Tuesday, December 23, 2008
Original post on Yanko Design
I like my Lamborghinis like I like my cheese-burgers : fast and flamboyant. And since you are an aficionado of such big and scary things, we’ll let you decide whether its worth 495,000 EUR for a one- of-a-kind Italian supercar designed by celebrity “skulls and swishes” fashion designer Christian Audigier.
Also the car goes very fast.
Edo Competition Motorsports, known for their benchmark-customization and modification of supercars has “pulled out all the stops” as they say; cooperating with Christian Audigier to create, YES(!), the fastest and most flamboyant Lamborghini ever made. It’s dubbed the “edo LP 710″ and 5 will be produced. Each car is unique with designs chosen from a limited selection of graphic options by the customer. These graphics are designed by Audigier, painted by Austrian pinstriper Marcus Pfeil.
The engine is a 6.5 liter V12 with output at 710 hp and 700 Nm (516 ft-lb). Acceleration at 0 - 100 km/h (62 mph) in 3.2 seconds and 0 – 200 km/h (124 mph) in under 10 seconds. Top speed at >360 km/h (>224 mph).
Net price: 495,000 EUR (690,000 USD)
The wheels are also, yes you guessed it, quite nice. The “edo LP 710″ has a 19in light-alloy wheel set with 2 tires in the front and 2 in the back! Oh and they are: 225/35 ZR 19 Continental V-max in the front and 325/30 ZR 19 Continental V-max in the back.
Finally, edo’s made a single disc clutch for this ‘gini and has taken the 4-wheel drive standard setup and turned it into a 2-wheel setup (rear wheel drive). With this modification in place, the edo’gini saves 40 kg (88 lb) - and ya know it’s gonna b’mo agile on da’ streets.
Note: I want at least 13 skulls on the one they’re sending me. I told them that if there’s even one skull missing or extra, I’m gonna just be so pissed!
Designers: Lamborghini & Christian Audigier [ Via: AutoBlog ]
Monday, December 22, 2008
Original post Brad Sugars at Entrepreneur.com
Are your marketing campaigns too creative? Here's what separates a marketing plan that works from one that doesn't.
A good marketing plan is like a battle plan or a game plan; it should serve as a guide and a blueprint for the actions you need to take to grow your business. It should also have some flexibility because as you start testing and measuring tactics, you'll need to shift strategies from time to time, to capture or gain share in a particular market.
That said, a good plan doesn't need to be complicated. Jay Conrad Levinson (known for his Guerilla Marketing tactics) says you can create a great marketing plan in just seven sentences. Can such a concise document be effective? I would say from personal experience, yes. Levinson's simple approach has formed the basis for business coaches in my firm with great success.
There are some things, however, you should avoid when putting together your own marketing plan for your business. Remember, the best marketing is a synergistic combination of good strategy and tactics, and you can't do either one effectively without the other. Don't be tempted to stray from these fundamentals. Enticing yet highly subjective ideas like "image," "branding" and "creativity" are important marketing tools, but they're not as vital as getting a firm footing in the basics--which ironically start on the accounting end of things.
When putting together your marketing plan for the first (or umpteenth) time, here are some things to avoid:
- Filling your plan with fluff: "Fluff" is anything not specifically related to a number, strategy or tactic. Generalities also qualify. Saying your target market is "everybody" or "adults 50-plus" isn't specific enough and will lead to problems down the road. Start to think in terms of a niche. Instead of "everybody," scale down to "young males 16-plus who play video games and ride skateboards." Instead of "adults 50-plus" turn this into "adult women at least 50 years of age who shop online at least three times a week."
Remember, marketing is all about buying customers. Imagine going into a grocery store and buying everything. You may want to, but in reality, your resources would never allow it. In marketing terms, this means buying your ideal customer with the resources you already have. So figure out who your ideal customer is and how much you can budget to buy that customer. Then come up with a plan and stick to it. Know that most of your competition won't have the discipline to do the same thing--or will follow a plan that has been filled with too much fluff.
- Not doing the numbers: Marketing is all about math, and math is all about numbers. Taken a step further--business is all about numbers. If you don't know your numbers, you won't succeed in business. Creating any marketing plan without knowing how much it'll cost to acquire your customer, what your average sale needs to be, what your profit margins need to be and how many times your average customer needs to buy over a lifetime will set you up for failure. If you're going to run a $1,000 advertisement, how many leads and sales will you have to make to cover the cost of the ad, let alone make a profit?
- Relying too heavily on creativity: Creativity is fine, and in my opinion, there's nothing more creatively fulfilling than succeeding in business. But focusing too much on creativity at the expense of tactics and outcomes can hurt your business.
