2010-08-25

Fruit of her womb

As many of you know, my mother came to visit me in sunny Kaleefonya, so let me regale you with a tale of my mother's stay.

We started with figuring out the dates. "Which is the best time for you, my child?" she asked.

"Any time is good, with the exception of the last two weeks of August leading up to VMworld and first week of September, when the conference will be going on."

"Okay," she said and booked the tickets to arrive on August the 13th.

Her flight was one hour late, and I picked her up at the airport another hour later--though I was there just on time! She did not know that I would be waiting for her at the curb downstairs and waited to be picked up right at the spot where they leave the secure area. Shows how americanized I have become! After 30 minutes circling the airport and failing to see my dear mother, I finally parked and went to look for her inside. There we managed to miss each other, so I only found her another half an hour later, on my second frantic run through the airport.

All's well that ends well, and happily united, we went home.

To be honest, I was very nervous about her visit, harking back to the havoc that my father caused when he came to "help" me drive the Yeller cross-country from NC to CA. Turns out, I was mistaken, we had a great time together, and I was quite sad to drop her off at the airport two weeks later!

Among the things we did was go see the Winchester Mystery House, admire giant sequoias in the Big Basin Park, look at lots of critters at the Monterey Bay Aquarium, and of course complete a pilgrimage to the Thunderhill track for a weekend with NASA.

This was my mom's first direct exposure to motorsports. She's a racing fan, actually, and I thought she might enjoy a ride on a couple laps with me in the race car. While she did not quite pass out from excitement, she also did not hate it and has shown remarkable trust in my ability to control the car and keep us both out of trouble.

All in all, it was really cool to have her here.

2010-08-06

It's not about you, silly!

Quote:
"Drawing on a wealth of experience within the creative design and marketing arena, we at Room 58 have helped to generate significant return on investment and increased brand awareness for all of our blue-chip and SME clients."

The above quote came from the home page of a seemingly respectable creative agency. And yet, it says exactly nothing about what the agency does or why YOU, the reader, should give them even a minute of your time.

I bet when a company looking for a creative agency is searching on Google, they enter anything but "return on investment" as their keyword. Also, what exactly is "significant?" ROI is notoriously hard to measure with creative work, but I am glad someone is getting "significant" returns on it.

However, the second part of the sentence, talking about "blue-chip and SME clients" is the true reason for this rant of mine. These two categories of clients would look good on a quarterly report, but have absolutely nothing to do on a home page of a company, since nobody will type in a search for "marketing for SME."

For the longest time, terms "SMB and SME"* have been a pet peeve of mine, because all they really say is "customers who are too small for our sales people to bother talking to directly, and we'd rather they self-service or talk to our partners."

This is why in my professional life, whenever a colleague comes to me for help setting up an "SMB program" I ask "are you sure that your target audience self-identifies as SMB?"

Seriously, do you expect Joe Blow to come to work one morning and realize "Hey I need product XYZ for my business, but my company is too small for Megacorp to bother returning my calls, so why don't I google for 'XYZ for SMB' instead? Surely they will have a microsite for small fry like me!"

Chances are, Megacorp will have a page like this, only it will be frequented by its partners, not SMBs.

Just because it is convenient for you to define a target group in a certain way, doesn't mean that they will automatically self-identify and embrace such definition.

In marketing, it is never about you. It's about who you want to reach.

* SMB stands for "small and medium size business." By the same token, SME means "small and medium size enterprise." Because "enterprise" is so much cooler-sounding than "business," and everything has to be "enterprisey" these days.

2010-08-02

How I got an eye pad

I must have gotten some dirt in my eye at the autocross on Saturday, because my right eye was bright red on Sunday morning. I could not wear contact lenses, and have made an appointment to see a doctor today.

I was not in any pain, just a mild discomfort and dryness, so I figured waiting for 24 hours to see the doc won't do much harm.

Sure enough, nothing is really wrong with me, and all the doc could see was a patch of irritated cornea around where the eye got reddest. He gave me some antibiotic ointment to treat the eye for 7 days and an eye pad shown in the picture and sent me home.

Wearing of the eye pad is optional.

The only inconvenient thing is that I can't go back to wearing contact lenses for a full week, as long as I am treating the eye, so I have to wear glasses. And I was very happy when I could ditch them six years ago, so the prospect of wearing them is not exactly thrilling.

The pair I am wearing today was made in August 2001, and is out of date. Style-wise as much as prescription-wise. These glasses are about 1.5 dioptries behind what my vision is these days, and that's sub-optimal for most things I do: Typing, driving, reading... Night driving is really hard. As in, do not attempt.

I have an optometrist appointment on Wednesday and should have my new glasses within an hour after they get my new prescription. After that, I should be able to deal with everyday tasks again. As long as needed to get the eye all healed up, so I can wear my contacts again.

I want pay-per-view F1 on hulu.com

I don't watch TV and haven't paid a cable bill in my life. The few TV shows that interest me, I watch on hulu.com and that is plenty for me.

The only unfulfilled wish I have is that either Hulu or some other online TV provider would begin offering pay-per-view (or season subscription) streaming Formula 1 coverage. It doesn't even have to be real-time. A day or two, even a week-long delay is fine by me. I would pay up to $10-15 to watch one full event: Saturday qualifying and the Sunday race. I just don't see myself paying upwards of $100 for a cable subscription with Speed channel add-on.