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October 30th 2008 News

Butterflies

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There’s a theory that the very act of living generates toxic waste that builds up in the body until specific measures are taken to flush the system. Indeed, there’s a whole industry around supposed detox solutions.

Personally, I think this is crap. In normal conditions, the body is perfectly capable of cleaning up after itself. The mind, on the other hand, is a different matter. Unlike the body, which is constantly renewing itself, the brain’s main task is to store.

This makes the mind very susceptible to psychic poisons that can negatively impact the brain’s most human of functions, the projection of self. Even with constant vigilance, the mind can enter a downward spiral, manifesting itself in depression or other potentially fatal disorders.

Luckily the mind can be detoxed effectively, often without the physical intervention of pharmaceuticals, through simple introspection. When that fails, additional memetic therapy can be applied by receiving good advice from a professional or well-chosen confidant.

The tricky thing about mental poisons is that they often go undetected until after the fact. It’s like an alien parasite. You can tell something’s going on, but you have no idea what’s inside you until it’s removed — preferably premortem!

Such was the case last week, when I was reduced to a sniveling mass by the pressure of the previous several months. Puzzllotto was receiving poor reviews, inaccurate and hurtful assumptions were being made about myself and my company, and I was increasingly being labeled a self-important charlatan.

I was ready to throw in the towel. I began looking for job openings and planning how I was going to break the news that clearly I was terrible at all of this and that I needed to go away, maybe for good.

Contemplating career suicide

When people talk about “career suicide,” they usually mean something that is not going to work as the receiver expects. This was career suicide in a more literal sense, as if Thanatos had a cousin who wore a suit and carried a briefcase.

Being no stranger to thoughts of suicide, I knew I needed to talk to someone who I could respect, but who would not just tell me what I wanted to hear. I needed to talk to someone who would deal me the straight dope, the Cecil Adams of the Appleverse. I needed John Gruber.

John smacked me across the face like a hysterical woman. Once he had my attention, he suggested I work on keeping an even keel, not getting too high from success, nor getting too low from failure. He suggested I take inspiration from Obama, maybe take the day off and listen to some speeches.

Then my mom called. You might imagine I don’t get along all that well with my mother, and you’d be right. We’re cordial enough, but we don’t really talk about anything meaningful. It was time for that to change. I told her about my work, and about my next project, a game that would literally change the course of history.

Then we talked about Obama. I told her that I felt Americans were living in the Matrix, working long hours, eating pablum, and dying useless for having fed the parasitic machine draining the lifeblood of a withering planet.

I told her that Obama was the first president in my lifetime I could look to for inspiration. I told her about seeing people like myself get involved in the politcal process for the first time. I told her about getting to know the truth about money, the economy, and consumption.

I told her I saw a light at the end of the tunnel, where the boom-bust cycles of exploitative capitalism gave way the steady, sustainable happiness of altruistic capitalism.

Then she got biblical, which was her undoing. No one can quote scripture like an atheist. Without getting into the full multi-hour explanation, I showed her that McCain fits the description of the antichrist much better than Obama.

Finally it came down to abortion and gay marriage. I explained that first, understand that Roe v. Wade is not a case about abortion, but about the federal government’s ability to enforce the Constitution at the state level. Most laws are like this — their issues are far more complicated than will fit on a sign.

Still, it brings up a greater issue. It is not your job to govern other people’s morality. The Bible is explicitly clear on this subject. Not only does it repeatedly warn against judging others, it also makes clear that vengeance is the exclusive prerogative of God.

You are being controlled, I told her, by people telling you how to think, how to feel, and how to act. Use your God-given mind to make your own decisions. Read “Audacity of Hope” and hear Obama’s words from his own mouth, not from Fox News or Rush Limbaugh.

Whether you see Obama as the embodiment of Hope, or the ultimate Islamist plot, you have to agree that this election is important enough to take the time to read the book and decide for yourself if you want a $150,000 drinking buddy or a leader who can inspire this nation to greatness.

The alien parasite emerges

Explaining everything I believed in and was working toward energized me and gave me focus. With a pure signal re-established, I was able to see the poison and analyze its process. Then I could give the situation an honest assessment and come up with a plan for success. In other words, I was able to do my job and lead my team, which is the surest way to contentment.