A great example of this is the difference between the once-famous and now-defunct brand Pets.com and the still famous and thriving brand eBay. While Pets.com relied heavily on its famous sock puppet icon and national TV ad to drive its brand, eBay (under CEO Meg Whitman) took a very tactical approach to its business. By moving from its original model of a collectibles auction site to embrace a number of upscale markets, eBay was able to boost its average sale price, a key metric in determining its transaction fees. While the sock puppet was creative, boosting average sale price produced a tangible outcome. This is why it pays to know the numbers that ultimately drive your business.
- Thinking marketing is only advertising: While advertising is part of any marketing plan, marketing is much more than strictly advertising. Marketing is not only how you sell your products or services, but also the way your receptionist answers the phone and how you set up your internal company culture. In addition, it's the strategic and tactical aspects of identifying and segmenting your ideal customer base, discovering your competitive edge and USP (unique selling proposition), setting your pricing strategy, sales strategy and promotional strategy, creating and tracking a system for repeat business, and testing and measuring all of these to leverage effort and maximize ROI.
Note that if your advertising doesn't yield an ROI, you've fallen into the "creative" trap, and that's both expensive and wasteful. You'll know you're in it when your vendors tell you, "Half of your advertising works, and half doesn't--you'll never know which half," or the even more famous, "it takes 17 weeks for people to get name recognition and then they'll start buying from you."
- Forgetting to market to existing customers and prospects: For businesses that have moved beyond the startup phase, there's no better or quicker way to massive growth than your current customers and "warm" pool of prospects. Generally, it costs up to six times more to get a new customer than to sell something to an existing customer. So if your plan doesn't include initiatives to tap into your current customers, you're missing out on a huge untapped resource.
Many marketers get so caught up in chasing new markets or customers, they forget the goldmine that exists within their current business. Don't make the same mistake; develop strategies to tap into what could be your most valuable--and profitable--resource.
As the end of the year approaches, take some time to start setting some objectives and clarifying how to make next year your best and most profitable yet. A large part of that success will depend on the actions and decisions you make now in the form of your marketing plan--and avoiding the costly mistakes that cause most businesses to abandon their efforts early and often.
If the metaphor "marketing as warfare" fits, know that wars are won by attrition. If you can out-perform, out-strategize and out-discipline your competition, you'll win more of your own company's marketing battles.
Brad Sugars is Entrepreneur.com's Startup Basics columnist and the writer of 14 business books including The Business Coach, Instant Cashflow, Successful Franchising and Billionaire in Training. He is the founder of ActionCOACH, a business coaching franchise.
Friday, December 19, 2008
Original post: Yanko Design
With “WILD FOLD.” Yes, it is the Mac Attack. Who else would go so wild? I ask you that. Here Mac Funamizu takes the idea of the Samsung Flexible OLED and applies it to several conceptual phones. How small is too small? Certainly we’ve tested the limits with certain fruit-related-mp3-players of late, correct? And how much fold is really necessary? With Mac, we will always know how far is too far!
Peek at the several concepts below, and view the video that is Mr. Funamizu’s source of inspiration. I love it when a new bit of technology comes out and people RUSH to bust it all apart with ideas!
Creation is progress!
Video is of the Samsung Flexible OLED at the 2008 FPD International.
Designer: Mac Funamizu
Original post at Yanko Design (of course).
Oh snap! It’s a Danish super car. Somehow those two words don’t go together in my head. When I think super car, I think Japan, America, Italy, Germany, maybe even France and England - but Denmark? It’s true, the Zenvo ST1 is a real Danish supercar with excessive power; a V8 1,104 pony galloping engine to be exact. The turbocharged 7.0 liter 6 speed manual tranny pushes the Zenvo ST1 from 0-60 in just 3 seconds. For safety and legal reasons, the car is electronically limited to 232 mph.
A car that fast needs major brakes to stop it and this baby uses a set of ventilates 380 mm disc brakes and 6 piston calipers up front, 355 mm discs gripped by 6 piston calipers at the rear. Made entirely of a steel frame wrapped in a carbon fiber body, the styling is striking and contemporary. Personally I think it’s a little contrived (angry blowfish?) but a head turner for sure and pretty much unlike any other recognizable super car on the road.
The interior is a different story. It’s pure luxury - strange for a super car. The alcantara leather trimmed interior hosts a bevy of high-tech niceties like dual zone climate control, full set of airbags, cruise control (at 232 mph no less), keyless entry, racing seats, and a G-force meter for all you gear heads.
