5 Dudes I’d Hang Out With

I don’t know why, but lately when I’m watching TV I think to myself, “I could hang out with that dude.” That’s how I’m judging people now – by if I could hang out with them. Celebrities, mostly. I think, “I bet you he’s a cool guy to hang out with.” I don’t even know what we would be doing. I guess we could maybe just sit around on old overstuffed recliners eating burgers and watching football. I don’t even know if I know how to hang out with dudes anymore – I’ve been married for a long time. At any rate, I decided to put together a quick list of the dudes I’ve mentally noted that I’d hang out with. I’m guessing they’ll all see this post (since a lot of celebrities keep a pretty close watch on this blog), and we can hang. Your move, Sudekis.

Jason Sudekis

 

Blake Shelton

Aziz Ansari

Paul Rudd

Kevin James

 

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Know Your Target Audience, Part 2

It’s been nearly four years since my last post about the email targeting sins I see in my inbox on a daily basis. Yet, I’m still seeing major marketers squander major opportunities. Are you not reading my blog?!?! (sadly, I know the answer to this question).

This time the offender is my beloved Victoria’s Secret. It pains me to do this as I tend to support everything Victoria’s Secret does (decent pun, I’m keeping it). But, this is another great example of messaging that is targeted toward a woman (which I am not) when email allows for segmentation that could avoid a messaging miss. Subject line: “Your Bikini Awaits…” Simply segmenting me as a male would allow for a message that would be targeted to me and increase the likelihood that I would make a purchase. Of course, I’m not purchasing a bikini for myself, but I have to imagine there is a very strong segment of men that purchase Victoria’s Secret products for the lady in their lives.

victorias secret email target audience

Missed opportunity, Victoria’s Secret. But, every moment is another opportunity to turn it all around. Fewer blasts, more individualization. I’m looking forward to be addressed as a man in the future : )

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Not Entertaining

I watch a lot of movies and a lot of TV (sick vices that I’ve come to terms with). But, I really enjoy being entertained and I enjoy comedy as my primary genre. But, what’s really been irritating me lately (and I don’t know why, I’ve been sick and probably cranky) is FORCED COMEDY.

I realize that nearly everything I watch is scripted. I get that. But when you’re painfully aware that an actor is reading a line that is supposed to be funny, it has quite the opposite effect. More specifically, I can not stand when a character is forced to spout a line that is very unlike who they are. Examples:

  1. Children saying very adult or insightful-beyond-their-years things: “I like to start every day with a strong cup of Joe and a Readers’ Digest. I find that the aroma of Columbian roast and a few chortles brings me to a place that only Elizabeth Barret Browning could accurately capture.”
  2. Old people saying overtly sexual or “dirty” things: “When I give a man a %#^&( ^&#%, I always !#@$% the !^%$@.”
  3. Old people using street slang: “Hoes be trippin. You need to kick that chickenhead to da curb, homie!”
  4. White suburban girls using street slang: “Girlfriend, why you frontin on my baby daddy?”
  5. Children saying overly cute things. They’re KIDS! They’re already cute and they already say cute things. Let a kid be a kid and say normal kid things!

Wassup, my ninjas?

I just think the “shock” of it all is so forced. It feels lazy.

So, this is me declaring that let’s just stop this approach. I’m very sorry Betty White – you’re awesome. I’m very sorry Adam Sandler – I friggin love you but you seem to have all these kids with forced cuteness in your movies lately. And I’m sorry all Disney Channel Tween Sitcoms – not every character on the show can be the whacky overactor.

All that being said – what do I know? I’ve never made a dime on any attempt for comedy. The market pays for what the market wants. I’m just not laughing at the forced comedy. Let’s step it up.

photo via flickr (jpmatth)

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Social Media Interview with Nevada Business Journal

I was recently interviewed by Doresa Banning for the Nevada Business Journal about Social Media and business. It was an enjoyable experience. Some of it was just thoughts on some of the major players: Facebook, LinkedIn, YouTube and Twitter. We talked a little about best practices, including social media policies for HR. And even a little about the future of social media.

