Friday, October 09, 2015

A Recent Washington Post Puzzle Delivered More Than Just the Results

I originally posted the following on my Facebook Page, hence my reference that I could not bold text. The link to the test is at the bottom.


"A Quick Quiz/Puzzle to see if You can tell What Other's are Thinking"

MY TAKE, It's Long, butI hope you will think it's WORTH IT once you see a few of the items I point out. *winks* I FELL FOR IT, at 1st too!! (Only so far as the taking the test, because I ALWAYS question everything, especially, the source!)

This is a more Scientific Results type quiz result, not an "Oh You are or You are NOT Psychic, fyi, just so you won't expect that ending.

I found the concepts interesting & STRONGLY encourage everyone to SHARE AWAY! 

1) ELECTION GAMES = Because, of the up coming Presidential Election, so maybe we (notice I'm including myself), ALL REMEMBER, the factors Politicians, Lobbyists, and even our OWN Social Media now plays in our decision making versus our deciding What we as an INDIVIDUAL wants. In other words, the Psychological GAMES THEY PLAY!

 I'm pointing this out, simply because, well, it TICKS ME OFF THEY'RE DOING IT!! Not, because I wish to sway your opinion. 

You'll notice that at a point in this 'Quickie' Test (that has such an inviting, "only takes a sec" title, the Authors throw in the issue of "Gay Marriage." If you take 2 seconds to notice, they will make a statement about the vote on Gay Marriage, and then they immediately follow it up, with a sort of "fact' about how Gay Marriage got passed. No Biggie, Right? And all this isn't "conspiracy theory" people *laughs* they are USING PROVEN PSYCHOLOGICAL TECHNIQUES through out the ENTIRE article. I mean come on, that is what the entire article is about! (I do the same when I capitalize words, because I can't bold them & also so people who skim read, can easily pull out the key points.) 

Some of the techniques used: COLOR association (Blue = For & Orange = Against) Blue is viewed as a calm color, so those "For" an issue must be calm, peaceful, good. Orange = is interpreted as excitable, agitated,therefore, "Against" must be bad; the FONT bolding/stressing, the visually interactive GRAPHICS; STATEMENT QUESTIONING, and on and on..*chuckles* My Point? 

The fact that there is an underlying theme here that they CHOSE to slip in on Reader's AND:
1) Gay Marriage
2) The Vote was swayed
3) The results would not have turned out the way that they did (i.e. Wrongly) if people had not allowed themselves to be swayed by their friends & their social media exposure.

Notice that this test started with a FICTIONAL town, they easily could have used a fictional example in order to explain the test results, but they CHOSE to TARGET the issue of "Gay Marriage", and how they set the entire article up, was psychologically done in a way to CHANGE/SWAY OPINION IN A SPECIFIC DIRECTION, in this case, "Against".

Make a statement, immediately question the truth of that statement as incorrect. 

Billy wore blue today. Billy would not have worn blue, if Billy had washed clothes last night. Billy actually prefers his favorite Red shirt. 
So..Blue = Bad, Red = Good
John ordered tacos on Tuesday. John ordered tacos, because he was with his wife, Angela, a taco addict.
So..Tacos = Bad

The Statement, The Questioning & Substitute, The Link (good or bad)

Above you'll notice that I made a statement, then questioned its validity, pointing out it was wrong, then I planted the substitute and linked an emotional response ("Favorite", "Addict") The word "Favorite" is associated with GOOD, you like whatever is your favorite whatever. The word "Addict" is of course BAD, being addicted to this is, well, bad. I could have said Angela loves tacos, but I chose to use the word "addict" to show you the negative association words can have by themselves.

See, it's an easy game to play, and one you can use on others when trying to change their minds on something, plus Marketing brands pulls them on YOU, ALL of the time, if they're good at what they do! *winks* *chuckles* Just saying!! 

Also you'll notice, I have not shared with you, MY OPINION on the topic of 'GAY MARRIAGE', and I have NO INTENTION of SHARING it here, because my point is to just show what THEY are doing, not TO SWAY YOU to share my views. (See how I cap'd my points? And just by reading the capped you can get the idea/summary? *winks*)

It's fitting considering the topic, and with this one, it applies, because it's all about mind games. As Agent Molded of the X Files has on his wall, I believe, when reading an article, watching media/news, etc. "QUESTION EVERYTHING"  
* What is the topic?
* Why are they telling me this?
* Who is the source? 
* What is their motivation?
* What is their view presented?
* Are they trying to change my views?

Psychology is Cool!! But, Dangerous when used to CONTROL the POPULATION, like Facebook's past "experiment" where they intentionally FED NEWS FEEDS of certain people, negative and depressing stories & topics and pictures, just to gauge the effects it had on them.

A quick puzzle to tell whether you know what people are thinking - Washington Post - 


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Sunday, July 01, 2007

Printing Process

It has been quite a while since I have posted to this blog, so let me jump right back in and post about something few people seem to think about: Printing!

For those that are not involved in the printing process, there is something you must understand...Printing Projects are not as easy as: I want it, make it, I want it next week!! I have run into enough of those attitudes through out my Marketing career that I am starting off by saying, get rid of your expectations and timelines in your head and realize this is a complex process. The Graphic and Print World does NOT revolve around You. A person can make approximations, but you will never know how long a Print Project job takes until you actually have the final project in your hands. Several factors contribute to this, which include:

1. How long it takes a graphic artist to produce or develop a final (i.e. how long it takes to make the layout, etc.) you must always keep in mind that the faster you want something the more it will cost, because a graphic artist is NOT sitting around waiting for your printing job, they have other clients and other obligations. If you want to push your project to the front, you have to pay to get it there.

2. How long it takes the printer to produce your job. Again, they also are not sitting around waiting just for your job, they have other clients, other jobs and yours may not be the biggest, and even if it is, it may not fit within their current production run schedule. They do have an entire staff that is responsible for printing and printing a job is a complex thing, from scheduling, to file set up or tweaks to material printing to cutting to molds, etc., etc.

