was part of it was really fun to sit back and watch it play out.

The interactions between the model and the photographer. The interactions between the photographer and the graphic designer. The interactions between the graphic designer and the model. Watching the creative process in real-time. Watching ideas spark ideas. It was almost like watching a stream of consciousness. We started at A expected to end up at B, and instead we ended up at N. But that’s not bad, or wrong, just more then we expected. The idea grew between the interactions. This itself isn’t a new idea, it was just neat to be part of.

The takeaway is this:

It comes down to the willingness to fail. John and Vicki tried some different things. The got creative with it. They followed tangential thoughts. If we were shooting 35mm would they have tried, probably not. But in a digital world there is room to fail. We took 18 GB of pictures in 4 hours. Some of them are going to be horrible, maybe the lighting may be a bit off. Or his face may be contorted. But in a digital world, it doesn’t matter. We scrap those and move on, because in that freedom to fail some of the pictures are going to be amazing for what we wanted. We could have been simple and boring, but we pushed the edge, and got some great shots. Josh over at his blog hyku mentions this idea of risk-less digital as well. He says, “You ask questions, you stir up controversy. Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn’t. The beauty of the medium is that you can fail fast and cheap.”

When the cost of failure is low, we normally experiment a bit more. I am a fan of the mantra “Go big or go home” How can you go big or go home? How can you experiment more? How can you fail (and learn) more?

If you want to check out Vicki’s work/company Bullhorn Creative

If you want to see some of John’s work, go to Vicki’s site, he took the picture on the opening page.

Have a great day everyone.

linkage

Just wanted to share some sites of services that I’ve used recently and find pretty dandy. Check them out.

A pretty cool idea, so far I’ve only used it to get files too large to email to some friends. Although as I get used to it, I think I’ll find other uses for it’s services. You get up to 1GB free.

Mozy is a site similar to Box.net in that you can upload information to the site. But what I use the site’s services for are a backup on Windows PC’s. No support for Macs yet, but the software is very intuitive. Essentially all you do is sign-up for an account, and you get 2GB free, and then you use their software to remotely upload the files/folders you want to to backup to their servers. Not as fool-proof as an external HD or CD/DVD’s or all three, but I just use it as one of my backup solutions. One of the best features about the back up is you can schedule it to back up at a certain time, or you can allow it to choose when to back up when the computer is being unused. Pretty nifty I thought. Additional note, you also get extra storage space when you refer people. So do it in groups.


Sounds pretty novel, I saw it on basically you can take a picture with your camera phone or other digital camera of a white board, document, business card (those are the three they list) and you email to scanr and they will email you back a digitized copy of whatever you sent in. This strikes me as interesting, but maybe a solution to an unknown problem. Note: They do have minimum requires for original picture size. The camera on my Audivox SMT-5600 Smartphone doesn’t take pictures that have high enough resolution to use this service. It shoots at 640×480.

Have a great day.

who doesn’t want to jump on the bandwagon?

I just saw this over at Russel Davies’ blog. It is what it says it is. “Online iTunes backup for music aficionados”

It launches tomorrow, Feb 22. Currently if you post their logo they are giving away a free year of full featured service. Sounds interesting, check it out.


My Flickr Photos