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June 2009, Week 4 Marketing Archives

Friday, June 26, 2009

Due to E-tax, North Carolina's Vendors Could Lose Amazon Access

amazon etaxStates across the nation are scrambling for solutions to their budget deficits, and as a result, online vendors may feel the squeeze from online fees, also known as iTunes tax, digital goods tax and E-tax.
North Carolina vendors could lose access to Amazon,(NASDAQ:AMZN) America's largest online retailer and reseller.
Amazon may cut North Carolina vendors if the state's E-tax is approved. Spokeswoman Patty Smith told the Wall Street Journal that Amazon views North Carolina's proposed law to collect 4.5% sales tax from online marketing affiliates "unconstitutional" and "isn't appropriate for us to have to comply with an unconstitutional burden."

atr logoIs the E-Tax unconstitutional? Yes-According to Americans for Tax Reform,  E-tax is a "complicated scheme to collect more taxes and circumvent the interstate commerce clause."  Interstate commerce clause authorizes Congress “To regulate Commerce with several States.

 stopeTaxes.com, points out why e-Taxes are bad public policy.etax poll Several points included in its list include:
eTaxes across state lines violate the Dormant Commerce Clause, which restricts states from passing legislation that burdens or impedes interstate commerce
 

  • While many states are seeking to tax digital goods, some states are specifically exempting these products from taxation to entice digital vendors and other high tech companies to move to their state, create jobs, and expand the tax base.
  •  E-tax will create a black market for all digital goods, with Napster serving as the example.
  • StopEtaxes.com cites a 1992 U.S. Supreme Court Case, Quill v. North Dakota, which upheld that states could not require companies to collect a sales and use tax without either property or employees in the state.


When the first wave of eTax proposals started back in November, we polled you-our readers, to get your opinion on eTaxes. By an overwhelming majority,69%of you, voted against the eTax,   compared to only 15% voting for it and 15% voting-"maybe."

Due to E-tax, North Carolina's Vendors Could Lose Amazon Access By Matt O'Hern at 03:37 PM
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China Mobile Limited (NYSE:CHL) 3G Network Continues Rapid Growth

china mobile limitedOnly two months after the launch of China Mobile's 3G network, the subscriber base for the enhanced network is double the size of 2G. China Mobile Limited (NYSE:CHL) 488.1 million total subscribers at the start of this month.

 

 On the same day CML announced its impressive 3G growth rate, it also bought a 12% stake in Far EasTone Telecommunications Limited, which awaits approval from the two governments. Approval would mark the first agreement between Tawain and Chine since 1959, when the communist government took power.According to a report from International Law Office,the agreement will upgrade roaming service and network capabilities for both parties.

Under the agreement, Far EasTone Telecommunications will provide a testbed for Taiwan's software providers and manufacturers that are interested in the third-generation (3G) technology Time Division-Synchronous Code Division Multiple Access, a unique 3G standard adopted by the Chinese government.

With China's telecom market expanding at this rate, I wonder if CML's 3G subscribers will encounter the same connection problems that have frustrated iPhone users on AT&T's 3G network.

China Mobile Limited (NYSE:CHL) 3G Network Continues Rapid Growth By Matt O'Hern at 07:56 AM
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Thursday, June 25, 2009

Twitter Search #Jobs vs. Careerbuilder & Monster.com Job Search Engines

Timing is everything, and in today's instant gratification culture, we want our info as fast as possible, which is why Twitter Job search may prove to be a better source for job seekers. Initially, Monster and Careerbuilder supplied a database unrivaled by virtually any other sites: a national collection of job openings for every field.monster logo

During the past few years, Monster and Careerbuilder have become saturated with pyramid schemes and other get-rich quick,direct marketing listings that don't appeal to anyone seeking a professional career.

Let me preface my Twitter #Jobs search hype by conceeding that those same listings appear, but there's also an abundance of legitimate career opportunities that arise every minute.twitter jobs search By searching #jobs + any big city,  you find openings from secondary job search sites  that you may have never found otherwise.

orlando jobsA perfect example is orlandojobtweet ,a helpful page for anyone in the central Florida area. Postings range from maintence chief at Coca-Cola (NYSE:KO)to teaching positions at Full Sail University, and everything in between.

With national unemployment around 10%, job seekers need every advantage they can get against competing candidates. Monster.com and Careerbuilder can't offer the frequent updates, so many jobhunters may supplement their search with Twitter, or ditch monster and careerbuilder, out of impatience.

