VistaPrint Complaints: 5 Viral Strategies to Challenge a Bully

3 Stooges pic

Courtesy of threestooges.com

VistaPrint’s No Customer Service: Consumeraffairs.com Documents Complaints” outlined my poor experience with VistaPrint and my decision to never use their products or services again. This article, as of May 8, 2009, is indexed in the #6 position page 1 of a Google search for the phrase “VistaPrint complaints.”

My Promise to VistaPrint:

As I promised in my intial article, I have become “a consumer affairs advocate fighting hard to highlight the no customer service” treatment I received. My plan was simple: write a blog post about what happened and tell all of my friends in my assorted social networks of my experience.

My Blog:

  1. Article: I wrote the article describing my experience
  2. Google Search: I performed a due diligence search on VistaPrint utilizing the keywords “VistaPrint complaints”
  3. Links: I provided a list of 5 respected media sites, consumer advocacy sites with information on a variety of complaints lodged against VistaPrint. WordPress provided me my own category

Activerain.com:

Activerain is an important social network, with 145,000 registered users, where I have many real estate friends. I wrote a second article detailing my experience and that article now sits on page 2 of a Google search for “VistaPrint complaints” “VistaPrint: How Not to Run Your Company a Cautionary Tale

Twitter.com:

This is one of my favorite social networks with an estimated 8-9 million registered users. I have over 1,300 followers on Twitter and counting

  1. Tweet: I tweeted my experience with a link to my deansguide article
  2. @VistaPrint: In my tweet I used the @VistaPrint to notify them of my article

Linkedin.com:

Because I utilize the Typepad application on my Linkedin profile, my social network content from Twitter ends up streamed to my Linkedin profile. In addition my WordPress.com application streamed my article on VistaPrint making it accessible to my 398 1st level connections and their networks as well

Friendfeed.com

Friendfeed.com aggregates all of your content that you place online. Recently it has become the hot new mover with many Twitter advocates moving to ramp up their networks on Friendfeed. My article, my tweets, and my conversations about my VistaPrint experience has streamed on my Friendfeed account

Realtors Do You Support Promotions that Create Goodwill for Your Business?

Imagine a real estate business model where the customer names their price. Call it a“Pay-what-you-want-house” and you might have an interesting idea. That is the idea behind the new Ibis Singapore on Bencoolen. Check out this promotion merely to see the cool website.

Why Do People Love Promotions?

1. Added Value: is it such a bad idea to create promotions in a such dreary economic times? Even if you can’t give away the store, isn’t there an item or service you can give away? Now more than ever, bartering one of your services in some fashion would be a welcome relief to some people who need help. People want and need added value in anything they buy, more than ever today, whether it is a service or a product.

2. Consumers Remember: more economic pressure, job loss, and belt tightening is in store for 2009. Now more than ever, if you help someone by providing a promotional “prize” or service that gesture is often remembered and past forward via word of mouth. When people give under the toughest circumstances (economy), that is truly the measure of our willingness to help.

https://i2.wp.com/www.springwise.com/pix/spotlight/bencoolen.jpg

Guy Kawasaki’s “Reality Check”: How Not to Choke

My Photo

Guy Kawasaki

In Guy Kawasaki’s wonderful book “Reality Check” we are treated to a two, that’s right 2, page chapter titled simply “How Not to Choke.” Choking may be the worst possible word to have attached to your career, athletic performance, and any moment that is meaningful in your life. To choke is to blow it by not having the nerve, losing your cool, blanking, freezing in the moment, or any number of horrific things a mind can do when it goes on lock down at the worst possible time. H3re are Guy’s ways to avoid choking.

Three Ways to Avoid Choking:

1. Avoid Negative People: stay away from negative people because what they say about you “can lead to you becoming what people say about you.”  Guy’s advice is to simply avoid them or “create product and serve them like hell.”

2. Invoke Positive Stereotypes: Positivity can “enhance performance.” Guy notes that Silicon Valley is a fantastic place for young people to start companies and that the “wunderkind” tag is a great example of a positive stereotype.

3. Frame or Reframe Yourself: Guy quotes Dr. George Lakoff  “you can control which groups identify with and the strength of that association.”

