I heard a news story (quite) a while ago about how hospitals were using robots more and more to assist with surgeries. This isn’t some sort of futuristic Asimov style robot, more like 3D goggles and remote control of laparoscopic tools. Anyway, the interesting part was that the doctors were convinced that their hospital had to have the latest robot.

If you don’t have it, I think it would be a really big problem, but I think everyone just assumes you have it because why wouldn’t you? You know, it’s like having blood or beds or lights in your OR now. You have to have a robot.

This is the echo chamber at its finest. A bunch of people convincing themselves that the world works a certain way because the only people they talk to are experts in that world-view. And this happens everywhere – I see it all too often.

There’s a pretty easy way to figure out if you live inside the echo chamber. Just as yourself when the last time you sat and talked with someone from your target audience/market and asked them about their needs?

The scary thing about the echo chamber is that it can often times start feature and product wars amongst vendors that are scarcely relevant to customers’ actual needs. But this is an opportunity for those with good listening skills, you can avoid that war by talking with your audience and learning what truly causes them pain day in and day out.

Get a few people on the phone who don’t think about this problem all day long. Someone who needs your product, but doesn’t obsess about it. You may be surprised that they have better insights than you.

Postscript: if you are interested in the NPR news story, you can find it here: Medical Innovations Can Come At A Cost

For the longest time I didn’t think too much about Facebook Ads. It doesn’t take much to realize that they have amazing reach, but I had heard some discouraging numbers (and continue to hear actually) and didn’t think they were too relevant to B2B – which is often my concern.

Granted, CPC advertising isn’t what I do everyday, but I try to keep my head in the advertising game since it’s central to the products I build – and it helps keep Argyle going.

Recently I had a few minutes to ponder FB ads, and realized that they make perfect sense if you think about them like ads on TV. Here’s a quick run-down on why they are similar:

  • The ads have little to do with the medium
  • The audience is often passively engaged in the subject content
  • The ads see little direct interaction (hence the discouraging numbers)

And here is why those are good things:

  • The ads can be relevant to the viewers interests – FB targeting is fantastic
  • The audience often doesn’t have a real purpose, so they can be distracted by ads more easily
  • Lower interaction – yes, but awareness is valuable. That’s hard to measure, but most likely occuring

So even though I have heard a number of anecdotal stories of low performance campaigns for FB ads, I think the targeting and audience that it has is compelling. As a tool to bring awareness to a very specific audience when their mind isn’t busy working too hard on other things, it excels.

I’m a convert, Facebook is definitely a powerhouse mass media advertising platform, and I want to be there more than ever.

Netflix - Cost vs Value
I’ve worked on product pricing more times than I’d like to recall. It’s a tricky business, you have to balance value, cost, perception, competitors, market factors, marketing, and many other considerations. In short, it’s a pain, and it’s not easy.

But pricing is very important to your business. It can not only give you an edge in the market, but it can also help define who you are in the minds of your customers.

But most importantly, Pricing helps to define value in the eyes of your customers

Don’t get me wrong, you can’t dictate value. But pricing specific add-ons, features, or services at a premium can have a very real impact on how people perceive the worth of those items.

Netflix’s most recent move to price streaming separate from DVD-at-home was smart (see their blog post). It was clear that they were leaving a lot of money on the table. It’s also clear that they felt that they were undervaluing their DVD-at-home service.

(Side note, being a long time Netflix customer, I always thought they were undervaluing streaming. Their blog post reveals that their internal view was actually flipped from mine; they saw the DVD as an add-on to a streaming service.)

Pricing changes aren’t something new to Netflix, their world is moving fast and they’ve had to shift things around a few times to keep prices in line. And this recent change will probably be followed by a few more.

Now bring into the mix that fact that Amazon has started to get more seriously into the streaming movie market. Now we can expect some fierce battles shaking out in this arena – there’s a lot of money to be made in movies at home.

So this brings me back to where I started – with pricing establishing value. This move is strategic in that it allows Netflix to clearly look at their streaming service as it’s own viable product with distinct profits and costs.

This will allow them to better measure, manage, and grow their streaming offering as the market heats. In the end, we can only hope that that will provide more value for all of us.

Today I had the pleasure of listening to Peter Shankman (@skydiver) talk social media at the Triangle Interactive Marketing Association monthly luncheon. This was one of the best social media talks I’ve heard, as @DjWaldow pointed out, it was on par with @GaryVee.

I tried to take notes on his big points, I’m dumping them here with a little bit of formatting. My thoughts are in italics. Please feel free to ping me for clarification.

You can’t make something viral, but you can make something good but it helps if you enable it

Talking about Where The Hell Is Matt (showed the video)- You forward this because you want to, not because he asked you to. You’re gonna go home and find it and send it to all of your friends. You’ll be 4 months late, and a bit of a loser, but that’s cool. I love this guy – he’s hilarious

In ‘96 people though the internet was AOL, people would say “I use AOL to DL pics of Pamela Anderson, how could you do something for business with that.

In order for something to become viral 10-15 years ago it had to be really good. You couldn’t just copy and paste it, you had to work to spread it on. this goes back to what I said, it’s about enabling
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A lot of people are trying to make use of twitter for their business. There is no doubt in my mind that it can work. But there are so many ways to get it wrong. Want a short list? fine.

  • Just hooking something up to your rss feed
  • Pretending to be a company, instead of yourself
  • Following everyone you can
  • Only posting once a week
  • Posting every hour
  • Not replying to people

I could keep going, but you get it. Well, how about a small non-tech business that is getting it right? There are plenty examples of that too. Here’s one I just saw in tweetdeck from @SixPlates. Here we are, 4:00 on thursday, if there is a time of the week that I need a beer, this is it.

Well Time Tweet

It’s personal, it’s short, and it gets to the point. I wasn’t really thinking of grabbing a beer, but now all I can think of is a nice cold beer in my hand. This works.

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