Take a look!
Companies only grow when they can contain complexity, and email is the fastest way to produce uncontained complexity. This is because email is built around sending messages from one person to another, or from one group to another; anything in between is an ugly hack.
There’s a good reason most people choose to “Reply All”: all of the recipients of an email have to assume that, until they hear something about it, whatever the email says must be done still must be done. If you’ve ever replied directly to the sender of an email that was sent to ten people, you’ve gotten one of two responses: either ten minutes later you’re “Reply All”‘d on another email that makes yours redundant. At one minute per email times ten recipients, it’s easy to see how a simple task can take an hour or more total—and that’s ignoring the cost of disruptions.
I have a simple solution: “Reply All” should not allow you to compose an email reply; it should send a default answer like “It’s being taken care of.” To recipients who need to know more, you can elaborate; to everyone else, well, it’s being taken care of.
(In the meantime, you can start replying-all with that line. Hopefully it will catch on.)
In the future, historians will stop using the word “bubble,” because it refers to two opposite phenomena:
• In an equity bubble, investors have limitless optimism about the future. They expect many of the companies they invest in to fail, but believe that the 95th- or 99th-percentile performers will more than make up for this.
• In a credit bubble, investors have limitless faith in the status quo. They expect volatility to decrease, and they believe they can estimate returns with increasing accuracy. If they want higher returns, they know they can use leverage—but for the most part, investors celebrate the middle of the bell curve, and expect the tails to cancel each other out.
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Barrons is a startlingly good magazine. The first year I subscribed, they panned Actrade, a stock I liked (it dropped 50% that day, and was bankrupt within the year), and touted M&F Worldwide, which is now five times higher.
So I tend to pay attention to them.
That Actrade story spoiled me, though. There was a lot of conjecture about the company’s fast growth and low cash flow, which I’d heard before. What was new was that company executives had bought their auditor a fancy Rolex; that’s what drove the stock down. Since then, I’ve paid much closer attention to the incentives people have to tell a story that doesn’t quite correspond with reality. And that’s why the recent Barrons article suggesting that the Washington Post Co. is 50% undervalued made me do a double-take.
The Economics of Advertising: Why Advertising Agencies Used to Be the Best Business in the World (And Why They Never Will Be Again)
There’s only one notably successful business personality who made his money in the ad agency business. He’s an accountant, and that should tell you something. The ad business is simply not a great place for making money.
What makes a company “too big to fail”? The traditional answer is “size”: if a company as big as Bear Stearns or AIG suddenly needs to liquidate, the market will miss their unique role in clearing transactions or making a market. Then, as they dump their extra-special assets, it will cause widespread panic and needless disruption.
I believe that this is entirely wrong. A company becomes too big to fail when it’s a leveraged bet on a universally agreed-upon belief that happens to be false. Read the rest of this entry »
“Content factories” like Demand Media and Mahalo are turning the SEO industry inside-out. In the next few years, they will cut off the main source for entry-level SEO professionals, eliminate small web design agencies from the SEO business, and scoop up a bunch of ad dollars they absolutely don’t deserve.
Whose physical storefront uses the same ugly typography as their website?
Which fashion retailer splits their audience, giving a great deal to Internet shoppers and a brutal one to people who buy in-person?
And whose website is “like stumbling onto a can of Yoohoo after walking through a chocolate desert?”
You’ve probably never wondered, but you might be curious about which of your favorite stores have killer websites and hideous storefronts, or great-looking retail outlets paired with an unusable online presence.
A few of my coworkers have put together an amazing collection of side-by-side images of sites and stores—from companies like J. Crew, Dolce & Gabbana, Apple, and more—to show off who gets it and who just doesn’t. Check out 53 New York City Storefronts VS. Their Websites for many more.
When I talk to clients, they want me to accomplish three things: get visitors to their website, get them to keep coming back, and make some money off of them. I’m starting to suspect that bringing users back is the source of the biggest mistakes I make in online marketing.
A “sticky” site is one that keeps users clicking, and convinces them to come back often. I used to try to build sticky sites. Now, I build “spiky” sites—sites that convert someone into a customer, get them signed up for email newsletters, or convince them to go away.