3. Whom ever is giving you a turn around time estimate must also take into consideration shipping times, with UPS, FEDEX, etc. this has become a much easier process, but also a much more expensive one. Also, printed material can get quite heavy, so often print jobs must be shrink wrapped (in batches for the client - say you want 2,000 printed items packaged in bundles of 500, this also takes time), also sometimes the end print project product must be put on shipping pallets and trucked versus a standard UPS or FEDEX box.

There are several things involved in a print project:

The Graphic Artist - this is one of the most time consuming portions, to give graphic artists their due, they have to develop a concept (unless a client has a very clear picture in his/her head) they have to extract that inforamtion from their client, piece by piece by piece...from layout to text to revisions to changes. Take my work on this, do not present a print marketing concept to several individuals before you get to the stage with a graphic artist where you are basically at the final step, otherwise, your print project is going to turn into a fiasco. Why is that? Because you will end up having an opinion from every person you present it to. Because other people do not understand that when developing a marketing print project concept there are serveral factors: What are you trying to get across? How is the best and quickest way to get that inforamtion across in the 2-3 seconds you have to catch your target market's eye? ...and most of all, just because they personally think something is a good idea, it doesn't mean it makes good graphic layout, or good graphic layout from a cost stand point. If you allow your project to go in front of say 5 people, before you get to a 'final' project concept stage...then you are opening a bag full of trouble. You will end up delaying your graphic marketing print project (probably by several revisions - keeping in mind that every revision you make costs your company more money, because it is more of the graphic artist's time and effort, etc).

If you wait until you have a final concept developed and layed out and you present say two (2) concepts and allow them to chose between the two concepts, you will save time, you will save money, you will also allow them to be 'part' of the project.

The Printer - Now printers vary per geographic location and thier ability to print various per printer. This is based upon what computer equipment they have in house, what printing equipment they have in house (a printer that has a Heidelberg printer is probably your best bet - Heidelberg is a reknown name in the print industry, because they produce very good quality printed material and because their equipment is fairly expensive, so you know the printer is serious about printing).

There are several odd things about the Printing Industry:

Apples vs. IBM
1. Graphic Arists use Mac/Apple software/hardware environments - most of their business clients (i.e. that means most corporations) use IBM. This can cause issue between what the Client/Corporation sees and what the graphic artist produces.

2. A Client/Corporation will view an item and not have their computer screen calibrated/adjusted to the same settings as someone in the graphic art/print field. Your normal pc screen various in display size and settings. Graphic Artists take the time and effort and research in order to produce for themselves on their screen the most accurate of coloring displays...most Client/Corporations do not, so what a client "sees" may not be what they "get" and vice must work with a graphic artist you trust!!!

Graphic Artists versus Printers

1. Printers and Graphic Arstists have very different file format needs - and sometimes a printer will need to adjust a file submitted by a graphic artist - SO GET A HARD COPY PROOF!
A graphic artist's job is to layout/create visually a product. A printer's job is to actually print out that concept onto printed material (be it corrugated boxes, paper, etc.) A printer will set files up so that those files can be understood by their printing machines and how those files are set up depends upon the printing machine they use, along with what material they are printing on (such as business cards vs. cardboard box packaging vs. a brochure vs. a sign, etc.)

What You See Versus What You Get:
There are several factors to consider when ordering a Hard Copy Proof versus an electronic .PDF proof. I recommend that you GET A HARD COPY PROOF!! It is more expensive and takes more time, but in the end it is well worth the trouble and cost.

Because of the following:

Hardcopy Proof:

- What you see is normally what you get, because you will see the ink on the material it is intended to be printed on, be it paper or cardboard or plastic, etc.
- You have proof in your hands to use later if the final product is not what you were provided as an example of what it was promised to be.
- Proofs in eccense are just more accurate than any other form of review.
- Higher cost than electronic .PDF file proofs
- Longer turn around time (it takes time to produce and get that proof into your hands)
- Add in the cost of shipping a proof and the cost of your job goes up depending on how quickly you want that hardcopy proof in your hands (this can get quite expensive depending on the printer). Some, but not all, printers will include a hardcopy proof into your original job cost quote, but most will add this as a seperate charge on your printing job - Yet, again, there is no substitute for having an example of what you want in your hands for you to look at and review to see if it is what you want.

Electronic PDF File Proof:

- Quick Turnaround
- Normally minutes to hours
- Low Cost
- Adobe Acrobat Readers are a Free Download, so almost everyone everywhere can access them
- What you preview on your proof may not be what you end up with on your final product. Because you are view a file that is electronic and not actually printed ink on a final material, it just isn't the same, colors are not the same, there is a chance that 'cutting' edges, folds, tabs, etc. are not going to be the same as what is actually set up on the printer's system in the end.

As in most industries where you are buying an end product, the more you buy the less expensive the cost per item. There are some printers that will not even work with a "small job", and the definition of a 'small job' depends on which printer you are using. This number can vary for some printers a 'small job' can be anything less than 1,ooo. For others it can be anything less than 5,000. Check this number when you get a quote and it is important to ask what the print break level quantities are, in other words, at what quantity amounts does your print job begin to cost you less money.

Hopefully, after reviewing this article you will be better prepared to work with someone in your Marketing Department and have a clearer understanding of what they must deal with and go through to get you what you want, and more importantly, hopefully, this will toss out some of those unrealistic expectations that I have seen. Personally, I would rather say, I can't give you an exact date, but I will try my best to have this ready by (insert date), than sit there and give someone a date of expected delivery and be wrong or have to b.s. them continually. I have seen the later happen too many times by fellow Marketing professionals, but, I also understand that sometimes people that have nothing to do with this process and do not even comprehend this process, will back a Marketing person or department into a corner and it is occasionally easier to give a date and postpone it (and postpone it and postpone it), rather than try to explain the process (I have tried and witnessed the glazing over of eyes)....

My best advice: Give the Marketing person/dept. several weeks and give them the opportunity to do what they do best, handle it. If something delays the deadline of receipt, understand that a lot of this process is actually out of thier hands. Good relations with vendors only takes you so far, unless the Marketing person is there doing the printing and graphic work themselves (the first is possible, the second isn't), then the Marketing person is only a passanger on the train after a certain point.

