My friend Sam sent me an email with a bunch of pictures of funny shopping bags. I love super-creative marketing stuff like this and I wish that more companies had a sense of humor about this kind of thing.
The first Girl Scout cookie was invented in Wilmette, IL (according to my secret sources). Here is the original recipe. It’s kind of crumbly…
1 cup butter
1 cup sugar plus additional amount for topping (optional)
2 tablespoons milk
1 teaspoon vanilla
2 cups flour
1 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons baking powder
Cream butter and the cup of sugar; add well-beaten eggs, then milk, vanilla, flour, salt, and baking powder. Refrigerate for at least 1 hour. Roll dough, cut into trefoil shapes, and sprinkle sugar on top, if desired. Bake in a quick oven (375°) for approximately 8 to 10 minutes or until the edges begin to brown. Makes six- to seven-dozen cookies.
There are few questions in marketing that spark as much debate as this one. One of my favorite explanations, from Adrienne Weiss, is that a good brand is a club that your customer wants to belong to.
A guy from Plan B in Chicago sent me this definition:
Any brand is a set of perceptions and images that represent a company, product or service. While many people refer to a brand as a logo, tag line or audio jingle, a brand is actually much larger. A brand is the essence or promise of what will be delivered or experienced.
Importantly, brands enable a buyer to easily identify the offerings of a particular company. Brands are generally developed over time through:
Once developed, brands provide an umbrella under which many different products can be offered–providing a company tremendous economic leverage and strategic advantage in generating awareness of their offerings in the marketplace.
The following is our 2009 Christmas letter. It didn’t make it into the envelope this year so…
This summer Anson was running down the hall in his grandparent’s house when he “lost control” and broke his arm. Certainly a harbinger of things to come, it wasn’t long ago that he woke us up at 5:00 am to ask if he could have a hang glider. “Absolutely,” said Mike before going back to sleep- and he meant it. Now that Anson has learned to snow ski and skateboard, hang gliding seems like an equally effective way to hurt himself. Last year was the tooth, this year the arm, next year he will certainly puncture a lung. We are prepared for anything.
Merrily joined Anson at Ravinia Nursery School this year and they are both getting along just fine. Merrily recently discovered that she loves the mall. Innocence lost. She grew hair this year, which was exciting for the whole family. We now have a special place in our house reserved especially for bows.
We’ve had a busy travel year with the usual trips to Tan-Tar-A, Cape Cod, Florida, New Orleans, Lake Geneva and Grand Rapids. Mike found himself fishing in Nicaragua, teaching in England, and eating seahorses in China. Now that he is working closer to home he can give the passport a rest- at least until January.
If you were reading last year you may remember we remodeled our kitchen and were planning on moving. We’re not moving so instead we decided to remodel our kitchen again paying homage to the old adage “He who is not married to Anne Moyer, does not remodel his kitchen once a year.” The good news is that, thanks to new floors, Anson’s cars can roll smoothly from the living room, through the front hall, and into the dining room where they can crash into the legs of the dining room table. It’s fantastic. We hope you will all get the chance to give it a try yourself.
We are looking forward to two-o-ten and to good news for everyone on Zillow.com!
Mike, Anne, Anson and Merrily
PS- I am sorry to report that one of our birds died this year. We don’t know whether it was Abercrombie or Finch- they looked the same. He (or she) died of natural causes; we did not accidently suck it up in the vacuum cleaner like the last one…
There is a trend towards software simplification out there on the Internet. The key elements are simple and useful. I remember in the early days of the internet the applications were all created from scratch. People had to concentrate on the killer app and could only include core technology. Those with a good UI caught on. Quicken.com was a great financial site, for instance (it’s morphed into a personal financial site now, not too bad.) Over time these applications fell victim to “feature creep” and the programs got really eleaborate and complex.
Competition was kept out of the market because development costs were high. Now, thanks to cool development tools like Ruby on Rails and AJAX, development is faster and cheaper. Simple versions of complex applications can be produced to capture a segment of the market that only needs core functionality.
37signals.com was no doubt a pioneer in the space with Basecamp, Writeboard, Tada Lists and Highrise. I never really took to their applications because they always missed some essentials, but I keep coming back to them to see if I can make them work.
Many of these sites are great for entrepreneurs because they are cheap and easy to use. I’m a big fan of Salesforce.com, but it’s not cheap and it is getting complicated to configure. Feature creep killed a lot of the good online apps for me. Quickbooks.com, for example. Can’t use it, don’t have time. Too much stuff.
Here are a few others that I’ve noticed in my travels along the information superhighway (remember that silly term?):
There are many others, but I can’t remember them right now…more later.
Using Twitter is kind of a drag because you have to check the Twitter site all the time. However, I found a cool, free program that gets Twits and brings them into Outlook. It’s called TwInbox.
It adds a toolbar to Outlook and allows you to read and post Twits from Outlook. Ahhh… much better.
In my ongoing quest to understand new technology I just added my feed to my twitter account using Twitterfeed.com. A friend forwarded this post from Seth Godin’s blog. If it’s good enough for Seth. it’s good enough for me. Not sure why the logo didn’t copy very well but…
My twitter account is @MikeMoyer
I’ve never tried it, but ever since I heard about it I’ve learned that it’s not that surprising to many people. Apparently people eat chocolate-covered bacon all the time. They say chocolate is good for your heart. That must mean it counteracts the artery-clogging fat in bacon. Hooray!