Blake Snow

because triumphant companies need better stories

As seen on CNN, NBC, ABC, Fox, Wired, Yahoo!, BusinessWeek, Wall Street Journal
It looks like you're new. Let me show you around.

Tagged business

Could shoe makers sell more using regular color names?

adidas-goletto-2

See those three stripes? They’re called “diva,” not pink, according to Adidas. And the white you see is “running white,” as opposed to idle white. I know because that’s what the box on my kitchen counter says. (They’re not for me, mind you, but the little soccer player I father.)

Adidas isn’t the first shoe manufacturer to use confusing names. I’ve seen red called “fire” on Nikes and blue called “ice” on Reeboks.

The silliness makes me wonder: Could shoe manufacturers sell more shoes by using color names people understand? Granted, people don’t shop by shoe boxes; they shop by display. But I imagine some prospective buyers have crossed an unsuspecting color and decided to pass on it. I know for a fact that ambiguity always hurts your chances.

That said, is there any proof that unconventional (or idiotic) color naming boosts sales? I doubt it.

Either way, at least Adidas got the hueless color right when describing the above shoes. They call it “black.”

Globalization + latency = boom for localization

Insightful article by Wired on bucking offshoring manufacturing in favor of higher yield American manufacturing:

Today, a year since Krywko’s decision to go against the offshoring tide, Sleek Audio has a full-scale manufacturing operation that can be reached via a 15-minute car ride rather than a 24-hour flight. Each earphone costs roughly 50 percent more to produce in Florida than in China. But Krywko is more than happy to pay the premium to know that botched orders and shipping delays won’t ruin his company. And so far, the gambit appears to be paying off: Based on enthusiastic customer response, Sleek Audio is now projecting 2011 to be its most profitable year ever.

Globalization has been great. But thanks to latency, localization is thriving once more. It’s like the best of both worlds now.

Smart comment on falling home prices

As seen on Yahoo News: “The most obvious way out of this mess is for bankers and developers to build or convert existing units into affordable studio apartments for the masses… Those kind of units created an on ramp to home ownership in the late 50s and early 60s. Instead, residential insiders are waiting for the country to be forced into some big public jobs initiative in hopes that property values can be propped up to levels that won’t massively threaten equity. They’re waiting for somebody to save them from the market instead of responding to it. Somebody’s got to take initiative. Will it be industry or government?”

Seriously, how can this thing cost only $2.15?

HDMI cable cost only $2.15

I needed an extra HDMI cable for my living room. So I turned to where I always go for such things: Amazon.com.

When I found one for $2.15 with free shipping, I was skeptical. But the 4.5 star average user rating quickly quieted any concerns. After all, the item has been favorably reviewed a whopping 3,231 times on Amazon.

So I bought it.

The fairly advanced cable arrived today, after only a few days. The craftsmanship is middle grade. It works fine. It suits my needs, if not exceeds them given the ridiculously low price. So how the crap can someone make money selling this thing for only $2.15 with free shipping?

It can’t just be volume. It can’t just be cheap foreign labor.

In other words, if this little guy isn’t proof that the Chinese artificially deflate their currency, despite their booming economy, I don’t know what is. Booming economies, after all, have trusted currency. Trusted currency results in higher trading prices (i.e. historically high prices for Dollar and Pounds when compared to the rest of the world).

What’s a reasonable consumer to do when the global economy doesn’t play by the rules?

In China’s defense, the U.S. just printed 6 billion notes, which isn’t exactly playing by the rules. But at least our currency is rightfully trading at market prices. The Chinese’s, on the other hand, is still bottom of the barrel, even though its economy is similar in size and trusted almost as much as the American economy.

Something’s fishy, no?

20 business cliches that make you sound stupid

facepalmI went to lunch today with an old business school buddy. We always have a good time making fun of brainless ideas while trying to make a honest buck. Today, we ridiculed some of the following business cliches, which are beyond stale and should never be used; otherwise you’ll sound like everyone else and influence few:
Continue reading…

Why you should never overhaul a working website

g-logoEvery website should be updated regularly. Search engines like it. Readers like it. Your bottom line will like it.

