Monthly Archives: October 2015

Forget Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren, Third Way has figured out how to get you REALLY pumped!

 Forget Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren, Third Way has figured out how to get you REALLY pumped!

The Third Way leadership, the same guys who know how to get you PUMPED!

We checked in with the corporatist Third Way yesterday, and found out that yes, they are still dicks. But there was a reason they were in the news, and it was this report claiming to show what ails the Democratic Party, and how to fix those alleged ailments.

So it starts out with this, er, assertion:

[W]e show that the narrative of fairness has demonstrably failed to excite voters, with three consecutive losing performances with the middle class

First of all, “fairness” isn’t an argument wholly focused on the middle class, we’re a much bigger party than that.

Furthermore, they’re hinging the assertion that we’ve lost the middle class from exit polls showing Republicans winning the $ 50-100K income bracket. (For example, Romney won those 52-48.) However, an income of $ 100,000 puts you at the 96 percentile in income (or top four percent). The median income is $ 41,000, and among those earning less than $ 50,000, Obama and the Democrats win handily (60-38 percent in 2012).

So aside from tossing out lower-income people as irrelevant, Third Way’s definition of “middle class” seems to look, well, like their friends. And sure, those guys may not be motivated by the Black Lives Matter or Occupy or broader fairness movement, but the American majority is. And when the voter pool is expanded, Democrats win. This is so objectively obvious and true that it requires a certain degree of bullshit to pretend otherwise.

But hey, the stuff that excites you and motivates you to vote? Nope, not exciting. Third Way decided. But you know what Third Way thinks will get you pumped?

Head below the fold, and prepare to get your mind bloooown!

First of all, let’s recap what has gotten Third Way all hot and bothered.

Take, for example, a policy championed by Senator Bernie Sanders and others that is in danger of becoming a top progressive litmus test for Democrats—expanding Social Security benefits for all, regardless of income.

Fuck you. Too late. It’s a good litmus test. And a popular one.

Then there’s this:

Another populist policy would spend $ 15 trillion to create a single-payer, government-run health care system—a massive amount especially when we have just finished the largest expansion of the social safety net in decades with the enactment of the Affordable Care Act (which we strongly support). Single-payer would be funded with a large payroll tax increase on all who work, according to the plan offered by Senator Sanders.

Single-payer would be a tax on individuals! Which is totally different than the premiums we all pay now for our insurance, which is totally not like a tax at all. One of them is money used to pay for health care, the other is money used to pay for health care. See? Different!

So with this populist agenda which totally led Democrats to lose the 2008 and 2012 elections, and polls either at majority levels or parity, what oh what can Democrats do to win a thin slice of the American electorate? (The $ 50-100,000 crowd was just 31 percent of voters in 2012.) Well, get ready to be excited beyond all excitement! Get ready to EXPLODE from this insanely motivating agenda! You ready? BRACE YOURSELF!

Launch a Skills Revolution

SHIT, I passed out that was so exciting.

We then call for a skills revolution through the entire learning lifecycle—from age 4 to 64—so that far more Americans possess the skills to get and hold 21st century middle class jobs.

What’s that mean? Education reform of the type that attacks teachers’ unions, an immigration system that prioritizes skilled workers, and holding “colleges accountable” for something or other.

Change the Jobs Equation

MOTHERFUCKER that one gave me palpitations!

That one calls for more trade deals, because that definitely changes the “job equation,” and “modernize the tax code” which is essentially “lowers tax rates.” I’m so fucking pumped with this Republican agenda!

Rewire Compensation to Boost Wealth and Wages

HOLY FUCKING SHIT I need a cigarette after that one, and I don’t even smoke!

This one calls for a “minimum pension of 50 cents” to supplement Social Security, which remember we can’t expand because the olds might have too much money, which is bad when it’s Social Security, but good when its a mandatory pension, which is, uh, kinda what Social Security is. … And no more taxes on businesses! Unless, that is, that extra 50 cents an hour WHAT THE FUCK ARE THEY TALKING ABOUT?

And how about a minimum wage hike? But just to $ 10-12 depending on where you live! Because an annual income of $ 25,440 is more than enough money for a policy that’s gonna totally win the middle class vote, which is all that matters to Third Way don’t forget!

Look, there’s more. And it’s not all bad. Some of it is positively okay! But the idea that THIS is the agenda that will light a fire and win over the disaffected white middle-class male voters that vote against their interests by voting GOP is a fantasy, and completely ignores the role of class, race, and religion in our country’s current voting patterns.

You don’t get to claim that the Democrats’ current fairness argument is failing to excite voters, then claim that “CHANGE THE JOBS EQUATION” will light up the electorate.

Our current electoral picture is clear: we win when our voters turn out, we lose when they don’t. There are more of us than there are of them, so no matter what Republicans do, if we get our voters to vote, we win. It’s really that simple.