Read the full article. 

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The Value of Peace of Mind

A slight departure tonight from my typical marketing chatter, social media blabber and senseless rants. The past couple of days in Reno (Nevada), our community was devastated by fires that damaged dozens of homes (many now unlivable), threatened dozens more and evacuated approximately 2,000 residents from their homes. Fierce winds caused the fire to spread quickly and made it challenging to fight.

Reno Nevada Fire Caughlin Fire

Photo by Tim Dunn, Reno Gazette-Journal

Firstly, my heart truly goes out to the victims of this fire. The community has been affected by a number of disasters as of late (train crashes, plane crashes, shootings, senseless deaths, etc). And, as we’ve seen a lot of lately, the community has pulled together and truly behaved as a “community” in terms of support for one another.

But, that’s not necessarily what this article is about, either. It’s about the value of peace of mind. Many people were evacuated from their homes and spent most of those first 24 hours with no idea whether or not their home was still standing or decimated by fire. The uncertainty is almost as painful as the reality. I received notice in the afternoon (while I was at work, in the office) that there was a small fire near my house. I wasn’t immediately concerned, as my house was not near the massive fires that were burning south Reno. But strong winds were blowing embers all over the city and starting small fires. I thought to myself, “there’s no way my house is in danger.” But, as only a few minutes passed, my imagination flared up. I pictured my neighborhood in the same condition as the images I was seeing of the massive fires in south Reno. I pictured my dogs trapped and surrounded in flames. I pictured the collection of memories burning to the ground and my life changing entirely. I couldn’t stand it any more. What if I had just sat there in the office while my neighborhood burned? I jumped in my car and headed home to check on things. Before I get any further, I need to tell you that firefighters responded very quickly to the fire, which was about two blocks from my house, and were able to extinguish it. Crisis averted.

My point in all of this is that the power of peace of mind really sunk in with me. One of the things that make mankind so progressive, beautiful and inventive is our imaginations. They’re extremely powerful. We can see and experience things that may never be. The “dark side” of this is that when we’re unsure of something, our imaginations can paint a hundred scenarios and some of those scenarios cause us to worry. And some of that worry can become so intense that it consumes us and distracts us. My mind raced when I thought there was a chance my house was on fire. I cannot express the level of relief I had when I pulled up and spoke to the firefighter that told me everything would be fine. I cannot express the level of relief I had when I found out my friends were safe and their homes were OK.

There is so much power in peace of mind. 

I understand why people spend the money they do to have peace of mind – whether that’s with safety, investments, insurance, justice or otherwise. When we know for sure, we’re relieved. We remove the torture that our beautiful minds are capable of creating. We all fret about something at some point. We have all imagined a scenario or several scenarios to stand in for knowing for sure. Those companies and people that deal in the industry of peace of mind are in a fortunate position. I’ve found myself understanding why we seek the solace of peace of mind, at most any cost.

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QR Code Obsession

QR Code Obsession

QR Codes are cool. I agree. I’ve been talking about them in digital media presentations for about three years now. I like them! I think they have a ton of possibilities. But, for the love of Pete, we’re becoming obsessed with QR codes. They’re the shiny new toy. Everybody wants to use them. But they are being used stupidly. Ignore the fact that smart phones only have about a 30% market penetration in the US. Ignore the fact that only like 10% of internet traffic comes from mobile phones. Ignore the fact that the people that do have smart phones do not all have scanners nor do they know how to get/use one. People are being just plain non-strategic and impractical. I think there are some cool ways and some lame ways to use QR Codes. Here goes:

  1. Cool Way: On food packaging. I think it’s great when a box of food has a QR Code on it and scanning brings you to a video of how to prepare a recipe, or a list of ingredients needed to make a recipe. That gives value. I’m going to tag “Recipe Book” on to this example. It’s too similar to make it its own. But a cookbook should be full of QR codes that download a tutorial video for preparing a dish.
  2. Lame Way: On your website. There is almost NO REASON you should ever have a QR Code on your website. It especially infuriates me when the QR code brings me to your homepage or another page in your site. I’m already there! Just give me a link. That’s ridiculous. Yet I see it time and time again. Stop putting QR Codes on your website!
  3. Cool Way: Selling a house. I like this idea. A QR Code next to an ad for a house, or on the sales sign out front. Scanning brings you to a virtual tour and/or information about the house (the MLS listing, etc), and the Realtor to contact to make arrangements to see the house in person. Let’s get rid of those crappy, water-soaked, black & white photocopies that sit in that plastic bin.
  4. Lame Way: In an email blast. OK, this is really similar to the website one, but it’s equally as lame. Do not make me scan something that I can just click. Don’t put me through all that effort when I could just click a link. These seem like ways to use QR Codes just to use them.
  5. Cool Way: Scavenger Hunts. I think this is actually kind of fun. QR Codes can be posted or hidden in various spots and finding one reveals a clue (video or photo or text or something more interactive) to the location of the next clue.
  6. Lame Way: On clothes and/or name badges. I know that some people think that printing these on shirts, scarves, hats or name badges at conferences is cool. I don’t. Yeah, people could scan and get your information. OR, they could talk to you like a human being if they’re going to be that close to you.
  7. Cool Way: Next to artwork or items in a museum. People can scan to get more information about the artist, the item the history behind it, etc. I think QR Codes are really applicable in these situations where it would be visually disturbing and impractically to have an enormous wealth of information on the wall. This could apply to art galleries, museums, zoos, theme park lines (God, they’re long and dull!). This provides people with curiosity a way to really dive into something they’re interested in.
  8. Lame Way: Tattoos. Really? That’s just stupid. What if this QR Code doesn’t last? What site or resource are you sending people to? Just a really bad idea to tattoo a QR Code on to your body. Get a tattoo of a unicorn playing checkers. It’s timeless.
  9. Cool Way: Assembly directions. Now, I never need to look at assembly directions because I’m a man and therefore naturally apt at assembling things. But, some people may be very confused by the ridiculously complex directions that come with some products. A QR Code could be stickered on the product in case the directions aren’t included, or link to a video that gives a really good step-by-step assembly tutorial.
  10. Lame Way: Outdoor billboard. Especially those on the side of the road/freeways. Do you really expect people to whip out their phone, pull up their scanner app and get the QR Code snapped? Besides being extremely dangerous, you don’t have the time to make that happen. That’s why you typically get 7 words on a billboard. There’s no time for anything more. There’s certainly no point in putting a QR Code on a billboard.
  11. Cool Way: Conference mobile app. I actually just experienced this one not too long ago. Scanning the QR Code downloaded an app to my phone that was specific to the conference with a full schedule, options to add sessions to my personal calendar, maps, exhibitor information, etc. It was actually really valuable and a practical use since an application went to my phone.
  12. Cool or Lame (you decide): Tombstones. I actually kind of think this is cool. I was surprised at how many people have a QR Code on their tombstone. Scanning would bring you to a site about the person, maybe video, photos, etc. Thoughts on this one? Is putting a QR Code on a tombstone taking it too far?
Here’s the bottom line for me: use these strategically and don’t just use a QR Code to say you’ve used it. Give value to your clients and visitors. It’s enticing, I know, to want to slap a QR Code on everything because they seem so freaking cool! But, show some discipline before I need to schedule a QR Code intervention.

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Mike McDowell dot com is all mine!

I did it. I did it. I did it! I finally got mikemcdowell.com! And, yes, I am rejoicing with all the fervor and feelings of accomplishment as somebody who skillfully landed the parking spot in front on the grocery store. I realize that I didn’t do much to secure this domain, but I have been chasing it for EIGHT LONG YEARS. I checked in regularly, and as the expiration edged closer, I checked multiple times a day.

I am so happy right now. This is the best way I can express my joy:

 

Next step is, of course, to decide what the hell to do with my domain other than a silly redirect to this blog.

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