Saturday, October 2, 2010

Goetz Everything Annual Report - Top Level Summary of my first year of blogging

So, it's been just over 1 year since I started this blog on a whim on September 19th, 2009.  I started my blog really just to see where it would take me, and it has been a roller coaster of a journey.  I've never been much of a writer, so I knew that would be a challenge.  This post will give a short high level summary of the past year of my blogging and some thoughts of where I may take it.  I will also follow with a couple of follow up posts using a similar headline starting with "Goetz Everything Annual Report" where I dive deeper into this topic including Traffic Stats, Top Posts, My Traffic Strategy, The Future of Goetz Everything and more.

Over the past 1 year and almost 2 weeks, I posted 36 times.  The highest month of posts was October of last year where I posted 10 times, the next highest posting volume was 6 which I did in Sept 09, Nov 09 and Sept 10. I even had a four months where I couldn't even get 1 post out.  In September 2010, I tried to set a posting goal of posting Monday, Wednesday and Friday, which helped but proved to be way too lofty.

My drive to write would go up and down.  Somedays, I felt like I could write a handful of posts. I would usually stop at 2 or 3, and other days I wouldn't even want to write a single word.

It has been a fun experience and I think I'm starting to straighten things out in my head with where I want to take this blog and will probably tighten up the content to be more focused.  Hopefully I can create a strategy that allows me to continue to blog and hopefully drive more value to those reading.

More detail to come on my first year of blogging.  Thank you to those who have read and commented.

Friday, September 17, 2010

This might sound OBVIOUS, but Southwest Peanuts are processed in a facility that processes peanuts

 So here is the second of a couple random posts about random things I've come across recently in my travels.

Everyone loves Southwest Airlines' free snack...that little shiny bag of peanuts.  While I was recently flying from Las Vegas (LAS) to San Jose (SJC) and was snacking on the peanuts.  Somewhat bored, I began exploring the peanut packaging.  I came across the ingredients line:

     Ingredients: Dry Roasted Peanuts, Salt.
     Produced in a facility that processes peanuts and other nuts

Now, I would think that common sense would explain that a bag of peanuts were probably processed in a 'facility that processes peanuts...'

I don't want to reduce the importance on "Nut" allergies, but has America become reliant on telling people the obvious rather than relying Common Sense.  I'm guessing there are some FDA guidelines or policies which state that there must be this line whenever something comes out of a "NUT" factory, but come on.

Am I missing something or is it obvious that peanuts would be processed in a 'facility that processes peanuts'?

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Great Local Marketing at Charlotte, NC McDonald's - 50 NUGGETS and TEA $10

My wife was recently going through the photos in my iPhone Camera Roll.  She came across a couple of random pictures that she was confused as to why I would have taken a picture of that.  After I explained each to her, I had her cracking up.  So here is the first of a couple random posts about random things I've come across recently in my travels.  
Backstory: During my first trip ever to Charlotte, NC, I'm walking through a not so great part of town with a co-worker.  We're on our way to meet other co-workers for some BBQ.  After getting off the light rail train (which was super easy and convenient, highly recommend Charlotte Lynx Light Rail) we were walking towards a McDonald's when I glanced up at the customizaable 'old-skool' sign.  

Highlight: It read "50 NUGGETS WITH TEA (GAL) $10.99.  I thought WOW, that's a lot of TEA, and WOW that's a lot of NUGGETS.  Awesome deal, I wish we had that back when I was in college, we would have eaten that deal up.

Deep Thought: Is a deal like this created at the local level?  I don't believe I can get out of a California McDonald's with a regular size meal and drink for much less than $10.99.  This meal could feed a family of 5.  I was lucky that I had dinner plans with the rest of my team, or these 50 NUGGETS AND GAL OF TEA would have been my match for the night.

Keywords: Product Management, Prod Mgmt, Marketing, McDonald's, McDonalds, Charlotte, North Carolina, NC, Deals, Great Deal, Charlotte Lynx, Charlotte Light Rail

Monday, September 13, 2010

Is the Amazon Kindle being marketed to motorcycle riders? Check this out

Recently, while commuting home from work, I came across a motorcycle with a passenger that was reading.  I thought to myself, you can't read while riding on the back of an open air motorcycle.  Oh, I guess you can with an Amazon Kindle or other similar e-book reader.