In essence the company you keep, the attitude you exude, and the perception you create are the most powerful ways to avoid choking in any situation. If you want more great advice, check out Guy’s favorite books. For even more great information, investigate Alltop.com Guy’s latest user content resource.

Realtors Do You Understand the 5 Levels of Twitter Acceptance?

One of the best tools for measuring your commitment and understanding of the micro-blogging power Twitter.com comes from social media marketing superstar Rohit Bhargava the inventor of Social Media Optimization. In his article “The 5 Stages of Twitter Acceptance” Rohit has brilliantly and accurately outlined the evolution of many Twitter users. The graphic clearly highlights each stage and it acts as a measuring tool to those who have progressed forward in their acceptance.

The 5 Stages of Twitter Acceptance:

Imb_5stagesoftwitter_2
Courtesy RohitBhargava.typepad.com

My Acceptance Process for Each Level

1. Denial: One of my first blog posts of the summer of 2007 was to challenge Twitter’s validity as a tool-I instead described it ” Twitter becomes the equivilent of your well meaning but very nosy “Italian Grandmother.”

2. Presence: I simply went through the motions

3. Dumping: I inundated twitter with MY BLOG POSTS only a big no-no on any social networking site

4. Conversing: I reached the conversing stage 6 weeks ago as I really began to understand Twitter’s power 4 months ago. In this stage I knew I was progressing but I also knew something was missing-I was not a go-to objective source of information

5. Microblogging: I am now authentically building relationships 1×1, I am bringing in valuable information to the mix for other twitterers to ponder, and I am far more objective and willing to support the community

Kidney Donor Found! Young Girl Saved Via Blogosphere & Social Media “Global Conversation”

http://thedomesticdiva.files.wordpress.com/2008/11/amazing2.jpg

Courtesy New York Presbyterian Hospital

Chicago Sun-Times newspaper published this deansguide article November 26, 2008

The evidence that we are living in one of the most amazing times in human history for communication and connectivity was again validated today. Marielle, the young girl from the Philadelphia area, who was facing certain death without an immediate kidney transplant has found a perfect donor.

Our Global Conversation

There is a global conversation being supported by bloggers, social media sites, and the many free community tools that make up our new Web 2.0 social media construct. In this case, within a 24 hour period, Marielle’s story was supported and viral spread on a world wide basis.

Events Unfolding: The Power of Citizen Journalism and Social Media

Here is a description of the events by Marielle’s mom

“It ends up friends and friends of friends posted about my search for a kidney donor to Marielle on Twitter, Facebook, web sites, and blogs–it made the news (special thanks to Courtney on Fox News!). . . and now we have more possible donors than we could have ever wished for! Thank you to EVERYONE who sent in donor forms, called, blogged, twittered, and helped spread the word. . . But WE DO NOT NEED ANY ADDITIONAL DONORS AT THIS TIME.”

“I am amazed by the power of the web and the hearts of those who helped make a difference.” —thedomesticdiva Marielle’s Mom


Tag Cloud Blog Experiment: Netflix Case Study

http://www.bigberries.com/category/digital/page/3/

Courtesy bigberries.com

How do bloggers measure their writing, article effectiveness, viral marketing power, and popularity with readers? Comments from readers and blog traffic can only provide a margin of insight into your effectiveness. Clive Thompson’s great New York Times article “If You Liked This, Your Sure to Love That” describes an interesting contest hosted by online movie rental company Netflix.

Netflix Offer

Netflix is offering anyone the opportunity to win a $1,000,000 prize. The challenge is to increase Netflix’s Cinematch it’s recommendation search engine. The engine suggests movie titles to consumers based on what they have chosen in the past. Netflix will pay out the cash prize to anyone who can increase their search accuracy by 10%. The leaders in this contest and their progress.

Netflix Problem

Statistical analysis and algorithms do not account for a genre of movies that have been described as quirky or unpredictable. The effect is called the “Napoleon Dynamite Problem” because it is said that this type of movie is either loved or hated by it’s viewers. Very little middle ground exists or gray area of preference.

