Posted by Jason Ciment Monday, 05.05.2014 5:22am Comment



Have you seen the recent episode of the Donald Sterling Digital Lynch Mob?

andrewjackson-duelSince my first post on this topic, I've engaged in quite a few conversations in the non-digital world to gauge people's perspectives on the variety of issues which were put into play following the release of the taped Donald Sterling conversations. I thought I would share a few responses and some of my observations and take this opportunity to clarify my feelings on the matter in case there might have been confusion. Before doing so i also want to clarify that if you look me up online you will see almost nothing published about political or legal viewpoints. My writing is almost exclusively about business related stuff or just fun things to share. The reason I picked this issue and decided to step up to the plate is because my business with LA Dezign (www.ladezign.com) is very much connected to the Internet space and the comunication strategies we employ for reputation management – both for protecting people's reputations and for enhancing them with search engine marketing and social media marketing campaigns. And part of what my team does in charting out a campaign is to look at the landscape from the perspective of the public eye. Not just what our customers want to say but more importantly, what does the audience want to hear and look for.

In this whole situation with Donald Sterling, much of what is happening by him and to him is a result of the speed at which communication happens now. There's almost no distinction between thinking something, writing it down and having it distributed en masse to the whole world. You sneeze and the world hears it. And this causes me to have a bit of a pause here because as I witness the volcanic eruption surrounding this one man over the release of a private communication behind closed doors, it makes me think about more carefully what our own communication strategies. If the privacy that we keep sacrificing willingly (through our social media declaration) has no limits to its de-evolution then it really puts a considerable strain on where a line can be drawn in the future on how i feel about things and how I act about them because now it seems even the thoughts of the mind are a captive prisoner to the will and whims of the people.

So let's sum up some responses that I heard this last week:
1. He's a scumbag and deserves everything that's happened.
2. The charity money should not have been returned.
3. Since the NBA knew about all this before, it's clear they were just trying to avoid a strike and business is business.
4. It's a mob scene and that bothers me.
5. He didn't consent to have these conversations revealed. Behind a closed door a person should not be punished for having a private conversation
6. Even if he said what I heard, it still bothers me because first of all sounded a bit rambling and secondly, it's clear she goaded him and therefore it's just not fair to judge him based on pieces of the conversation.

So let's talk about my observations and see if they have changed since last week.

First of all, something strange happened to me this weekend. My glasses broke. With my much older spare pair in hand I realized that I could see in the distance but could not see things up close. So in synagogue as I was reading from the Torah (scriptures) for the congregation I had to get my face into the scroll literally 6 inches away to see the words. This induced a very confusing experience. I could only see 3 lines at a time. This meant I kept losing my place in my head in terms of the notes and grammer because I lacked the context of the whole paragraph and sometimes just knowing where I am by referencnig the whole helps me remember the individual details. Even though I had spent a few hours during the week learning the cantillation notes and memorizing all the vowels (since they are not printed in the scrolls), because I had to embrace each verse independently, it was just far more difficult to recite them than I had been expecting.

This frustration got me thinking about the Donald Sterling hoopla because my original contention has been that the taped conversations were like verses of a much larger conversation. And, many of the people opining about the NBA's reaction have justified it by going outside the verses so to say and talking about other things like the lawsuits that have been filed against him in the past for racist renting policies. So it just bothered me that in our courts of law we are not allowed to admit prior bad acts except in specific situations but in the court of public opinion there not only seem to be no exceptions but people are willing to trample on protected rights and reward bad deeds.

The old school version of these United States also had two versions of what we would think of as courts of law. One version was the building filled with judges and lawyers and legislators connected with the written will of the people (the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution and all the laws that emanated from those two documents). The other version was the one outside the building that expressed the unwritten will of the people or what I would refer to as the law of the jungle. The rules of law didn't matter in this other habitat because it was kill or be killed essentially. And the evolution of our culture and our democracy which in part has been fueled by advances in communication (think newspapers, radio, tv, and ultimately Internet and instant messaging) which reduce ignorance and also cut down the time between something happening and people learning about it (and seeing that it really happened) also served to annihilate where possible this other court of law – where the laws of nature not nurture were more likely being observed.