It’s also clear that our voters need to be extra motivated to turn out. Nowadays, that happens more often than not during presidential years, the one exception being when Bush had mangled everything in 2006. And our voters are looking like the exact opposite of Third Way’s board of directors.

Our nation is undergoing massive demographic changes, all of which benefit the Democrats. Yet this entire report, a supposed blueprint on how Democrats can win more elections, doesn’t even mention the words “Latino” or “Hispanic” or “African American.” The only mention of women has to do with their role in the workforce (which is genuinely good stuff), but nothing about reproductive rights or other concerns outside the workplace.

It’s probably fitting that Third Way’s view of the world is shaped by Wall Street’s concerns—money and people that look like them. But the GOP, for all its purported “pro-business” bullshit actually built its movement based on racial resentment and the bastardization of Christianity. They’re not winning the economic argument, they are obscuring it with smoke and mirrors.

We build our movement by embracing both our shared commonalities as a movement (income inequality, anti-war, civil liberties, the environment, etc), and the concerns specific to our various demographics (black lives matter, immigration, marriage equality, etc). And when you look at all the issues we care about as a movement, fairness binds it all together. That’s what we’re fighting for, and no amount of “Launch a Skills Revolution” bullshit will ever resonate with our base as deeply as fairness.

If you are a Third Way hedge fund manager, then sure, fairness seems like a silly concept. You already got yours! Heck, it’s probably not fair that you don’t have more! But for people who are fighting to survive and trying to thrive in America today, fairness is all they want. They want the same opportunities as everyone else, the same level of safety, the same kind of justice, the same access to our nation’s levers of power and money, to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.

This isn’t hard stuff. Even Donald Trump has figured it out, and he’s a Republican!

 Forget Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren, Third Way has figured out how to get you REALLY pumped!

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China's Expands Into Singapore

Chinese classified information site has inked a strategic deal with Singapore Tourism Board to provide various services to Chinese tourists visiting Singapore.

The two parties will combine resources to cover dining, hotel, traveling, sightseeing, shopping and entertainment. will integrate information from tens of thousands of Singapore vendors, providing tickets of over 60 popular attractions and more than 100,000 user reviews.

Meanwhile, the two parties will team together in information sharing and big data analyses. They will jointly launch a “Singapore Food Map”, which can be checked at airports, bus stations, tourist information centers, or via the official app from

Edward Chew, Greater China regional director of Singapore Tourism Board, said that during recent years, the number of Chinese tourists visiting Singapore has continued to increase. Singapore’s tourism service providers attach great importance to Chinese market expansion. The cooperation between and Singapore Tourism Board will effectively promote Singapore Tourism Board’s business growth in the Chinese market.

By September 2015,’s overseas businesses had reached 860 cities in over 200 countries and regions. By including nearly nine million overseas vendors, had become one of the largest local lifestyle service platforms in the world.

Financial terms of this deal have not been released by either party.

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Top 3 Things to Think About When Implementing Microsoft Dynamics CRM

What is great about Dynamics CRM is the potential to customize just about anything within the system to meet an organization’s specific needs. What you need to keep in mind is that this may also cause the people who are assisting in the design of the system to lose sight of the initial reason for implementing the system.

In my opinion, here are the top 3 things that you need to constantly remind yourself of when customizing your CRM, regardless of whether you are implementing for the first time or are looking to reengineer a module or process that you have been using for a while.

1. What are your core business goals?

It is easy to get hung up on the details. Mentioning that you need a particular field or drop-down menu is important, but what is even more critical is WHY this field is so important. You need to ask yourself what is the true goal of having this field:

  • Do I need this field for reporting purposes?
  • Will this field be primarily used as a checklist for a process or for a user?
  • Will my users find it a help or hindrance by being required to enter this information into the system?

Once you have answered these questions, your follow-up question should be: does this help me reach my CRM goal? Sometimes there are other functionalities within the CRM that could be better suited for your particular need. For example, rather than a field, you could consider implementing a business process or a checklist, or even use a lookup field from another entity that may have the same effect rather than entering additional information.

2. Is it user-centric?

Adding a field or process can almost always be done within Dynamics CRM. It helps ensure that you are getting all the information that you need to report or analyze.

It can become very tempting to add in many fields or have a detailed approval process since it is easy to create all of these rules in Dynamics CRM, but it is important to think about the end-user. For example, ask yourself:

  • If I make all of these fields mandatory, will the salesperson take the time to enter a new lead?
  • If I require a complicated approval process, will the managers become a bottleneck or will the requestor no longer be able to follow where their request is in the process?
  • How often do I need to review this information? Daily? Weekly? Monthly? Periodically?

Adding this level of complexity or time requirement could hinder your user adoption rate because end-users may come to see this as heavy or complicated and revert back to their old ways, therefore, reducing the enthusiasm for using the system.

