Stefan Engeseth launches Detective Marketing ver 4

Stefan Engeseth (one of Europe’s most creative business thinkers and a top-ranked speaker but I know him as a marketing blogger with some great post) launches Detective marketing fourth edition titled “The book that best-selling business writers read”.

This book talks about creativity, brand living and many more detective marketing concepts. I will write few lines about this era creativity before giving you the link to free download (Yes, the book is available for free 🙂 ).

  • Creativity can be distributive. Imagine a new Monalisa painting done by 100 painters, thats the world we live in. There are many examples of this. We call it crowdsourcing, many average crowd vs experts.
  • Creativity is incremental. People don’t like perfection, they like incremental creation where they can be a part of (Stefan says, “invite you customers to participate in projects at early stage.“).
  • Value of diversification in creativity. Stefan says, “mix people in meetings, hire different talents“.
  • Be dumb – Read the post Marketers should be dumber than customer, Stefan gives a simpler way out, “Involve a person from street in your meeting“.

Let the guru himself explain the rest.
Download detective marketing

Download at http://blog.detectivemarketing.com/D-M_Freebook.pdf. Wishing him all the very best with the new edition.

What strategies will fail?

Here is a quick pre-litmus test to help us understand the success possibility for any strategical implementation. It is widely applicable from product development to HR policies, from marketing campaigns to personal life. Not to forget, exceptions do exists and this posts doesn’t address the exceptional cases, rightly so.

  1. No follow up plans: Any strategical implementation which doesn’t include a follow up plan will most probably fail, as after implementation some parts may need a pruning. Sometimes the whole plan may need a revamp and a delay can do catastrophic damage. A follow up plan needs allocation of resources for required period. Depending on the investment and the importance of the implementation, the follow up plan should be given priority and resources over other visible tasks.

    Some examples:

    • When a website goes for a complete revamp, Google analytics becomes our best friend. The company that does the changes without allocating enough resources for a follow up might not see the true benefit. When Google decided to show 30 results per page the traffic went down by 20%, a follow up plan ensured the user satisfaction, they rolled back to 10 results per page.
    • Implementation of new HR policies without a follow up plan can create internal (hidden at surface level) dissatisfaction generating negative energy zones in a company. Company should allocate resources for follow up plans with the implementation to avoid such negative zones.
    • A major product launch without a follow up plan can fail in spite of of its great features. I wonder whether amazon’s mechanical turk had a follow up plan, now it is full of spam. They should have tried making it free review (using significance factor) or doing something different.
  2. The Perception of Unfairness – Communicate – Being perceived as bad is equivalent to being bad, as good and bad is just a perceived feeling. So it is very important to communicate your vision in simpler terms. Example: A company changing its flexible timing to more fixed timing can create dissatisfaction but once the purpose is clearly stated, the dissatisfaction level can be lowered. Sometimes even a good move is perceived as bad, ERP implementation is one such example. After every ERP implementation companies spend a good portion of money on change management, educating people about the changes and its benefits with their new role.
  3. Approach can make all differenceMary Poppendieck’s Team Compensation is a great example of right approach where she involved the team in discussion instead of going by the traditional compensation way. It is the approach that made the difference. Remember satisfaction is just a perception. Sometimes people are satisfied with less if it is done through right approach. A right approach can make wrong right and vice-versa a wrong approach can make right wrong.
  4. Trust factor – Trust factor (in terms of product we call it brand factor) plays an important role. This needs to be build with time. For a trusted HR dept, implementation becomes easy as people accepts it trusting the dept. Also the openness in the system keeps the improvement cycle active. Its an attitude based implementation.

There are more things but I am keeping it short. If I have to choose one of the above, I will choose the follow up plan over anything as it will ensure other.

Making books participatory

Making books participatory?? Books once written is written for ever, rest are editions, how can you make it participatory? I know you are webby, are you asking to create a wiki out of our books? We know you are not well, this is what happens when a busy brain gets extra rest, get working on something useful Aji?

I am not surprised by the above comments as such comments are a part of my life ( I remember when I told by teammates and seniors that I am going to create a better multiuser blog that existing wordpress mu, or when I said I am going to challenge Google and blogspot).