My point here is that in the modern democratic state that has evolved – or is supposed to have been evolved – we are supposed to avoid mob hysteria and replace it with a timely process that induces fairness not feelings, justice not corruption. Just this morning I was studying the Jewish law of written contracts and there was a law at least 1,800 years old which required a bill of divorce to be written on a document where every 2 or 3 sentences were folded over on the parchment so that the full bill of divorce required maybe 8-10 folds before it could be signed and witnessed. The tradition suggests that the reason for this was to cool the hot tempered priest who might divorce his wife too quickly. So each fold was a delaying tactic to give him time to cool down and think things through because for the priestly class, a divorce meant no return. The priest was prohibited from remarrying the same woman again.

With the advances in instant communications comes greater responsibility to sometimes slow things down. Rather than cite a pithy quote about the reasoned mind, I would just as easily submit that it's simply too easy to hit Like or Dislike without reasoning through something and just thinking about the pros and cons. Actually there is a good quote from Andrew Jackson, "Take time to deliberate; but when the time for action arrives, stop thinking and go in." My whole issue with the Sterling affair is that the speed of response we are witnessing is so fast that it puts into question whether anyone has been thinking about and considering the issues not to the point of committee but at least to the point of just spending time reasoning through things. Passion is one thing. But blind passion is another thing.

Now a word about context and nuance. Through my various conversations in the last few days, I have realized that even my own words might get misconstrued. Let's be clear, I am not defending Donald Sterling. My thoughts were about the larger issues related to privacy concerns and how the media and the people who read and watch it, are so quick to reward the bad act of this woman who released something that had no permission seeing the light of the day. And the consequences of this bad act are having very many repercussions that people are simply not thinking about because they are looking at verses instead of chapters.

Here are some facts on the ground.

1. Charities who received money from Mr. Sterling have given back money. Now no one suggested that he stole money from anyone. So they are not giving back "bad" money, just responding to a public outcry that is judging a man without any due process. And those charities are losing serious amounts of money that could help many people. At this rate, charities should then start giving back money to people who violate other ethical codes like cheating on their spouses, taking hard drugs, not paying taxes. Once that slipppery slope starts sliding, where does one draw the line? This is really a tough situation because there's no right answer. The closest thing is to use the law as a guideline and if someone breaks the law like Ivan Boesky did then that's a line that's been crossed. is that line comparable to a private conversation regardless of how reprehensible it might be.

2. The LA Times will likely lose millions of dollars now in ad revenues that could seriously impact their business and this will affect many people's jobs.

3. There are many religious viewpoints that talk about not casting the first stone until you walk a mile in someonee else's shoes or at  least look at youu own backyard first. Again, I think about the law as a guideline. Sure someone can just say I don't want do business with someone who espouses certain views (whether or not he believes in them). But to castigate someone for those views publicly and start messing with other people's lives because it makes you feel better is a very different thing.

I am not suggesting that because we all might have our skeletons in our closet it means we should forgive someone else's questionable deeds.

And maybe this leads to the crux of what I did find myself coming to understand in this last week.

That likely there is no difference between someone who is a racist and someone who acts like a racist. It's quite possible that Sterling is not a racist in his heart. And yet, at the same time, it's clear that he has been acting like a racist. The tapes support both views. While at one time he says I dont have problems with black people (read that personally) he then says "don't come to my games and take pictures with them either". (Btw, i would say African American to be PC but on the tapes they use the word black, so I just want to be sensitive to the reference points).

I can't for the life of me understand why he would think that it helps his business reputation to have her avoid being seen with black people at the games. And yet when I hear the tapes, I don't get the sense that he is being terribly cogent in his dialogue. So without saying that it sounds like the ramblings of a man on diazepam, it also doesn't sound like he makes a whole lot of sense – except to his own way of thinking, warped though it may appear to me.

So I'll close this writing with a suggestion for Mr Sterling that might give him a way out of this mess, and restore a balance that could lead to a much better outcome than what I see happening now. Mr Sterling, come out now like Jimmy Swaggart did many years ago and take a stand. If on a personal level you really are not racist, and if you really felt that society wasn't ready to change its perceptions, then admit you were mistaken. Admit that you acted against your beliefs because you misjudged the situation. Argue then you were misunderstood. It's likely no one after hearing those tapes will believe you anyway. But you know what. People have short term memories. Michael Vick went to jail and resurrected his career. You may not have to go to jail but you can resurrect yourself to by making a change.