3. A CRM system is just a system

What I’m trying to say by this is that, yes, the system will help you store data, streamline processes and hopefully reduce the number of Excel sheets that one person uses, but it doesn’t manage people. Any CRM is a tool to help manage, but if there are issues with your process, there is still an effort required by the management team to ensure that things are being entered into the system or that the process is respected by the users.

In the end, it all comes back to usability. Dream big, but start small. Introduce new processes or modules one at a time so that your end-users have the time to learn this new tool. The system will seem less daunting to use, and this will help your users see the value and the benefits of using it and how it will truly make them more efficient. By slowing introducing new aspects or showing them how the system can evolve, this will then ensure your entire organization will continue to help push the vision of where you can take your solution.

By JOVACO Solutions, a specialist in Microsoft Dynamics CRM implementations and configurations

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CRM Software Blog

4 ways to adapt to the EU’s new data rules

On October 6, the EU ruled that the 15-year-old Safe Harbor Agreement between the U.S. and Europe is invalid. The agreement had allowed American companies to move the data of European citizens freely to the U.S. under the rationale that American data protection equivalent to EU standards. From large enterprises like Facebook and Google to cash-strapped startups, companies have been able to self-certify their internal data security, allowing them to move, store, and process information without border restrictions. But, come January 2016, that will no longer be possible.

That gives US companies precious little time to find new legal and technological compliance solutions. All corporations engaging in overseas transactions, but especially small businesses, must address the cost and complexity of compliance. Many American companies use inexpensive cloud hosting or Software as a Service that stores or processes data in other countries. Tech startups are especially vulnerable — including anyone leveraging cloud services that deal in data exchange or analysis. It’s not yet clear what new rules will replace Safe Harbor, but it’s a safe bet that companies will need to develop new methods to protect their data.

Here are four solutions both small businesses and larger enterprises should look into:

1. Binding agreements and model contracts

Binding agreements and model contracts have been used as Safe Harbor alternatives, and the latest ruling does not invalidate them. Binding agreements are big, complex legal documents, governed by auditing and training. They’re robust because they show a company adheres to the highest standards of data protection, but they’re not a viable option for smaller businesses.

Model contracts are a better alternative for small businesses. These standard agreements are used to authorize moving data out of the European Economic Area or EEA (EU, along with Norway, Iceland, and Liechtenstein). Companies need to use model contracts as the basis for data sharing agreements with all their partners and contractors who provide them EEA data or process it for them. A model contract isn’t enough, however; businesses still need to audit their data infrastructure and implement privacy protection for EEA data.

2. Tokenization: Useful, but not for all data

Because of the new rules, transferring data out of Europe paradoxically exposes it to more stringent regulations. Tokenization gives American businesses a way to benefit from EEA data without moving it out of Europe. It works by replacing a string of protected data with a random string of characters. The original data remains in a protected database (for example, one located in the EU), while the token is sent on. For example, American companies can tokenize customer names and addresses but import other information, such as analytic data.

3. Encryption: Creating a necessary shield for all data

Encryption uses an algorithm to obfuscate data, turning it into unreadable blobs — unless of course, you have the proper key. Parties with the key can decrypt the data, but no one else can read it. Encryption can be used to protect all your data or combined with tokenization to shield personally identifiable values in the raw data. Whatever other data protection measures you use, encryption will always add an extra layer of security.

Organizations should use strong encryption — encryption using long keys — to protect their data. Likewise, they should also use end-to-end encryption for data in motion. End-to-end encryption scrambles your data before it is sent and only unscrambles it at its destination, preventing hackers or government agencies from spying on it in transit. This protects it from security vulnerabilities that allow hackers to attack other encryption systems, such as SSL/TLS. Organizations need to make sure their data is protected both in motion and at rest, such as when it is stored in the cloud or on a computer.

Encryption key management can also be used strategically to meet data privacy requirements. For example, an American company could protect EEA data with keys only accessible by contractors or partners in the EEA.

4. Anonymization: Making data identity neutral

The EU counts any data that can be linked to an individual as personally identifiable data. This applies even if only non-identifiable data is sent to the U.S. For example, if an American business receives a spreadsheet of an EU customer’s buying habits without information about the customer’s identity, it counts as personal data if there’s a database in Europe with enough information to figure out the customer’s identity.

Anonymization complies with European privacy requirements by making it impossible to link data to an individual person. One method is aggregated data. A record from a streaming service saying “European customer X watched these five episodes on the first weekend in May,” could violate compliance, for example, but a spreadsheet showing the popularity of those episodes on that weekend across Europe couldn’t.

You can also anonymize by destroying some of the original data. For example, if you were studying web analytics, you might be able to send individual profiles of visits to a website, provided you had no way to recreate or track customer IDs.

