Diary of a Madman

Going Against The Grain

When all else fails, Wave the Money Flag

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I love working with other people, especially excuse generators, as evidenced by this little exchange between myself and a website I was going to advertise on.  It’s amazing how waving the money flag gets a response

After sending them samples of our product and having numerous conversations with them since the end of April, my 15 or so calls and email went unanswered since the middle of June until I sent them this little missive today:

XXXX,
I was going to be looking to do some advertising with XXX in conjunction with our roll out into retailers, but the fact that you or someone from your company has yet to follow up with me is disgraceful. My initial contact with you in June (and what I thought was a some sort of plan to get some sort of small promotion running with you for July) was to gauge the response we would generate via xxxxx.
Thanks for the follow up

And the typical responses, which I seem to get from almost everyone I look to hire, save my web designer,

I of course recall conversations with you in June, and apologize for my lack of follow-up with you for July. At the end of June I had taken a leave of absence due to a family emergency, and I was also out on vacation for 2 weeks, were you not getting my out-of-office replies? Perhaps they went into your junk mail? We are a start-up and have an extremely small staff so I’m sorry you’re so frustrated. I understand. XXXX has been in a major transition this summer, and we’ve been redesigning our site and the new version will launch
this Friday along with our new XXXXX launching in early august. We would like to find a way to work with you along the lines of XXXXX as we have previously discussed.
However, we are not in the place to do that at the moment considering we are re-launching everything. I am going to be traveling tomorrow through next Thursday for the XXXXX. Can I give you a call next Friday morning, August 1st, at 10am EST? Perhaps we can plan something for September with our new survey that month? It might
actually work out better for you that working with us over the summer months, because we are expecting huge traffic increases due to PR and marketing initiative in August and September.Thank you and again apologies for the lack of response,

Being hatched under a rock and therefore not having any family members, I just can’t relate to that family emergency excuse……….seriously……….what the fuck, I have yet to see anyone who is gainfully employed under the age of 60, not check their email at least every other day.  Even the biggest hard ass understands that shit happens…..just fucking tell people.  Ya, I got your autoresponders – at the beginning of JUNE!!!! Where the hell have you been for the last 4 weeks?

I’d like to say that this is an isolated incident, but it isn’t….

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Written by insaneentrepreneur

July 24, 2008 at 1:03 pm

Friendly Fucking Companies (AKA the hypocrisy of pretense)

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It never ceases to amaze me (well it did until I called one buyer who had the same “I’m too busy to return your calls” message for 3 straight weeks…but that is another story).

Not a day goes by where myself or my partner get told to “fuck off” in no uncertain terms by people we approach as business partners, be it retailers to buy and resell our product or someone we want to talk with in regards to joint marketing initiatives.

I’m not talking about people saying that they are not interested in our product or proposition in a timely manner.  I don’t expect everyone to be into what we are selling.

What I do expect is the occasional return phone call or email saying “Thanks, but no thanks”.  We even leave our email addresses on the voice mails, so they can send us a polite PFO (please fuck off) letter.

It seems that FOAD (Fuck off and die) is the more traditional route taken by people.

But what I typically get is some nasty response, after leaving messages for 4 weeks, along the lines of “Stop calling us already.  We are obviously not interested!!!”  I wonder if any CEO’s or senior managers would care if they knew their low level staff were treating people with such disdain and disrespect.

All that money spent on big consumer ad campaigns destroyed with a phone call.

Beyond the obvious, if “you would have taken 2 seconds to say so 4 weeks ago, I would have stopped calling”, these companies seem to think that I obviously live in some sort of isolation chamber on Mars and don’t know anyone who might actually shop at their stores.

We get these types of responses from both big and small companies.  Virtual and brick and mortar

The majority of these companies put on these fucking smiling happy faces for their customers while treating their suppliers and potential suppliers like absolute shit.  They dont return calls, they fuck them on listing fees, they short pay invoices whenever they feel like it.  Bottom line, they show most of their vendors limited respect.

Guess what, suppliers are people too.  People with money.  And the further I go down this road, there are becoming fewer and fewer retailers I would actually shop.  Which in away is great……more of my money stays with me.

But good work guys…….keep up with those shit eating grins………no one has a clue that its all an act…….no one at all 🙂

Written by insaneentrepreneur

April 25, 2008 at 6:29 pm

Not Sure Which Is More

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of a load of shit:

Corporate Finance: Always trying to make a dollar seem like it worth more than a dollar.  And it works, at least for short periods of time, until someone actually has to cough up the cash to pay the bills

Marketing: Trying to convince customers that a $1 product is worth about $10.  Works on a repeated basis, over and over and over again……….

