December, 2008

December 30, 2008 | Anthony Suda: Are you ready for a Google Apps pilot?

If you’re seriously thinking about trying Google Apps for your domain, here are some first-steps for starting a Pilot group…

December 30, 2008 | Dean Froslie: When a Blog Isn’t Really a Blog

Bloggers develop a following through the quality, frequency and relevance of their content. They help us learn something new, debate an issue, find related content and form a relationship with the writer.

There’s more to a blog than a compelling viewpoint, however. Blogs are also defined in a technical sense. They have links, tagging and comment capabilities, to mention only a few.

December 30, 2008 | Ron Lee: SmartyPig pairs social media with savings accounts

Move over ceramic piggy bank. SmartyPig wants to change the way 20- to 30-year-olds save money using an online savings account with built in social networking functions. It’s kind of like an “ING Direct meets Twitter and Facebook” savings account with a virtual twist.

December 30, 2008 | Greg Ness: Mobile Trends for 2009 – And Beyond.

View SlideShare presentation or Upload your own. (tags: predictions 2009)

This is the second in a series of key consumer/marketing trend presentations from the team at TrendsSpotting. This report covers the importance of mobile technology. What it will mean for consumers? What it will mean for marketers?

December 29, 2008 | Greg Ness: A Treasure Trove Of Visual Thinking

It probably doesn’t come as a surprise to anyone running a business these days that information overload can cause a huge loss in productivity. In fact, Basex estimates this problem to be an almost trillion-dollar drain on the U.S. economy. The amount of information available today, along with the speed of its proliferation, makes it difficult for people to translate data and information into knowledge and insight.

In light of this, it is refreshing to have visual thinkers like David Armano who can take complex marketing and experience-design concepts, run them through his thought sorter, and distill them into easier-to-understand graphic representation. He recently put a comprehensive collection of his helpful diagrams on Flickr. They are a great resource.

December 27, 2008 | Greg Ness: Social Media Trends For 2009

View SlideShare presentation or Upload your own. (tags: web 2.0social)

The team at TrendsSpotting is highlighting some key consumer trends this week. Their first effort, featured above, is a useful presentation of social media trends that was catalyzed by Peter Kim’s recent post.

December 23, 2008 | Jon Gilbertson: So How Did We Do?

With the closing of another year just around the corner, many companies are turning their attention to analyzing their performance in 2008. For most companies this goes well beyond financial analysis to measuring customer satisfaction. I’m a strong believer that customer satisfaction needs to be measured on an ongoing basis to be useful, but some companies still rely on conducting just one annual survey to capture their customers’ feedback. The most common means for gathering customer feedback is still surveys. Whether you conduct an annual survey or solicit customer feedback throughout the course of the year, there are some important things to consider before conducting your survey. I’ve listed a few of them here: 

December 23, 2008 | Paul Bourdeaux: SD West Offers Testing & Quality Track (plus a shameless plug)

SD West 2009, one of the country’s premier platform independent software development conferences, is once again offering a track that is near and dear to my heart.  The Testing & Quality track presents the latest information and best practices on testing, process improvement and quality, along with leading-edge thinking as to how software should be built.  And rumor has it that there is a GREAT session called Code Coverage Revealed: Getting Effective Coverage Analysis from Software Unit Testing

December 22, 2008 | Jon Lundwall: The Power of a Visual Story

Many businesses use videos to help market a product or service, and while a lot of them execute the use of video well, there are some that are still learning.

A video on a website can provide an awesome opportunity to reach your captive audience in a significant way.  Once the viewer has navigated their way to your site, the stage is set for you to show them what your company is about.

The process for selecting a video varies greatly from one business to another.  Some choose to shoot and edit a video themselves, while others hire a professional company to do the work.

December 22, 2008 | Greg Ness: Harvesting Creative Juice

If you’ve ever wondered where creative juice comes from, here’s the answer. I ordered a case of the Bristol Blue. Higher quality video here.

Thanks to Paul Isakson for the point.

December 19, 2008 | Greg Ness: It’s The Chins Favorite Time Of Year

imageThey’re here to sing all your holiday favorites. Give them a try!

December 19, 2008 | Lee Schwartz: Should Joe the Plumber be a Facebook Advertiser?

Could Facebook advertising be for small businesses too?  If you’re living on Planet Earth these days, you’re no doubt hearing about Facebook’s explosive growth and how anybody who’s ever heard of “Avril Lavigne” is using it.  Your friends are on it, your co-workers are on it, and—look at that!—your Mom is on it, too.