Blogger’s Measurement Experiment: Posit for Answers

According to the article, Netflix is considering the following experiment:

“. . . hiring cinephiles to watch all 100,000 movies in the Netflix library and write up, by hand, pages of adjectives describing each movie, a cloud of tags that would offer a subjective view of what makes films similar or dissimilar. It might imbue Cinematch with more unpredictable, humanlike intelligence.”

Posit: How We May Learn

1. Bloggers set up a tag cloud for each individual blog article rather than for an entire blog’s library

2. If that can be done, the next step would be to ask readers to provide 3-5 adjectives that describe the blog article they just read.

3. Tag Cloud information would give bloggers an idea how readers perceived the value of their article and provide the following benefits:

3 Measurements Benefiting Bloggers

1. If a blog reader likes one article what other articles in your blog library would they enjoy?

2. Internal blog linking and construct could be improved if the blogger understood synergy between their articles

3. Don’t just rely on Categories as predictors for synergy between articles

Final Analysis and Acknowledgements

Netflix realizes that their best method to answers is to measure a social network: “It might imbue Cinematch with more unpredictable, humanlike intelligence.”

VijayKrishna

Thanks go to Vijay Krishna who alerted me to this information on Twitter.com: a fantastic social media site that provides 80% of my research data. You can find solid information by following Vijay on Twitter . Thanks also go to New York Times writer Clive Thompson for his insightful and wonderful piece on this challenge. Thank you Clive!

Networking Mistake #2 Procrastination Ruins Relationship Building

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Matrix courtesy of projectsidewalk.com/blog

If you are allowing obstacles in your mind to get in the way of performing tasks and making progress then you are suffering from procrastination problems. In networking the biggest problem to creating a networking connection is an individual’s misconception that networking is hard selling themselves, their business, products, and services.

The bridge to a business relationship will fail if the person procrastinates in their follow through after the event. Connecting and forming a business relationship is time sensitive when you begin the process. If you do not follow through with promised information in a timely manner (immediately is best), then you lose.

What’s at Stake?

  1. Lost Opportunity: You most likely will not get a second chance to engage and connect with your intended networking partner.
  2. Reputation: If you do not follow through on your word, your reputation is at stake with your intended networking partner and their circle of friends.
  3. Viral Marketing: If you do not follow through to connect then your inaction may be reported via word of mouth to your industry niche audience.

Tips to Help You Follow Through

  1. To Do List: Note what you promised to deliver your intended networking partner.
  2. Point of Reference: Note what stood out in your conversation that you know your intended networking partner would remember.
  3. Response Habit: Utilizing your point of reference, email or call your intended networking partner as soon as possible (within reason) thanking them for their time.
  4. Set the Next Step: end your email or phone call with a next step. Examples would be to ask for a meeting, set a time to deliver your value as you promised, or invite them to an industry event. Be creative here.
  5. Document: Document your initial efforts to build your connection into a business relationship. Measure what worked, what did not work, and the process involved.

Mainstream Media’s New Source For News, Opinion, And Content Is The Blogosphere

Blogburst blog contributor Daysha gets all the credit for writing a very compelling article on how the relationship between bloggers and the mainstream media is an ever changing landscape. Her fine piece “Blogger’s Influence on Print Media” was the impetus for this snapshot into the evolution of the blogosphere

Daysha’s research was based on a report by Cision billed as the “leading global provider of media monitoring, research, distribution, and evaluation services for PR professionals” released an article July 17 that “demonstrates the growing influence of blogs in the mainstream print media.”

The findings support the premise that mainstream media organizations and their writers mention and utilize blogs for their own stories and content generation. Simply put “we” are viable and important, and in many cases, more relevent than many mainstream media organizations

Discovery

1. “The Top 20 national magazines and newspapers mentioned blogs and bloggers 13,066 times in the one-year period ending June 30, 2008, according to Cision”

2. 2004 total year long mentions of “blogs” and “bloggers” totaled 795 times

3. 2005 total year long mentions of “blogs” and “bloggers” totaled 2,179 times

Mainstream Media Importance

“The stunning growth in blogger influence magnifies the importance of employing common sense when contacting bloggers”, according to Cision Executive V.P. Peter Granat

