Archive for July, 2011


LevelUp and dumbing down to my level

With so much recent coverage and opinion that the bloom is off the rose of group buying and couponing I read Mike Schneider’s blog yesterday morning about LevelUp’s value proposition with interest.  I happened to be near Beacon Hill yesterday with a friend just before noon and  I knew that shopping the Haymarket on an empty stomach is not a good idea.  We stopped into The Federal where I couldn’t decide between a breakfast sandwich or lunch at 11:50am and kept looking at the two menu boards above the counter.  After placing the order I noticed the LevelUp materials and the phone on the counter.  I tried to scan the QR code on the postcard at the counter and I think it tried to call a phone number in Connecticut.  I clearly started it all wrong because I thought the big QR code would bring me somewhere to proceed.  It didn’t.  So I checked in on Foursquare and Tweeted that I couldn’t get it to launch mentioning Mike Schneider @schneidermike.  Mike responded and I also soon received a message offering help from Christian Sann @csann, The Assistant Miranda Priestly and Business Development Lead for SCVNGR’s Local Business/LevelUp Program.

Today I gave LevelUp another chance.  I downloaded the app, entered my banking information and searched for somewhere to try near my place in Harvard Square.  Boston Burger Co offered me a $4 Credit and the “Spend $100, Get $10”.  Okay, but I don’t know that place so I opened Yelp, checked reviews and made a mental note to remember that place next time I’m in Davis Square, Somerville.  I can see using LevelUp’s offers in tandem with Yelp’s reviews.  The $2 Credit offer from Falafel Corner in Harvard Square was the choice.

We went there for lunch today just around noon.  The LevelUp materials were displayed on the counter right next to larger RelayRides collateral pieces sporting similar colors, think Howard Johnson’s blue.

The lone guy behind the counter was doing his best to sling shawarma for a line that kept growing.  I had my LevelUp QR code teed up on my droid, ready for the moment of truth at the cash register and the guy looked at it, looked at me and said he’s not familiar with it.  I tried to wave my phone in front of the LevelUp phone hoping maybe a genie might appear and show us both how to make a fast and proper transaction.  He explained that it was just installed yesterday.  At least my Bank of America card worked, you know the one that doesn’t charge you $12 a month if you swear off human tellers.

There are always learning curves to apps and logistical nightmares with someone like me who thinks the QR code on the postcard will take me somewhere rather than just read the text on the card and follow directions.  I feel for the app developer, the retailer and the poor salesperson who has to convince the retailer that they won’t lose their shirts and that coupon vultures will return with the incentive of continued rewards and consistently good food.  At least I found a great new place on Beacon Hill.  I’ll try LevelUp again at some point.

What do you think?  How could LevelUp dumb-down for someone like me?  Have you ever felt awkward or silly trying to redeem an offer with your smartphone?  What are your experiences? Please share your comments. also want to give a shout out to Mike Scheider and Aaron Strout on the upcoming release of their book “Location Based Marketing for Dummies“.


Finally, I heard someone explain something in dollars.

I encountered two people this week who shared some clear numbers in web/digital/tech allocations.  I’m sharing these because they explain a recipe for combining digital technology with human savvy in the context of dollars – something we can all relate to.

Grasshopper Group’s Jonathan C. Kay hosted an impressive panel “Building An Army of Brand Loyalists” that included Backupify’s Kristin Dziadul and RunKeeper’s Sarah HodgesGrasshopper Group Search Term ComparisonJonathan’s energetic opening framed the context of the panel’s discussion and examples of building trust, reputation and fan-dome.  Jonathan, “Ambassador of Buzz” shared how client service is building a strong online social media reputation and how they’ve been able to revise their ppc keywords from expensive product search terms to much more attractively-priced branded search terms that TRIPLED volume in two years.  The result is $144,600 in ppc spending and practically immeasurable customer loyalty and zeal worthy of being called Raving Fans.

Check out Jonathan’s blog at  It has an appropriate descriptive.

Elevation Partners Director and Co-Founder Roger McNamee addressed the Paley Center for Media recently with “Ten Trends in Technology” and some very compelling observations including the fact of Google losing market share right now.  Roger McNameeClick here for the link to video.  Roger’s an avid musician who explained how reallocating $100,000 of his band’s operating expenses allowed them to build a high-definition tv network that broadcasts every show live with no cash impact on the band’s business.  The entire 50 minutes is a very good use of your time.  Thanks @cspenn for mentioning @mitchjoel’s blog where I caught this.

Reallocating dollars allows companies to invest in sales talent like Jonathan and technology like Roger’s network to generate more revenue measured in dollars.

Who do you know that deserves a similar shout out?


Swype the Poltergeist television screen?

