Tuesday, March 21, 2006


Today's Adventure: Dr. Joe Gets to Rant About Education and Other Things

EU vs USA: This is an interesting comparison made by a Swedish analyst. The recent riots in France over labor laws that would allow business to fire workers after a two-year trial period are just one sign of Europe's problems. In the US, it is becoming more common to try out the skills of workers as temporaries or as subcontractors. Being the latter actually creates a better understanding of employment as a marketplace phenomenon, and creates a resilience in the economy that over the long run raises wages. Eventually it comes down to the perception of risk. Elimination of all risk creates an economic stagnation that is hard to shake.

The municipal wi-fi movement is gaining momentum. The expectation of constant connectability will probably take a great leap forward in as little as two more years (not counting cellular, which for all practical purposes offers that today).

ExactTarget has released its e-mail response study. Print has better deliverability, of course. But that's not a good enough reason to use it.
They also has an interesting case study. Ask yourself: can print do this? How could print have made it better?
Need I say "why can't our industry have reports like this?" Only Vertis does any work like it, mainly in support of its insert business. Is anyone listening? There's something for print in here, right in the first part of the report:
Many organizations combat list fatigue by developing re-engagement and list cleansing strategies. These
programs identify consistently non-responsive subscribers and attempt to get those users to re-engage by
developing alternative contact strategies.

Ummmm.... gee what could the alternative contact strategy be? Personal visits? Expensive gifts delivered by personal couriers? Subpoenas? No; it's a printed message delivered by a uniformed government agent, often referred to as a postal delivery worker. This is the issue again: print makes e-commerce more effective. I'm not aware of any printer (I've given up on organizations) actively promoting this. I was speaking at an event recently and a CEO wanted a PDF of my slides so that someone else could print it out for him. The same person probably has others order things from amazon.com. In order to understand e-commerce, the Internet, and connectivity, and new media in general, you have to use it personally, and seek it out. Otherwise you can't see how print may relate to these other media.
Roger MacNamee writes about this extensively in his book The New Normal. The original 2004 press release from his book is at http://www.goldbergmcduffie.com/projects/mcnamee/pr.html He's a gadget guru because he's looking for things to invest in. We're looking for things that clients will want to use to communicate with their customers.

Advertising Age had a short article about teens and their use of cell phones. Remember, teenagers have this odd habit of getting older and ending up in the workplace. Their communications habits will become part of their worklife and shape their expectations for workplace technology and their media preferences.

Speaking of using technology, the Adobe web site claims that there are 200 million PDFs accessible on the Internet. They're conservative. I constructed a Google search for PDF files and I came up with more than 315 million of them.

Thanks to Richard Romano for this link to a tongue-in-cheek article about in The Economist comparing Moore's Law to the latest shaving technology.

This article in Advertising Age reports the results of a study showing how MBAs are underperforming in consumer goods busibesses and may be a detriment to their companies. I wish I could say I was surprised. I was wondering about this for a long time. I've met many big-B-school MBA's and I can't say that they grasp the subtleties of situations well. Too often the most important decsion-tool they have is Excel and precede their pronouncements with "all that has to happen is..." I went to an unaccredited MBA program at the time, at Iona College in New Rochelle. We had many adjunct faculty who would teach courses after their long days at work at such insignificant companies like IBM, General Foods, Nestle, Pfizer, and others. I learned my MIS basics from the VP of MIS at the American Cancer Society who had just moved over from Sunshine Foods (he told us that there was nothing better than a Vienna Finger right out of the oven... he probably stayed at that job a year longer than he should have, just for that). I learned marketing models from the director of quantitative analysis for Pfizer. I did not have him, but finance majors and others were treated to investment class with the legendary Martin Zweig http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Martin_Zweig. (He was a regular on Louis Rukeyser's Wall Street Week and was famous for his "I'm worried, Lou..." when Lou would ask what he thought of the market). Many of the big-B-school MBA's only field experience is internships and special programs still tied to schools. In marketing, this is a problem. There's no better experience than field experience to give a foundation to MBA studies. I was never in sales, but I was on that path, and traveled fairly often with sales people, but fate took me in another direction. Having owned my own business in one form or another for 18 years, you quickly learn that you are always in sales, especially in small business. For those of you studying for MBAs, don't let anyone deter you if they wave this article in front of you. When I was at Agfa, I was told in these exact words "we don't need any MBAs around here" by the director of human resources. My studies changed my career, and I use something from my MBA studies every day. Just make them real, not esoteric. Models and formulas are great in the classroom, but not always in the real world. Use them to create an analytic discipline, know where they apply and where they don't. Even when they don't, the analysis of why they don't is revealing in and of itself. This economy values people with broad knowledge and exceptional implementation skills. It seems that the big-B-schools have trouble teaching the latter.

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