Business goes on without safe harbor

The Safe Harbor ruling is inconvenient for small businesses, but it’s not a disaster. By signing model contracts and protecting data with encryption, tokenization, and anonymization, companies can comply without spending a fortune. And in the long run, it’s for the best. In spite of the temporary chaos it has caused, the ruling has moved the world one step closer to an International standard of privacy, where everyone’s data is secure by default.

John Ackerly is CEO and cofounder of encrypted email service Virtru.

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VentureBeat » Big Data News | VentureBeat

Big Business Branding Tips for Small Business

Ellis has spent a lot of her adult life chest-deep in small business adventures, especially the year she spent opening the Beijing branch of a Shanghai-based air purifier and lifestyle business. Most of her experience stems from her diverse media background in film, magazine publishing, blogging, and photography, but she’s also a published author and Infusionsoft’s blog manager. Ellis has an idiosyncratic fondness for grammar, style, and sarcasm, and fills most of her time away from the keyboard tasting scotch whisky, traveling abroad, and hiking.

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2017's Risky Bet for POTUS: Rubio “The Waterboy”

 2017's Risky Bet for POTUS: Rubio The Waterboy

The leaked 112 page GOP oppo-research playbook on the last debate has given Republico more grist for the Clown Car grill or mist for the Clown rumor mill:

“Marco Is A Risky Bet”

While the slides released to the press highlight Bush’s Sunshine State endorsements and Rubio’s lack of experience, another page for donor edification gets dirtier.

It’s titled “Marco Is A Risky Bet,” and it bullet-points Rubio’s “misuse of state party credit cards, taxpayer funds and ties to scandal-tarred former Congressman David Rivera.”

When Rubio was a state lawmaker, he used the state party credit card for personal expenses, a decision he later called a mistake. In 2005, he and Rivera jointly purchased a home that later faced foreclosure.

Another bullet point says Rubio’s “closeness with Norman Braman, who doubles as personal benefactor[,] raises major ethical questions.”

Braman, a billionaire auto dealer, is expected to pour $ 10 million into Rubio’s White House endeavor, The New York Times reports. He’s also paid Rubio’s wife to oversee his charitable work.

The Bush team also mocks Rubio’s “tomorrow versus yesterday” argument as one that would be “widely ridiculed by media” should he run against the first potential female president.

The most cryptic slight is left for last: “Those who have looked into Marco’s background in the past have been concerned with what they have found.”

A Bush aide says that line refers to concerns Mitt Romney’s team unearthed when they vetted Rubio for vice president in 2012.

 2017's Risky Bet for POTUS: Rubio The Waterboy

Republican Savior just doesn’t sound right— is he authentically Latino enough since National Review thinks Ben Carson is more African American than PBO; is he authentically Cuban enough for the GOP. Is he more Cuban than Carnival Cruz, since he’s at least more absent from the US Senate so they don’t know if he could be even more annoying to his colleagues. Is he really Jeb!’s protege and why did he do a hit job on his “mentor” during the last debate. Was that bit of media framing meant to give him gravitas for the GOP leadership water he carries.

 2017's Risky Bet for POTUS: Rubio The Waterboy
 2017's Risky Bet for POTUS: Rubio The Waterboy

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3 Videos: Leni Riefenstahl (1965), Alan Abel (1999), Gia Carangi & Francesco Scavullo (1978)

riefenstahl9 3 Videos: Leni Riefenstahl (1965), Alan Abel (1999), Gia Carangi & Francesco Scavullo (1978)

A piece from Frank Deford’s 1986 SI profile of the troubling artist, Hitler’s filmmaker Leni Riefenstahl, as an obstinate octogenarian:

Leni Riefenstahl is remarkably hale for 83. Her hair is an ingenue’s strawberry blonde, and she flirts with as much proficiency as ever. Her eyes are clear, a fawn brown with a ring of gray-green fringing the iris. Her mind is a well-lighted room, her will as unyielding as it was down all the interrogations and trials. She will not give an inch, growing testy now, then rude, to snoopers who would dare to trespass on those olden times she shared with evil men.

Only her hip, injured in a skiing accident, troubles her. For therapy she swims, diving with a camera as far as 50 meters down, alone amid the rocks and the coral and the sand. ”Underwater, I
have no pain,” she says.

Above the water she works ceaselessly, carving out her memoirs, to finish them, for they are, she dreams, the one last proof of her innocence. For all the courts that cleared her, American and
French and German alike, there was no public absolution for her and certainly no redemption in the world of film. Still, some consider her the greatest female director who ever lived, the creator of the
greatest sports film ever made. It is 50 summers now since she shot Olympia and, like the athletes, won a gold medal for it. But after that there would be only one more movie, a fairy tale, named
Tiefland. It’s ironic; all Leni Riefenstahl ever wanted was to tell fairy tales.