I wonder if any of the Product Managers for these e-book readers are targeting marketing to motorcycle riders or passengers.  I'm sure it's not an easy market to capture, but here is the situation I envision based on the photo to the right:

The husband wants to take a bike ride down the coast of beautiful California.  The wife would rather sit in a nice beach front villa reading a nice book.  The husband coaxes her into taking the bike ride by surprising her with a shiny new iPad (or Sony Reader, etc.).  Now he has his ride, she has her new reading toy.

What do you think?  Is this a feasible marketing angle for e-book product marketers?

Friday, September 10, 2010

Is this good or bad product management? Kiwi Express Shine

So, I went on a simple errand the other day to replace my Kiwi Express Shine Sponge mobile shoe polishing tool.  Luckily (you'll see why I was lucky if you keep reading), the original product that I was replacing was a hand-me-down left in my office desk by the previous occupant.

So, to start, this is a great product, I love the convenience of it.  Since I never remember to polish my shoes the old fashion way with polish, applicator, brush, etc. at home, this simple product is a must have for me now.

I head over to the local Walgreen's to simply pick up the exact product I had previously.  I find the item and right next to it is a similar, same brand, but slightly different product - Kiwi Express No Buff Cream Polish.  As a conscious consumer, I look at the differences between the two products.

From a feature perspective, they look pretty much the same...they are different sizes...the applicator surface is a different shape...they are the same price...So, I guess I'll go with the one I know worked for me previously.

Wait a minute, let me look at them side-by-side in my hand.  Hold on, these things weigh totally different amounts.  I check the listed ounces.  1 is 2oz, the other is 1.7oz.  For the same price?

Now, I hope these two Kiwi products have some sort of difference, because the volume difference is so great.  From a Product Management perspective, they did not help me understand the reason why they were the same price with such a volume difference.  Even looking at their website, I still don't get any details that would make me believe the products have different features.

  • Is this vagueness good product management? i.e. hope customers purchase the lower volume due to the large profit margin.
  • Or, are the products priced accordingly and have very different features which are not explained to the customer?

What are your thoughts?  check out the Kiwi website and see if you can tell the difference.

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Apple wasted 100's of hours of my time and now I increased my productivity by two times - iPod 2X feature

My commute is 2+ hours each way (yeah, it's not as bad as it sounds, I'll share more on this in the future), so it's important for me to use this time as productively as possible.

During the driving portion (1 hour 15 minutes) of my commute, I usually listen to podcasts. The other day I accidentally clicked on the iPod button that said 1x. I had no idea what that button did, I didn't even know it was a button.  And what do you know, the audio spead up to a perfect speed for me to still understand the content while getting through it in 1/2 the time (I assume that is actual speed 2 times as fast).
Now I can get through podcasts in 1/2 the time which is great for me. 
The amazing thing to me is that I have been an avid iPod/iPhone user for years and listen to a ton of podcasts and never knew this feature existed.  I have wasted 100's of hours over the past years listening to people in normal speed.  Even though Apple makes great products, they still miss the mark on making feature intuitive or figuring ways to highlight lesser used features.
Am I on my own on this?  Have you used this feature?

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Surprised by Great Clips' simple CRM implementation

Why was I surprised when "the best value in haircuts", Great Clips, provided great Customer Service?

Because it is so rare to see a retailer using a CRM system to store my preferences.  Great Clips showed that they have a CRM system that identified me by my phone number, used my first name and the stylist knew that I wanted a 2 guard used on the sides of my head.

I've been going to a local small salon for the past 10 haircuts, and the stylist who has cut my hair each time, looks at me like he has never seen me before.  I've discussed the same things with him each time.  Why can't he jot down some notes each time and provide me with a WOW service the next time by knowing something about me?

Sounds simple, but why can't I think of any brick and mortar retailers that know my preferences?  Hats off to Great Clips for taking the time to get to know me.

Do you have any examples of brick and mortar retailers knowing your preferences?  Please leave a comment if you have.

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Google Voice - Why I made the switch to Google Voice?

