Archive for April 2010

Toyota Brand Still Strong

20 April 2010

toyota recallA few months ago we read headlines that Toyota Customer Loyalty Takes a Hit After Massive Recall.

Yet according to the Consumer Reports 2010 Car Brand Survey, 60 percent of current Toyota drivers said they would most likely purchase another Toyota (that’s only a drop in 10 percentage points from a December 2009 survey) and Toyota’s Overall brand perception is still the highest.

But you couldn’t tell Toyota was having any problems at a packed local New Jersey auto lot. My wife and I went looking for an 8 passenger SUV the other day and we thought since Toyota was having safety issues that this would be a good time to buy a Toyota. Apparently so did many other car shoppers.

We asked if there were any discounts – nope. We asked if there was any reduced finance charges – nope. We asked if there were any deals – nope. The reason? Toyota Brand loyalty. People were still willing to buy Toyotas despite its current problems.

What does this say about building brand strength? Even bad news, if your brand is strong enough, cannot hurt you.

Catering to the Elderly

13 April 2010

Since the purpose of this blog is to inspire our readers to start a business, I suggest that supplying clothes to the elderly is the next big thing.

With the increase in longevity, American seniors will soon be one of the largest demographic in our country. Certainly they make up a good share of the fashion market, and in response designers worldwide are now coming up with appropriate wear for the older generation.

Here are some examples:

clothes for seniors

clothes for seniors

clothes for seniors

clothes for seniors

clothes for seniors

clothes for seniors

clothes for seniors

How to Make Money Fast

9 April 2010

So this morning I received an email from Patrick Chan, the Director of Hang Seng Bank. He was contacting me because he had a 42 million dollar business proposal for me.

I know what you are thinking – shouldn’t I put “Patrick Chan Hang Seng Bank” into Google and see if this is a scam? Wouldn’t it be wise to go to Consumer Fraud Reporting and see if they know about this?

Nah, the people who report this as a scam are probably trying to keep me from the fast money I can make just by sending Mr. Chan a few thousand dollars to register me as the next of kin to some Iraqi General who left $42 million in a Hong Kong bank. My cut will be 40%. That’s what I call fast money.

I hope I’m not too late and someone else gets all that loot.

Another way to make fast money is to pay a SEO firm a few thousand dollars to help you get high google page rank or to show you how to game the system so that your website gets to the first page on Google searches.

Now I have been told that these firms are a scam, that they merely put your website into a keyword density analyzer and repackage the results as if they did some research for you. But I find that hard to believe. Why would anyone pay a few thousand dollars when they can get the same info for free? I suppose next you will be telling me that the letter from Nigerian King Abdul Rubmyass is a scam.

The only people making money on SEO Search are the SEO Search scam artists. In my next article, I will outline how you can become an SEO Firm yourself and scam other people out of money. That’s how you can make money fast.

Modern Day Telepathy

7 April 2010

telepathyWe have now reached the point where notifications of all kinds are instant. Telepathy can’t be far behind.

There are pill bottles that send an SMS to you or a relative if you forget to take your medicine on time, vending machines that SMS what products need refilling in real time, and soon bloggers will be using Pubsubhubbub (if you don’t know what that is, see video) to instantly tell Google that their blog has updated.

So if you are the publisher of time-sensitive information, Google will instantly know that you’ve just published new content. However, pushing to Google and getting Google to index you in real-time is another matter. There is already a lot of spam out there and hubbub will only exacerbate the situation. You must carefully groom your online reputation, put out stimulating, fresh, non-trivial content, and engage (by commenting) with forums, related blogs, and social media to build community trust.

Google is busy honing its anti-splog skills. I expect in less than two years that sites strictly fabricated for link-love and keyword spamming will be easily detected and blacklisted seo-wise. Start now to build quality content and trust or shortly see your blog descend into oblivion.

When Bureaucrats Ruin Businesses

6 April 2010

In the US prior to 1889, before there were cellphones, before there were payphones, if you needed to call someone or some business you went to call centers, or pay stations, manned by attendants who would collect money from you for placing a call. The first public coin telephone was shortly thereafter installed at a bank in Hartford, Connecticut.