She looks at a photograph of herself, one taken a half-century ago. In it she is peering over folded arms, her shoulders are bare, her delicately beautiful face luminous–Germany’s Garbo, she was
called–the woman at her most gorgeous. Riefenstahl taps the photograph. ”They killed me then,” she explains. ”I am a ghost.” Before I died. . . .

When World War II ended and the true horror of the Nazi regime–Auschwitz, Buchenwald, Dachau- was revealed to the world, thousands of Germans were called to account for their associations, great or small, with the fascist government: There was execution for some, imprisonment for others, self-exile for a few, living ghosthood for Leni Riefenstahl. Has anyone else ever posed the question of an artist’s justification quite like Riefenstahl? The celluloid artifacts from the ’30s and ’40s cannot tell us for sure how much it was that she served herself or served art or served Adolf Hitler.•

This video is a really interesting 1965 CBC interview with the wonderful, terrible Riefenstahl, before she entered her petulant late-life posture, still rationalizing but not yet resentful.


alan abel 033109 lg 3 Videos: Leni Riefenstahl (1965), Alan Abel (1999), Gia Carangi & Francesco Scavullo (1978)

A funny and prescient piece of performance art by the great prankster Alan Abel, who somehow blends Lenny Bruce and Allen Funt, in which he responded to an ad placed by a 1999 HBO show seeking men willing to discuss their genitalia. Abel presented himself as a 57-year-old musician with a micro-penis. The hoaxer was ridiculing the early days of Reality TV, in which soft-headed pseudo-documentaries were offered to the public by cynical producers who didn’t exactly worry about veracity. Things have gotten only dicier since, as much of our culture, including news, makes no attempt at objective truth, instead encouraging individuals to create the reality that comforts or flatters them. Language is NSFW, unless you work in a gloryhole.


giac4 3 Videos: Leni Riefenstahl (1965), Alan Abel (1999), Gia Carangi & Francesco Scavullo (1978)

Alanna Nash’s 1997 NYT article about the making of the Angelina Jolie movie about Gia Carangi recalled how uncomfortable the model was in the luxe clothes laid out for her, though in retrospect I’m sure the paper wouldn’t have referred to her as an “aggressive lesbian.” An excerpt:

In the late 70’s, as the dark-haired, dark-eyed teen-age daughter of a South Philadelphia hoagie shop owner, Gia began modeling almost by accident. A local photographer saw her on the dance floor and asked her to pose. Soon she was sought out as a startling alternative to the blond, blue-eyed standard of the day, and by the time she was 18, when she landed her first major advertisement, for Gianni Versace, she was earning $ 100,000 a year. In 1980, after she had become the ”top girl” at Wilhelmina Models in New York, she was expected to earn five times that much.

But inside, haute couture’s reigning ideal of feminine beauty felt like a fraud. Away from the camera, she dressed in black leather motorcycle jackets and men’s apparel from vintage clothing stores. She was an aggressive lesbian, coming on to models who roomed with her on faraway photo shoots. And once her drug problem got out of hand, she funneled her anger into frightening macho behavior, jumping through a car windshield when she found a female lover with a male friend, and pulling a knife on anyone she thought had slighted her.

When the track marks on her arms started showing up in pictures (other models called her Sister Morphine), only Mr. Scavullo continued to use her. Toward the end of her life, she was reduced to selling jeans in a Pennsylvania shopping mall and finally to living on the streets of New York.

In her prime, Gia sparked a rough-and-tumble reputation for walking out of sessions when a photographer kept her waiting, or when the hypocrisy of an assignment ticked her off. But to some, her free-spirited attitude was symptomatic of her search for truth, and every bit as seductive as her beauty. It’s that attitude that Ms. Jolie, the 22-year-old daughter of Jon Voight, hoped to get on film.

”When she’s free and just being herself, she’s unbelievable; that’s the tragedy of her story,” Ms. Jolie adds, sitting in her trailer beneath a poster bemoaning the death of Sid Vicious, the heroin-addicted bass player of the Sex Pistols. ”You think, ‘God, she didn’t need drugs — she was a drug.’ ”•

This 1978 video is a fun look from inside the studio of legendary fashion and portrait photographer Francesco Scavullo, as he worked with the star-crossed model, a complicated subject to be sure.

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Treats or Tricks? 13 Timeless Marketing Horrors

Spooky Marketing 300x212 Treats or Tricks? 13 Timeless Marketing HorrorsMarketing can be a high-wire act. Multi-tasking can turn into juggling, and the stakes have a way of going up all the time.

Maybe that’s why it’s such a thrill when things go well. When customers are happy, revenue is rising, and your CEO is smiling … that’s a treat.

But when things go wrong (your traffic falls flat, your campaigns fall flatter) it can begin to feel like you’re being tricked. With Halloween approaching, we thought we’d take a look at the tricks – and a few of the potential treats – of digital marketing.