What made me think so?

Here are my observations :-

  1. I was reading the SVN book again which is a printed copy of THE svnbook and I saw a lot of white pages which are unused (equivalent to waste).
  2. Even after reading books we have doubts and there are some examples that helps more. Sometimes a senior can teach you something in 5 mins which a book might take over 5 days. (PHP installation is one such example)
  3. Some facts may be outdated leading to a wrong conclusion.
  4. Some may be pure opinions which you may not agree validly.
  5. I have seen the strength of a wikipedia.

This basically apply for library books or books used by more than person but it is very valid for your personal collection as well. You always learn more than that is documented in a book.

How to Make books participatory?

This is more valid for knowledge based books. Without any further delay here are the things that can be done:-

  1. Authors should leave some space with each page for users’ comments.
  2. Library should issue multi-colored pencil, use as many dark color pencils as possible and give one for each user.
  3. If enough white spaces are not available add some pages in between chapters. That will increase the scope of participation.
  4. Award good contributors time to time.

This is a shortcut to turn an offline book into offline wiki. You will not resist it if you believe in wisdom of crowd. Will it work? I don’t know, try if it works for you :). There is fun when you try and fail and life pity on us when we fail to try. Enjoy experimentation.

About my Google Human Intelligence Layer

This is an answer to Saikat’s query about my Google project. As many know that Google has tried this (adding human intelligence layer to their searches) many times with various models, some are included at http://www.google.com/coop/. Custom Search Engine had a better revenue model too but still it may not do enough (I had requested for few features but no response yet). There are more improvising possible on Google results.

My Research is based on:

  1. When I search for XYZ keyphrase, the top sites have some similar characteristics which should be grouped using human intelligence.
  2. When top 10 sites are explaining XYZ keyphrase again and again, it makes the SERPs dull. Searcher should only get new information with every site.
  3. I believe Google is not the ultimate search engine but certainly the ultimate search engine algorithm so I am making this on the top of Google SERP. I will start where Google ends.
  4. Some of my experiments had fetched extremely useful information for selected sites. Thus I will be using distributed human intelligence, may be site based distribution or a group of sites based. I get thousands of search everyday, which in itself is a great achievement for phase 0.

Have you already started it?

When Saikat was there I was working on it but later decided to give it a pause. So no more implementations in last 2 months. The existing implementations (around 5 sites) are giving good results, so checking the logs weekly. But I am sleeping over the idea to start with a better 0.

How about telling us something more about adsense?

This is going to be a great system, I keep thinking about it. Every time I think of it, my energy level goes up. I will not be able to disclose it as it is the real model that will make the Human Intelligence layer a possibility. Also if it goes well, every single site on web will become a part of this network. Here the webmasters will be empowered and will have every control over the ads. Another hint: You will be able to include sites even without site owners’ permission (sometimes). I am very excited about it.

Praying to God and sleeping over the idea. Currently I am busy rewriting the Intranet book on “Web business“, I wrote this book some 3 years back but this time I will be including better web 2.0 examples and a lot more marketing concepts. I had already rewritten some marketing metrics for web, BCG and GE matrix for keyphrase analysis, which is a part of webmasterworld library.

Orkut Banned in India

“Orkut Banned in India” – Will this ever become a real headline? It can happen as various political groups are preparing a move to make it happen. In India power still has power and political parties are synonyms for power but surprisingly we still are the largest democracy. Orkut has been under contriversies for various reasons. My previous post lists some of it http://www.idealwebtools.com/blog/orkut-scams/.

Today while going through Times Now I ran across their major coverage, “Controversy over Orkut ban“. They were juicing the popularity of Orkut by taking live opinions from various parts of India (In Kolkata they were at Flury). The news says,

The popular internet networking site Orkut was recently under attack by Shiv Sena workers, who went on a rampage after disparaging remarks made against Shiv Sena Supremo Bal Thackeray & Marathi icon Shivaji were posted on the site. The Sainiks vandalised a cyber cafe in Thane, Mumbai and demanded a ban on Orkut because of the remarks posted on one of its forums, essentially group blogs that allow people to write and post their views on any topic – without censors.