I read a great article in Mobile Marketer this week “The correct relationship between apps, mobile Web sites and Web sites” by Alan S. Knitowski that offers a good perspective on the adoption and integration of mobile in a post “we-need-a-webiste” era.  In it Alan references a child intuitively trying to “swype” a television screen.

A good point to consider in a marketing plan is the point of contact between a company’s marketing message and its intended buyer/user (read David Meerman Scott’s buyer persona blog).  Where are the buyer/user’s fingers and eyes when they are connecting with the message?  Smartphone screen?  Tablet?  Keyboard/monitor?  Are those the fingers of a generation that grew up on rotary dial phones and graduated to touch-tone or are they on the hands of those whose parent allows the phone to double as a toy?

Carol Anne swyping in 1982

There are distinct generational differences in how a buyer/user is going to intuitively and comfortably use new technology or revert to old, more familiar ways to eventually open their wallets.  Imagine that little girl in Poltergeist being able to “swype” away the messages from the tv and surf to something she really wanted.

Where are the buyers’ fingers that lead to a wallet when exposed to your message?  And how old are they?

Where have you seen success and “learning experiences” in generational use of technology in marketing?  Please comment.



oneforty bonus content from Pixability

We all know about the “shoo” at the end of “Ferris Bueller’s Day Off” where Matthew Broderick emerges from the bathroom and tells you it’s over. Rachel Blumenthal at Pixability honored me with a gift of bonus web content. Thanks! Stay to the end for a mashup of Laura’s name. Priceless!


oneforty taught me about “any to many” and 10:1

Today I attended the Pixability Webinar “Shoot, Tweet, Repeat”  hosted by Bettina Hein @pixability with Laura Fitton @pistachio.  It was a great meeting point on the digital schoolyard for Bettina’s video company and Laura’s Twitter business savvy of oneforty fame.  Laura Fitton, Bettina Hein

Takeaway #1  Digital media content – video, web, tweets, blogs, streams, podcasts – can come from ANY one person and gain tidal exposure to MANY in a very short period of time if the content is authentic, entertaining and useful.  People will pick up on it and endorse it by sharing, Tweeting, and forwarding.  A couple video examples contrasted two individuals with passion for wine.  One had the look and feel of a Texas-proud hostess and guest who subscribe to the higher-the-hair-the-closer-to-God way of being on camera.  The other was that of a Jersey guy who records his videos when he travels.  One could never pull off what the other was doing.  They were being themselves.
Takeaway #2  Play nice on the digital schoolyard.  Barbara Green @thedesigndiva summed it up nicely  “10 tweets of value for 1 “ask” tweet” as a good standard ratio.  The real winners in social media are helping others through their authenticity and avoid blatantly selling, hawking or self-promoting.


The Boston Globe reports the demise of TV on

Today I read a Tweet by @StevenEBrown re-Tweeted by @dankennedy_nu about a link on featuring an article in The Boston Globe about the demise of the local television anchor as next-door rock star.

It comes on the heels of another article on I read yesterday on my droid as passenger in a car reporting that WGBH is digitizing local news footage from their own archives and those of other Boston media outlets.  Does this feel to you like the digital age is preparing the digital photo albums for the family gathering after television’s funeral?

For me, this a clear milestone in the changing mediascape of the news and information we want and how we consume it.

image from

The Tweet on my droid brought me to my computer to read the article online, mull it over, consider it worthy to blog about, and tweet without ever getting ink on my hands or reaching for my clicker (digital antenna, I cut the Comcast cord when I moved to Cambridge…).  Sounds like that child’s rhyme about the old lady who swallowed a fly…

Where do you think the new crop of rock-star bloggers/anchors/reporters will sprout?  Who are your favorites so far?


Getting There

Or, maybe I should have named this post Staying Ahead.  I’ve created this blog to share my passion for marketing that meshes traditional media with new media and technologies.  This is my place to give props to those who create good work.  Sure, I’m currently giddy about the possibilities in mobile marketing, QR codes and the like.  But I’m equally impressed by simple execution that makes it easy for people to find things they want, need or ask help for.  (Yes, I know I just ended a sentence with a preposition and someone with the gift of proofreading is hearing their inner tick and is grasping for a red marker.)

www.kendallsquare.orgEarlier this year I commented on a post on a LinkedIn Mobile Marketing and Advertising Group discussion  about QR codes used in transit ads on the Red Line, the subway that runs from Boston to Cambridge with stops at MIT and Harvard.  I noticed recently that the Farmers’ Market settled for using good old fashioned directional ads on transit posters in the Kendall Square Red Line station to direct hungry Cantabrigians to where they can buy fresh bounty.  No need for a signal, a charged battery, or GPS positioning.  The simplicity among the technology, ink on paper in front of thousands of riders struck me as very good execution.

What brilliant uses of marketing have you seen lately?  High tech, low tech, events, engagement of people that really struck a chord?  I’d really like your comments.

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