I recently heard that Google Voice had expanded to open enrollment and figured I’d check it out to see if it would be useful for me. Initially, I didn’t see why I would need it, my existing phone setup was pretty simple and I did not see why I needed to make any changes. (Existing setup=Work Office, Cell, Home Office). After watching a couple of the Google Voice YouTube videos, I figured that having a single phone number to reach me would be an improvement over what I currently have.

The main inefficiency in my existing system was when I worked from my Home Office, I asked my team to call my Home Office #. In actuality, they usually call my cell phone, which is fine, I would just rather talk on the Home Office speaker phone or headset.

So, be moving to Google Voice, I now have only 2 numbers for people to reach me (Work Office, Google Voice (aka cell/home office)). This basically combined my ‘not in the office’ phone numbers and when someone calls the GV number, it rings me at both my Home Office and on my cell.

With GV, I also consolidated my Home Office and Cell voicemail systems into 1 voice inbox, which transcribes the VMail into text and emails this to me. No more Visual Voicemail on my iPhone, but the transcription and not having to listen to Vmails anymore is much more efficient for me.

Now, my big hurdle is moving my Work Office number to GV. Not sure how well that will go from the Corporate aspect.

If you haven’t checked out Google Voice, I urge you to watch some of the videos, and think about making the move. While the advantages may be minor for you, in the end they will make you more productive and efficient.

Monday, June 14, 2010

Integrating Multiple API Services: In response to Robert Scoble's Location 2012 piece

Over the weekend, I read Robert Scoble's dream piece (Techcrunch Guest Post: Location 2012) on integrating many standalone apps into a seamless system. I think Robert's dream is great, but very tough to implement. It seems very logical from the standpoint of how Robert connected the dots between the apps, the reality seems very distant to me, especially not by 2012.

Don't get me wrong, I think it would be really cool and helpful to have all these data points integrated, but who will be able to do it. Integration like this is very complicated to build and managing such an infrastructure using other companies APIs will be a constant battle.

My Reasoning:

  • hard to manage many APIs which are controlled by other companies
  • how will the API companies win? Will there be enough revenue to keep the stand alone companies operating their data streams while an integration application handles the User Experience. Some sort of fair revenue sharing would be needed.
  • over integration may make the User experience unbearable for the 'simple' users. We're not all geeks.
My proposed solution:

Scaled down integration; My guess is that Apple will be the leader in this arena. I'm sorry for having to say it, as I think too many people use Apple as an easy example. Apple has shown repeatedly that it can smoothly integrate programs with great usability. Apple has the narrow focus and the balls to limit the integration at strategic points (which I don't feel Google has this control) to ensure the product works smoothly throughout the product lifecycle. Yes, naysayers will complain that it doesn't have X or Y, but Apple will release a product that operates well and is much further ahead of similar integrated products.
In summary, I think the integrated reality Robert Scoble laid out is possible. I think it will only be possible to be implemented by one of the two big players (1. Apple or 2. Google). I think they will both attempt it (based on both companies making strategic acquisitions);

Apple’s version will:
  • limited functionality initially
  • methodically add on elements
  • smooth UI
  • focused on their market of users
Google’s version will:
  • include many services right out of the gate, which will make a complex product
  • UI will be difficult for the 'simple' user
  • try to please every user in the world, rather than focus on a specific type of user
What do you think?  Is it possible to have this seamless Integrated Multiple API Services by 2012? 2015? 2020?

Friday, June 11, 2010

Clever Cable Holders thanks to 37signals

Thanks to Jason F. at 37signals, due to his post this morning (Clever Cable Holders), I no longer have to go behind my desk to find my lan cable anymore. Perfect solution for an annoyance I have been meaning to fix. Done. Thank you Jason.

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

What is Dusseldorf? - Air Berlin ad caught my attention today

I saw the Air Berlin ad to the right today when I entered the Bart train here in the San Francisco Bay Area. It caught me off guard as the headline didn't seem to be written in conversational American English. From the looks of the ad, it appears to me that Air Berlin is launching new service out of SFO, but neglected to utilize an American marketing partner to assist with this launch. I'm guessing this is an important strategic move fir Air Berlin, so I would want the execution to be perfect.
How does this ad miss the mark?

1. The headline doesn't read smoothly for American English readers and is not language I would use in conversation. Headline should read, "Welcome aboard San Francisco!"