Any of these 13 marketing horrors could await you if you don’t uphold the oath of marketing best practices and constant testing. Just don’t say we didn’t warn you.

1) You got lost on your way to the end of the quarter.

That can happen if you don’t have a documented marketing plan. If you don’t know where you’re going, how will you get there? Or, if you’re using marketing technology, do you have a map of all the inputs, actions, content and processes you’re building?

Whether you call it a “buyer’s journey” or a “funnel map”, it’s essential to have a plan that meshes how you use your technology with your business objectives. Just don’t keep it all in your head … unless you want it to explode.

2) You spent #BigBucks on content that didn’t work.

Did that racehorse fail to run, or did it never make it to the gate? The likeliest cause of content failure is the failure to manage it after you create it. If you don’t have a “content vault”, “content hub” or some other vault that lets you collect and deploy your content, you could be tricking yourself out of ROI. Content needs to be organized, accessible, and tracked for results. If people don’t know where to find it, how will they use it? Good content is way too expensive to have it get lost in the underworld.

Content also needs to be updated regularly – at least once a year. There’s no better way to sour a lead than to show them information they know darn well is no longer true. So if you’re in a business that changes rapidly (who isn’t?) make sure your content has expiration dates.

3) Your results are a black hole. 

You know the old saying, right? “That which is measured, improves.” blackhole 300x273 Treats or Tricks? 13 Timeless Marketing HorrorsWell, I think most of us are now measuring our marketing, but it kills me how infrequently some of us do anything with the measurements. If you never analyze the results of your updates, you’re pulling a nasty trick – on yourself.

Your reporting holds the secrets of what your customers like and don’t like, when to reach them and which channels to use. Could ignoring all that be the single best way to kill your ROI? Might be.

Solution: Check your reporting. Don’t trust your reporting? Don’t even have reporting (ack!)? Fix that.

4) You suddenly notice that you’re using a mono-channel strategy.

Multi-channel marketing can be a little scary to manage, but your buyers are roaming around using many – and you need to be where they are. (BTW, not to be self-referential but that’s exactly the sort of thing marketing automation systems were made for.) So don’t get stranded with using just email, or publishing only white papers.

Step out into videos (when you have content that’s suited to videos). Try some SMS messaging. Mock up some infographics. Get your people speaking slots at events. Participate in LinkedIn discussions. The buyer’s journey isn’t limited to just one or two channels, so your marketing shouldn’t be, either.

Still need inspiration? Watch our on-demand webinar, “The 3-Pronged Approach to Customer Journey Mapping.”  It’ll give you both the broad view and the details on how to bring multiple channels, customer information, and your buyer’s journey into sync.

5) Your automation process has dead ends.

Nobody likes to be led down a black hole. It’s not just because the boogie man could be down there. It’s worse. There’s nothing. And finding nothing makes prospects feel like all the time they spent arriving at the dead end was wasted.

Sales processes can do this in many ways:

  • They don’t close blog posts with related posts or related resources.
  • They don’t follow up white paper or case study downloads with related resources.
  • If someone fills out a contact form, they don’t respond to it quickly enough to fulfill the customer’s need.
  • They send email updates with no call to action.
  • They have major “content gaps” in the buyer’s journey.

The solution? Look for places in your sales funnel where people tend to get stuck, or just abandon the process. That indicates a disconnect, whether it’s a content gap or a misunderstanding about what the prospect needs.

Other solutions are pretty obvious: every piece of content needs a “breadcrumb” after it to lead the prospect along. Otherwise they’re stuck in no man’s land … also known as content purgatory.

6) The horror! Your marketing systems aren’t integrated.

Ooh, this is such a common bugaboo. Your email system won’t talk to your ordering system. Your website doesn’t automatically send leads to sales. And so instead of working together, your tools each vie for your time and attention. And you’re manually patching your efforts and data together instead of leveraging the system as a whole.

Unfortunately, your marketing pieces need to fit together if you want maximum benefits. If your different systems won’t talk to each other, it’s time to get your people together to talk about that. Maybe you should look into an open marketing platform that makes it easy to plug all your tools into one manageable integrated ecosystem.

7) Uh oh. All your prospects look exactly alike. Blank.

Yikes! This means you’re missing out on one of the biggest marketing benefits of all. Have you set up different prospect personas, or at least identified different types of buyers? If you aren’t personalizing or at least segmenting your leads and website visitors, then you’re probably treating every one of them the same. This is not the way to endear yourself to very many buyers. (If any.)

The other major sin here is that if you treat everybody the same, you probably aren’t scoring your leads and prospects. And as you know so well, not all leads are created equal. If your marketing automation system isn’t tuned to fast-track the best leads, or to hand them off to a real person if they qualify, then you haven’t brought lead scoring into your automation. That’s scary.

Want to know more about the ins and outs of lead scoring? See our on-demand webinar, The Lead Scoring Equation.