Wishing You Every Success,


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Tuesday, May 02, 2006

If a Customer Screams bloody Murder, will anyone be there to hear it?

The answer to that Question: If a Customer Screams Bloody Murder, will anyone be there to hear it?

Is one that I am not convinced in today's corporate culture has a positive answer for the Customer, and that is the purpose of my post. Okay, yes, it's true, you few, you far between, you guys & gals that are actually reading this post, I mean YOU! You should feel privileged, because instead of spending my night updating our Founder's blog, I decided to heck with it, and I'll actually post one of my own (just kidding, it is I who feel privileged that you are taking time to read my blog). Why so motivated do you ask? Well, several things I have run into recently have just gotten my individual temperature up to a boiling point and today was the "piece d' resistance", so to speak.

I found myself on a Webinar call/Internet Mtg. today, sponsored by Citrix Online [those great guys & gals that run Gotomeeting's conferencing, which I do love, since they seem to be the easiest to actual use from an attendee's perspective, trust me, I know some rather non-tech geared people, whose names shall remain unmentioned as I like breathing steadily and without the assistance of hospital machinery), so I've got the "in-the-know" about these things]titled, "Practical Product Management", now considering I get a million and one e-mails a day, for some reason when I saw this title, I apparently thought it a good idea to attend and see if I could glean some gems of insight, boy was I wrong! There certainly wasn't anything "practical" about the advise.

Once again, I was shocked by the surety that people take in their stance, which is so incredibly WRONG! (when you apply even the smallest amount of Customer Care common sense). The person that ran this "webinar" has made her money and her living at advising company's on how to correctly manage their product launches, etc. To be honest, I had half my attention in the webinar phone conference call and web slides and the other half in searching for VC funding online. As the call progressed, I finally got to the point where I stopped my research and gave this person my undivided attention (lack of attendee attention on a Webinar is another topic for another day, but one which I am sure runs rampant on calls where the listeners are mitigated to the "everyone is on mute" and "submit your questions, we'll attempt to address them at the end or later". QUESTION: If I can not participate in a call and have my questions answered, What is the point? Aren't I just wasting my time and wouldn't it be more prudent if I just listened to a tape or MP3 or pod cast or whatever, when convened to MY schedule, versus a set date and time when the silly thing is being "live" broadcast?

But, again, more on that subject later). So, back to the subject of what I found so offensive on the Webinar and else where.

Once again there was someone who sits there comfortable in his/her position and advises Company's that the proper method of selling to Customers is to take Customers entirely out of the equation. This person in particular, had the view that Product Management should originate from the Product Manager and work it's life cycle out to Sales and the Customer. You know I wouldn't have so many problems with that theory, if there was some sort of checks and balances put into place that ensure that the voice of the Customer isn't falling on deaf ears. It amazes me how anyone that has been in the business world and can think that anyone other than the Customer can drive a product or Company?

It is something I see time and time again, someone in "Management" or on the "Executive Team" makes a blanket decision that directly effects the Customer (and in turn Sales), but lacking one consideration, the CUSTOMER! You know, those individuals who purchase your products and therefore are the reason for your entire Company's existence!

When will Companies listen to the fundamentals? That their Customers are the key, they are what matters most, and it is when that valuable lesson is forgotten, that all things internal, that Sales/Revenue suffers and comes together until the entire structure collapses, imploding upon itself!? I am so relieved to be working with a Company (at least one once it gets funding) and people who VALUE the CUSTOMER, who hold the same beliefs I do, that the Customer should be the motivation for all that you do, be it back office applications, direct marketing campaigns, product design and sales, even Sales Meetings should focus on the Customer, at least, from a Sales perspective, determining what you, as a Company, are doing right and where you are lacking and can improve your processes and whatever else it takes to "do the right thing" for the Customer.

I hope as you go forward in your life, in your careers, that you will remember one thing....The Customer. Be it you who is the Customer and you here on out decide to stick up for your rights as a consumer or Be it you who is the executive or decision maker and that you remember to always try to do your utmost to better serve the Customer and treat them as what they are, a precious commodity, which can easily be lost when you do not focus your attention or efforts towards their overall satisfaction. Don't get me wrong, I realize you can not please everyone all of the time, but, at the same time, I am of the philosophy that you can at least make the Customer feel as though you are doing your utmost to please them, that you are doing whatever it takes within your power, be you a front desk clerk, you work in the shipping department, you are part of the warehouse staff or the CEO & President of a Company, it is everyone within an organization that makes a Company either great or fail.

It is the ability to influence and satisfy a need from a consumer from large corporation to individual buyer, that is the "proof in the pudding" so to speak, which will make or break a Company. Far too often I see Companies forget, once again, the "Basics", which can be summed up as:

3. ACCEPT ACCOUNTABILITY FOR YOUR ACTIONS both as an organization and as an individual and as long as serving your customer is the motivation and it is done ethically, then you can not go wrong.
4. WORK TO BETTER SERVE THE CUSTOMER, do your best to exceed their expectations and they will be with you in the good times and the bad, when you succeed and even on those occasions (because if you are realistic you will realize they do happen, regardless of what you do to avoid them) when you may fail.
5. REMEMBER, THE CUSTOMER, THE CUSTOMER, THE CUSTOMER!!! I don't care what department you work in or what responsibilities you may have, if you focus on how best to serve (and I'm not talking about making decisions on the fly, I'm talking about asking your customers and responding to their desires and needs) your customers, you will walk away with the satisfaction that you have done your best, a clear conscious that you did the "right thing" and more often than not, you will walk away with a loyal and happy (i.e. satisfied) Customer.

Best wishes,


Friday, April 07, 2006

Where Does Organizational Responsibility End - I.T. & Privacy

I wish to relate a few lessons in something that I have experienced as recently as of yesterday. Mind you, this is not the first time I have incurred an information "leak", such as I did yesterday, nor is it the first time I notified a Company upon finding a "leak", but it is the first time I have notified a large group of individuals.