Here is my take on the controversial issue :-

  1. Orkut is not a site, it is a culture or a concept. Even if someone bans the major instance of Orkut concept, orkut.com, there will born another instance with equal power.
  2. Orkut concept is blended with social web (web 2.0) and is inseparable. To ban Orkut concept, one will have to ban social web.
  3. Is there any communication model that doesn’t carry cons. Isn’t mobile phone helping terrorists?
  4. “The Sainiks vandalised a cyber cafe in Thane”????? What did the cyber cafe guy do? Who will repay his losses? Even after this you expect people to love you not hate? People reserve the rights to love or hate anyone. If there are hate groups then there are bigger love groups as well, see yourself http://www.orkut.com/UniversalSearch.aspx?q=Bal+Thackeray&pno=1&searchFor=C or http://www.orkut.com/UniversalSearch.aspx?q=Shivaji+&pno=1&searchFor=C but still people reserve the right to express their opinion. There is a well saying, “Greatest loved elements are highly hated too”.
  5. Isn’t social web empowering the true government, the people? More that the cons I see pros. Now people are THE power.

How to tackle it?

  • Stop vandalizing wrong people. If this carries on then much connected society can show its true power too, remember the blogspot ban.
  • At a proactive level setup a committee to look at the bigger picture, which can keep the web clean to the possible extent. Creating awareness and better online laws are needed.
  • At a reactive level ask Orkut to ban the group
  • Look at the 100 positive things about Orkut and forget about one or two, that happens everywhere :), Enjoy Orkut.

Similar Ban proposals for various other social web

  • Youtube could be banned in India due to a supposedly offensive video of Mahatma Gandhi doing a Pole dance and other ungandhi like antics. The video features a comedy skit by a Hawaii-based Non-Resident Indian, Gautham Prasad, who has now apologized to the people offended by the video.
  • Blogs banned in India over misuse, later rectified.

What is your take on it?

Other related posts

  1. Chirkut Vs Orkut – My first post on orkut.
  2. Is Orkut’s Memetic strength a misinterpretation? – About Orkut scrap book and Orkut’s misinterpreted strength is finally interpreted.
  3. A list where orkut is used for drug/pic-scam/hate-groups.
  4. social networking flood

Is kitchen sink syndrome a risk for web products?

This belongs to the list of commonly and frequently asked questions, Is kitchen sink syndrome a risk for web products? As we know that kitchen sink syndrome is considered a risk under project management. Oops, Btw kitchen sink syndrome is unplanned changes to a project. Mainly referred to the changes at scope level and thus sometimes it is also known as Scope creep. Wikipedia offers more about it.


It is considered a risk because:-

  1. It often results in cost overrun.
  2. It can also result in a project team overrunning its schedule.

It may not be true for Web products as:-

  1. The Cost involved is very low.
  2. Time consumption is also very low, if proper open source classes are used.

I have personal experiences where kitchen sink syndrome was proven very profitable. On web we go with release early and release often. Even I remember Hedir.com which started like a normal directory and while development it because a community review center. It happens often due to unplanned and unmanaged actions but web products often enter this cycle as it is managed by a very small and very independent team. Spending time on document/planning sometimes doesn’t work (and is not needed too). Leaving it as an open debatable issue.

Open letter to Indian Mag editors

This is an open request to all the Indian Tech Magazine Editors. I will like to share my experience with Web and Online business for Indian startups/bloggers/web+aspirants through a quality tech magazine. Please let me know, I will be more than happy to start next month itself. Many are insisting me to start the series on this blog itself (Sorry fellows, this time I will like to give first priority to a magazine, if it doesn’t work out, BLOG Jindabad).

About me

I am in web business for last 4 years. 4 years back when I was doing my Masters in Computer application (A techno manager concepts including almost 1.5 years of MBA, I was very lucky to be a part of it) from Army Institute of Management, Kolkata (then National Institute of Management. I did not accept any big offers to join a startup company working on web products. I then devoted almost 15,000 hrs on online business. As a technology leader, marketer, part time HR manager and all time student, I am able to guide many startups/blogs/web+aspirants to success. I waited for 4 years to see this boom in Indian web market, now I have the permission/time to write one page per month for mags. Recently we conducted the Indian Business School Blog hunt http://inferno.aimk.org/bloghunt/finalrank.php and I was very happy to discover some great blogs. My blog has more about me.

