Posted by: chasker | April 17, 2012

Learning a language – a lot like going to the gym

It’s very interesting looking at the data from learners on Lingo Jingo. The data confirms what we’ve long suspected – learning a language is a lot like going to the gym; the intention is there, but it’s hard to self-motivate to keep it going. 

At Lingo Jingo we are working on ways to encourage you to keep going on your language learning journey. Over time we’ll be baking more incentives into the application and adding functionality to challenge friends, see how they are progress, and making language-learning more game-like. In the meantime I will be sending out emails to our subscribers to encourage them to come back and retake lessons or learn a few more words by taking some new lessons.

We are using the data we are collecting to help make it easier to learn a language. This is a huge step forward from the traditional approaches or audio books and programs like Rosetta Stone, which, once you’re out of the store having parted with your money, you are really on your own. That’s very similar to the stats on gym membership – out of 10 people with a membership only 2 go regularly. 

Posted by: chasker | January 11, 2012

Oracle’s Big Data Appliance and Toad for Cloud Databases

The big Hadoop news of the week is that Oracle has partnered with Cloudera to bring their Hadoop expertise to Oracle’s Big Data Appliance. As Computer World notes the prevailing wisdom had been that Oracle would put together their own distribution, and it may seem surprising that the world’s largest database vendor would use someone else’s database software. The next year will certainly be interesting – is this a try before you buy move for Oracle? Or is it rinse and repeat of what they did with RedHat; partner first, then try to take them out?
Anyway, the net of all of this for Quest and Toad for Cloud Databases is positive. Quest users want to be assured that Toad has them covered whatever the database landscape looks like and however it changes. We brought our product to market early, and have broad support for the Hadoop ecosystem with HBase and Hive support, as well as having partnered with Cloudera in 2010 on the Quest Data Connector for Oracle and Hadoop , a high-speed data connector to move data between Oracle and Hadoop that unlike Oracle’s Hadoop loader enables you to move data in both directions. We also have support for other systems – Cassandra, MongoDB, Amazon, and Microsoft SQL Azure and Azure Table Services. In 2012 we’ll be adding support for Oracle’s noSQL database and a couple of others that I’ll write about as our roadmap gets firmed up.

Posted by: wingnut650 | May 7, 2009

Building a personal brand – the pitfalls

chasker and I were discussing an issue that one of our peers is experiencing due to one of their recent blog posts.  This person is a true ‘expert’ in their field (SQL Server database administration) and offers incredible insight via their posts into issues that affect DBA’s.  Their blog style can be labeled ‘off color’ or ‘tongue in cheek’.  In other words, they have the ability to offend – even though the content is viewed as quite valuable to the reader – of which there are many.  Due to the nature of these posts, the following question was raised by our peer “am I unhirable due to my blogging style?”.  This caused a great debate between myself and chasker, as mentioned. 

We don’t think that postings that would be considered off-color or tongue in cheek should be viewed as so negative that someone is “unhirable”.  That seems a bit ridiculous that this would preclude one from a job.  If a company is looking for (in this case) a solid IT resource who is incredibly active in their respective community and who is hungry for a position that offers growth, then they could do much, much worse in hiring. 


What it comes down to is and what we asked is this – what do you want your personal brand to be?  If you’ve already built up a personal brand as being an authority in a particular field who is left or right, take your pick, of center when it comes to delivering valuable content – then is that something you want to change?  If you cannot be yourself when blogging (which is a fundamental part of building a personal brand, being yourself), then why bother?  Do you change your style and run the risk of making the activity less fun for yourself and seem less authentic to the reader?

We landed on being true to yourself (kind of a no brainer) but being cognizant of the potentially offensive delivery of the content.


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Posted by: wingnut650 | April 21, 2009

Blog syndication and Google rankings

Recently on our SQL Server domain specific blog/wiki – we are realizing a very interesting issue with our Google ranking.  Currently, the blog component ( – of course) has been able to experience an incredible increase in the amount of content available to our target audience.  Through syndication of select SQL Server bloggers, we are getting on average nine new blog posts a day pushed to SQLServerPedia, all with keyword rich content (titles and bodies) and our analytics:  the number of hits to the blog (not to be confused with a Cypress Hill song of a similar name), time on site; and, bounce rates are high, very high, very low – and trending nicely.  Here’s the rub – we don’t get any love from Google from a pageranking standpoint for this.  Google is smart enough to know that this content is not generated ‘organically’ on the blog part of our site, but is being “pushed” to the blog.  So, while we’re getting SQLServerPedia to be a higher profile destination online for our target community – the blog piece is not realizing a sizable bump in pagerank.  This is one of the drawbacks to syndication, but, we’re totally OK with it and it’s giving those experts that choose to syndicate with us a larger audience and a higher profile in the community.

