Skype – End of Free US Calls, $14.95 for a Year

If you’re a frequent reader, you probably have figured out that I like Skype.  I’ve never been a big fan of the telcos and I’ve found the quality of the overseas calls to be much better than the wire lines.

For the last half of ’06 Skype was offering free phone calls anywhere in the US via your computer.  That came to an end on Dec. 31.  Today I have an email, they will give me unlimited calls within the US for $14.95.  How could I possibly go wrong? 

We’ve developed a mantra in the office – skype first.  Skype to skype calls are free.  Hence the savings for a global corporation are significant.  Now I will be suggesting that we simply pay the $14.95 for every employee for the year.  Why not?  Take a look and give it a try – you can literally slash you phone budget, which is a great thing.

The Blog and Original Thought

A few years ago I took a screen writing course and the lecturer made an excellent point regarding the controversy surrounding movies which are credited as “A Joe Blog Work”  – in which case Joe Blow is generally the executive producer, and in all probability had no hand in the original creativity that went into the work.  Think about it, the only original creativity in a movie is the screen play (if that itself isn’t derivative of some other work…).  In truth the directing, acting, even the sound track are derivitive works, not true orginal creativity.

So it occurred to me the other day that for the most part blogs tend to be derivitive works.  We link to one another, commenting on something that has been said or done by someone else, adding our bit of wisdom to the corpus conscientia.  A noble quest, but at the same time, where is the original creativity? 

For the most part, we are indeed adding to the general knowlege. Of course there are those that simply use links to generate traffic…but web veterans see those sites for what they are.

So I had a look closely at the blogs I read and realized there’s one among us that avoids the low hanging fruit and offers new content, with a minimum of derivation – offering virtually all original content.  None other than Maureen Rogers (also of – one of my frequent links) on her PinkSlip blog.  Give her a read and enjoy – I do, and think about what you can do to increase the original thought level of BlogVegas.

LA Times Unveils New Web Strategy

Read the story on MediaPost. 

They’re going pretty much the way all the pundits have been pointing for the past year or so – integrating their print and web teams, and using the website as the primary driver for breaking news.  All journalists will have to take a crash course in web journalism. 

To illustrate their need to fix the online channel

 He  (Editor James O’Shea) used auto advertising as an example to sketch the revenue crunch created by the shift from print to online advertising. “In 2004, automotive print advertising at the Los Angeles Times totaled $102 million. And what will it be this year? $55 million.” While the company made up some of the difference in Web ads, O’Shea said the paper was losing more in print ads than it was recouping online.


Collateral That Sales Really Uses

John Whiteside’s got a great post at on the MarketingProfs “Six Ways to Prepare Better Collateral for Sales Teams.”   Read it and fix yours up – *Now*.

His timing is great – I just had to go through a raft of sales collateral due to an acquisition and the lesson was clear – we’d waited too long.  I’m forwarding both links to the rest of the team, and thought I’d share them with you.

From the MarketingProfs:

We’ve all been through this: After months of hard labor, your campaign has generated leads that now sit, undisturbed, under the sales guy’s fantasy football crib sheet. You’re angry because he’s not leveraging the leads you worked so hard to get. His defense? They’re “bad” leads not worth pursuing.

Seth Godin on Metrics Mistakes

Seth Godin had a great post about common metrics mistakes.  Here’s his list of the common stuff we measure, followed by the actual stuff we’re trying to figure out.

  • Good grades in school (the ability to solve problems in life)
  • Lots of raw traffic to your blog (conversations among prospects who become fans or customers)
  • Burning calories (feeling better and looking good)
  • Clickthrough rate on ads (conversion rate to customers)
  • High salary (long-term happiness)
  • Class rank (actually learning something)
  • Number of stock options (future prospects of your employer)
  • This quarter’s commission (reputation in the industry)
  • Technorati rank (number of RSS subscribers)
  • He’s right on the money – it’s the forest for the trees thing – at somepoint or another all of us will forget the actual goal and start managing towards the metric. It’s kind of like the difference between having sex and having your buddy tell you about the sex he had – if the telling of the story is better, you’re doing something really wrong.

    Social Media Metrics – Kristaphere…

    One of those annoying little points of clarity came screaming out at me today…I was reading Kristaphere and came across this about social networking metrics:

    I think the fallacy here is thinking one can accurately discern human behavior and motivation from quantitative measurements. I’m from the old school. If you want to know why customers did something: ask them. Directly. Listen to their answers and act accordingly. No, you can’t point and click to get this information or have a pretty line graph in a nanosecond, but you’ll have the most valuable information available for making decisions. How many times do you shop on-line or in person and say “I wish they’d ask me what I think about…..” but you never share it?

    After I wiped the ginger ale off my computer screen, I had to think “these are the truest words I will read all day…”  Remember – metrics are nice, but they don’t take the place of interacting with (and understanding) the customers – at least when you want real results.

    For all you marketers beset by the “you’ve got to check out Second Life for marketing” – here’s a tremendous send up.  For the record, I barely have time for my first life, so forget about pitching me on Second Life.  And I certainly will not be trying to sell my boss or anyone that it’s a good marketing play to expend any marketing effort in a game. 

    Hypergene Media Blog on Lessons from a Launch

    Chris Willis outlines the lessons from his launch at – a good list for technology intensive site launches that dovetails nicely with my experience.

    The list (go to his site to dive deeper):

      1. Make sure it’ll play in Paducah
      2. Be a Beta hater
      3. Identify the core functionality that defines your story
      4. Make sure it works
      5. Don’t launch a new site within minutes of a major press release

    To paraphrase – understand the market, always improve, know your strengths, test and don’t make changes when you’re launching.  All sound advice that I’m doomed to learn again the hard way.

    Churbuck on the Future of Journalism

    David Churbuck has another epic post today entitled “Dark days for the press – my advice to a middle-aged reporter” For those of you that hold newspaper journalism as close to your hearts as I, it’s a sad truth.

    When I started in college with The Cynic – the student newspaper of the University of Vermont, then moved through The Boulder County Business Journal, and The Worcester Telegram, I would never have considered a world in which the value of print journalism could become so devalued. But the truth was, that even in that day, I could see that financial success would be hard to achieve working as a paid employee of a newspaper.  Hunter S. Thompson told me in 1982 that the newspapers were doomed (but honestly, to Hunter, *everyone* was doomed…) and that the great writers won’t be found on staff anywhere.  They’re the hired guns, the freelancers, and I’d guess now he’d add, the bloggers.

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