Why I want to write?

IMO people have seen the early online harvest phase for US and UK, from Googles to Amazons, most success stories are very inspiring but still we Indians are missing some core character of web, the simplicity, purple cow concept and the backbone technology. Also we are going more commercial. Hardly I see any Indian company that is doing hardcore web research. Good web products will not come by copying successful concepts alone but with core research.

I am basically into crowdsourcing. I will like to write about following issues

Guide for Internet Gold rush

  1. Issue 1 -> Don’t let your parents name you again (choose the right domain name based on your vision). Here I will like to talk about various aspects on domain name selection including the phone test, billboard test. Also how important is to book other related domains (topix.net bought topix.com for 1 million dollars). Choosing right domain is very important and this issue will answer most part of it.
  2. Issue 2 -> Web business is a pure brain business (make sure you are not washed away with Indian manpower quest). Here I will like to talk about how important is brain power for web business. Not all companies can find the gold nuggets, you need the right brains. In India we need right brains getting right training and exposure.
  3. Issue 3 -> Choosing the right platforms.
  4. Issue 4 -> How network is important than work.
  5. Issue 5 -> Which communication platform to choose? – Internet has defined and redefined communication, from emails to websites, from blogs to wikis, from forums to google docs. This issue will help you choose the right communication platform.
  6. Issue 6 -> Haunted by SEO experts, watchout. The basic of SEO.

The issues will carry on. I hope Indian entrepreneurs/bloggers/web+aspirants will get good help from my experiences through your mag. I am looking for following quote:

  • Can I get a regular section per month (just one page) with a proper branding. I can also answer 2 queries per month (so may be 1.5 page per month). This needs to be a regular affair every month. I want people to wait for this section every month.
  • How much will I be paid for each issue with question and without question?

Looking forward for a long relationship with one magazine.

Regards,
Aji Issac
919830271197
aji@idealwebtools.com

timesjob(s).com violating Google rule

While doing some job portal analysis I got surprised at some job portal ignorance (can I call it web innocence). When the world is talking about higher level canonicalization, Indian portals are violating basic web(Google) guidelines.

First violation – Google ads in email

This is not done by timesjobs.com but another big job portal. I have posted the query on WMW to get expert views on this violations. Let me quote the post,

I just got an email from a very big job portal, they had adsense inside the email. I knew it is illegal to have adsense in email (Google book sec 5.v, so I clicked on it to see the effect.

I saw that these ads were not from Google (but was labeled as “Ads by Google”) but they were links to pages created for Google adsense. Pages with no content, just plain ads. Also very targetted ads, so I suspected the use of google_kw (I think they are premium members, so they might be allowed to use google_kw). Also these pages were hosted on IP based site without any domain name.

Can premium members create such pages which are

  • without any content, only ads, targeted based on google_kw?
  • hosted on ip based site than a branded domain?
  • (sending such links through emails using Google’s name?)

Browse the complete discussion at WMW.

I did forward the suggestion with WMW link to job portal representatives but I am yet to receive any explanation. I do not intent to forward this to Google as my intention is to help, not to do harm to any startup business.

Second violation – Duplicate domains by timesjob(s).com

I was very surprised to encounter such a basic mistake by one of the top Indian sites. timesjob.com and timesjobs.com (one with an additional “s”) having the same content. It is a complete mirror site, I signed up at one and was able to login to other. Also both share the same DNS server (making it a little more against the rule). The strangest thing to happen was a common cache for both the sites, they both share the cache of timesjobs.com. I was very curious to know the reason behind it (can be a bug with Google). I forwarded this query some senior fellows at WMW and Google. Here are some of the responses.

A WMW senior (whom I respect very much for his great experience)

Both domains do resolve to the same content, and without any redirect. There is no root listed for timesjob.com in google. I can see why they got it wrong, but the did get it wrong. I meant that site site:timesjob does not show the domain root. I’ve seen this before when sites do not do a proper redirect and just source the same content for two domain names, both with a 200 status. I’m not behind the scenes at Google, but I’m guessing it’s something in their duplicate content checking that crosses this up.