Twitter Search #Jobs vs. Careerbuilder & Monster.com Job Search Engines By Matt O'Hern at 11:46 AM
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Will Vitamin Water Launch the First Shaq & LeBron James Commercial?

shaq and lebron commercial

Two of the biggest stars in the NBA will share the same court, as Shaq heads to the Cleveland Cavs to join LeBron James.

In different eras, each of the superstars has enjoyed the spotlight as the league's most popular and most marketable player. In the post-Jordan,late 90s and early 2000s, Shaq was the face of the NBA. Now, Kobe Bryant and LeBron James have emerged as the new leaders.

As we all know from the Kobe and Lebron puppet commercials , LeBron is a  Nike man, and his State Farm ad gave us a glimpse of LeBron in the NFL. One endorsement Shaq and LeBron share: Vitamin Water, made by energybrands. Assuming the NBA approves the trade and Shaq passes his physical, it's not matter of if but when, we'll see a new Vitamin Water Commercial starring Shaq and LeBron.

I checked Shaq's Twitter Page to see if he's made any comments about the trade, but he must have orders from his agent to keep his lips sealed until it's approved.

Will Vitamin Water Launch the First Shaq & LeBron James Commercial? By Matt O'Hern at 10:08 AM
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Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Update: Pepsi 12 Pack Sightings in Florida

pepsi 12 packEvidently, my posts complaining about the Pepsi 8-pack and the site, bringbackthe12pack.com, reflected a widespread sentiment, because we're receiving reader mail reporting the 12-pack is back in the Sunshine State.I sent a letter of inquiry to Dee Dee Ward,  a consumer relations representative for Pepsi. You may recall, who sent  the first response to our 8-pack outrage.

 

According to my readers, the 12-packs have been spotted in Florida again. Does Pepsi plan to bring back the 12-pack and phase-out the 8-pack? Also, what were some of the reasons for Pepsi's decision to bring back the 12-pack? I'm anxious to share with our readers.

I'm awaiting her response and I'll post it once it arrives.

Update: Pepsi 12 Pack Sightings in Florida By Matt O'Hern at 03:32 PM
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Mid-Major College Sports Teams Face Giant Marketing Challenges

samford diamond dig

When elite college athletic departments such as the University of Florida, the Oklahoma Sooners and other BCS programs are forced to cut their budgets, you can only imagine the cost-cutting measures taken at the thousands of other universities. ncaa logo
For state universities and the Top-25 football programs, athletic department budgets are usually in healthy shape by the time September arrives. Then there's the vast majority of insitutions who are rarely featured on ESPN or in Sports Illustrated. They're forced to explore every possible avenue to generate fan interest and sell tickets.
Smaller athletic departments, such as my alma mater, Samford University, are comparable to small business trying to compete with the giant corporations.

Smaller, private universities are forced to tap every creative outlet in order to pitch their respective teams to the surrounding community.
Samford is in the suburbs of Birmingham, with three major state schools within a short drive. The "Big Two", Auburn and the University of Alabama at Tuscaloosa, are within a two hour drive, and the University of Alabama-Birmingham is just down Route 31.

As a result, college football fans have two SEC games to choose from each Saturday, or a Southern Conference (Furman, Appalachian State, Citadel, West Carolina) just down the road.
Imagine yourself as the director of athletic marketing at a small university located in a metropolitan area. How would you lure the surrounding fan base?
I posed these questions to Grant Lyons, the Assistant Athletics Director for Marketing and Home Event Management and Hollie Huey, Samford's director of athletic marketing.

Huey has worked in both sides of college sports marketing. Prior to joining Samford's staff, Huey was a marketing and promotions assistant for the Alabama Crimson Tide, home of a football team with 12 national championships and a fanbase that's arguably the most passionate in the nation.
When Huey became the director of athletic marketing at Samford, she realized her new position required more creativity and new angles to pitch Samford's teams.One positive move was when the Bulldogs ditched the obscure Ohio Valley Conference and joined the Southern Conference, which is widely regarded as the premier conference for mid-major NCAA competition.
Lyons,Huey and the rest of the athletic department emphasize the budget-friendly ticket costs and family-friendly atmosphere on gameday.Huey said:


It's very family friendly and in times of such economic turmoil, some families can't afford to pay $70 plus a ticket plus gas, food and lodging for some. It's also easier for those in-town to stop by instead of traveling to watch sports.

burrito eating contestIf you feed them they will come! That's the principle behind promotions such as the Qdoba burrito eating contest at a soccer game. Bachelorette's stormed a softball field and ripped off the bases during a diamond dig promotion. A local jeweler, Steed's Jewelers, provided a diamond buried in the infield. (I could make a sterotypical joke about Samford girls and MRS. Degrees, but I'll refrain.)