What occured yesterday was that I was doing some simple research online, looking up a Company's name and Staff by utilizing a geographical address search as my base. It just so happened that I performed this search on Google.

While doing so, I ran across an entire listing of over 400 names of V.P.'s, CEO's, COO's, Attorney's, etc. All with their names, titles, Company names, addresses, phone and fax numbers listed plainly on the Internet as a Google Search Result. Needless to say, I was quite taken aback. My first thought was that the individuals on this "Member" and "Non-Member" listing had absolutely no clue their business or even possibly their personal information was listed on the Internet so publicly.

I took a bit of initiative *okay, so yes, I'm known for that* and visited the website of the Trade Organization that was responsible for the listing getting posted on Google. I wanted to check to see if their Membership List was available online out in the open. Obviously, if that were the case, then the "Members" would clearly realize their information was available via the Internet. Before you think to ask, yes, it did occur to me that the information was probably all business listings, which could probably be accessed on the Net at some other location. However, as the Membership list was a mixed lot of genders (and not to be gender bias), but, I wanted to make sure that if the list wasn't available openly on that Trade Association's website, then the persons listed knew that whatever information they had given that Trade Association, was actually available for "prying eyes" to see, heck, they didn't even have to be "prying" eyes, since anyone could see the information easily on Google.

During my visitation to the Trade Organization's website, I learned the following:

1. The Organization itself was a Risk Management Organization, apparently, a very large one. I was even further floored. They certainly could afford the I.T. staff needed to "protect" their Member's private information.
2. The information "leak" was not just confined to a "whoops" it got posted on Google, but, their own log-in and access processes on their national website made it very easy for anyone to assume another "Members" identity.

Of course, after consulting with an Attorney (there just so happened to be several listed on that information "leak", so I called one and asked him if I could legally get into any trouble by notifying the Trade Organization along with the individual's whose information was "aired in public".) The Attorney assured me that I was legally protected, because the information was basically out in public, so I was only stating facts, along with the fact that I meant no maliace by my actions and that I was only trying to help notify the Company along with warn the "Members". The Gentlemen with whom I spoke was beyond very nice and polite, particularly considering the "oddness" of my call and what I had to explain to him. He also was kind enough to thank me for taking the time to notify the members and not just the Company.

So, I sent off a very detailed and descriptive e-mail explaining:
1. The information I found
2. Where I found the information
3. How I came about finding the information on the Internet
4. How I came upon finding out how there was an error in their identification process on their national website
5. How they could avoid future information leaks of the type that had occured as it related to Google
6. The needed information for the Company to contact Google and request a removal of the senstive information.

I sent this e-mail information off to the WebMaster for the Website, along with a little less than 100 of the names on the list. I stopped at that "few", because I did not wish for my ISP to begin thinking I was sending out SPAM, okay, that and by the time I had sent out 100 e-mails manually, I was fairly sick of doing someone else's work. By someone else's work, I mean, another company's, another persons, etc. all of whom I am certain were getting paid to do a job, but who had made an error (yes, I realize it is human to make an error). Oh, by the way, when I sent out my e-mails, I protected each indivdual's privacy by blind copying each individual, so no one else could easily "see" who the e-mail was going to, not that they couldn't just look up the link I had enclosed in the e-mail, which served as proof to where the information was listed and see all the other Member's and Non-Member's information that was available through an easy Google Search.

Today, I received back an e-mail from the CIO of the Trade Organization. I have cut and paste it below (editting out some name information out of respect for that Company's privacy):
******************** COPY OF THE E-MAIL THE COMPANY SENT ME BACK ****

Thank you for alerting us to the issue. The problem is with one of our chapter sites, not through the (changed) national site. I have alerted them to the problem and they have fixed it (although obviously it will take a while for google to remove it from its cache). The list was one they put together for some reason or another and was not a membership list as it contained a mixture of people.

Mr. CIO (changed)

I had to shake my head when I read it, for several reasons:

A. This is a CIO, but, apparently he could not be bothered to actually "read" the list, which in itself states "Members" and "Non-Members", but, of course, it was NOT a Membership list...umm..yeah, right!

B. How freakin' typical, Why must people B/PASS THE BUCK?/B
Why can't they just admit their error and fix it? How come that is so hard?

C. I personally have never taken a course in .HTML, I've never read a book, etc. yet, I learn as I go and as I need to do something, I seek out the information and figure out how to do it. Yet, the information leak itself was a result of an incredibly easy to fix error, because someone did not protect against "bots" crawling a website. To show you how easy it is to "guard" against this issue, for example, say you have a file called "hats.xls", which is an Excel file you do not wish to show up on Search Engines:

It is as simple as doing the following:

1. Create a file titled: Robot.txt (in notepad, a plain text document)
2. Open the Document and on the 1st line type the following shown text which is shown in the quotes: "User-agent: *"
3. That line basically says, Hey Bots! (and because of the *, you mean ALL BOTS!)
4. On the 2nd line of the text (you can press enter to drop down to the 2nd line), type the following text, which is shown in the quotes: "Disallow: hats.xls"
5. You would change the "hats.xls" to whatever file you do not wish to have bots "crawl", for example: "/cgi-bin" or "dates.ppt" or whatever the file name and file type

WA-LA, it's that easy, nothing to it and it's something that is basic, I mean, even if you know nothing about HTML, but you are just learning, for you to get your website listed on any Search Engines, this information should be something you have come across. The disgusting part is, the Trade Association that experienced this easy "leak", has a whole I.T. Department!! in apparently SEVERAL CITIES!!!!

D. If the CIO actually "read" my e-mail he would have to be rather "thick" not to notice that I state in my e-mail there was a 2ndary issue, which revolved around the National website's Member log-in process. If you noticed, he made no mention of that little "error".

Which brings me back to the beginning of my article, "Where does Organizational Responsibility End?"

Personally, I think that as an Organization they should admit the error to their members, apologize and fix it.

WRONG! I visited the Trade Association's website today and they made absolutely NO mention of this issue to their Members, through either a press release or Forums medium.