When I forwarded it to some Googlers, here is (casual and informal) response from them

Ah! Okay 🙂 My guess is that there previously was a redirection in the past, and since the pages are still identical, our bot hasn’t corrected itself. Not high priority since both caches would look the same :P.

But just in case, I’ll ask a colleague to check it out.

It is always advisable not to have different domains with duplicate contents for the following reasons:-

  • Duplicate content issues which can cause big time problems to both the sites.
  • Unwanted links distribution: Some sites may link to timesjobs.com and some may link to timesjob.com, which can dilute the real strength. Link strength is very important to stand the web competition. Why give such a chance.
  • IMO it doesn’t help in branding as well. Users may not appreciate it either.

Search Engines (esp Google) are important as they are termed as the web starting point.

How to handle valuable spam Comments/Posts?

Spam is spam, how can it be valuable? OK. Xens, munins, SATAs and a week long server audits are not hitting me hard, I really mean valuable spam comments/posts. Please take a deep breath as this post is going to be really long. I had a taken a 30 mins class on this topic recently.

Spams are spams then what are valuable spam comments/posts?

In one sentence, spam by a spammer is a pure spam but spam by a valuable member is a valuable spam comment/post. Let me take a real (and personal) example. As I mentioned earlier I used (still I do) to visit blog.penelopetrunk.com (see the comments added by me, IMO they are really valuable, if not add a comment here to contradict 🙂). I used to spent almost 30 mins reading and adding the comments (adding used to take more time than reading) but one day I commented on a particular post on Coachology with Laura Allen of 15secondpitch.com. Actually, I found 15secondpitch.com very impressive, so I created a pitch for myself and added there for review. I never wanted to spam or add any irrelevant comment. I thought Laura and Penelope can review my pitch and suggest me changes right there. Somehow the comment got deleted and I really felt bad about it. There is no issue with deleting one or many comments of mine but it can make you feel bad if you are not notified (esp when you are adding value to someone’s site by taking out your time, I could have copied the comment for some other purpose, I seriously do not want to waste mine or someone’s time). I have no issues with Penelope or her blog :), I got a mail yesterday and I replied too but for few days I did not add any comment (may be I am too busy with the recruitment and server audits). It certainly broke the flow I had with the blog.

That was my personal experience with valuable comment but I had similar experiences while handling few forums. We have seen valuable members (with over 100s of posts) leaving forum when their posts got deleted (we deleted it because of duplicate contents etc). I hope, I was able to explain the concept of “valuable spam”.

Why to worry about valuable spams?

I was a part(handled, guided) of almost a dozen forums by now. Initial phase is a very crucial one, where the forum needs to find participating members. Even one participating member can make a lot of difference. We had articles by a member, who left because of similar issue, fetching us great deal of visitors from search engine. His articles were very helpful and ranked very high on search engines. During the initial phase of the forum it helped us grow. Also it is a node of the social network, a node is not one member/user but a chain of users. It is always good to play as safe as possible.

Who all should worry more about valuable spam comments?

Everyone should(if they can) handle it with as much care as possible but here is a list for whom it is more important :-

  • Forums/Blog in initial phase should give it more value, as you need more active users to make it a success.
  • Niche Forums/Blogs, where you can sometimes miss great and influential users.

How to handle valuable spam comments/posts?

There are various ways, so let me put it one by one in bulleted form :-

  1. Method 1: Permissive delete – Some 2 years back when I used to work with forums (full time) I encountered a similar issue where a valuable member used to post articles (duplicate content). I then sent a mail to the member describing the issues involved. He was very co-operative and allowed me delete the posts. He was posting the articles just to share it with the members, without any intention to spam. All of the articles belonged to him. In permissive delete, involve the member and help him/her understand the issues involved in their own terms (I mean non techy terms). This helps in building a better relationship too. (also see method 4 for duplicate content)
    Pros: The user will not feel bad and may become more loyal.
    Cons: Since the thread/post might stay longer in forums other members and moderators may not like the approach and may complain or create issues under the thread itself.
  2. Method 2: Delete with Personal Notification After deleting the thread you can let the user know personally in a very well drafted way. Here is an example, some months back I got a sticky from WMW moderator

    I appreciate all your intelligent contributions here, Aji.