A similar promo involved a money drop, where a helicopter dropped a load of dollar bills over the field.
In addition to the unique promotions, value per-ticket is another selling point, as Lyons explained, a season ticket for Samford is about the same price for just a single-game ticket to an Auburn or Alabama game.A football season ticket was $60 last year,  at $12 adult and $5 child per individual game.
Another angle Samford used was their connection to Auburn fans. Pat Sullivan, a heisman trophy-winning quarterback at Auburn, is the head coach for Samford. Many of the football ticket sales are purchased on gameday, which is why Lyons,Huey and the rest of the staff, go the extra mile to create an exciting yet comfortable atmosphere throughout the campus. Creating a memorable experience is the top priority.


 At the end of the day, we CAN'T compete with AU and UA. Nor do we want to. We are Samford, and there are plenty of things that set us apart. I've always said if we can get a family here to a game, and they have a good experience, they'll come back again. If we can provide fun promotions, the FunZone for kids, a huge tailgating area pre-game, and some other surprises here and there then we can almost always leave a positive impression on the fans.One that they will leave saying 'Man, I can't wait to come back to another game!'

Mid-Major College Sports Teams Face Giant Marketing Challenges By Matt O'Hern at 11:20 AM
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Tuesday, June 23, 2009

5 Reasons Why MySpace is Dying & Facebook is Growing

tom from myspaceToday, a second round of layoffs hit MySpace, one of the most popular social networking companies. MySpace is owned  News Corp (NASDAQ:NWSA) , the media conglomerate run by  entrepreneur Rupert Murdoch. NewsCorporation also owns Fox and the Wall Street Journal.I created a a short list of my top reasons MySpace's struggles continue, as Facebook continues to attract thousands of new users.  I expect many of you to disagree with at least a point or two,  and I'm aware of the fact that the MySpace vs. Facebook debate won't end anytime soon. I'm simply sharing my opnions, and I'd love to hear yours.


5 reasons for MySpace's downfall:


1. The "Teenager site" stigma.
MySpace has unsuccessfully tried to shed its image as a magnet for teens and scum bags stalking teens.Regardless of any demographic stats touted by MySpace CEO Owen Van Natta  or any other company executives, I'm convinced the public's perception of the social network is that it's geared toward a teenage audience.
Ask anyone you know to play word association with MySpace, and I guarantee you their reply will include terms such as: teenagers, high school kids,younger people, or MTV crowd.

 2.  Facebook's unique appeal.

Initially, Facebook had an exclusive format limited to college students and alumni. The user-friendly format was so successful at reconnection old classmates, it generated a buzz among the college-age and 20-somethings crowd, before it expanded to the general. As a result, it was comparable to a hot company that opened its stock for public trade. Once Facebook's floodgates opened, an eager group of investors (new members) poured right in.

3. MySpace was sleeping at the wheel.
It is not the strongest of the species that survives, nor the most intelligent, but the one most responsive to change. While MySpace was enjoying its rein as the world's most popular social networking site, Mark Zuckerberg and the rest of his crew at Facebook were improving the user interface with applications and other innovative features to broaden Facebook's appeal to a larger market and enhance the user experience. New MySpace copied Facebook features, and a new tone was set to the race.

4. Criminal activity in the news.
Craigslist has recently suffered through several PR nightmares, including the "Craigslist killer." MySpace was frequently in the news for various child predator cases. With tens of millions of registered users, the law of averages means a few hundred creeps are bound to be on the network.

To MySpace's credit, administrators collaborated with law enforcement to locate and remove registered sex offenders, but it may have been too little, too late, to save Myspace's reputation among concerned parents.

5. Weak spam filters.
MySpace mail inboxes are inundated with friend invites from spammers, including user pages directed toward adult-rated sites. The frequency and volume of messages these illegitimate "friends" is a nuisance most users don't want to deal with.