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Posted by: chasker | April 9, 2009

We all need to be good samaritans in this economy

Our sales and marketing operations teams recently undertook a secret shopper experiment to find out what our customer service responsiveness was like. The results were mixed and that’s a bit of a head scratcher, because we should always strive for the best customer service. However, in this economy we should all be striving even harder.
Even if it’s not your responsibility go the extra mile, help someone out, get them an answer quickly, apply the personal touch, follow up afterwards to see if there is anything else you can do, provide them with the service you would want for yourself. By increasing the level of service you provide you may not sell more in the short term, but those customers and prospects you helped out will spread the word and they’ll remember it, and when they are ready to buy, they’ll buy from your company.

Posted by: chasker | April 6, 2009

Underpromise and Overdeliver…now more than ever

I was reminded of this cliche this morning as the second revised deadline for a website refresh of SQLServerPedia we are waiting on came and went with no update. In this economic environment top notch service is a requirement, and being able to hit deadlines, surpass quality expectations, go the extra mile should be a part of everything we do. If you are still operating under 2007/2008 levels of service and urgency you probably haven’t adapted to the new world order yet, and you are in danger of being left behind.

And guess what…all you need to do to adapt is remember three words…Underpromise and Overdeliver.

Posted by: wingnut650 | April 2, 2009

Getting new media to resonate with management

Today we’re putting together content for what we call “quaterly business reviews”, or QBR’s, at Quest. These are presentations that offer insight into how the previous quarter looked from both a 10,000 view as well as a 10,000x view…these can get deep into the minutiae… Anyway, a component of this QBR is a review of our business unit’s “new media” activities. Contained in this will be information on how well a number of our ‘new media’ channels are doing and include: a domain specific wiki and blog, two twitter accounts (@Quest_SQLServer and @SQLServerPedia), and; on a more ‘traditional’ level, bi-weekly webcasts. Getting into the details of this in a way that won’t be too daunting for management is somewhat daunting. Offering unique visitors stats, pageviews, bounce rates, time on page, followers, number of posts, new wiki content, pageranks, attendee numbers, etc., etc., etc. (I mean the list goes on!) really can create the potential for paralysis by analysis for the team. At the end of the day, upper management want’s to know simply ‘does this stuff make us money?’, which is not completely what it’s all about for us as marketers. Performing a balancing act where we highlight the activity we’re growing from our these initiatives as well as the awareness we’re raising is critical – and these metrics are truly AMAZING. Being able to tie this back to revenue can be tricky, but we have systems in place that can give us insight into this – it’s just that these numbers won’t blow anyones mind.

This is definitely a situation where we’ll have to market marketing to get this information to really resonate with our management and should be a fun exercise. Once we have this portion of our presentation finished, we’ll post up on 2blokes (here) for anyone that might be curious what we put together.

Posted by: chasker | April 2, 2009

Your customers are your best sales people

We just finished a webcast ‘How to get your boss to say yes’ that included one of our target audience members (a database administrator) and their boss (director of database administration). During the webcast they discussed all aspects of how to justify a purchase of software internally. Don, the director, outlined how to build the case, get supporting documentation, third party validation, analyst information, quantify return on investment…it was a masterclass of how to sell in this environment.
It also reminded me of a fact from my selling days – if you can form the right relationship and build a great champion of your products they will become your best sales person.

It’s a commonly held belief that in a downturn economy it is wise to increase marketing spend to drum up increased demand for products and to position you well as the downturn ends. I don’t disagree with the goals, but the answer is probably not ‘spend more’.
Advertising is pretty cheap at the moment; it’s never been easier to build a social network around your products; Twitter makes gentle customer contact possible, and non-intrusive; delivering premier customer service and lavishing personal attention takes extra time and effort, but not necessarily more money.
So back to the advertising – typically advertising can total more than a third of your total marketing budget; if you are still paying for placements what you paid in 07 and 08 time to renegotiate.
Insist that whoever you fund steps up their game on metrics and analysis – with the right data you know where to cut with no impact to your programs.
Take this approach and you can cut your marketing budget in half and do better than you were doing last year.
A terrible economy forces us to be better, to be more innovative, to be more analytical. So maybe it’s not all bad.

Posted by: wingnut650 | March 26, 2009

Pondering: Concrete and tangible marketing for technology

Geico auto insurance has a brilliant advertising campaign happening right now where they are showing (in print and on TV) a stack of money with the simple tagline “The money you could be saving”.  Appropriately, this campaign is called ‘Kash’ and in today’s economy, this concrete display of a pile of money representing what you could be saving as a Geico customer pretty much resonates with anyone.  This ad is great because you can easily sense the money in your hand, and that’s powerful for both potential customers and current customers. 
It’s always good to be able to offer some type of money saving benefit to your product or service, lately that’s especially true.  Being able to put such a compelling image front and center with your offering is just plain smart.  As a marketer of software products, describing ‘money saving’ benefits such as ‘maximizing resources’ or ‘reducing the need for expenditures’ or ‘increasing productivity’ are all pretty compelling, but also somewhat abstract.  Visually, showing charts and graphs and reports that are able to describe various ways of getting the most out of every dollar dedicated to IT will get attention, but they’re not quite as tangible and compelling as a nice fat pile of money.  Maybe we’ll have to hijack that imagery for some of our upcoming promotional materials…

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