8) You woke up this morning and your pipeline was empty. (Cue the crickets.)

Picture this: Your website-to-sales funnel pipeline is a bit like a factory. New visitors (the raw materials) go in, and then get built (nurtured) into different products (types of leads or customers). But if you don’t have enough raw materials going in on that conveyor belt, the factory is mostly idle. Idle factories don’t make money. They go from being wonders of industry and technology to being … expensive overhead.

Solution: Get good at optimizing your content for search engine traffic, and for using social media to attract new prospects. Also consider watching the on-demand webinar, “3 Tactics for Creating SEO-Friendly Content.”

9) You set up a new form with lots and lots of fields to help you understand prospects better. But only a few people filled it out. And then you forgot to use that information.

This is a double whammy. First, by asking people to fill out any more than three or four fields, you’re suppressing opt-ins. That reduces how many people ever reach even the top of your funnel. Then, when you don’t use the information they gave you (via segmentation, dynamic content, or personalization), you’re also missing out on the engagement boost and increased conversions that data could have delivered.

Solution: Go back to your buyer’s journey map and your marketing automation system map. What information are you actually using? Put that essential information in one column.

Now, what information should you be using, but aren’t? Should you be segmenting emails with that data you collected in the forms? Should you be testing even some basic dynamic content on your website based on their business size (if you collected that on the opt-in form)?

Keep asking for the essential data you need, but ask for ONLY the data that will move your personalization and segmentation forward a step or two. No more. You can always go back and ask for more information from these people later with progressive forms. Or you could also personalize and segment based on behavior.

Now, go trim those opt-in forms down.

10) Your data looks like the blob.

It’s only fair to warn you: You’ve got some skeletons in your database. There are dark places in your processes. Some leads have gone into your system, never to be heard from again.

These days, marketing (and especially marketing automation) runs on data. If your data is old, incorrect or incomplete, or falling off some cliff to nowhere, that needs to be fixed. (See “The 7 Deadly Sins of Data”.)

11) Your sales team won’t return your emails. Or phone calls. Or respond to your IMs.

Did you forget that sales and marketing is a dance for two partners? Are you going it alone when figuring out nurturing and scoring and such? This is like walking around with your head chopped off. Sales and marketing must waltz in step. Especially if you’re using marketing automation. If sales isn’t at the table when marketing automation processes are being established and prioritized, you could end up with an expensive maze … not a sales funnel.

Solution: Invite sales in from the beginning. Keep them close at every step along the way. (If you don’t have marketing automation yet but are considering adoption, then let this be a pre-emptive lesson.

Want to know more? See the eBook – 10 ways Sales Benefits from Marketing Automation.

10way sales benefits from MA e book CTA Treats or Tricks? 13 Timeless Marketing Horrors

12) Your C-suite thinks you’re a cost center, not a profit center.  

Do you not have a snapshot or “dashboard” view of your results that the C-suite can access and understand? Everybody knows how essential buy-in from senior staff is. Make it easy for them to see how your system is doing. Have something to show them information they think is important – which is not necessarily the information you think is important. (Know the difference. Ask them what they want.)

13) Your marketing automation system is stuck in 2011.

Using marketing automation? Misusing marketing automation? While you can “set it and forget it”, that doesn’t mean you should. Smart marketing automation practitioners are always testing, tweaking, streamlining or expanding their programs and their marketing automation. You’ve got lots of options for input:

  • Reporting and tracking
  • Customer/client feedback
  • New technologies
  • New skills or approaches (learn from your peers, from training, from other industries)
  • Judicious competitive research (ummm, snitching your competitors’ best ideas and reworking them into your own marketing)


Don’t let this make you think marketing is nothing but tricks and troubles. No matter where you are with your programs and processes, it can always get better.

What marketing and marketing automation horrors have you come across? What keeps you up at night about your marketing? Tell us about it in the comments.

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Act-On Marketing Blog

Top 10 Reasons to use Dynamics CRM for Supply Chain Management

As supply chains become more globalized, software has become more critical to an organization’s success. An increasing number of firms—especially small and medium businesses—are now realizing how investing in SCM software can not only produce a strong return on investment, but can dramatically improve existing processes.

In the past, price might have contributed to the lack of investing in these types of solutions. Organizations were forced to stick with manual processes because the cost to implement a replacement was far outside of their budget. Thankfully, cloud-based solutions have changed all of this and you can use software like Microsoft Dynamics CRM for Supply Chain Management. Due to the price and flexibility of Dynamics CRM, small and medium businesses can now reap the benefits of implementing a supply chain management software solution.