Having said that, both are a lot of fun……..as long as you are on the right end of the deal

Written by insaneentrepreneur

April 19, 2008 at 1:47 pm

Posted in Behind the Curtain

X Ray Eyes

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Picture yourself in this situation……

All of a sudden one morning, you wake up and you have x-ray vision. You can see right through people’s clothing. Exactly like those glasses they used to advertise at the back of comic books.

You expect that you are going to get to see all of the beautiful people naked, which you will. But there is one problem, there really aren’t that many of them. Underneath their clothes, most people, are, well, quite…………YUCK. Thank God for clothing; Not everyone can be a model. In fact, based on what you are seeing, you could swear that you were in an old age home.

That my friend is exactly what it is like for me walking into a retail store.

I know how many times a product has been marked up on it trip down the distribution channel from the time it rolls off the assembly line to the time it walks out of the store – think on the magnitude of 8 to 10 times. As the CEO of a large company once told me “If there is one rule to success in mass market, its 10 to 1”.

So that product you just paid 10 bucks for probably cost about a buck to manufacture.

Why so much?

Well let see. There is the 40 to 50% margin that the average retailer wants to make selling the product. Which, if you are bad at math, means the retailer typically buys a product at about half of it retail price.

It doesnt stop there. Retailers will often charge a manufacturer or distributor additional costs in the terms of discounts, co-op advertising fees, and return allowances. I have seen these run up from 5% to 17% in some situations, or what abouts to 8.5% of the retail price of the product. In the end, the customer pays for this too as it gets built into the price of a product.

But wait, there’s more. Listing Fees. The dirty little “secret” of the retail world, that no one really wants to go on record about. These are the fees that stores charge some, not all, companies, to put product on the shelf – to rent shelf space if you will. They will tell you that these fees help the retailer offset the cost of setting the new product up in their warehouse and inventory system, which may be tolerable, except for one thing……..this is the business the retailer is in……..buy stuff in bulk and selling it (they get a 40 to 50% margin for it). But guess what, in the end, the consumer pays for this too.

So essentially, many distributors and manufactures are essentially just renting shelf space space from retailers and paying through the nose through it, which means consumers are paying through the nose for goods they buy.

The next time you go into a store and buy, say a pair shoes or some kids clothes, or better yet a high end retailer who is selling you clothes with a designer label that were manufactured in China, think about how much of the purchase price is going towards “air” (marketing, transportation, etc) and how much is hard product cost……You may just want to gouge your eyeballs out.

Written by insaneentrepreneur

April 13, 2008 at 12:58 pm

Posted in Behind the Curtain

Whoring……

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When I go away, I often use Gotomypc so I can access my office computer. I have yet to pay for this service – I simply use their 30 day free trial. Sorry, that is not true. I havent paid for this service for about 3 years or so.

Wanna know why.

Simple, because I was paying too much for it.

Know how i know?

Because gotomypc told me so. Here, take a look at the message i get from them after i cancel my trial offer.

GoToMyPC Special OfferDear xxx:

We're extending our special offer so you can still get unlimited remote
access to your PC for our lowest price ever, only $11.42 a month with
the purchase of an Annual Plan. That's 58% off the regular monthly
price - over $163 in savings!

https://www.gotomypc.com/s/aut/savenow30

GoToMyPC Saves You Time: Get quick access to a forgotten file; gain
greater work flexibility and work/life balance; travel and still get work
done; reduce stress and increase your productivity and much more.

Enjoy secure access to your PC from any Web browser at this incredibly
low yearly price. Find out for yourself how GoToMyPC increases your
productivity, saves you time and money and gives you greater peace of mind
when you know your PC and documents are always a click away.

Purchase now and get:

- A year of unlimited PC access for $137. (Save $163!)

- Free unlimited support and upgrades.

Click now to log in and take advantage of this offer:
https://www.gotomypc.com/s/aut/savenow30

and here is their regular pricing

One PC $19.95/mo. $179.40/yr. Save 25% Buy Now
Two PCs $29.95/mo. $269.40/yr. Save 25% Buy Now
3-20 PCs Additional PCs: $14.98/mo. OR $135.60/yr. Buy Now

Wasn’t I pissed. Here I was paying at one point paying $20 a month as a regular user and they were dropping their pants to like 11 bucks ( well actually it is $8.25 a month – i guess their copywriters are illiterates as well) for some user who canceled their subscription. How is that for rewarding customer loyalty………..