1. PR firm Brodeur Partners reported that in a January 2008 Survey the following results:

*Of 178 journalist contacted “57 percent said they read blogs at least two to three times per week”

*18% of journalist said “they spend at least one hour per day reading them (blogs)”

Ultimate EyeOpener

1. PRWeek/PR Newswire Media Survey revealed:

*40% of participating journalists employ blogs to find content topics for stories

Analysis

The mainstream media and it’s writers are recognizing the value of blogs as viable research tools, sources of new information, places to immediately measure reader opinion, and as a testing ground for their own opinions

What this means to bloggers:

1. Credibility with public and media

2. Media related exposure to mainstream media writers and editors

3. Possible mainstream media collaboration with writers

4. Recognition by public and professionals

5. Solidify Web 2.0 collaboration as the media platform for now and the future

6. Global Reach to a world wide audience

7. Instant measurability

8. Advertising monetization platform

9. Business marketing platform

10. Joint Branding opportunities

“Hyper Local” Blog Strategy Is Realtor’s #1 Weapon Of Mass Introduction

The following is a brief description and outline for Realtors to consider when formulating strategies for their blogging efforts, considering SEO tactics, and preparing an action plan for their next generation online marketing campaign.

What Is Hyper Local Content?

Hyper local content is content that describes a community’s characteristics, assets, and overall climate. It is a method of blogging that produces a wide variety of information about a community not restricted to real estate subjects.

Hyper Local Content Topic Examples

Schools; Political scene; Dining; Parks; Festivals; New businesses; Local businesses; Concerts; weather; community services; non profits, charities; local heros; historical buildings; WiFi access; coffee houses; public transportation; city planning; sports teams; where are they now segments; and the list goes on and on

How about this for hyper local content: Realtor John Harper’s brother Craig and friends jam for fun and profit

Why Is It Important?

1. Become an expert on your area

2. Perception as community go-to source of information

3. Search Engine Optimization on multiple topics provides exposure during multiple topic searches

What Does It Mean To Your Blog?

1. Never ending source of content

2. Well rounded content

3. Internal linking strategy

4. Multiple subjects provides multiple “Guest Contributors” possibilities

5. Opportunities to provide exposure to community businesses, citizens, and policies

Hyper Local Blogging “Superstars”

1. Teresa Boardman St.PaulRealestateblog.com

2. Kevin Boer 3oceansrealestate.com

3. John Harper theharperteam.com

9 Tips That May Change The Way You Do Marketing: Asking For “Permission” Never Has Been So Important

Valeria Maltoni, the marketing expert and subject of my last post, has a fascinating list of tips that may very well change the way you do marketing. Her tips are based on permission marketing a strategy where you ask permission before sending advertisements to prospective customers.

Permission marketing is used by some Internet marketers, email marketers, and telephone marketers. It requires that people first “opt-in”, rather than allowing people to “opt-out” only after the advertisements have been sent.

9 Tips To Consider

1. Newsletter Subscriptions: ask for permission to add people to your newsletter list. You may see a dip in the growth rate of your newsletter list but your new subscribers will be of higher quality to your business

2. Subscribe to email: Give people the chance to subscribe to your email whenever possible

3. What others purchased: Let your readers see what other people have bought, testimonials of your service, and even a poor review. By including a poor review you are demonstrating you are transparent

4. Comments: make commenting available as much as possible as often as possible on your site. If you have forum capabilities that is even better as it allows commenters to communicate directly

5. Give First: Make sure the first time a potential client hears something from you it is not a sales pitch of any kind. Add value and give something first before asking for something in return

6. Ranking Content: Create a method of allowing your readers to rank your content and vote for their favorite or most “useful” articles

7. Encourage Critiquing: encourage and foster an atmosphere where readers, peers, and clients can critique your work or present alternative ideas

8. Follow a Plan: Take everything in steps, follow a plan, and take your time building trust through permission in your marketing mission

9. Ask,Ask,Ask: One answer does not satisfy all inquiring minds. Continually ask questions so as to understand your clients. Show that you value their concerns by illustrating how your services or products can help them in their lives