It never ceases to amaze me that Companys/Organizations (whatever) can act so irresponsibly when it comes to other's private information.

How many times in the news over the last 6 mths for example, have you seen a report of a company's sensitive information on their member's having been accessed or leaked?

So, the point of my posting?

1. If you are a Company or have the power within your own Company, STEP UP & TAKE RESPONSIBILITY. I think that is all, anyone can ask as a customer, outside of course, the obvious of do your best to protect the information in the first place.

2. Understand that NO information is completely safe. If a hacker or whatever you wish to call "bad people" want to get to information bad enough, they will. It's the same principle as protecting your home against burglars, you can only do so much, but if someone really wants in, they'll find a way to get in. Heck, there are museums that have thousands of dollars invested in security systems, yet thieves find ways to steal from them or defraud them.

3. Don't forget the Basics, this statement more so than anything, seems to apply so often recently. People seem to not "forget", but "over look" the basics of so many things, Companies more guilty than most, but it is individuals behind Companies and they seem to be forgetting the "basics" of programming, customer service, operations and marketing. I am still baffled as to why.

I hope that you drew some sort of lesson from my experiences related above and as always,

I wish you the best and every success,


Monday, February 27, 2006

ICANN & Verisign's "AGREEMENT", .COM & the Rise of Another Monopoly

Well, for those out there that do not realize it, if you own a domain name, particularly that ends in .COM, there is an issue you should be made aware of that will definitely have an effect on you and your business.

First my thanks to's, President, Bob Parsons, who brought it to my attention (via a post on his blog -

Without getting far too "geekish" in terminology I will try to state the issue:

The Internet Corporation Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) at , the nifty Agency in charge of the Internet's domain names, IP addresses, etc. is currently in a legal battle with Verisign, who offers "intellligent infrastructure services", basically, they are an encryption and internet security service, who wants to be able to offer a registry of domain names to the public, sounds okay right? Well, wrong.

In February 2004, Versign sued ICANN, saying that ICANN was keeping them from being able to sell domain names, that it was breaking anti-trust laws and was rather ticked that ICANN wanted to regulate the allowed price of those services which Versign wanted to sell (.i.e. how much Verisign could charge for domain names). Copy of the original Suit can be found through ICANN at: or you can go to their main website at: and check out the posted information on the "Settlement Agreement".

In an effort to settle out of court, ICANN has worked with Verisign to develop an "Agreement", which would in essence give Verisign rule over the .COM domain name registry. (i.e. if you went to buy or renew a domain, you would have to do so through Verisign). The truely ironic part is, in the initial "Complaint/Lawsuit" Verisign alleged that ICANN was acting in an anti-trust way with it's limitation of allow who could sell what domain names and at how much, yet, in the "Agreement" developed. Verisign will receive authorization to sell .COM domain names and have total control over the sale and renewal of them, along with determining the pricing (which by the way, they want to be able to raise the price of .COM domain names at 7% a year -- initially they wanted to do so for the 1st 6 years, but the latest document on the ICANN website, seems to indicate a timeline of 1st 3 yrs to remain the same) however, the Agreement also allows for Verisign to administer the .COM Domain name registry for 10 years, and when that time comes up due, to automatically have the "Agreement" between ICANN and Verisign renew, which in essence gives Verisign rule over .COM domain names in perpetuity. Doesn't sound so good now does it?

So what? and How Does This Affect You and Your Business? Well, let's just take a quick overall peek at that:

1. First, there is discusson on the Internet waves, that costs could actually go up as high as $100 per domain name. Now stop and count how many domain names you or your company owns, how many domain names you think individuals will be willing to shell out the funds for annually.

2. While you're counting those domain names, remember that many businesses and individuals own multiple domain names, i.e. .Com, .Biz, .Info, etc., it has been proposed that if Verisign were to raise the .Com charge then all of the other registries would follow, so .Biz, .Info, .Org, may all be next to pump up pricing, it adds up.

3. This will throw a wrench in several marketing techniques out there, such as, multiple domains that link up for positioning purposes, multiple domains in order to list various products individually for brand recognition, multiple domain names for set-up and then Search Engine Optimization (SEO).

Now, consider one of the reasons why the Internet has become so prominant in our daily lives, accessibility. Anyone can for a modest cost get a domain name and start a website, particularly, the small business/entreprenuer, etc. How many do you think will begin to fall off the map?

This new "Agreement" makes the "little guy's" job much harder when trying to compete with the "big corporations" and when the small business tries to have a global presence, verus just the local neighborhood store.

Down the line, if there are fewer websites, that means less available information, less availability of goods and services. This issue trickles down all the way from the mom & pop grocery store that has an Internet webpage and store to the individual consultant who designs webpages or even the bigger guys that sell computer hardware.

According to Bob Parson's blog, statisics state that the cost for domains has fallen historically, so Verisign's take over of the .COM domain registry and their apparent desire to raise pricing (probably to pay off ICANN the fee that has been "agreed upon" for the priviledge of sole dominion over the .Com registry), actually goes against industry trends in domain name pricing.

Not to mention that little ironic part about, Verisign being the sole .COM domain registry administrator, which sounds pretty much to me like a monopoly and which is the essence for United States Anti-Trust laws.

There is also another issue written within the "Agreement" between ICANN and Verisign, there seems to be a desire within Verisign to data mine its domain users. I honestly do not know the actual specifics of that particular topic, but I think there are major privacy issues with a privately held company (ICANN use to be a Gov't Agency, then moved to a Non-profit and from my understanding is now a mix of private and non-profit), but, Verisign is definitley a private company, deciding to collect peoples data with no oversight and the ability to do whatever they so choose to, with it.

Finally, ICANN is scheduled to review the "Agreement" with Verisign for potential approval on Feb. 28, 2006, so I suggest that everyone that wishes to speak out now and raise general awareness about this issue do so and also contact your State Representatives!! I (thanks Bob!) copied the following from Bob Parson's blog post, so you can more easily contact your Representatives (see the info. between the astericks below). If you are interested, I also have posted at the very end of this blog post, the letter I submitted to ICANN and my State Senators.