When people hear I’m the world’s toughest programmer, they think I’m asking them to step outside. Toughness is often accompanied by meanness, but they’re not the same thing. I’m tough like an old boot, able to take all manner of abuse and somehow survive. It’s not a skill I’ve earned, but a talent I was born with, so I claim the title not as an act of braggadocio, but as a simple statement of fact.

When I pulled Laertes’ knife from where it had lodged beneath my shoulder blade, I dismissed the wound as a scratch. Little did I know that like a Komodo dragon’s bite, the sinister infection would take hold over time. The body’s overreaction takes over, causing much of the damage.

The poison was a meme — you don’t get credit for any of this. Once the meme took hold, inflammation set in, and I started responding to trolls instead of simply deleting them as I know I should. The result was an increasingly defensive posture reflected best of all in this blog.

Having ceased to talk about anything but myself and my accomplishments, people began dismissing me as self-possessed, which lead to them dismissing my work. When my work starts to suffer, I take corrective action. In this case, I decided to temper my ego by taking criticism very seriously.

Here is a recipe for disaster: have an empath actively seek out and seriously consider any and all criticism — right before launching a puzzle game that is going to make a lot of people very angry.

After flushing out the negativity, recharging the batteries, and getting shields back up, I was able to see Puzzllotto for what it was — a very good game for a very small market. This is why we beta tested Fundware with our own project. Now we know Fundware, more than anything, must have mass appeal.

We should have made American Pie, but instead we made Twin Peaks. It might only appeal to a small market, but we still have to go after that market. We have a genuinely challenging puzzle that could make someone a lot of money. That is still a damned good story.

And here’s the thing about puzzles — a really good puzzle is like Magic Eye. The answer is staring you in the face the whole time. It’s not a matter of concentrating until you get pissed off. It’s a matter of relaxing your mind and seeing the pattern behind things. Only then can you make the necessary intuitive leaps to see what’s been there the whole time.

Throw in the fact we’re planning a massive gameplay upgrade — don’t worry, classic mode will still be there — and you really do have a product with mass appeal. The negative reviews are really just proof the puzzle is harder than Chuck Norris. If the puzzle were easy and the prize were small, the story would be so much worse.

Even if Puzzllotto ends up losing money, assuming we’re still able to pay our rent, it’s still out there building our name. And our next project is just balls. All the magic of Puzzllotto was in a narrow vertical and a story about what we want to do. Our next project will have mass appeal and a story about what we are doing. The revolution starts slowly, but as it picks up steam, it gets really awesome really quickly.

So thank you all for bearing with me as I’ve gone through this dramatic transition, but most of all thanks to John Gruber, the best critic a guy could have.

Addenda

Steven Fisher
Wow, there’s a number of things in here I want to comment on.

First of all, I’ve found myself over the last month repeatedly telling people what you’ve just said. It all boils down to “judging people — and especially marginalizing those people based on those judgements — is bad.” I’m a Christian, so I hope you don’t have the impression that we all think Obama is the anti-Christ.

I think there’s a real danger to introspection, though. It can quickly become brooding. Going over things with someone you trust sounds like a much better approach. In the right frame of mind, the poison separates from the nourishment. Learn to separate the poison as you find it, and you’ll soon be purging small bits of it from minute to minute.

Finally, I’d love to try Puzzllotto. I hope the contest ends soon — I really wasn’t expecting the decision to go US only, and to be locked out of playing as well as competing. Although I definitely see why you’d do that, it would be awkward to have the rest of the world working cooperatively to solve the problem while the US competed.
Random Lemur
I agree there might be a disconnect between the average iPhone user and the tkind of people that might enjoy Puzzlotto. The connection between readers of this blog and Puzzlotto is probably much better, which can be misleading.

FWIW: I enjoy Puzzlotto, I wish I had time to ‘waste’ on it, but I only made it to the 4th level so far (when no more ‘continue’ button is shown…) and have not tried yet to figure out what’s next.
Raavi
Hang in there Mike. I haven’t heard anything negative about Puzzllotto (maybe I just don’t frequent the troll hangouts), and I’m itching to get my hands on it when it finally goes international.