But if you operate a working, established, or otherwise popular website (say at least 2,000 visitors per day), I would never recommend a major visual or mechanical overhaul. It pisses people off. And when that happens, loyal visitors flock to alternatives in mass exodus, as Digg users have done this month.

There are a couple of exceptions to this rule. If your website has a monopoly on information, you can do whatever you want, and readers will keep coming back. And if your website isn’t “working, established, or popular” to begin with, you only stand to gain from a major overhaul, provided it’s done by someone who knows what they’re doing (aka no flash, proper xhtml/css coding, a regular content plan, and most importantly, good usability).

What can you do then to improve or refresh established websites? My advice is to make subtle changes to your design and monitor your visitor’s behavior. If the change has no significant effect, or better, a measurable improvement, keep the change. If the change is off-puting to visitors, revert to the the previous version immediately and re-evaluate both your desire for change and your strategy.

I know this holds true on the few “popular” websites I publish. And if Digg is any indication, I know it holds true for mega websites as well.

May all your redesigns be well-received.

3 ways to spot when someone is lying

liarVia SmartBlog:

  • Nonverbal tells. Liars don’t rehearse their gestures, just their words. The cognitive load is already huge, so when they tell their story, they freeze their upper body, look down, lower their voice, and slow their breathing and blink rate. And they will exhibit a recognizable moment of relief when the interview is over. Interrogators will often end an interview prematurely just to look for that shift in posture and relaxation.
  • Verbal tells. People who are overly determined in their denial resort to non-contracted rather than relaxed language. “Did not” rather than “didn’t” They will use distancing language as in “ that woman” rather than someone’s name. They will often pepper their story with inappropriate detail as if to prove to you they are telling the truth. They will look you in the eye too much, as if to appear honest, when in fact most people telling the truth only look you in the eye a comfortable 60 % of the time.
  • Stories told in perfect chronological order. Try to get them to tell their story backwards. They can’t do it. Honest people remember stories in the order of emotional prominence. Liars tend to concoct a time-stamped story but they falter when asked to recount it differently.

Why big companies are drained of inspiration

The short answer: Since they’re coffers are already full, they’re complacent. And complacency is the enemy of inspiration.

In my case, once my “business reserve” (aka checking account) is at a comfortable level, I know I get complacent.

So to stay inspired, I guess I need to be more ambitious with how much money I’m chasing—rather than wait for when the heat is on.

Video games seek imunity from used sales, fail to see the irony

Used video games have been around since the early ’80s. But they weren’t a problem in the eyes of developers until the middle of the decade, at which point game sales weren’t growing as fast as they used to.

Rather than blame the safe creative bets, bloated budgets, and $10 HD surcharge (yes, many games carry an MSRP of $60 these days) for the decline, developers set their sites on used game sales. “When the game’s bought used we get cheated,” echoed one senior official this week, the latest in a long line of whining.

In light of complaints, some game makers are including single use “unlock codes” in factory sealed games, which they have every right to do. Dumb, but legal.

Still, imagine if other tangible goods started stripping features at resale. For example, “Unless you buy this house new, we’ll section off a part of the home behind a cement wall.” Or, “To see the end of this DVD, you’ll need to enter your single use unlock code.” Or, “Power steering won’t work in this car unless purchased new.”

Is that what game-makers are really after? Is that serving the customer and engendering them to your brand? Do video games really expect immunity from the resale of packaged goods, even though that’s the right they transfer to consumers when selling merchandise? Because if so, that’s incredibly backwards. Unrealistic. Hypocritical. Ignorant.

Obviously the industry is still run by insecure nerds.

Worst email reply ever

A friend recently (and politely) declined business from someone he once worked with. This someone didn’t take “no” for an answer. Nor did he take unanswered emails. Behold, his latest email:

Dude… what am I missing here ??

I have always assumed entrepreneurs treated each other with respect and responded to each other; especially those that have known each other for a while.

So… um… why are you treating me (a 3 tie INC 500 winner and 5 x successful entrepreneur; arguably more successful than you)… like crap ?

I respected you enough to personally respond… not to have one of my people call; you.

If that is your definition of class. Please… don’t respond to my email at all.

Persuasion: You’re doing it wrong. Ellipses too. Not to mention unnecessary spacing before question marks. In any case, my buddy did not reply. ZING!