If you are a U.S. citizen and want to contact your Congressional Representatives or Senators here's how to find their email addresses:

For the
For the House:

Here is a suggested form letter you might send to your elected representatives:

Dear _________:I am very concerned about the recently revised .COM registry agreement and proposed settlement between ICANN and VeriSign. This pending agreement is anticompetitive and bad for consumers and the Internet community as a whole. The proposed agreement provides VeriSign with the ability to increase prices by 7% annually in four of the next six years without cost justification. Furthermore, under the new agreement, VeriSign's monopoly would run in perpetuity as the agreement would automatically renew without the opportunity for competitive bidding. This is an outrage. VeriSign and ICANN should not be allowed to establish a perpetual monopoly without Congressional oversight and the opportunity for input from the Internet community.The proposed agreement harms the Internet community by allowing unjustified price increases when fees for .COM domain names should be decreasing, not increasing. Even VeriSign last year agreed to drop fees by more than 40% for .NET domain names to win an extension of that registry agreement. There is no reason VeriSign shouldn't be implementing the same type of price decreases for .COM names, as well.As your constituent, I would sincerely appreciate if you would look into this agreement and ensure that VeriSign and ICANN are not allowed to go forward with it in its current form. If the ICANN Board approves this anticompetitive agreement, the next step is for the NTIA to approve. I urge you to also bring our concerns to the attention of the NTIA.

******* END of BOB PARSON'S POST **********

--------- BONNIE'S LETTER -----------

Dear ICANN Board:

I am dismayed by the fact that ICANN would consider allowing one entity, such as Verisign, a monopoly on .COM Registry control. Particularly where the Entity (Verisign) is allowed to raise pricing up to 7% per year for a consecutive 6 years, all without oversight! I am offended at the thought of any monopoly, which, is both anti-American and illegal due Federal Anti-trust laws.

What to me is worse that an Anti-Trust Monopoly within any industry, is the thought that the Internet, which has in the past, enjoyed such wide spread acceptance as a communication medium and has successfully, made our society a "Global Village", could potentially:

Shut down the small entrepreneur, because of rising costs of .COM domains, if one entity has exclusive rights (inperpetuity).2. Cause such huge impact on the Marketing Industry and Small Business's ability to enter markets and compete with larger corporations with bigger advertising/marketing budgets, if costs are allowed to increase at up to 7% per year over 6 years for .COM domain names.

I certainly hope that ICANN's Board will take into consideration what has become the "spirit" of the Internet, which includes:
1. Information Sharing and World Wide Communication
2. The ability for small enterprises to "get the word out" about their business products and services, opening a "world" market, for the "little guy" and not just "big business", when considering the potential long-term effects of the ICANN & Versign Agreement on the Internet, on Small Business Commerce, on the Marketing & Advertising Industry and on the various other related Computer, Web, Security, Consulting, etc. services which will, in the long-term, be directly impacted by your choice of Agreement Terms.

Also, I do not believe this issue, has had the trickle down effect as to be known by many of the 40.3 million current along with the uncounted potential .COM domain name owners/buyers and feel that if those owners/buyers knew of this issue and how it would impact them and their businesses, they too would be as concerned as I. I will certainly be contacting my Legislative Representatives, in order, to bring this issue to their attention, so they can represent the mass majority of the public, who are unaware there is even a potential issue with .COM domain name registration and point out this issue, along with the following, which is quoted from ICANN's, "Summary and Analysis of Community Feedback (11 December 2005), Summary of Comments Regarding proposed .COM Agreement", as listed on the ICANN website:
Full transcript of Public Forum Meeting held can be found at:

Comments from ICANN's Constituents, Supporting Organization Councils and Committees:

1. Centralization of what amounts to over 50% of all names in one registry for perpetuity embeds a significant competitive dominance in the market; longterm supplier dominance typically runs counter to user interests.
2. Registrants did not benefit from the price reduction in .NET registry prices from $6.00 to $4.25; ICANN may not be able to ensure that registrants benefit – or are not adversely affected – by .COM fee and price changes.
3. The proposal makes VeriSign the permanent, concentrated source of the majority of ICANN's revenue. o ICANN makes itself significantly dependent on an entity not accountable to the public.
4. The proposal bypasses the existing budget process and implements a “private arrangement” for funding. The proposed new ICANN fee that would be assessed on VeriSign and passed on to the registrars would result in excess of approximately $150 million dollars to ICANN over the term of the Agreement, and would be an end-run around the existing registrar fee approval process (which allows for registrars accounting for payment of one-third of ICANN fees to veto any registrar-level contributions).
5. The proposed new .COM agreement allows VeriSign to make commercial use of traffic data regarding domain names for almost any purpose, and without any obligation to follow the procedure for new registry services with respect to such uses.
6. Traffic data belongs to users, not to providers; traffic data could be abused; theproposal’s provision on the use of traffic data should be amended. o Data mining allowed under the proposal would be illegal in countries with data privacy laws.

Bonnie L. Buchanan

Saturday, December 03, 2005

Old School Marketing & Business vs. Today's "Buzz" Word Management

First, before my post, I have to back up a bit and say, I have been working very hard in order to finish a Business Plan (sounds easy huh? well, it is currently 136 pages long including source documents), so pardon my absence. I just could not justify spending time on articles on here (along with my other web commentaries) without feeling tons of guilt. I love all aspects of business and I tend to be an information hound, so I lost enough time getting side tracked on research or in making brief comments on other websites. Having said that, this is my first blog installment in a long time, so my apologies that it has taken me this long to put something relavent on this site.

Something I have been thinking about for a long time and just can no longer keep my mouth shut about is:

Old School Marketing & Business versus Today's Choc-o-block "Buzz" Word Managment

I am constantly amazed and appauled by today's Marketing & Management Industry.

For the last year, I have seen so many articles and write-ups about Customer Relationship Management (CRM), Customer Data Mining and Customer Loyalty Retention. All Great "Buzz" words, right? Well, in my humble oppinion, the concept is full of sh*insert a very bad word*. How can I write that when I myself have written an article for CRMGuru regarding CRM Solution Vendors?

