Thursday, February 26, 2009

Technology for Marketing Again

It's one year after my last note on this subject, and I went to the TFM conference again this week. It continues to surprise me just how high a proportion of the material was directly relevant to my work, and the organisers should be very happy with the quality of speaker that they continue to attract.

But another thing surprised me too, and this is not something for the organisers to be happy about. The organisation was in some aspects a complete fiasco. So many attendees wanted to see the more popular talks that there were lines stretching around the block; disgracefully, large numbers were turned away at the door of each one. This was especially the case for the keynote addresses but it was even the case for some of the specialist talks. Meanwhile a few of the speakers spoke to half-empty rooms. It was inefficient and pathetic.

This was a technology for marketing conference. The technology was largely about using the internet, eCommerce, databases and CRM to manage demand and supply. I would guess that most visitors registered online anyway. All they had to do was to allow us to register in advance for particular sessions. This would also have allowed them to monitor demand and potentially adjust seating plans as necessary. And this would make it clear to late registering people which sessions they could attend.

It was actually branded as technology for marketing and advertising. If they were advertising particular names as reasons to visit the event, then they had a corresponding obligation to allow us to see those names, or at least to make us aware that we would not see them.

It is not acceptable to justify the mess by saying the sessions were being recorded for later online streaming. People do not attend conferences to queue for their favourite sessions, to be turned away at the door, then told that the event can be viewed on the internet later.

One cannot blame the organisers too much on the first occasion, it is not easy to predict how an event will pan out. But what made the scenario particularly appalling was that exactly the same situation occurred last year.

About using technology for marketing, have they learned nothing?

Thursday, February 19, 2009

25 Personal Things

Well I said I'd start on the 25 random things. So I did.

I wrote them, but they aren't published yet. None of them are secret, but there is a nagging doubt whether this blog is the appropriate place for them. Obviously there is nothing embarrassing or illegal there, but they look inward whereas most of this blog looks outward.

And I still wonder how the revelation of further personal details would change the opinions of me of those around me. So I don't.

Monday, February 16, 2009

25 Random Things About Me

I'm not going to list 25 random things about me. Not today anyway. But I am going to point to some ideas about that particular meme. However I will (eventually) divulge some new personal facts, because this whole site is a form of self-expression, and using standard templates to represent content can make sense both for the writer and the reader.

Also, I am not going to explicitly "tag" selected people suggesting that they must pass it on - whoever you are, I do want to learn more about you, but because I'm interested, not because you need to spread the message to avoid an attack of the bad-luck-virus, or an eternity in hell.

Anyway twenty-five points is far too many for one note. I have regularly expressed high fidelity to a simple "top five", and that is more than enough for my suggested user-friendly word limits.

And finally, I cannot simply write "random" things, that would violate my principles. My posts should suggest order and synchronicity in a chaotic universe, so each one must be fairly well themed, the antithesis of random.

For more on the background of this, see Neil Perkin, John Naughton, Chris Wilson. For my first five, see tomorrow.

Sunday, February 15, 2009

Jerome Taylor Harbinger of Doom

Not the most common name in the world, but cropped up in the news twice just within the last few days with devastating deliveries.

1. Out of nowhere, produced a man of the match performance to bowl the complete England cricket side out for 51 measly runs in humiliating innings defeat.

2. Reported that the editor of my hometown newspaper was arrested for "hurting the religious feelings" of Muslims after they reprinted an article from The Independent.

Obviously a different Jerome Taylor. Anyway, this was the supposedly dangerous article, feared by cowards and quislings all over the planet. And this was Johann Hari's response, every word worth reading, just one quote from it:

The solution to the problems of free speech – that sometimes people will say terrible things – is always and irreducibly more free speech.

If only the solution to England's batting order was so simple.

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Wilder Geese Chase

In order to prevent violent people from inflicting violence, controversial MP Wilder Geert has been chased out of the country. BBC link. Other bad foreigners who are to be banned from UK entry in similar legislation:

1. PJ O'Rourke. His book was known to cause extreme offence to all devotees of the lord David Icke. He won't be allowed any nearer than Lizard Point.

2. Edwin "Buzz" Aldrin. Controversial astronaut. It is rumoured that he has evidence that the earth is round. This has caused extreme offence to the National Flat Earth Society, and he will be stopped at all ports.