Top 10 Reasons to use Dynamics CRM for Supply Chain Management:

  1. Reduce Data Entry
  2. Improve Purchasing
  3. Automate Tasks
  4. Improve Warehousing
  5. Improve Procurement
  6. Create a Means of Tracking
  7. Support Business Growth
  8. Enhance SRM (Supplier Relationship Management)
  9. Improve Forecasting
  10. Improve Financials


What can CRM do for my organization? CRM can help reduce costs and increase profitability by organizing and automating business processes that nurture customer relationships and satisfaction across all interactions—marketing, sales and customer service. CRM solutions can deliver return on investment (ROI) through marketing automation, customer service and sales force automation.

What can xRM do for my organization? xRM utilizes Microsoft Dynamics CRM as a platform that, along with customization, allows customers to manage basically anything. xRM takes business practices far beyond traditional customer-centric CRM functionality. xRM is a custom-built solution that understands what makes your business thrive, what information needs to be tracked, by whom, and how it needs to be displayed and leveraged to facilitate better business decisions.

What is WIMS for CRM?   WIMS for CRM is a warehouse and inventory management solution, consisting of Dynamics CRM, xRM and integrated mobile barcode scanner, which allows users to track and manage all elements of the warehousing world.

If you have inventory, products, kits, assets, multiple stocking locations, etc. or need to track bin/inventory movement, procurement, suppliers, etc. WIMS for CRM can help!

10Reaasons SCM 300x226 Top 10 Reasons to use Dynamics CRM for Supply Chain Management

At 2B Solutions, we understand the value of having a software solution that fits your business.  We’ve been providing Microsoft CRM and xRM solutions for over 12 years!  Contact us today to schedule a demo and see how WIMS for CRM can help you achieve your business goals.  CRM customers, prospects and partners – complete the form, email us ([email protected]) or call 205-408-9991.  We’re ready to talk!

by 2B Solutions

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CRM Software Blog

Cloud upgrades boost marketing personalization, collaboration

Progress Software Corp. today announced major marketing personalization  upgrades to the Telerik Sitefinity content management system and Digital Experience Cloud. These digital marketing updates are designed to make it easier for marketers to personalize content and engage with customers.

Widget-driven personalization. When a visitor is from the U.S., it can visit a page for tablets and see the customer service number in the U.S. In the U.K., the content would adjust with a U.K. number. “Before, in order for marketers to create that personalization, they would have to create different versions of a page for each segment you wanted to target,” said Anton Hristov, director of marketing operations at Progress Software, based in Bedford, Mass. “Today, you can tweak the widgets, rather than creating all these different versions, and the system automatically serves up that content.” This enables marketers to personalize content with far less effort.

Multiple-segment personalization. The new feature enables marketers to target content based on more than one segment, such as geography and browsing behavior in the tablet section of a website. Visitors then see personalized content for each segment they belong to — not just the highest-priority segment.

Personalization-driven reporting. The reporting can analyze the effect of marketing campaigns by segment to see whether “the personalization actually works,” Hristov said. So, for example, a tablet campaign on the Web could indicate whether certain personalized content created additional tablet sales. This kind of reporting enables marketers to look at the results of a campaign in a segment-driven way.

Automatic server scaling. If customers have peak loads and anticipate a lot of traffic, they can configure the system to load balance server loads to handle spikes in traffic.

Pricing and availability. Progress doesn’t offer pricing details. All features are generally available as of today.

Microsoft unveils Office 365 features

Microsoft is expanding the functionality of the Delve search and discovery tool, with a trio of new collaboration and content management features for the Office 365 suite of cloud services.

Authoring canvas. Accessed from the Delve profile page, the authoring canvas provides a blog-style, user-friendly interface for posting text, images and video to SharePoint Online. The canvas allows for posting to an intranet, and is also discoverable through Delve activity feeds. This feature was released to Office 365 commercial customers on Oct. 1, 2015.

Praise. The new Praise feature provides a template for posting feedback to employee profiles in Delve. The initial templates include images, such as “thank you” and “outstanding,” along with space for up to 200 characters of personalized comments. Praise was activated for Office 365 First Release customers in early October, with plans to expand for commercial customers in the future.

Favorites. Microsoft has added a “favorites” function for the Delve activity feed, which allows users to “favorite” content and retrieve it later through a new “favorites” tab on the Delve profile page. Originally housed in the Delve mobile app for iOS, this feature was added to the Delve browser display for Office 365 First Release customers in early October.

GigJam preview released

Microsoft announced a preview version of the new GigJam collaboration tool in late September, as part of the worldwide release for Office 2016.

Unveiled at the 2015 Worldwide Partner Conference, GigJam was touted as a task-oriented collaboration tool that can remove barriers between applications, devices and people. A demo

at the conference showed Microsoft’s Cortana virtual assistant delivering data from multiple applications onto an interactive dashboard, which could then be edited and cross-indexed, with the option of sharing that interactive display with other team members.

GigJam is currently in private preview and will become part of Office 365 at some point in 2016.

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ECM, collaboration and search news and features