One thing I can say, and I hope this is received as earnest feedback as it’s intended, perhaps you would have benefitted from launching Puzzllotto worldwide with only a Trophy as the prize – I don’t think the cash is actually a motivator, what people (I guess I can’t speak for everyone, but I’m surely not in a minority of one) relish is the challenge and the chance to be first to figure it all out… it’s the glory not the capital windfall!

I know that the legalities of offering the ‘lotto’ portion of Puzzllotto made it impossible to launch outside the U.S – but it also takes away the opportunity of your (probably sizeable) international audience to compete to complete the game.
Jake
I’ve been thinking about this all day, and I’m still not sure how I want to react to this, but one thing I keep coming back to. In this blog you launch into grandiose tangents about *Changing The World!* and such things… but , well, how do I put this gently… you’re making fucking games for a god-damn iPhone. Seriously, I’m not equating the two.

Few people you know can relate to your moodiness and self-questioning like I can, I remember a conversation we had years ago about the “comfort of being sad.” But look, you’re making games for iPhone, great, but please stop with this nonsense of trying to wrap that around this higher-order stuff. There’s nothing wrong with whoring your skill-set out to make money, then turning around and doing what you Really want to do in your free time. That’s how most of us live, and I’m not saying its ideal, but it works. It’s how I’ve managed to make peace with myself, and if it can staunch the flow of self-destruction for me, it sure as hell can for you. If those “other things” involve trying to save everyone from themselves, more power to you.

I keep giving you the benefit of the doubt because I always really appreciated your company, but this is just not congruous behavior. I keep thinking there must be something here I’m missing, but I haven’t found it [from reading this blog]. So at the end of the day I’m utterly confused and worried about your mental health.
Raavi
Jake, I’m pretty sure the grandiose higher order stuff he is referring to includes:

the fact that a percentage of the sales goes towards a charity that can have a geniune impact on saving both wildlife and wilderness,

the interaction between United Lemur and Fundware which is a new way of ethically financing iPhone and Mac app development

and lastly, the work he did on the Obama app, which will definitely have an impact on the world depending on who wins office in the coming week

I think those things indicate that he is managing to find creative ways to whore-out his skill-set on what he really wants to do – without necessarily having to do anything else in his spare time…

I think the solutions he’s been coming up with to get his skillset to mesh with his personal values have been both novel and admirable. I don’t want to sound like the Motherfucker Fan Club here, but I’m just glad to see someone trying to mold the way they work into a positive model for ‘good’ with impacts beyond their own immediate wallet and/or cubicle.
Raavi
Another good way to ensure Puzzllotto doesn’t lose money would be to update the Puzzllotto, Fundware, and United Lemur Twitter feed!

Let people know that the “judges have finished verifying” and that the prize has been awarded and most importantly tell everyone that the game has been updated and is now available internationally.

The only place this news is mentioned is buried in the United Lemur Blog.

I would have thought the Twitter feed and the Puzzllotto site itself would have been better places to advertise, publicise and (urgh) monetize!
Mike Lee
You took my name!!!

October 30th 2008 News

Weekly Daily SearchCast: October 23, 2008

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This week’s one-hour recap of search news. Tune-in by listening to this
MP3
file
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link
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Need more help tuning in live or finding the chat room? See the
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October 28th 2008 News

Business to Business Marketing and Lead Generation

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This post is a book review of MarketingSherpa’sB-to-B Lead Generation Handbook” 2008-2009 Edition.

Introduction and Disclaimer

I have been thinking about writing this post for some time now. It happens rarely that I feel the urge to pitch a product and push people to buy it where I am absolutely convinced that they will be glad that they did and don’t care about getting an incentive or commission for doing it. But there is the risk that people who read it at a site like ReveNews.com would claim that I only wrote it to push a product for my own benefits; a dilemma that is tough to solve and the reason why I was holding back for so long.

I have now decided to ignore the risk and pitch the product anyway. I will also disclose in more detail my involvement with the creator of the product and leave it up to the reader to decide, if my recommendation is genuine or just a cheap self promotional pitch for my own benefits.