Well, the answer is very easy, in the article I wrote I was speaking from a Customer's perspective, in their attempt to purchase a product, and all of the following issues they faced. It's not that I do not believe in CRM software, Customer Data Mining, Customer Loyalty Retention, what it is that gets my blood boiling, is the fact that the Business Mangement & Marketing Industries even have to be reminded that the Customer is first and foremost, and I mean both the external buying Customer and the internal operational Customer within an Organization.

It is something missing in the Management and Marketing "World" today, it seems to be making a come back over the last two years, but I am just amazed that it actually needs to do that at all. What I mean by that is, that focusing on the Customer needs to come back at all. I say this because, it has always been my belief and business understanding a it was one of the fundamental laws of business operations and marketing and the very possibility of that concept moving into obsurity, as it apparently had, would have been ridiculous. Honestly, I have no good excuse as to where I was when this happened, because I have always strived to focus on the Customer, so maybe it is just the information boom and Internet, which has brought the poor practices of others to light, as it seems so prolific in Industry Trade Magazines ranging from I.T., CRM, Marketing, Facilities, etc., media over the last 12-24 months. I receive far too many trade magazines to list them all, however, trust me, there are more than any sane person should be attempting to keep up with (or trying to figure out how to dispose of) while also trying dig through the dirt to find the diamonds that allow one to remain well informed.

How can a Company miss focusing on the Customer? Everything from asking the Customer directly what he/she wants, to what he/she thinks, to putting into place processes that strive to make your Customer's life easier (from automatic bill paying options, to account checking online, to just basic Customer Service techniques within Call Centers. I can understand a Company failing miserably at any or all of those things, but the basic premise and intentions remain easily the same, to provide the best service and products to your Customer, period.

I want to know how and when, the various business Management & Marketing Industries lost sight of the fact that Customers drive your business. Without Customers, a Company can have millions of dollars, but that is all they will have and with that they will only be in business for as long as their money lasts. In the end, no one will buy their products and with no one to sell products or services to, the Company will have to go out of business. For me, it's a fairly obvious and simple formula, and considering my love of math, that is saying volumes (Happy Customers = Success; No Customers = No Future).

So, I suppose a question I can pose to my visitors, to other business people, entreprenuers, marketing managers, etc....

QUESTION: How and Why do you think Companies lost sight of the fact that their Customers are important to their businesses?

I think it was possibly a case of Companies getting so big so fast, Customers failed to remain Customers, but instead, they became numbers, in Organizations that were being run by egotistical, overcompensated, self absorbed CEOs, that were some how convinced they walked on water, CFOs that were so busy bean counting they forgot where they got the beans in the first place, Managers that accepted the status quo and instead of implementing changes, let or stood back and watched, which is just as bad, the Company train chugging along down the tracks, without lifting a finger to do anything about it ecxept stand and tell the Engineers how to shovel more wood into the fire. And the worst part?, the Customers were so programmed into being lemmings they just kept doing what they always had done or maybe they did complain and it fell on deaf ears until they got so fed up, they just slowly one-by-one slipped away. The scariest thing of all, is that there are major Companies out there that still have majority market share in their industry, they treat their customers like rubbage and their customers keep coming back (I think in most cases the Customer has decided the devil you know is better than the devil you don't know, since in several industries, the Customer Service was just as poor across the board).

QUESTION: What is the #1 thing, marketing campaign, service process, internal review, etc. do you feel a Company can not do without otherwise, that Company is doing their Customers an injustice in that Company's service to them?

The second question above, I'm not going to answer or give my oppinon on, and yes, I do have one, as I'm sure you can guess. However, I am at this time, more interested in seeing what your answers are regarding this question. I also realize I do not have a huge following for this "sleeper" webpage, at this time, so I'm not expecting a huge response on that one.

As the saying goes, "If You Build It They Will Come", well, that's what I'm hoping for, since I intend to do my best to actually write some blog posts for this site more frequently.

"I might not be right, but that doesn't mean you are either"



Tuesday, July 05, 2005

Operations - CRMGuru Article - Have CRM Vendors Ever Heard of Customer-Centricity?

I recently was published in an article, "Have CRM Vendors Ever Heard of Customer-Centricity? (What I Learned When Buying CRM Software)" on's May Edition. I hope you will all take the time to check it out

CRMGuru is a wonderful resource from the operations perspective for several reasons. First, it has tons of whitepapers which are great for documentation reference when creating reports. Second, it is excellent for information on CRM, the industry and the IN's and OUT's of the process and vendors. Third, CRMGuru has a subscriber base of approximately 200,000 readers, so it makes for a wonderful place to get your information out there from a Marketing perspective.

I thank a previous mentor of mine for getting me hooked on the statement, "Information is not valuable unless shared", so I hope you find the article of some value to you. You can easily CLICK HERE to be directed to the article or you may type in the following URL to your Internet browser:

I may at a later time discuss under the topic heading of Marketing, the how and why of getting articles published, but for now, I will just offer this article piece up for your review with hopes you find it interesting and helpful now or in the future.

Wednesday, June 15, 2005

Marketing Materials & Me - How do You determine What works?

Okay, well, I'm going to keep this post short and also I'm going to cheat. *smiles*

You see, I belong to several e-mail lists, discussion groups, etc. all with the intention of expanding my expertise, learning from others and sharing the wealth of knowledge I garner along my life's path.

So, under that vein of thought, I recently answered the following question as posed by a fellow marketing professional:

"I have been assigned the project of evaluating the current marketing materials .....What's right/wrong with the current brochures, folders, pamphlets, websites etc.? This overall assessment also needs to include solutions on how we can make things better. What questions do I need to think about as I go through the materials -- and how do I competently structure the answers?"