How much is it gonna cost? I’m not sure but only 15 will be made so you can bet your bottom dollar only 3% of the world’s population can afford it.
Original post on Electronista
Further details have surfaced today of a major initiative by Dell to tackle the designer 13-inch notebook market, including more information regarding the Adamo notebook. A leak through Engadget now claims to have confirmed that the Adamo is an ultraportable and will be marketed as the "world's thinnest laptop" in a deliberate bid to chase after the MacBook Air's similar claim; the system will reportedly come in black and silver trim made to present an upscale look.
What hardware features would be available and at what price are unknown, though the system is thought to have been originally scheduled for December but pushed back to February or later for unspecified reasons.
Also revealed as part of the leak are further details of the Studio XPS 13, a similarly delayed but more conventional notebook. The system is a higher-end counterpart to the Inspiron 13 and will hinge on trim somewhat similar to the Adamo with the addition of leather. Closer shots than from a previous leak also reinforce design choices closer to Apple's standard MacBook and certain Sony VAIOs, including a new keyboard design and a display with a flush glass cover.
Earlier leaks have pointed to the system undercutting Apple's price by making the LED backlight optional but that options will exist which aren't available on its rival, including Blu-ray, a dedicated GPU, 3G/4G access and a fingerprint reader.
Studio XPS 13 (Adamo not yet leaked)
Thursday, December 18, 2008
Original post by Jennifer Wang at Entrepreneur.com
In a sluggish economy, running leaner is a must, but not every money-saving measure is a good one. These experts discuss the moves you shouldn't make during tough times, even if they seem like easy ways to cut costs.
Having started his own business during the 2001 economic recession, Virgin Money USA CEO Asheesh Advani knows how to trim expenditures to keep a company afloat through a downturn. "The natural thing for business owners to ask is, 'Do you cut marketing, overhead or staff?' I think the right answer is to do a little bit of all three, but to be very careful on cutting what actually protects you on the downside," he says, noting that cost savings should never come at the expense of the ability to execute a long-term vision. As for startup financing, don't bother with venture capital. "It's not the right market to attempt this," Advani says. "Rely instead on family, friends and angel investors as your main sources of capital, and go to many people for smaller amounts of money. It's very much about finding investors who are patient and supportive, and usually people who have invested a small amount rather than a large amount will be willing to wait longer for repayment."
Penny Morey, founder of human resources consulting firm RemarkAbleHR, believes that the biggest errors in judgment relate to poor communication on management's part. "Instead of [employees] focusing on what they're supposed to be doing and helping the company to succeed . . . they tend to be looking for jobs, panicking and spending their time talking to each other about the bad news in the economy," she says. Morey suggests regular meetings with employees--weekly if possible. And certainly if the work force has been reduced, management should sit down with those left behind and acknowledge the changes. "It's not easy, but you can still boost morale," Morey says. "To me, people can be on your side or feel excluded, and most people want to be part of the solution if given the chance." Forthright communication is also the best method of damage control. If salary and benefits are being decreased, Morey advises putting together a strategy to convey the decision-making process. "If management is taking a salary cut along with everyone else, communicate it. People just want to know they're being treated fairly." Putting together a benefits statement is another way to emphasize positive thinking. "Include a summary of vacation, paid time off, insurance--show what the company is still doing to take the focus off what's being taken away." It's important to think long-term, Morey says. Performance evaluations, even if no longer tied to monetary incentives, still need to be done. "You need to make sure people are still setting goals and working toward them, and employees will want to know how they're doing and what's expected of them going forward."
Business owners with websites shouldn't cut corners on things that relate to quality of service, says Todd Thibodeaux, president and CEO of the Computing Technology Industry Association. "Don't downgrade from T1 to DSL," he says. "Make sure you're maintaining the security of customers' data, and keep your infrastructure in place. Don't hold off on buying a better piece of equipment." A better strategy is to actually examine service offerings that will help small-business owners eliminate the need to invest in their own IT tools. "Companies can offload obligation to maintain equipment and software through managed services and bring stability to their bottom lines," he says. According to Thibodeux, it's also an opportunity for businesses to reposition themselves for the anticipated green technology revolution. "It's a good time to see how you can increase energy efficiency and look for better sustainable technology."