5 Reasons Why MySpace is Dying & Facebook is Growing By Matt O'Hern at 04:08 PM
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Netflix CEO Reed Hastings Long-Term Goal: Challenge HBO & On-Demand Cable

netflix vs. hboHis idea all started from a $40 late fee. That's when Netflix CEO Reed Hastings realized there was a better way to rent movies. As a result, Netflix,(NASDAQ:NFLX) the leading online movie rental company, was born.
During an interview with Charlie Rose, Hastings recalled the moment his vision was born:

 


I was driving home and preparing to tell my wife about the late fee, and it made me think, 'I can't be the only one who's struggling with this late fee thing. It just got me started thinking about the Internet and DVDs and how something could work without late fees, and that was the genesis of Netflix.

 Launching Netflix was no small task. Thousands of DVDs had to be shipped each day, and Hasting's company endured the growing pains most start up businesses encounter, but 11 years later, Netflix has more than 10 million subscribers with thousands of more joining each month. Despite Netflix's remarkable recession-proof growth, Hastings isn't savoring in Netflix's impressive growth rate. Instead, he's preparing for the downfall of the DVD industry by focusing on streaming services. His perspective doesn't suprise me. A few months ago, I posted about the possibility of Netflix Watch Instantly library killing movies by mail.

According to an article in today's WSJ, Netflix  says new users attracted by streamed movies have helped push its subscriber total up 25% to 10.3 million at the end of March from a year earlier, which saves Netflix a significant amount:It costs Netflix 80 cents to mail a DVD to a customer's home and back, compared to five cents for bandwidth costs to stream a typical two-hour movie.

Hastings wants to expand the library of streaming movies, but major studios such as Sony are contractually obligated to distribute  to premium cable stations, such as HBO. Another roadblack is studio executives who fear streaming movies could contribute to the downfall of their own DVD and Blu-Ray sales.
 
Warren Lieberfarb,the former head of Time Warner (NYSE:TWX) Warner Bros. home video division, who helped develop the DVD format, told the Wall Street Journal:

Netflix has yet to show that it has the resources and profitability to be in the markets where licensing is the business policy.

As Hastings continues to plot and posture for Netflix's future negotiations, he's aware of his distinct advantage in the current model, compared to the cutthroat challenges he'll face from premium video content providers such as Apple iTunes movies, Hulu and Amazon. That's why he told the WSJ:



As a capitalist, I'd rather have Blockbuster as my primary competitor than all those Internet companies.

Netflix CEO Reed Hastings Long-Term Goal: Challenge HBO & On-Demand Cable By Matt O'Hern at 12:59 PM
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Monday, June 22, 2009

HighGear Media Car Review Network launches Twitter Car Tweets & Facebook Connect Integration

highgear media

Expert reviews and reports have added value when you're shopping around for your next car. Those annoying commercials, like the Toyota "Saved by Zero" just drive you crazy, and you simply want to find a reliable automobile. With the cluster of  sites to choose from, the process can become tedious.

highgear sitesThanks to High Gear Media, the process has been simplified. HGM is  is the largest network of automotive sites on the Internet, with 38 communities. Whether you're hunting for a muscle car or going green, you'll find the make and model among HGM's network, which includes TheCarConnection, AllAboutPrius, Greencarreports, HondaReports, LexusReports, VolkswagenReviews and MustangBlog, and many others.

In the past six months, HighGear Media's site traffic has grown 40% and revenue by 50%. One innovative feature that caught my eye was Car Tweets: a real-time search on Twitter that aggregates relevant Tweets about every model/make car, which are then distributed across its network of 38 websites.car tweets
From thecarconnection.com, users can sign into Facebook with the Facebook Connect feature.  When they post comments on any of the carconnection.com websites ,they can also post it to their Facebeook page and their friends Facebook home page, enabling them to extend their social network postings and share their experiences and opinions about cars they are most passionate about.

HGM's content partners include Businessinsider.com and two news sites you don't normally see together:  Huffingtonpost.com and Foxnews.com. Based in Palo Alto, Ca., High Gear Media received Series A funding from Accel Partners and Greylock Partners. Visit High Gear Media's homepage to start your search today. 

HighGear Media Car Review Network launches Twitter Car Tweets & Facebook Connect Integration By Matt O'Hern at 01:21 PM
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Tales From The Data Center Crypt

If you have more than one web site and have at least one dedicated server then data center management is probably a sore subject for you. Its one of those areas of the web nobody likes to talk about but the reality is 99% of all small business owners have had downtime as a result of a poorly run data center. In the not too distant past (about 9 months ago), I went from owning less than 5 dedicated servers, to being responsible for managing over 80 servers and the hosting of just under 200,000 web sites spread across 180,000 domains. Let me tell you something, the nightmares I experienced by setting up a full-fledged hosting facility are nothing compared to the amount of money that was lost when my client cut their contract short because I just wasn't getting the job done.