Can you say “Fuck you” to a loyal customer any louder? Can you destroy the value of your product any quicker? Thank god most of your customers dont pay attention to this.

Hey GOTOMYPC……….FUCK YOU

Written by insaneentrepreneur

April 8, 2008 at 1:11 pm

Wading Thru the Bullshit

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When it comes to buying professional services, the greatest skill you can ever have, especially if you are playing with your own money, is being able to cut through the fluff, the puffery, the salesmanship, the total and utter bullshit that people will spew in order to removed your money from your wallet and put it in theirs.

You have a really short runway to take off from – you can’t screw up………that often 🙂

This isnt to say that all services are bogus, just saying that a lot of service professionals are full of shit. I’m not talking about lawyers and accountants, I’m talking management consultants, marketing “experts” and public relation “specialists” (although my favorite are “web experts”). You know, all those people who will “tell you how to run your business” or help you “take it to the next level”.

I am the first to admit that I know close to nothing and my experience is quite lackluster, but from what I can tell, I’m not that much different than most people, I’m just pretty crappy at spinning it.

I was in the process of interviewing marketing consultants to help me “take my business to the next level” (even typing that cliche garbage makes me wanna puke) and they were trying to pitch me on an email marketing campaign.  May work, may not.  But the problem is that these guys failed my real interview.

My real interview is really simple.  I dont assess you by the way you look (but a word of advice honey, the stripper nails and 7 to 10 rings you were wearing was a little less than presentable) or by the quality of you references – anyone can find 3 people to say good things about them.  I ask a simple question:

“Tell me about your biggest professional disaster/screw up/fuck up?”

In training for a previous career, I had an instructor who told me, “If you don’t get any complaints to your regulatory body, it means you aren’t seeing enough people”.

So If a potential hire can’t tell me about their biggest fuck up (and telling me that the mistakes alway happen on the client side just doesn’t cut it, sorry), it tells me one of two things:

a. You think I’m a total fool who will believe that you never make a mistake – Much like the job candidate who tells you their biggest flaw is that they “work too hard”.  I know the second something goes wrong, you’ll be pointing your finger everywhere but at yourself (my mom was sick, my computer crashed, my dog has hemorrhoids); or

b. You just aren’t busy enough and haven’t made your bones – and I’m the one who could be paying for your biggest mistake, Um, thanks, but no thanks.  I fuck up enough on my own, I don’t need to carry your sorry ass.  I’m supposed to be hiring someone who has skills I don’t have, not someone who wants to develop them.

In some situation, like web design, it is easy to guard against this.  Hire a couple of designers and pay them to do a mock up.  See what you like.  It will cost you a few bucks, but not much.

The real challenge comes with the big spends.  Part of the way I try to deal with with is to develop some hands on expertise (even if it is really minor) in the area I’m looking to hire a consultant in.

So it looks like im going to be spending some time building an email list campaign…. fun wow

So who knows someone who can…………

Written by insaneentrepreneur

April 8, 2008 at 11:51 am

Posted in Management 101

You are still gonna need toilet paper

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Seriously, enough of this Web2.0 bullshit.

To quote my new frienemy – recruiting animal or someone he stole this from

Why Boomers aren’t losers:
Common belief has it that once you’re 50 you have a closed mind. Apparently, however, that’s not necessarily true.
Workers in their 50s, 60s, and 70s don’t need time for child care. But they do want time off for leisure activities. So they might be best as seasonal employees wintering in Florida.
White-collar baby boomers are computer literate. They’re just not completely up to date on the latest web 2.0 applications.

Heavens to betsy………..not up to date on web 2.0 applications. Imagine the horror of not knowing what a blog or twitter is. Holy fuck, imagine the embarrassment of not caring about technorati….the shame and disgrace that will befall anyone that ignorant.

The last time I looked we still havent figured out a way to live with out toilet paper – or any other physical goods. So until that time when they figure out how to rig up an in-utero internet connection, there will be a world outside of the internet.

Im holding my breath for them to webify the oil industry……………

Seriously, get some fucking perspective people

Written by insaneentrepreneur

April 8, 2008 at 10:24 am

Posted in Hubris