December 18, 2008 | Reva Hardina: Building Relationships

In a recent webinar, Jamie Turner, editor of The 60 Second Marketer, gave tips and suggestions on how to use LinkedIn, Facebook, YouTube and Twitter to grow your business. Several points were shared but one item to remember is that we are building relationships with these tools. Marketers can utilize these tools to move a stranger to a friend, a friend to a prospect, a prospect to a customer and a customer to a loyal advocate. We cannot expect to immediately jump to a loyal advocate. As marketers, we must make efforts to “date” our new friends and allow them to experience our company before they commit. 

December 18, 2008 | Greg Ness: The Next New Thing Syndrome

Excitement in the world of marketing always seems like it is attached to the latest and greatest. I call it the-next-new-thing syndrome. Social media has everyone’s ear right now. If you were to gauge the relative import of all marketing strategies from the amount of Twitter and blog traffic they receive, it would be easy to conclude that most marketers should be devoting a majority of their budgets to a social media focus.

Don’t get me wrong, social media is not simply a fad. It will become a cornerstone for good marketing at most companies. But that fact doesn’t eliminate the need and responsibility for CMOs and other marketing executives to consider tried-and-true approaches to their efforts as well as funding new media initiatives. What most CMOs would find immensely beneficial is concentrating their efforts on connecting the old to the new to create an effective contemporary communications strategy.

December 16, 2008 | Lon Keller: The Ears Have It

Sound has always fascinated me, well before the days of Dolby 5.1 surround.  A well-crafted audio track can do more to liven up the screen than the most gorgeous actress in Hollywood.  Don’t believe me?  Try this little test.  Play a segment from your favorite movie or TV show, first with the picture off and the sound on, then the reverse (no sound, just picture.) Which does a better job of conveying the message or setting the mood?  There’s a reason why radio was originally called “theater of the mind.”

December 15, 2008 | Paul Bourdeaux: Code as if the next guy to maintain your code is a homicidal maniac who knows where you live.

One of my all time favorite quotes comes from Kathy Sierra and Bert Bates.  “Code as if the next guy to maintain your code is a homicidal maniac who knows where you live.” I have brought it up several times before, but every once in a while, while maintaining legacy code, you come across a gem that really hits home.  The following was sent to me by a former colleague:

December 15, 2008 | Greg Ness: Small Screen Moguls

Lights! Camera! Money! Never underestimate American ingenuity when it comes to finding new ways of making money. According to this article in the New York Times, some people are now making over $100,000 a year producing and placing videos on YouTube. Most of it is advertising revenue, but a number of YouTube mini-mogus are also getting money for product placements within their videos.

Some YouTube videos are now topping out at over 100 million all-time views. If, for example, a sponsored video attracts 10 million views and a advertiser is willing to pay YouTube (Google) $0.10 a click for an ad that appears when that video plays, that could mean considerable revenue coming into Google (actual revenue would depend on the number of click-throughs).

December 12, 2008 | Sara Litton: Move over Google Text: Here comes ChaCha mobile search

Do you ChaCha? Now, I’m not referring to a dance move, but instead the fastest growing text-based mobile search service. ChaCha is currently surpassing both Google and Yahoo in text-based search growth rates (according to the latest data from Nielsen Mobile). 

December 10, 2008 | Paul Bourdeaux: Testing Controllers in Salesforce

Just a quick blog today to address an issue that I have been encountered several times since I began programming in Apex, the proprietary language for  Some developers have become frustrated when trying to write unit tests for their Controllers.  To be fair, if you don’t know what base you assertions on, it can be hard to test the code.  So here are a couple of quick tips for getting it done:

December 09, 2008 | Greg Ness: 2009 B-to-B Marketing Priorities

In spite of a challenging economy, one-third of B-to-B marketers plan to increase their budgets in 2009, while only 25 percent plan budget cuts. That is the surprising findings of BtoB Magazine’s 2009 Marketing Priorities and Plans survey. Among all B-to-B companies, the areas earmarked for increases by the largest number of marketers included:

• Email (68.3%)
• Online marketing (66.5%)
• Website work (66.3%)
• Search (50.0%)
• Video (46.6%)
• Social media (46.6%)
• Webcasting (42.9%)

December 08, 2008 | Greg Ness: Big Trouble With Big Newspapers

The Chicago Tribune files for bankruptcy. This could be the tip of the iceberg when you read news of revenue declines like this.

4:14PM CST – More in on the Tribune story here.