The MarketingSherpa B-to-B Lead Generation Handbook 2008-09

The guide arrived in a big and heavy box and I thought what on earth this could be. It was the draft version of the MarketingSherpa B-to-B Lead Generation Handbook 2008-09 then still called the B-to-B Marketing Handbook 2008-09.
The handbook is over 500 pages thick and the biggest book that I have ever seen released by the Sherpa to this day. Most of their other guides, benchmarks or handbooks are 200-300 pages and dwarfed by this one.

The book is packed through the roof with data charts, eye-tracking heat-maps, written and visual real world example creative’s, statistics, tips, general how-to’s and best practices. It has basically everything that you need to do be a more successful marketer who promotes business to business products and services. This is not an exaggeration by any means. If you are an Affiliate Manager responsible for recruiting affiliates or a network that needs to recruit advertisers and performing affiliates alike, then B2B marketing is what you already do or should do, if you haven’t done so before.

It is a Manual and not just a Handbook

The word “Handbook” in the title of this book can be taken literally, although “Manual” would have been a bit more accurate. This is what this book should be in your marketing department.

It should be the manual for newly hired staff to learn the do’s and don’ts and the how-to and the reference to look up information to specific subject for the experienced marketers and veterans.

It’s a fountain of information, tips and tricks and stats for B2B marketers, covering every possible aspect, beyond just online. One of the other great parts of the book are the practical tips to get Marketing and Sales work in conjunction with each other, which is in reality hard to do at best. Often are marketing and sales not aligned very well and see each other as a necessary evil that only tries to take away time to do your work properly. It also provides a dictionary to make sure that marketers and sales guys speak the same language when it counts to avoid misunderstandings.

Free Glimpse at the Book

Listing the 14 pages long Table of Contents would be a bit too much, but it does give you a better understanding about what subjects the book covers. The full Table of Contents is included in the free PDF download of the 22 pages Executive Summary . That is nice and very helpful.

The remaining pages include examples and highlights of the book. This will allow you to have a glimpse at the content and its quality for yourself to make up your own mind, if this book is something for you or not. The free excerpt can be downloaded here .

Cost-Benefit Consideration

The handbook is not cheap and probably not affordable for small affiliate programs or B2B marketing departments that are management part time only. If you have one or more people on staff that does marketing full-time, the investment into this book will pay for itself quickly.

The regular price is $697 and here is the direct link to it. I just found out myself, that the $200 off promotion is exclusive to some partners of MarketingSherpa. I should have read the emails from their AM a bit more carefully I guess. Since $200 is a sizable chunk of savings, it would be irresponsible of me, not mentioning it to you. You can find an affiliate link to get this discount on my website. I will get commission on it though, just FYI.

Disclosure

I received a draft copy of the B-to-B Lead Generation Handbook then still called the B-to-B Marketing Handbook free to review to let the Sherpa know what I think about it. I received a few benchmark guides free over the past 2 years or so, but bought several benchmark guides and buyers guides myself years earlier already (I spent way more than $1,000 on their products out of my own pockets).

When Cumbrowski.com started growing from a Family website to an industry resource in 2006, MarketingSherpa rejected me as an affiliate at first. I responded to the email that notified me about the rejection that I will link to their stuff anyway, affiliate or not, because I believe that their products are great and highly relevant for the people who are interested in my collections of resources on my website. It would only be fair to pay me a small commission, for the few occasional referrals from my site and that I will be a low maintenance affiliate hehe.

They responded and decided to let me become an affiliate for them anyway and this relationship continued after MarketingSherpa was acquired by Marketing Experiments in November 2006. I refer new customers to them constantly, not high volume, but it is B2B and a niche within B2B, so what is volume there anyway?

I also know that many referrals where I played a part in it are not being tracked and no commission is being paid for them. Getting a free version (often draft) of a benchmark guide or buyers guide could be seen as a compensation of that not-tracked referrals, but I also believe that the Sherpa appreciates my comments and feedback that I am willing to provide to help them improve on their products.

I am still a paying member, which cost several hundred dollars per year to get access to their vast repository of articles, how-to’s, case studies, survey data and statistics.

There you have it. That’s my relationship with MarketingSherpa. I can true and honestly recommend any of their great products to anybody in marketing and suggest to anybody who does not about them yet but considers himself a professional marketer to check them out. I have not been to any of the several industry events that are organized by the Sherpa to provide you with first hand information and opinion about them, but I am sure that those highly specialized and targeted events are worthwhile for any professional marketer who is specialized in the segment that is subject of the event. I cannot believe that somebody who produces such quality resource products and guides would produce educational real life events that suck hehe.

