Thursday, June 16th, 2011
Great piece in the WSJ yesterday about the secrets of Apple stores.
I found these 5 “secrets” that the WSJ uncovered most interesting:
Sales Associatates “Don’t Sell”
…sales associates are taught an unusual sales philosophy: not to sell, but rather to help customers solve problems. “Your job is to understand all of your customers’ needs—some of which they may not even realize they have,” one training manual says. To that end, employees receive no sales commissions and have no sales quotas.
Soft/Comforting Language Used
The store’s confidential training manual tells in-store technicians exactly what to say to customers it describes as emotional: “Listen and limit your responses to simple reassurances that you are doing so. ‘Uh-huh’ ‘I understand,’ etc.”
Former Geniuses say they were told to say “as it turns out” rather than “unfortunately” to sound less negative when they are unable to solve a tech problem.
Strict Rules On Performance
Apple employees who are six minutes late in their shifts three times in six months may be let go. While there are no sales quotas, employees must sell service packages with devices, according to former employees. Those who don’t sell enough are re-trained or moved to another position, depending on the store.
Extensive Training Before New Hires Get To Speak To Customers
Back on the sales floor, new hires must shadow more experienced colleagues and aren’t allowed to interact with customers on their own until they’re deemed ready. That can be a couple of weeks or even longer.
No Correcting Customers
Keith Bruce, 23, who worked at an Apple store in Virginia for three-and-a-half years until December 2009, says he was told the sales floor was a stage where he should focus on things he can do, rather than things he can’t. If a customer mispronounced an item name, he was forbidden from correcting them because that would make them feel patronized.
Wednesday, June 15th, 2011
I love basketball.
I shoot hoops a few times a week; play in a fantasy basketball league and watch local NBA game on any night of the 8 month season.
As I watched the NBA playoffs this season, I realized that as tough as it is to be a pro in the NBA, it’s tougher to be a pro in business.
Mark Zuckerberg (at G8 Summit 2011) has it tougher than Lebron James (pictured dunking the ball below)
Top 10 Reasons Why Business Is Harder Than A Pro Sport Like Basketball
1) It’s Way Harder To Keep Score (In Business)
In basketball (and most sports), there’s a score that everyone can look at it…you know exactly where you stand versus your opponent.
In business, the score is much tougher. It may be a revenue goal (which most businesses don’t keep in real-time).
And in terms of how you compare to your opponent (i.e. competitor), you have to figure out how to determine your competitor’s score (which is very difficult in many businesses).
Tip: Chunk down your goals to smaller increments so that you know where you stand without waiting too long (like I illustrate in The 10 Maniacal Steps I Take For Setting Goals.
2) Business Has Many Clocks To Look At; Sports Has Just One
In basketball, there’s always a clock ticking. You know that there’s 10:05 left in the half or 1:07 left in the game. …
Thursday, August 27th, 2009
Some of you periodically ask me to define terms I’ve mentioned in my postings. I’ve included a short list here — I’ll probably add to it later (feel free to add terms with definitions through the Comments feature (and I’ll add them to the list)).
- Anchor Text — The clickable text of a hyperlink. The often-underlined text gives search engines and visitors information on what the page being linked to is about.
- Anecdata — A theory based on anecdotal information as opposed to actual data. For example, if someone in business says: “It appears that most of our customers are satisfied” (versus “Ninety-five percent of our customers report that they are very satisfied” in our recent survey.”)
- Bizoomer — A term used to describe a new Internet audience that is part “business” and part “consumer.” Examples of Bizoomers include eBay sellers, Adsense sellers and Amazon Associates. The term was coined by entrepreneur Rob Kelly in 2009.
- Cloaking — An approach that Webmasters use to try to trick crawlers into treating a Web site preferably.
- Cookies — A cookie is a piece of data stored on the user’s computer tied to information about the user. Web sites may use session ID cookies to confirm that users are logged in; those cookies terminate once the user closes the browser. Many Web sites also use a persistent cookie that stores your login ID or password to make it easier for you to login when you return to the Web stie. You can remove or block this cookie using the settings in your browser if you want to disable this feature.
- Cost of Goods Sold (aka COGS)– The materials cost used in creating the goods plus the direct labor costs used to produce the goods. COGS typically excludes sales, marketing and distribution costs. COGS varies by industry but are typically in the range of 20% to 50% of the price of your good.
- Cost Per Action (aka CPA or Cost Per Acquisition): An advertising business model whereby payment is based upon an action that a user makes as a result of the advertisement. Actions include: making a purchase, providing an email address, filling out a form, etc. An advertiser agrees to pay the publisher a set fee per Action.
- Cost Per Acquisition (aka CPA or Cost Per Action): An advertising business model whereby payment is based upon an action that a user makes as a result of the advertisement. Actions include: making a purchase, providing an email address, filling out a form, etc. An advertiser agrees to pay the publisher a set fee per Action.