"Mistake No. 1 is thinking that marketing is the best place to cut when businesses are looking to tighten their belts," says Ann Hadley, chief content officer at MarketProfs. "But it's not the time to jettison marketing. If business is slow and you're reining in your plan to get your name out there, it means fewer leads, less business and, ultimately, less income." In fact, increasing the frequency of communications with customers can boost revenue and stimulate demand for your offerings, especially if competitors are busy slashing prices instead of promoting the quality of their services. Marketing can also encourage customers to make purchases. "If you sell washing machines, for example, and people don't want to buy new models, you can stress how much they'll save on maintenance and electricity with a more energy-efficient model," she says. In addition, Hadley cautions business owners against taking on marketing responsibilities themselves. "For an entrepreneur, what you contribute first and foremost is your vision and leadership, and if you get mired in taking over someone else's job, you'll probably be less effective as a leader." To Hadley, the most important thing is to think past the immediate pain and position for the post-recession period. "The economy will go up and down, but now is a good time to be an industry leader, just like it is in every kind of environment."
Whoever said that the pen is mightier than the sword definitely knew what they were talking about. To humans, words are more than a means of communication, they can shape our beliefs, behaviors, feelings and ultimately our actions. Although swords can coerce us, and threaten, nothing is more powerful than a tool which can shape our opinions.
When it comes to language and communication, the rule is that it’s not what you say, but what people hear. Words are one of the most powerful tools that we as humans possess; they can ignite revolutions or defuse tension. The problem is that words are underestimated as being central to thought and behavior processing as well as decision making.
Dr. Frank Luntz, author of Words That Work: It’s not what you say, It’s what people hear describes the decision making process and communication based on feeling rather than information. “80 percent of our life is emotion, and only 20 percent is intellect, says Luntz in a PBS interview. “I am much more interested in how you feel than how you think. I can change how you think, but how you feel is something deeper and stronger, and it's something that's inside you. How you think is on the outside, how you feel is on the inside, so that's what I need to understand.”
This image shows the processing of language and the different organs and processes that go into analyzing, delivering and understanding language. Photo credit: National Science Foundation
Working as a pollster and a linguistics consultant, Luntz advises the Republican Party on their usage of words, their communications to the press and the world, and in a sense, changes the way that they direct their language to achieve the results that they desire from the public as a whole.
Because we hear so many words and messages in our daily lives, we have developed a system to deal with certain types of messages. People can engage in two types of message processing, either central processing, which is an active and critical thinking process, or peripheral processing, which takes cues from other parts of the message, and evaluates based on other things besides the actual meaning of the message. Central processing is triggered by certain queues, such as involvement and immediacy. In short, if something is going to affect someone and soon, they are going to listen carefully to the message. If they are interested, or compelled to listen, they are much less likely to evaluate what you are saying on a central level.
When it comes to messages of the mass media, most Americans process the information peripherally. This also includes political messages and information. When it comes to politics, the complexity of issues are reduced to peripheral cues like source credibility, attractiveness and emotional words like responsibility and family values.
When it comes to mass media messages, Americans process most information peripherally. Issues such as complexity and disinterest in the message can lead to decision making based on surrounding cues instead of triggering central processing and an active decision.
Politics is full of messages that are designed to trigger peripheral processing cues and behavior based on emotion rather than information. One word can be completely neutral in emotion while another word meaning the exact same thing can either spark love or rage in those that hear it. The emotion is the trigger, finding the words that cause the emotion is the job of linguistics experts like Luntz. His advise and consultation are partially responsible for the name change of the "Estate tax" to the "Death tax" and its subsequent elimination. "For years, political people and lawyers used the phrase "estate tax." And for years they couldn't eliminate it. The public wouldn't support it because the word "estate" sounds wealthy, explains Luntz. "Someone like me comes around and realizes that it's not an estate tax, it's a death tax, because you're taxed at death. And suddenly something that isn't viable achieves the support of 75 percent of the American people. It's the same tax, but nobody really knows what an estate is. But they certainly know what it means to be taxed when you die."
Republicans have also crafted their language to neutralize the fear of hazards due to global warming. Instead of referring to global warmer, the concept is dubbed "climate change" which lessens fears associated with global warming. Because of this change of behaviors and beliefs simply by the change of words, Luntz has been accused of manipulating language and therefore the audience absorbing the message.
The manipulation is not only isolated to the political or corporate world. Science and science research have also attracted suspicious glances from the public. This is why issues such as stem cells research and other breakthrough technologies are reacted to as vehemently as they are. The public, without proper tools to understand, and bombarded with complicated names and jargon of the science and health fields, are left to jumping on hot button issues like stem cell research. For example, I recently wrote an article about new technologies to reprogram adult tissue cells to pluripotent iPS cells. A reader commented on my article, suggesting that scientists use language to manipulate the public and hide behind words to avoid the hassle from the public. According to the reader, " Scientist have to be more careful about the names they give to their new (life-linked) researches and all of its parts in order to avoid "Xtrem moralists", superstitious and "Science/Tech/Research enemies" witch all the time, are searching and digging for any word slim linkable to any moralist religious or superstitious concepts just to obstruct or forbid it. If Steam Cells technologies had been called something like "XMFT-007" from its beginnings, Science wouldn't have gotten all the troubles it has due ignorance. So next time, get abstract names for your new life-linked Research."