You see, at one point in time, I was a great SEO. I ate, drank, slept and dreamed about seo (I still do). But when I tried to take on an area of technology that I had just dabbled in previously, I cut my own legs out from beneath me. The number one rule in business school and that every entrepreneur will tell you is to focus on one thing and do that one thing better than anyone else in your industry. Well, I thought that since I was so good at seo and business consulting that I could take on another area (hosting) without too much hassle and that I'd probably save a fortune to boot. I can't even begin to tell you how wrong I was. I spend 70% of my time during the life of this particular contract (nearly 18 months) fixing hosting, network, infrastructure, operating system, caching, dns, ARIN, routing, firewall and other data center issues than I did search engine optimization. Because of that I was never able to implement the seo solutions I recommended in a timely manner and I ultimately failed to deliver the results I boasted to the client about.

Why am I telling you this? Because I'm now trying to work my way back out of a hole that's been dug deep with debt and failure and if one of you can benefit from my story then this post has done its job. We as humans are not meant to do a lot of things well even though we think we are suppose to be great at everything. We see companies like Twitter who's founder list is like a who's who of Valley startups and we think it's all about how great and smart the founders are. The truth is that success comes from commitment and committing to do the best job you can with the resources you have at your disposal and a lot of luck thrown in to boot. So if you're struggling right now and not sure why things just aren't working out, take a minute to look at your daily or weekly task lists and see if there are some things you're doing that would be better off in someone else's hands. Remember, the internet is a give equals get ecosystem (just like life mind you). In order to get you must first give and give generously. Could you benefit others around you by giving some of those tasks on your to do list away to someone else? Think about it, it will do your brain good.

Tales From The Data Center Crypt By Jason Dowdell at 11:37 AM
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Review: FedEx Mobile iPhone App: A Poor Effort on a Great Idea

fedex iphone app"Don't relax, it's FedEx."

In an attempt to simplify and streamline your package tracking, FedEx (NYSE:FDX), created an App for iPhone, but the finished product  doesn't save you any time or effort compared to tracking it on the website- A method which is now considered the old-fashioned way by many of us.

I installed the FedEx mobile App a few months ago, but I never had much use for it until a few days ago, when I sent a very small package to a hotel in Virginia, where my girlfriend is staying for a week-long conference. I wanted to ensure that it arrived right on time for her 27th birthday.

With my receipt and tracking number in-hand, I figured the FedEx pp would simplify the entire tracking process, but as ESPN's Lee Corso would say: "Not so fast,my friend."
Once the app loaded, I realized I had to register as a FedEx user to login.  I clicked the "register online" button and proceeded to the next screen, where I was informed there was a processing error.fedex error

On my second attempt, I successfully completed my registration form, which included my full name, address,etc.

 

Despite the fact that I  submitted all of that personal data, the app couldn't apply that data to locate any of my packages. I scanned the screen for any clue to where I could at least enter my tracking number. I clicked, "Add", because it was the only option that seemed relevant. To my delight, a prompt read "enter your tracking number." I obliged, and my package's status appeared.

I realize FedEx must enforce a certain level of security to protect your information from entering the wrong hands,but I have two complaints with this App.

  1. Inconvenience: If the premise of an App is to circumvent the web and provide faster access to information, why is the App slower than tracking via the website?
  2. User interface: Typically, Apps are designed with a user-friendly interface. fedex failWhoever the drug addict is who developed the FedEx iPhone App,they weren't thinking of the customer or user first. Imagine how many users never realized they had to tap "Add" to enter the tracking number. Clear directions, such as "Add tracking number." would eliminate the annoying guesswork iPhone users don't want to mess with.


In retrospect,I shouldn't be surprised. When I called FedEx's media relations department to contact the App development team, the representative had never heard of an iPhone app.

Review: FedEx Mobile iPhone App: A Poor Effort on a Great Idea By Matt O'Hern at 11:27 AM
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« June 2009 Week 3 June 2009 Week 5 »

  • Week 1 (11 entries) June 1-6
  • Week 2 (10 entries) June 7-13
  • Week 3 (10 entries) June 14-20
  • Week 4 (11 entries) June 21-27
  • Week 5 (3 entries) June 28-30

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