- Cost per Click (aka CPC): An advertising business model whereby payment is based upon an advertiser paying a set fee for every click on an advertisement. Example: The Google AdWords program.
- Cost Per Thousand (aka CPM): An advertising business model whereby an advertiser pays a publisher based on the number of impressions (regardless of whether the user clicks on the ad). The “M” in “CPM” stands for 1,000 (M is the Roman Numeral for 1,000). Example: If you buy an ad at a $10 CPM, and the advertisement was displayed 50,000 times, the advertiser would owe the publisher $500 ( The equation is 50,000 divided by 1,000 multiplied by $10 equals $500).
- DACI — An approach to getting things done through teamwork. DACI stands for Driver, Approver, Consultant, Informed. See DACI To Get Things Done article for more.
- Daily Huddle — An approach to meetings inspired by the Mastering the Rockefeller Habits book. See this Daily Huddle article for details.
- Effective CPM (aka eCPM) — The eCPM represents your estimated earnings for every 1000 impressions you receive. It is calculated by dividing your earnings by number of page impressions, then multiplying by 1000. For example, if you earned $140 from 90,000 impressions, your effective CPM would equal $1.55 ($140/90,000) *1000 = $1.55. Some Web publishers use eCPM to measure the effectiveness of one income source (e.g. advertising) versus another (e-commerce). See this e-CPM article for more.
- External Link — A link from a Web site to another Web site.
- FICO –Stands for Free Isaac Corporation, a credit agency. Lenders use FICO scores to measure a borrower’s credit-worthiness. See this article on How to Boost Your FICO Score
- Fishbone Analysis — A strategic planning tool used to determine what is preventing you from getting something done. It was invented by Dr. Kaoru Ishikawa in the 1960’s — see this Fishbone Analysis article for more details including a Fishbone example.
- Freemium — A term used to describe a business model in which certain services are offered for “free” while others cost a “premium” (Freemium combines the words “free” and “premium”). Venture capitalist Fred Wilson of Flatiron is credited with inventing the phrase.
- G.A.P. Approach to Meetings — A tool used to organize meetings it stands for Goal, Agenda and Preparation. See GAP Approach to Meetings article.
- Google AdSense — The advertising platform by Google that allows Web sites to place ads from Google’s advertisers onto their own Web sites.
- Google AdWords — The advertising platform by Google that allows advertisers to bid how much they would pay if a Google user clicks on their ad after searching a keyword.
- Google Analytics — A tool provided for free by Google that allows Web Publishers to track statistics of their Web site. Google Analytics measures items such as number of visitors, page views and referrals
- GoogleJuice (aka Page Rank) — Named after Google Co-founder Larry “Page,” Page Rank is the rank (on a scale of 1 to 10) that Google assigns individual web pages within your site. Page Rank is reported to be heavily weighted as to the quantity and quality of links to your site. PageRank is a trademark of Google, though Stanford University owns the patent for it. For more details, see this Got GoogleJuice? article
- Hyperlink (aka Link) — A link is something on a Web page that when clicked on takes you to another Web page; It is typically highlighed by color or underline.
- Impressions — Impressions typically refer to the number of times an advertisement is displayed.
- Internal Link — A link from a Web site to another page within the same Web site.
- Keyword — A word, or set of words, that a user searches on.
- LAMP — An acronym standing for the following set of tools: Linux, Apache, MySQL and PHP/Python/Perl.
- Lifetime Value — How much a customer spends with you for their lifetime (or a designated period of time (e.g. One-year Lifetime Value represents what a customer spends with you for one year). If you’ve been in business already, you might know your Customer Lifetime Value. In fact you could simply divide the total amount of sales you’ve had since you began by the total number of customers you’ve had). See this article on How Much to Pay for a Customer to learn more about lifetime value.
- Link (aka Hyperlink) — A link is something on a Web page that when clicked on takes you to another Web page; It is typically highlighed by color or underline.
- LUMPS — An acronym for ranking factors search engine optimization that stands for Links, URL Structure, Meta Content, Page Content and SiteMap.
- No-Follow — Used to describe the label you put on a Web link that tells Web Spiders (such as Google) to not give external link credit to that link in terms of GoogleJuice (the opposite of a no-follow is a do-follow).
- Overhead — A type of cost. Typical examples of overhead costs include Payroll (although portions of payroll are sometimes included in Cost of Goods Sold), Insurance, Rent, Utilities, Legal, Accounting, Travel and Entertainment.
- Page Views — The number of times a Web page is viewed.
- PageRank — Named after Google Co-founder Larry “Page,” Page Rank is the rank (on a scale of 1 to 10) that Google assigns individual web pages within your site. Page Rank is reported to be heavily weighted as to the quantity and quality of links to your site. PageRank is a trademark of Google, though Stanford University owns the patent for it.
- Pay Per Click (aka PPC) — A model for paying for advertisements made famous by the Google AdWords program in which advertisers bid on how much to pay for a click that a Google searcher makes on an advertisement after searching for a keyword the advertiser bid on.