Hiding behind abstract language is not the answer, effective communication is the key. This is another reason why people in power should use language which demonstrates clarity and reduces emotion. The public is also responsible for processing their information and relying on intellect instead of solely relying on peripheral cues. To better understand the way we react to information, research on communication is vital to understanding our reactions, emotions and how they build our behaviors and actions. With this information, we can better prepare effective communication to the public and also guard ourselves from fallacious or leading information designed to target our emotions. Because in the end "Its not what you say, its what they hear."
Wednesday, December 17, 2008
Found this great presentation of Graham Brown at SlideShare.net
Tuesday, December 16, 2008
Some Bloggers were recently taken to task when they published a sponsored Blog posting about a shopping spree they took with a major retailer. It is an amazing view into what marketing and advertising is in this new media channel (especially one where everyone can be a pundit and critic).
The idea of being paid to post is a fascinating and recurring topic (shall I trot out the dead horse now?), and one that needs to be removed from these specific incidents and looked at with a more macro perspective. The reality is that there are many great Bloggers out there who are seen as leaders. People want to connect to them and, more importantly, some companies see them as an opportunity to connect their brand to that community, or to build credibility and create awareness for their brands, products and services. Also, because there are no clear advertising and sponsorship models in many of these newer social channels (beyond buying banners), we're seeing a ton of experiments to figure out "what works." It's very interesting and somewhat confusing - but that's the amazing part of being in the Marketing, Advertising and Communications business right now.
Real interactions between real human beings.
Advertising works when it's the right brand in the right environment with the right audience. The general comments on these Blogs are all focusing on the levels of transparency and whether or not the Bloggers are entitled to take money in exchange for a Blog posting. I think this is the wrong conversation to have (all of these Bloggers were very transparent). Marketing and advertising works when there is trust between the content provider and the audience. It's not just about that relationship of trust, it is extended towards two very different sides of publishing - the content and the economy behind it. On the one hand, the audience trusts that that the content creator will stay true by providing valuable content, and on the economic side, the audience continues to play along knowing full well that all of this great content comes at a cost - advertising, sponsorships, consulting gigs, book deals, speaking opportunities, and everything else. No matter what, both sides have to live up to the audiences expectations, meaning the content must be strong and the advertising must be relevant. That's how all successful publishers across all of the media channels have won to date.
Trust in non-transferable.
We expect Bloggers who post - and are paid to do so - to be transparent. Transparency is table stakes. We expect people to disclose what is an advertisement, what is sponsorship and what - if any - affiliations are had with other things that are mentioned within these social environments. But, there is something more profound going on here. When a company pays someone to post, they are hoping that the trust people have for that Blogger will be transferred to them. No chance. Trust is non-transferable. We have companies who have little-to-no social community credibility riding the coat-tails of Bloggers who have spent a long while building up their community and, if there was no prize at the end of the rainbow (meaning the community also gets a chance to "win" something - not just the Blogger), it would probably leave everybody feeling a little icky. The only way for that not happen is when the company that is paying to post has equal or more trust within the community.
You can't buy trust.
The best advice a Digital Marketer can give a client who is asking them if they would accept money to post about them, etc... would be to help them understand that a brand can't buy trust, but they can - over time - build community and earn reputation. And, by going through with a program of this nature, it's also not very social media at all - it's just advertising (whether a Blogger yaps about it or they run a banner ad on their site). Someone is being paid to write about something. The advertorial has been around forever (well, at least, since the 1960s). There's nothing all that experimental with this format. But there's a problem if it doesn't work: the bigger brands can chalk it up to experimentation and simply move on, while the Bloggers now have to rebuild something that is incredibly frail and impossible to buy from their audience: trust. Many Bloggers react with an, "I don't ask my readers for money, I give readers all of this great content for free, so what's wrong with a little money from someone else along the way to cover some costs and put shoes on my babies' feet?" statement. There's nothing wrong with that, if it's the understanding of the community from the get-go. There might be something weird about it if it just suddenly appears out of nowhere.
Ultimately, everyone has to figure out what works best on their own spaces - be it a Blog, Podcast, Twitter or Facebook. The real challenge is in knowing your community well enough to decide if it's a good fit and, if it's not, is it worth the advertising dollars over the community trust and engagement?