This post does not include any affiliate or tracking link.

Other Highly Recommended Sherpa Publications

Although I personally think that all of the Sherpa’s publications are great and of high value for anybody who is involved in any of the aspects of marketing covered by them, there are a few books that stick out and are of exceptional value and worth mentioning specifically.

  • If landing pages are your bread and butter, the MarketingSherpa Landing Page Handbook will be the truffles sprinkled on top of it. A must read for anybody who makes his living off converting landing pages that turn visitors into prospects and paying customers. Sherpa launched the revised and extended version of their “bible” for landing pages earlier this year.
  • If brand marketing, media buys and creating sponsorships is what you are doing professionally, the 2008 Online Advertising Handbook and Benchmark Guide will be of great value for you and help you with getting the most out of the money spent to build and increase the value and recognition of your brand.
  • Freebie! The Annual Marketing Wisdom Report with stories and lessons learned from Sherpa readers and customers. All issues since 2003 are available for free on the Sherpa website.

For more great content and publications, such as the Search Marketing, Email Marketing or e-Commerce Benchmark Guides, visit the Sherpa store.

Cheers!

Carsten Cumbrowski
Entrepreneur, Blogger and Internet Marketer

For more resources and information to various subjects of internet marketing, visit Cumbrowski.com. The information are free, no membership or sign-up is required.

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By: Helen

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Aww, what a great post! You should have included some photos from the early days.

October 22nd 2008 Uncategorized

Links for 2008-10-17 [del.icio.us]

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October 18th 2008 News

Weekly Daily SearchCast: October 16, 2008

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The show is back with a mega two hour long show that recaps the past two
weeks in search. Tune-in by listening to this
MP3
file
, listening via WebmasterRadio
live (see
instructions here), through
iTunes via this

link
or in other ways listed
here. You can also listen on our Digg podcasts

channel
.

Need more help tuning in live or finding the chat room? See the
Daily SearchCast FAQ.
See below for links to more
information about stories discussed.

http://dailysearchcast.com/081017-201816.html


October 18th 2008 News

By: Jon Payne

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I agree on both ends here Wil… except that I can think of instance or two where building your own system might make sense, but generally a popular platform is probably the way to go.

My firm recently developed our own platform in-house simply b/c there was a critical feature that we needed that was not available in any existing app that we reviewed. Total development cost was somewhere just under $10k and its done in PHP and MySQL so I think we’ll be okay as far as your issue #1 above. For issue #2, it produces regular webpages and does not currently push content via XML so we’re probably missing out on something there… not having our content “pushed” to Google. Integrating XML feeds will be a main focus of version 2.0. That said, I’ve also started to look at the wealth of plugins and ways to customize WordPress for this and future needs. The options are many.

October 17th 2008 Uncategorized

By: Search Engine Marketing – Let’s Make New Customers | Search Engine Marketing | Search Engine Submission | PPC Search Engine Internet Marketing | SEO

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[…] Really, search engines are playing significant roles. One more activity for which people turn to the Internet is online shopping as Internet has proved itself as the biggest supermarket in the world. It offers everything of your use in reasonable prices. People search for electronic items, consumer goods, gift items, latest movies, cloths, property, matrimony and lots more. Now if your website is offering any service or product then you can not afford to loose huge customers which might be waiting for you. For getting available to your online customers you can choose a search engine marketing company. […]

October 16th 2008 Uncategorized

Weekly Daily SearchCast: October 2, 2008

Comments Off on Weekly Daily SearchCast: October 2, 2008
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This hour-long show covers the week’s news in search with special guest host
Google’s Matt Cutts. Tune-in by listening to this
MP3
file
, listening via WebmasterRadio
live (see
instructions here), through
iTunes via this

link
or in other ways listed
here. You can also listen on our Digg podcasts

channel
.

Need more help tuning in live or finding the chat room? See the
Daily SearchCast FAQ.
See below for links to more
information about stories discussed.

http://dailysearchcast.com/081013-204739.html


October 14th 2008 News