    Please don’t worry about it if I decide not to publish a thread once in a while. It’s just part of my job to make that judgement call.

    Then we started talking more often. People really appreciate personal communication.
    Pros: User may appreciate the personal communication and may try to cooperate too. It will not reflect any rudeness on forum admins’ part.
    Cons: User may still not like it and may debate over the issue, so it is advisable to keep the thread/post in an incubator instead of complete delete. There are occasions when the user have not communicated after that. Also it is a time consuming task.

  3. Method 3: Replacing the spam with System warning message – This is a great way of handling valuable spam comments. I have learned this from Amazon. You can replace the spam comments with a message,

    “Our Forum/Blog bot(application) detected this message/post/comment as a probable violation to our guidelines(link to guidelines, may be specific section of guidelines which can explain the violation). Sorry for the inconvenience. Please note that sometimes our system can make mistake, in such cases please inform admin(link to admin email). Thanks for your co-operation.” (something like this, sorry I can’t post the exact message we use)

    This program can be automated with the help of community members and thus it is more customer forgiving system.
    Pros: It is more customer forgiving system. People will forgive/blame the system, in many cases they will also talk to admin, making it more effective.

    Cons: Some people may find it very odd.

  4. Method 4: Edit/Delete with admin message – This is a very common practice where the post is deleted with an admins’ message. “Admin: Deleted the post at so and so time, read TOS“.
  5. Method 5: Making the duplicate content an image: This is suggested by one of our project managers. Some of the forums convert duplicate content (another form of valuable spam) to an image to get away with any penalty.
  6. Method 6: A mix of above – You can use a mix of above said methods as per your requirement.

Gosh, what a long post! There may be other methods as well, so please add on your suggestions as a comment.

Why not to count the web-industry awareness lead

As I mentioned in my previous post that industrial awareness can give you the lead (at a certain additional cost). For every industry the lead helps but for web (tech) industry to a lesser extent. Here is my view point on “Why not to count the web-industry awareness lead”.

Who all can gain from Industrial awareness?
The early leaders doing the industrial awareness can become the market leaders with proper branding but it does not guarantee a top position in market for long. Esp for web industry (in general tech industry) it guarantees nothing. Sometimes the biggest gainers can be the low profile later entrants, let me take an example. When the bigger sportswear brands, like Nike, Reebook and Adidas, advertised for sportswear then the batas and other local competitors juiced the industrial awareness with a more affordable range and multi-purpose sports shoe. History will be repeated with Indian web and it will happen more often that other sectors. We will see a local group of brainy kids challenging naukri.com, shaadi.com and all other major early leaders. This will happen due to following factors:-

  1. Low resource cost for web startups. Low innovation costs (even one person can run it for free). Web is basically a pure brain business.
  2. Less popular sites/business can take bigger risks and try bigger innovations. Since I am using naukri.com more often for recruitment purpose so here is another example from naukri.com. Naukri.com will have to think many times before simplifying its interface (which really is very complex and messy, reminds Jeff Bezos of Amazon of 1908 Hurley washing machine) but you will sites like simpyhired.com trying it without any fear.
    naukri.com interface
    (Complex interface of naukri.com with popups)

    Simplyhired.com simpler interface
    (click to enlarge. May be, a simpler interface of simplyhired.com, I have not reviewed it yet)

    Job portal analysis for Indian market
    Now the current stats is in favor of naukri.com (due to the web-industry awareness lead in India with a bigger job market) but will it stay for long (no guarantees, Google In Talks To Acquire SimplyHired).

  3. There is an existing industrial awareness which can be cashed.
  4. Web is low cost (almost INR 0), a person getting registered to naukri.com and jobsahead.com gains more than one who registers only with 0 when the cost for one and two are same. Users will like to allow more than one job portal at a time, so no need to motivate for the most costly customer introduction phase. In web business esp networking sites, flies attract flies not honey alone, so a better user base will attract more employers and more employers/jobs (due to free lunch) will attract more job-seekers.

A little deeper analysis can reveal more reasons on why not to count the web-industry awareness lead.