Category Archives: It’s Friday

34 Entertaining 404 Error Pages

It’s sometimes easy for me to see the 404 Error Page as a metaphor for my life, especially if I’m having a bad day. It’s not a unique feeling to me, but one that is quite universal in its reach. Think about it in relation to yourself. You are just minding your own business, say, at the mall, shopping, and you have a brief encounter with a stranger who yells at you about something. Maybe you are talking on your cell phone on one of those mall benches next to them, and disturbing their peace. You know the kind of encounter I’m talking about. The random one that ends up with unpleasantries. They are quick bee-stings. In fact, a bee-sting is a great example of this very type of encounter. You’re smelling a flower in a garden and bam! A bee flies out of the bush and stings you on the nose. Your day has now taken an abrupt new course.

The 404 may not be that unpleasant, but it does take you off track, and with a stark, stoic message.
You are navigating your way through the site, searching for something, and you get hit with the ugly, white page and severe font and that bleak, annoying message: “404 Error. Page Not Found.”

When I’m responsible for the management of a site, that message is a stab in the heart. “What did I do? How did I let this happen?” I feel like I’ve let my puppy off leash and now he’s lost. As a person who sees the 404 Error Page as not just a broken link, a lost page, or a website gone haywire, but as one of life’s sudden and unexpected bee stings, I was quite pleased this morning when I read this latest wonder-piece from Mashable, “34 Entertaining 404 Error Pages.” These brands and artists have turned the dreary 404 into something funny and full of color.

Read, view, enjoy. My favorite is #6. That gal could so easily be me and the way I feel when life’s little bees start stinging.

Happy New Year!

May 2010 bring all of you new opportunity, fulfillment, and sheer, unfiltered joy. Whatever you do this year, wherever you go, always remember this simple truth: It’s all marketing, always!

Friday Fix

If there is nothing else that you do to improve your marketing program, I’d like to beg for three simple things. These are things I witness daily, and they are such easy fixes. Here goes:

No need to appear desperate or pushy: Increasingly, I go to a new blog and before I can read beyond the headline a pop-up window appears, imploring me to subscribe. I’m not going to subscribe to a blog I haven’t read. Of late, I’ve taken to closing the pop-out window and clicking away from those sites. If you are going to be pushy, I don’t want to hang around and read what you have to say.

A Few Tweets Daily Will Suffice: I want to know about your new products, and see photos, and I want to hear your news. If you have a truly original pearl of wisdom to share, please do. I could use all the wisdom you have. I even want to hear that Junior won the baseball game, or that you liked the new episode of “True Blood” because, geez, I didn’t know that you liked “True Blood,” too, and now I know we have that in common and I want to do business with people I have stuff in common with. Having said that, I don’t want to open my Twitter page and see you cluttering up the stream with tweet after tweet. Like seasoning, you don’t need to overpower us. I tend to unfollow people who tweet too much. I’m not alone in that habit.

Listen to Your Clients: I’m bringing this up out of the blue, because I was just watching an old “Madmen” episode and I was cringing at how the handsome Don Draper was telling a client basically, “Shut-up, you don’t know what you are talking about and that’s why you hired us, so you better like our pitch.” It makes great TV, but in real life, your client just ends up either resenting you, making fun of you behind your back, or firing you. You are a strategic partner. Not a creative dictator.

There used to be this great saying (that seems to have lost its way): “The client is always right.” Granted, it’s not always true, but listen to what they have to say when they tell you why they don’t like your idea. Work with them to uncover what will really help you achieve the goals at hand. I should not have to write this. Yet I heard a story just today of how it happened to a friend. I’ve witnessed it on the client side, and I’ve been tempted to do it on the agency side. It’s tempting to turn into Don Draper, but if you are watching the show, being Don Draper isn’t exactly working out for him. So why bother?

Marketing: the dumped wife?

Google is laying off two hundred workers. Mainly in sales and marketing. Once again, I have to say it. What are they thinking? 

Whenever I hear that some corporation has laid off its marketing and sales department, I think about the story I hear time and time again, about some guy whose wife put him through law school, or medical school or business school, only to graduate, get a great job then promptly dump her for a young pretty thing.  Marketers are the dumped wife.  Granted, I’m biased, as I think marketers walk on sunbeams and smell of magnolias.

I especially feel bad for the sales teams out there. People are not spending, and most sales people, no matter how good they are, are fighting a useless (for the next xxx months) battle. Now, more than ever, companies need to get creative, they need to rally the brand advocates, build armies of new ones, they need to stay front and center in their audiences mind. There are so many ways to do that, but who will run these campaigns? The receptionist? The mailroom clerk? The VP of IT? Sure,  you need a good product. Sure, you need great service. But who is going to know how fabulous your company is without sales and marketing? Who is going to know that you are the number one search engine unless a marketing person is there to promote it?

Granted, Google is no doubt outsourcing, but I hear stories daily now of companies not outsourcing, not doing any marketing or any sales. I have a saying, it’s all marketing, always. I have tried to show that through posts about rock stars who are really  marketers, or yesterday’s post on how a politician forgot that at the end of the day, he isn’t just a statesman, he is a brand. We are all a brand, our own brand, and a company needs its brand warriors and evangelists.  

Once the economy turns around, these companies have a lot of brand rebuilding to do. If that should be the case with your company, I have only one thing to say: call me!

Look, I’m a marketer, what did you expect me to say?