Decoy Marketing

I thought this was fascinating:

When creating their product offerings, most companies try to come up with the best and most attractive offers they can – a practice I wholly endorse. But, sometimes adding a less attractive offer to the mix will close more deals on the better offers without disadvantaging the customer in any way. So, next time you are coming up with your “good, better, and best” packages, consider tossing in a “not so good” package that’s similar to (but not as good as) the one you’d like to drive the most traffic to. If that boosts sales of that item, you’ll know your decoy is working!

Examples from the real estate space were given. I don’t think this means the tactic is more effective with larger more expensive purchases; I think it works across price points. Read the whole post here.

Automatic Coupon Creation in Zen Cart

I’m working on extensions to Zen Cart that will allow you to automatically create coupons based on either the cart contents or the order total.  Take a look at Spender AutoCoupon and Chooser AutoCoupon (the syntax they use is derived from Big Spender and Big Chooser, which is why they are so named).  They’ll be ready for sale in early fall; the design is almost complete.

These shirts are all business

Since we talked about t-shirts on Monday, I thought I’d wrap the week up with the same theme.

I have admired from afar the “clothing for the 2 and 20 crowd” produced by, but when I saw their latest offering last week, called “Revenue is Sexy”

Revenue is Sexy

I literally could not resist and ordered it right away. (Size large – even though I’m only 5’7″, I like my desserts.)

I thought was a very elegant implementation of a shopping cart on a blog using E-Junkie, so I asked Ryan Cook (one of the principals) about the site. Here’s what he had to say:

The site has always been WordPress based, and we really liked the AJAX shopping cart with Google integration offered by E-Junkie. It’s simple and doesn’t intrude on the user experience that we wanted. Until recently, we had simply been listing the products through E-Junkie and managing inventory manually with a Google Spreadsheet. This was extremely cumbersome as people were able to order shirts that we didn’t have in stock. After playing around with E-Junkie, I figured out how to list products where the variants (shirt size in our case) each had their own individual stock quantity. The last step for a successful integration was to tell Google Checkout to report sales back to E-Junkie after they were made. The important part here is to make sure that each variant had a unique code so that E-Junkie would subtract from the correct quantities. I did have to contact support at E-Junkie to receive the tip on setting up Google Checkout properly, because I had missed that step in the setup. They were very helpful, courteous, and prompt in answering my questions and discovering my problem.

Now that it is all setup, we receive emails from Google Checkout and E-Junkie when a sale is made successfully, then it is up to me to fulfill the orders. I also receive emails from E-Junkie when stocks are low for certain variants. For a small operation such as ours, the integration is perfect.

That’s great! Congratulations, Ryan and the VCWear team on your success.

The folks at E-Junkie have been on my interview radar screen for a while – we just haven’t gotten together yet. Hopefully in August I’ll talk with them directly.

The next battlefield

We’ve been through the gender wars of the 80’s and the culture wars of the 90’s. Is the next battlefield intergenerational conflict? Clay Collins somehow managed to convince the usually sensible Penelope Trunk to post this absurd screed called “Why my generation is more productive than yours.” Leaving aside

a) the age-discrimination lawsuit this statement would inspire if made in a formal context, and
b) the inanity of collectivism – particularly collectivism based on immutable factors (astrology, anyone?)

I think it would be useful to dissect these arguments – because you’re likely to hear them if you have younger staff.

The most foundational of the problems with Clay’s reasoning is a hard, hard truth that most people don’t learn until mid-life:

If you don’t own the company, you don’t get to make the decisions.

This is really how it is. The people who put their own money at risk starting the business and keeping it going are the ones who get to call the shots. Not the employees. Not the “stakeholders.” Not even the government. The owners.

Now if this seems unfair, the thing to do is start your own business. Put your entire life savings at risk and hang out a shingle. You’ll quickly find that you won’t be that understanding when people who have no skin in the game tell you how you should be doing this or that. This feeling intensifies when you have to skip paying yourself a few times in order to pay your staff and suppliers.

Running a business is hard. Really, really hard. That’s why being an employee is so attractive to so many people.

With your status as an employee non-owner clearly in mind, let’s go through the arguments:

Reason 1: We use the best tools

“… we’re not afraid to rely on nearly-free, online productivity tools from unknown companies.”

Like the Web 2.0 tools that introduce viruses and malware to your company’s network? There might be a reason your company chose the tools it did. Is it possible that someone else knows more about this than you do?

Reason 2. We’re good at automating
If something can be automated it should be. But it’s not clear to me why the date of your birth would be somehow correlated with your ability to accomplish this. And even if it were: without the deep business knowledge that old-timers have in abundance, you might be automating the wrong thing.

Reason 3. We get better sleep

“… you’re more productive when you follow your biologically determined circadian rhythms and get up when your body tells you to.”

Problem: I might actually need you to be there for a 9 am conference call. Your coworkers might need to talk to you. A task requiring your input might be waiting.

Bottom line: The world really doesn’t revolve around you. You need to conform to the needs of the business, not the other way around.

Reason 4: We’re much more likely to love our jobs

“All the job switching and repositioning we do means we’re much more likely to end up with professions that are actually suited to our passions and talents.”

No, all the job switching and repositioning means you’ll look like a job-hopper that I can’t depend on and thus don’t want to hire. I need to see that you can deal with adversity, because work is not a bowl of cherries.

Reason 5: We stay up to date in our fields
You’re 25, for heaven’s sakes! Of course you’re up to date. Let’s talk when you’re 50.

The flip side of this is that you’re going to make a bunch of expensive mistakes on my dime as a result of your inexperience. Adopting a more humble attitude will attract seasoned mentors who can help you avoid these pitfalls – but you’re too clever for that, aren’t you.

Reason 6: We’re experimental

“While this experimental approach might not result in quantifiable productivity, it leads to the kind of shifts in thinking that save time and money over the long haul.”

It might! It might also lead to a bunch of wasted time. Here’s a secret: an experienced hand who has seen a few things over the years might be able to give you some insights about what might not work with your “experimental approach.”

Reason 7: We don’t “go through the motions”

“We’ve seen our washed up parents work shit jobs they hate, and we won’t go through the motions for the sake of job security.”

Uh, your “washed up parents” didn’t “do it for the sake of job security” – they did it to keep food for you on the table.

By the way, did I miss a meeting where it was decided that the purpose of work was fun? If fun is a byproduct of work, then that’s great! But the purpose of work is ultimately to make money. The less fuzzy thinking there is on this topic, the better.

It is worrisome to me that there are so many people in the United States today like Clay Collins, who think the world owes them something.   And this is by no means isolated to “Generation Y” – the entitlement mentality of our senior population is the mirror image of the narcissism of youth.

Will taking on a mortgage and having a family cause Clay to wake up from his delusions? We can only hope so.