2. What is Dusseldorf? Isn't that a German dinner dish down at Harry's Hofbrau? Is it a destination, a city? Honestly I'm not sure. My recommendation would be to offer "Non-stop service to Germany". Now this is something I, and the market, can easily comprehend.


So, there are other items that I could mention, but I rather not pile on. To me it is clear that this piece didn't capitalize as well as it could have. I would suggest to Air Berlin, if you have an important message you wan to get to an important market, find someone local that can provide consulting assistance.

But, then again, the piece caught my attention, so maybe there was a method to their madness.

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Do you have a small social network? Try Aardvark to expand your social network

While listening to another great The Gillmor Gang podcast, Robert Scoble mentioned that when he is travelling somewhere, he reaches out to his network to find out about local activities and entertainment.  With this statement, I had a revelation that my social network would not provide this assistance.  My network is too small to get much good out of it.  Luckily I've found a great new friend to add to my social network named, Aardvark.

I was originally turned on to Aardvark by the guys (Bob Walsh and Patrick Foley) over at The Startup Success podcast. Aardvark allows users to ask a question, the application automatically sends the question out to people within the Aardvark network who may know the answer, then the app routes the answers provided back to the person who asked the question.  Pretty simple, huh.

This is a great service for someone like me who doesn't have a very big social network and every so often has a tough question to find an answer.  In my opinion, not too many people have a large enough social network and thus could easily utilize the power of this social network expander of 

I have recently had some instances where I have tried to search Google, and had trouble filtering through the results to find a meaningful answer.  That is where I now turn to Aardvark.

Some examples I have use it for:
  • finding a hotel during a roadtrip - I was in route to Laguna Beach and didn't have any clue where to stay. Shot a question out to Aardvark for recommendations and received a couple within the next couple o hours. While the timeliness wasn't perfect, one of the suggested hotels was where I stayed and I concurred with the suggestion.
  • figuring out how to modify my MS Office default search setting - I received a couple of answers that were not totally helpful, then one answer came in that was dead on an very detail. Huge help for me.

Aardvark allows users to ask questions via multiple channels (from the web, IM, email, Twitter, or iPhone).  I utilize Google Talk as my method of interacting with it.  This very easily integrates Aardvark into my daily life allowing me to ask or answer questions easily from a natural communication method for me.

A couple of big things for Aardvark to figure out and improve on:

  • Learning more about it's users - today, I'm guessing Aardvark only knows as much about it's users as those users fill out on their profile.  If Aardvark can begin learning by aggregating data from multiple sources (i.e. Twitter, Foursquare, Facebook, etc.), the power of this knowledge will multiply
  • Increasing users - a larger pool of people to answer questions will increase speed and accuracy
  • Help users rate the answer they received - this will allow Aardvark to know who the appropriate people are to answer certain types of questions

As I was researching to write this post, I learned that Aardvark was recently acquired by Google.  Hopefully Google will have a way to improve upon this immature product and integrate it into the mass amounts of data Google already has.  (Look for a future post about Google's portfolio of companies)

All that said, I recommend you try Aardvark and see how it works for you.  It has worked well for me, while there have been some bumps in the road, I think the improvements will come very quickly as the number of Aardvark users grow and hopefully Aardvark continues to allow people like me to reach out to a wide web of unconnected people.

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

BART's most recent Customer Experience Failure

Yeah, BART's failure today only caused me to lose 15 minutes. Not a big deal. The point is there were multiple Customer Experience failures in the process.

I'm racing into the Fremont BART station with only a minute or two to get on the 6:06am train.  I wave my EasyRider card through the turnstile.  I then wave the same EasyRider card across the parking validator.  "See Agent" The dreaded failure message of BART's Customer Service systems.

At this point it dawns on me.  My wife mentioned last night that she had requested a new hangtag for me (mine has failed and is slowly breaking into small white flakes on my all black car interior).  This request must have de-linked my current hangtag and put me in limbo.