Uganda pay phoneInterestingly, manned pay stations are still the norm in many parts of the world.

Everything was fine for American operators of payphones for more than a century until prepaid calling cards arrived in the U.S. two decades ago. Unfortunately for payphone owners most users of prepaid cards (mostly immigrants) utilizing their equipment were not putting any quarters in, instead they were accessing the servers of Calling Card Providers by dialing a toll free access number for which the payphone owners received no compensation.

Citing poverty, they asked the FCC in October of 1997 to allow a surcharge to be imposed for anyone accessing an 800 number to offset the loss of revenue. Sadly, the morons at the FCC mandated that the owner of the 800 number pay the surcharge instead of the person dialing (about 25 cents).

The immediate effect was the quick demise of the 800 pager business in this country because business owners were unable to recoup the cost of anyone calling them.

As for pre-paid card sellers, technically they were liable for the 25 cent surcharge. But since they often sold these cards at a steep discount, they would have to charge their customers 35 cents or more per call in order to get back 25 cents.

Of course, many operators did not pay, or they denied that the calls went through. The end result was that the pay phone owners went back to the FCC and asked for even more of a surcharge to cover the shortfall. If you have had occasion to use a calling card from a payphone you probably know that you are now being charged from 89 cents to a dollar or more to cover that surcharge.

Well, here I have to blame both the payphone operators and the FCC. Had the owners asked for 10 cents for any 800 call, they would have ended up with more money than asking for 50 cents from calling card operators many of whom barely pay 20% of what is truly due the payphone owners and send the money in many months after the initial call and after the payphone operators pay a third-party to collect the money for them.

Now with increased use of cellphones, payphone usage has declined drastically. The majority of people who could be using payphones are immigrants because cellphone calls are too expensive for international calling. However, the payphone surcharges of 89 cents or more has caused many of these callers to wait until they get home to their land-lines from which 800 numbers are not surcharged or to wait for night rates on their cellphones to kick-in to use their calling cards.

The FCC which should have been smart enough to protect payphone owners instead insured their eventual demise. Really stupid business decision.

Apple Is Not So Smart

5 April 2010

apple is stupidWhy in the world would a company release reviews of its product on April Fool’s Day?

There are only a few things that can happen on April Fool’s:

  • Good Reviews are not taken seriously.
  • Reviewers have to make disclaimers that they are not joking: see for example CNET TV’s article “We have an iPad and that’s no April Fool’s video,” or Synthtopia’s article “Korg iElectribe For The iPad No April Fool’s Joke.”

    How can a company that seems so smart sometimes be so stupid when it comes to thinking about its customers? Normally one only sees this much disregard and contempt for customers among telecom giants such as Verizon and AT&T; although I should exempt a few companies, especially ones I consult for that supply SIP Termination and Wholesale VOIP, from my condemnation.

    The only time Steve Jobs stands up for consumers is when it impacts Apple’s bottom line, read for example:

    Planck’s Constant Blog, iTunes and the greedy music industry

    Steve Jobs, has accused major labels of being greedy, and indicated that they have attempted to force an increase in the price of some downloads.

    “Music companies make more money when they sell a song on iTunes than when they sell a CD,” Mr Jobs said last year. “If they want to raise prices, it’s because they’re greedy. If the price goes up, people turn back to piracy – and everybody loses.”

    Jobs should know greedy: when I purchased my first iPod I needed to pay extra for the adapter to charge it up. Not nice.

Google’s Newest Search Feature

1 April 2010

google where am i

Remain clueless no longer. Google today officially announced its newest Mobile Search feature: Where am I? [see Google’s website]

Starting today, just go to Google.com on your phone in the US, search for “where am I”, and find out where you are. But since this is an alpha release, some map results might be slightly off.

I was at my psychiatrist’s office when I tried the feature and the result came back: “Where do you think you are?”