- Plain English — Plain English is an approach to communication favored by such people as Mark Twain and Warren Buffett. For more details, go to this Plain English, Please! article.
- Quality Score – An algorithm used by Google in its Pay Per Click advertising that ranks the relevancy of landing pages to their corresponding Pay Per Click
- Scrum — Agile “Scrum” is an approach to a frequent (often daily) meeting called a “Scrum” based on the Agile Methodology (originally a software development approach). See this How to Scrum & Sprint article.
- SEO (Search Engine Optimization) — The concept of optimizing how Content gets ranked by search engines such as Google and Yahoo. Here’s an SEO Tips article from an eBay SEO specialist.
- Sitemap — Sitemaps are a way for webmasters to inform search engine crawlers about pages on their Web sites so that search engines can more intelligently crawl the site. A Sitemap is typically an XML file that lists URLs long with additional metadata about each URL such as how often it changes, when it was last updated and its relative importance.
- Sprint — Agile “Sprint” is the amount of time from start to finish that a team works on a set of pre-defined requirements; derived from the Agile Methodology. See this How to Scrum & Sprint article.
- SRP (aka Search Results Page or “SURP”) — The listings of results on a Web page after you do a search.
- SWOT Analysis — A strategic planning tool standing for Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities and Threats. See this SWOT Analysis article for more.
- TRUSTe — An independent, non-profit organization whose mission is to build user’s trust and confidence in the Internet by promoting the use of fair information practices. It can be found at www.truste.org.
- Unique Visitors — Refers to individuals visiting a Web site (but counts them only once (as opposed to Visitors which may be repeat visitors).
- Universal Search — The concept of searching not just traditional Web pages but other Internet items such as audio, video, blogs and user-reviews.advertisements and keywords.
- Visitors — Typically refers to an individual visiting a Web site (see Unique Visitors).
- War Chest — A war chest refers to money set aside to deal with unexpected changes in business, or for expansion opportunities. The term originates with the medieval practice of having a chest filled with money to open in time of war.
Tuesday, May 26th, 2009
I recently finished reading Stealing MySpace, an interesting “inside-baseball” look at the building of MySpace and eventual sale to Rupert Murdoch’s News Corp. for $750MM.
While the MySpace story had a happy ending for most, it also reminded me of the surprisingly low e-CPM (effective CPM or cost per thousand) of many Web sites that either sell through third-parties or have ad inventory that’s difficult for advertisers to understand/value.
MySpace earned an e-CPM of about $.20 in its early days (November 2004).
To put an eCPM of $.20 into perspective, that means that MySpace had to generate 500,000 page views on its Web site to earn just $100 in advertising revenue…or 5 million page views to earn $1,000… or 50 million to earn $10,000.
Now, MySpace charged much higher CPMs (up to $2 or so) on many of its pages, but the average it received for all of its pages was closer to $.20, according to the book.
For those of you thinking of selling advertising on your Web sites, I thought I’d add a few other less-known e-CPMs or CPMs for you:
- Mojam (a music Web site I founded and sold) — Mojam had an e-CPM of $.91 while I was running it.
- PlentyOfFish (free matchmaking site) — This innovative online matchmaking site had an e-CPM of $.75, in my estimation, during 2006 when various articles about their results (fueled when POF Founder Marcus Frind showed pictures of his giant Google AdSense checks (the calculation I’m using is $375,000 in monthly revenue divided by about 500MM monthly impressions).
- StevePavlina.com — This useful personal development site had a Google AdSense CPM of around $2.80 in December 2005 when he shared some stats on his site (note: I used the term “Google AdSense CPM” for this one because Steve Pavlina generates income from other sponsorship/affiliate-related sources that he didn’t disclose) (interestingly, Steve Pavlina appears to have taken down all of his AdSense ads since then).
- A Colleague of Mine’s Tips Web Site — Someone I know has a site currently (as of this month) generating 250,000 page views per month and about $200 per month in ad revenue; so his e-CPM is $.89.
Now, interestingly, while all these e-CPMs and CPMs seem low, all of the companies mentioned were profitable. That’s because their cost of delivering 1,000 page views was very, very cheap.
MySpace, for example, spent only $.07 on what I call “Hosting CPM” (i.e. delivering each of its 1,000 page views) in its early days (November 2004); and since they had minimal other expenses at the time they were able to break even at that point.
My colleague’s Tips Web site (in the fourth bullet above) spends only 3.5 cents in Hosting CPM and minimal other costs, so he makes a profit.
To see the other costs in running a Web site check out my How Much to Pay for a Customer article.
Your e-CPM Scales as You Scale
The economies of scale work in your favor as you are able to command higher CPMs as your volume of page views (and brand value) increase.
For example, MySpace is now reportedly generating $75MM per month through about 40 billion page views for an e-CPM of about $1.88, according to this Silicon Alley Insider article.
So, they almost 10Xed their e-CPM from their early days!