3. John Barrowman. Apparently he is gay. There must be some religious people who find this deeply offensive.

4. Daniel Dennett. He writes books that are a bit complicated. This is deliberate provocation of the large and respected national society of idiots.

5. Raymond Blanc. In an act of deliberate provocation to followers of the holy Brian, he publicly humiliated (and ate) a snail. Sick. And sacrilege.

These people are dangerous. Foreign Secretary David Willi-banned said: "We have profound commitment to freedom of speech, but we are also bloody scared."

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Legal Stuff - Creative Commons

Other sites aggregate good content from the web. On this blog I tend to reflect my own thoughts in my own words. That's one of the rules, though I don't always follow the rules, I do prefer to avoid parroting of popular opinion. And when I link, I attribute source.

Similarly I try to avoid obvious and predictable clich├ęs - that is only worth doing if you can be Steinmanesque about it: the future just ain't what it used to be but we'll never be as young as we are right now and if you don't go over the top then you'll never see the other side.

And in various ways at various times I've often suggested that you are completely free to reuse and distrubute anything published here (perhaps you are encouraged to) provided that you acknowledge me in doing so. However I've not yet expressed this opinion in traditional legal language, I'm not sure that I need to anyway, but here for the record are two portions of the Creative Commons Notice that seem to apply here.

1. Licensees (you) may copy, distribute, display and perform the work and make derivative works based on it only if they give the author or licensor (me) the credits in the manner specified by these.
2. Licensees may copy, distribute, display, and perform the work and make derivative works based on it only for noncommercial purposes.

Go ahead. Make my day.

Friday, February 06, 2009


Not about my objectives for the year, I'm still considering those.

My last post was a very simple one. But it was topical, posted just a few minutes after the incident to which it referred, and it was short, just 34 of my words around the quote.

One of those 34 words was goallessness. Anyone who watched the game, anyone who has watched any football, will know exactly what that word means. But it's not in the dictionary.

Yet I don't care. As Stephen Fry asked of those pedants who obsess about grammatical correctness: Do they ever yoke impossible words together for the sound-sex of it?

Though in my case, it was simply the clearest most concise way of expressing the thought. Without using those bloody txt contractions.

Wednesday, February 04, 2009

A Poorly Placed Ad Break

From the Guardian minute by minute report a few minutes ago today:

After nearly two hours of goallessness:

117 mins: Everton roll forward anew .... and ITV cut to commercials!? Eh? I said EH? Get it sorted please. [...]

118 mins: GOAL! Everton 1-0 Liverpool (Gosling 119')

118 mins: Yes, while ITV were inexplicably, unforgivably on a commercial break, Van Der Meyde scuttled down the right and floated in a cross that Gosling was allowed to take down. He scooped a dainty shot towards the top corner from eight yards and Reina can't get to it! Cue delirium at Goodison! And sackings at ITV, surely.

119 mins: Liverpool are lamping it desperately forward, to no avail. "What in the name of dear God were ITV playing at?" roars Simon Arnold and approximately 233,567 others.

120 mins: Peep! Peep! Peeeeep! It's full-time, Everton are victorious thanks to a Gosling goal that all in TV-reliant Britain missed.

Commercials? Inexplicably. Approximately. Three small typos corrected but you get the picture. Clearly not everyone did.

Campaign Project and Stock Management

To maintain effective marketing, or to run effective projects, both require constant cycles of prediction and measurement.

For example, first you measure the current one, use that to plan and predict the next one. Measure that one. And so on.

Having been through plenty of campaigns and plenty of projects, I know there are some things that I can predict well. Perhaps an odd predilection for stats helps. Of course we all get some estimates wrong, but the more we do the better we estimate. And I've done loads.

But there are some things that I cannot predict. I cannot predict share prices without insider knowledge. So I agree with what Stephen Dubner wrote on Freakonomics a while back:

Here are a couple of stock-market headlines I’d love to read one day:
“Stocks Surge, Reasons Unknown; May Be Nothing More Than the Random Fluctuation of a Complex System”
“Stocks Dive: Three First-Movers Sold Hard and Then Everyone Else Inexplicably Followed”

Of course, in the second case, if the first-movers sold hard, if you believe that others will also sell hard, then you should sensibly follow.

So my own investment strategy, still holding all my boom-bought shares as they go bust one by one, now it looks very foolish indeed.