Here in esscense was my response (hey, why waste my time and your own if I can just paste my response here and also share this Q&A with you?) *smiles*
One of the things I think a lot of marketing and corporations fail to factor in when reassessing the effectiveness of their materials is ....simply put, the consumer.
First, when reassessing hardcopy hand outs, such as, what you mention: brochures, pamphlets, folders...I would suggest you do your initial personal evaluation looking at the literature from a fresh perspective as if you were the consumer, then applying your graphic and marketing expertise.
Second, I would actually suggest you poll a user population. Take a sampling of your current clients and also a sampling of your potential clients. Devise a quick and painless survey, short multiple answers and nothing more than 2-5 minutes to fill out (less is better). Make it worth the survey populations wild to participate, provide a time limited discount on products or offer a sweepstakes type prize. Divide the sample population so that you poll a consumer only one time for one specific piece of literature. Compile the results of your survey from the feedback you receive. This step both gives you an honest feedback of 1. How you acquired your current customers and what they like about your materials, 2. Outlines from both current customers and potential customers you may be missing, what exactly is lacking in your literature. Why guess about what is wrong with (if anything) your literature, when you can go directly to the consumers to find out what it is they like or dislike and what they look for or drew them to your literature.
You may be surprised, if you do this right you may actually end up exploring different avenues of information providing that your consumers would be thrilled to see, but which someone saddled to a marketing desk might have failed in the past to provide. For example: ...if you provide periodic literature in the form of a newsletter, there may be some industry wide or national statistics that might be of interest to your consumers that would add that 'steering to read' of your material. I know for the mortgage market, for example, a consumer will toss a piece of mortgage literature in a heartbeat, but if it includes things like current market interest rates and home improvement tips and hints applicable to the time of year, the literature actually has an increase in readership.
Third, look at what works, best practices wise.For the website, you can do several things:
1. Reference psychological marketing techniques. A good report is available at the following link, which is a 2004 report by Eyetrack III, that complied the results of watching 46 people's eye movements when viewing websites and what areas are the first and least to be viewed:
2. You can also reference industry reports, such as, the June 2005 report by, which discusses the customer satisfaction for website browsing of the 40 highest gross e-retailing websites. By reading their report you can apply a best practices methodology, basically, pattern after what works, and apply that to how you evaluate the company's website.
Fourth, poll the website visitors. This is easily accomplished via side bar polls over whatever you designate as appropriate for a period of time. Example: A side bar survey changed on a daily basis for one week (depending on the number of site visitors you have, you may wish to extend the polling time), asking something as simple as: How easy is it to navigate our website? A) Very Easy - A breeze, I love it! B) Somewhat Easy - Inline with other websites C) Not Easy - Needs WorkAll in all, my point is, don't forget to actually ask the people that are viewing your materials, that's where the treasure of information lies, not in some executives expectations of what something should look like or what they think someone will like..Ask the someone themselves.
Don't reinvent the wheel, learn from others, simple research can save you tons of mistakes.
When it comes to structuring your overall review, I would start by listing the materials that were reviewed and then break down the current pros and cons of each. I would then write a small summary (a paragraph or two) of what exactly could be improved or changed for each and provide the reasoning behind each change or improvement. For example, say your survey finds that 60% of respondents thought your website was difficult to navigate. I would look at the results of the aforementioned e-retailers report and look at what attracted consumers to those websites when it came to navigation. I would then state that you recommend (insert whatever changes based on your research and findings). You could go on and reference recent industry reports of the top e-retailers as back up and to show actual justification that those practices do work and you are actually basing your recommendations on researched working statistics and not just pulling them out of thin air as your own opinion.
You can do all of the above, yet, keep it simple. You're basically aiming for a 1-4 page write up stating the current status of the literature. What areas can be improved and effectively increase sales or customer satisfaction (hopefully both), What your recommendations are for how to make those improvements (also it's nice to provide an implementation timeline), and the justification as to why you came to those conclusions for the needed changes. You could always rely on your expertise carrying weight, but really, it is much better if you have proven statistical results, there is less guess work in it and it provides more legitimacy. Besides, your superiors would expect it depending on what level of executives you are working with and also, it goes to show that you've done your homework and you know what your talking about.

Tuesday, April 26, 2005

What's in a name?

What's in a name? Well, in this case, a lot.

You see the name of this blog is, "The PSD Guide", for a reason. The P.S.D. stands for Poor, Smart and Determined to get Rich!

Inspired by, "Memos from the Chairman", By Alan C. Greenberg, which can be puchased at for a mear $10.85 (and is eligible for the super saver shipping discount), which is a book based upon the internal memos and letters written by Alan C. Greenberg, as Chairman of Bear Stearns & Co., a financial stock brokerage powerhouse in New York.
One of my favorite quotes by Alan Greenberg goes something like, 'I would rather higher someone with a PSD, over someone with an MBA, BA or AA'. In today's business world it is so hard to 'get-a-head' without a Master's Degree, a Bachelor's Degree, etc. I have encountered numerous people who discounted other's abilities, because they did not have whatever level of certification they were looking for on their resume. I do have a degree, but it would spoil the fun to list it here. *winks* Those individuals and anyone else out there who discounts another's ability without proof of their inability, are fools. That's right, I said it, Fools!

This blog will share insights, information, thoughts, ideas along with my opinions on various business strategies, problems and an infinite number of other topics; some will be focused on my experiences in or with Customer Service, Marketing, Graphics & Print, Accounting/Finance, Administration/Operations, Sales, Facilities Mgmt. and so on. Some postings will just be my rants and raves about life. I suppose it will be my job to try to make it easy for you to wade through the information and your job to hopefully glean some insight and greater knowledge from what you read than what you might have arrived at my blog with, either way, it should prove interesting. *winks*

This blog is dedicated to all those out there like myself, who are PSDs. To all those rare entreprenuers, who have the drive, ambition, passion, creativity and focus to dream their dreams of business success, while not letting anything hold them back from their personal mission of accomplishing it.

It is also dedicated to all those individuals out there who by way of their actions, words and their inate ability to teach, inspire in others the entreprenuerial spirit. As I hope, at least, some of the text and information enclosed will do for those that read this blog.

Copyright 2005, Bonnie L. Buchanan, All Rights Reserved. Any Trademarks, Registrations or Material Indicated as Copyright or the possession of a 3rd Party, remains that Party's property and no rights to use nor ownership is intended.