So I head over to the dreaded "Station Agent".  Of course the Station Agent has a negative connotation, they are there to deal with all the passengers issues.  I try to briefly (remember I only have 1 minute to catch my train, read: helpless wishful thinking) explain to her what the issue is, and I don't think she listened to a word of my explanation.  She starts working on the handy Station Agent computer system (I can only imagine the friendliness of BART's system), then asks me all the questions which I just explained to her.  She then walks me over to the Parking Validator stand and swipes my card again.  "See Agent"  Go figure.  She then states something like, "Yeah, it must not work due to requesting the new hangtag.  You need to pay for parking with cash."

Hmm, I think. This sucks for me.  While maintaining my composure (overhead I hear my train leaving the station), so I say to her, "This is a ridiculous process!".  She angrily hands back my card and says "I don't make the rules" and stomps back to her "Station Agent" cube.

So, I walk back to my car to identify the parking spot number, then come back, insert my cash into the parking machine and board the train which will leave in 12 minutes.  Just enough time to write a blog about BART's poor Customer Experience.
Summary of failures:
  • Crappy hangtags - mine warped on about day 10, then started discinegrating white pieces all over my clean black interior
  • Poor customer service - one of the station agents main job is to deal with the "See Agent" failures, the problem is I don't think they are trained to properly handle the situation I had.  Nor are they trained for any basic Customer Service skills.
  • Replacement Processes Interrupt Customer Experience - hangtag replacement request broke my daily BART process.  When designing the end-to-end Customer Experience, they should understand the negative implications of their processes.  FYI, this has also happened when updating payment information on EasyRider card.
  • Poor training of Station Agents - It seems like agents should be able to identify what situations may cause a "See Agent" error, but the error logic is so basic for the customers perspective that it doesn't provide any information to the Station Agent.
So, I think that is the end of my rant.  I'll go back to being my normal loyal BART rider.  Have a great day!

P.S. I do publicly praise BART all the time to people who ask me about my commute.  BART delivers me within a block of my office, is almost always on time, and offers me a way home every 15 minutes.

Saturday, January 30, 2010

Top Fitness Blogs, by Zen Habits, leads to...Thinking Lean

I recently read Zen Habits post about 20 top fitness blogs.  In this post, Leo invited his 5 favorite fitness bloggers to share their top 5 fitness blogs.  What an easy way to share a great list of blogs that was currated by some of the top bloggers in this area.  Thank you Leo.

After clicking through the list, I then noticed I didn't have any of these blogs on my Google Reader feed (read through Mobile RSS by Nibirutech, post coming soon about my New Favorite Tech Gadgets).  So I created a "Fitness" folder and added these 20 blogs to that folder.  See my Fitness blog list here.

I've been really into my Fitness lately, as I'm training for the Big Sur Marathon on April 25th, but I hadn't thought to add Fitness blogs to my Mobile RSS reader.  Now I have them all right there and I'm learning about what others are doing.

Then, two blog posts later Leo at Zen Habits writes The Ultimate How to Get Lean Guide where he allows the same 5 bloggers to share their "Lean" secrets.  This is a great post and opened my eyes to the use of fasting.  I really like the Rusty Moore's advice about working out in a Fasted State.  Totally backward from my current training plan, which I like.  Yesterday I ran 3.5 miles on a 14 hour fast.  More to come around this Lean thinking.

Thank you Leo, Rusty and other Top Fitness bloggers, great stuff.

Thursday, January 28, 2010

Haven't blogged much, revamping my blogging style

I had a revelation this morning while listening to the 43 Folders, Merlin Mann, interview podcast of Linchpin author, Seth Godin.  As expected, this was a great podcast from two of the most well respected people.

The revelation, I haven't written a new blog post for a while due to my "resistance" to the time and effort it takes. 

In the past, it took me a while to get a blog out.  I'd easily come up with concepts, write a draft, then take time to proof, then publish.  It all sounds simple, yet it took me over an hour usually for a very short simple post.  The hour per post was my resistance. 

So, how am I revamping my blog style?  I'm going to take out the step that was causing me so much resistance and making me not enjoy blogging.  Proofing.  I'm going to write and let it fly.  Funny thing is, I've always hated proofing. Dating back to elementary school, I hardly ever read over my work before submitting.  Maybe that is why my grades in English classes were never stellar.

So, moving forward, I will try to keep up with writing posts quickly so I can work through my list of blog post ideas.  Hope you enjoy them.

Written in 12 minutes