5:16 CST – Ouch, and then this news that the Pulitzer committee will accept entries from online-only publications.

December 08, 2008 | Greg Ness: AdAge Points Out A Big Challenge For Broad-Reach Media

While certain media such as broadcast television still reaches a substantial audience, the question that needs to be asked: Is it worth it?” In many cases, that answer would appear to be “no” if you accept the results of an extensive, year-long study from the CMO Council and Catalina Marketing. That study shows that for package goods brands, on average, only 2.5 percent of shoppers account for 80 percent of a brand’s sales. That begs the question: “Wouldn’t it be more efficient to find a way to reach that 2.5 percent instead of paying valuable marketing dollars to also reach the other 97.5 percent that only account for the 20 percent of sales?”

December 07, 2008 | Greg Ness: Insight Into Google’s Thinking

View SlideShare presentation or Upload your own. (tags: google strategy)

A great look into what makes Google’s revenue engine run. According to faberNovel, Google’s revenue will grow from $20 billion in 2008 to $35 billion in 2012 – in spite of the economic climate. There is a lot of good Network Economics 101 in this presentation.

December 05, 2008 | Greg Ness: Brand Rule #1: Don’t Use Your Brand Name and Bankruptcy In The Same Sentence.

It appears to me the mere fact that the Big 3 Detroit automakers had to appear before Congress to ask for billions and answer questions about possible bankruptcy almost guarantees that consequence. An automobile is a major purchase item for American families. It is what we in marketing call a high-involvement decision. Sales for all automobile manufacturers have been challenging in the present economic climate to say the least. It doesn’t inspire confidence when you are about to shell out tens of thousands of dollars on a new auto purchase and you have concerns the brand will endure. 

December 03, 2008 | Paul Bourdeaux: Testing Asynchronous Methods in the Cloud

One of the relatively recent additions to the platform was the ability to make calls to asynchronous methods from Apex classes.  By using the @future (callout=true) annotation, we can set up the method to be called in a seperate, asynchronous request.  This gave the developers the ability to run logic outside the current transaction, create asynchronous data loads, etc.  But it also presented one obstacle… The method could only be called asynchronously.  Which made testing a problem.

December 02, 2008 | Melanie Gilbert: I iterate, therefore I am.

When talking with the head of our Customer Experience initiative, he made a passing comment about the results of a recent Sundog customer satisfaction survey. Those with the lower scores were stakeholders who were not involved in an iterative meeting process. As we move from adopting Agile into having an evaluated and mature model, we see measurable indicators of its value (to both the client and the service agency).

December 02, 2008 | Anthony Suda: Considering Google Apps

For the past few months, we here at Sundog have been evaluating the migration of our messaging platform from Microsoft Exchange to Google Apps Premier. Having recently won approval to make the move official, I have come across a few ideas that small businesses and, in particular, IT professionals might want to keep in mind while considering a move from an on-premises Microsoft Exchange environment to cloud-based Google Apps

December 01, 2008 | Paul Bourdeaux: Shortcuts.  Save Time Now, Pay For It Later…

Everyone takes a shortcut now and then when developing code.  We shouldn’t, and we know it, but sometimes we do anyways.  I am guilty of it as much as the next guy.  And unfortunately, it can bite me in the butt just like everyone else.  Let me tell you a story…

December 01, 2008 | Greg Ness: It’s Cyber Monday: Go Online and Buy Something

imageToday is Cyber Monday, the online equivalent to the more traditional shopping day of Black Friday. Maybe it is just me, but they sound like such dire names for what should be major shopping days and economic bellwethers in a free enterprise system.

Due to a tough economy, pundits had expected both Black Friday and Cyber Monday to be down this year, but according to a National Retail Federation Black Friday survey conduct by BIGresearch, 172 million shoppers visited stores and websites this Black Friday weekend compared to 147 million shoppers last year. The research also indicated that the average shopper spent $373 this year compared to $348 last year. Total spending was estimated at $41 billion. The survey also indicated almost a quarter of shoppers were at stores by 5 a.m., and over half made it to stores by 9 a.m.

December 01, 2008 | Greg Ness: CMOs: Just In Case You Thought Marketing Was Getting Any Easier

Click to enlarge

More on the diagram above here. Sure, Tom Cunniff’s collage is messy, but it represents a marketing environment that is growing increasingly complicated. There are more choices than ever before to consider in the marketing toolbox. Most of those choices are now so interwoven with fast-evolving social media and technology integration issues, that a CMO must expend considerable effort just keeping up with changes.