Your actions going forward can be your legacy. Just as quickly as the world pounced on you, inspire them to withdraw. Rouse your naysayors to maybe not embrace you but at least support you in your efforts to make up for the mistakes in your past. Instead of inciting anger and hatred, galvanize your media team to deliver a new message that can make a lasting change and use your mountains of wealth to fight the battle against racism and invasions of privacy not in the courts of law but in the streets that have no name.

Pax Vobiscum




Posted by Jason Ciment Wednesday, 04.30.2014 4:35am Comment



Is He A Racist? Wondering About the Real Donald Sterling

1000-recordingsSo as I was driving back from a Provisors meeting in Costa Mesa today and whiling away the time listening to a Sirius XM repeat broadcast of the Howard Stern show, I was fortunate enough to stumble upon some replays of the now infamous Donald Sterling non-sex tapes. I say this because truly aren't the only tapes one ever hears about "sex tapes" these days?

Anyway, as I was cruising through traffic shortcuts courtesy of my Waze app, I finally had a chance to listen to some of the tapes. I had been hearing about the sensational headlines that characterized Mr. Sterling as a rabid racist but I had never actually heard the tapes. I thought to myself, it's really better to go to the source rather than to pass judgement based on reviews. Sort of like rating a movie based on Rotten Tomatoes rather than actually watching the movie.

So I decided to not pass judgment on Don Sterling until after listening to the tapes – and even then maybe still not pass judgment because I haven't walked a mile in his shoes. And as any loyal Howard Stern fan would tell you, there's nothing like listening to the tapes (ala Benjy of course).

So I started to listen to them. And you know what, I was kind of surprised. I didn't hear all of the surreptitious recordings, but I heard enough to at least write this post today.

Here are some of my observations.

First:
I think it's pretty horrific that a person inside someone's circle of trust revealed, let alone secretly recorded for public consumption, private conversations. In the Google economy we now live in where our privacy expectations have been flattened by the voluntary offerings to the gods of Facebook, Twitter and personal WordPress blogs, I think there's still a remnant of human decency that suggests that I should have the right to keep oral conversations private when they happen in private. I am sure there is an Amendment to this effect actually. And what this misguided (this is my kind term for her) woman did is not something that should be rewarded. Now I know me writing this is in some sense rewarding her but I have not mentioned her name so at least she can't get any mileage out of this post. So as best as I can say this, the journalists should not have sensationalized and publicized this unauthorized rape of Mr Sterling's sense of emotional self. It concerns me that the media is clapping itself on the shoulders for essentially violating Donald's rights to self-autonomy when it comes to his private conversations. A taped 911 call is a totally different thing and that's why I am concerned about how easy it is to record someone with a cell-phone and how this impinges even more on what's left of my privacy expectations.

Second:
In the business world I inhabit daily where my company designs and promotes websites, we always talk to our clients about Context. When Google spiders visit websites, each page has to deliver some sort of message within the context of a larger theme. Without context, it's hard to tell if a page entitled Riding is about Horseback riding or Bike riding. Context is everything when it comes to achieving higher conversions and higher search engine rankings. In the case of the Sterling tapes, it's clear this mendacious woman coaxed Donald into saying things that simply lacked the context of a larger conversation. And therefore, the sound bites being published are moments in time rather than episodes in time. It's like watching your first episode of 24 mid-season and then learning that there is a whole season of chaos that takes place in a lengthy 24 hour time frame. So my feeling here is that our ability to really assess the value of the conversation in the tapes is dramatically affected by two things. First, it sounds like he was extemely agitated and saying things without thinking them through. And as Kirk Douglas said about himself as an older man that he wouldn't trust any decision he made at 14 years old, I would not trust the words of an octogenarian when he sounded the way this man sounded on the tapes. The second problem is that the conversations were clearly being manipulated and this ultimately just frustrates me because the man is being judged on the basis of snippets. The whole notion of innocent till proven guilty which is the American way has been tossed out with his civil rights. And no one seems to care that the NBA caved to social pressure and just banned a guy for life without any sense of due process. Now I know the NBA is not required to abide by the laws of due process but nevertheless there is a standard of reasonableness and organizations of the size, stature and history of the NBA should not kowtow to mood swings. They should be resisting this tendency to cave and hold themselves to a higher standard.

Third:
Here's likely the most important thing. Now to preface my words, I want to repeat that I only listened to a few tapes so it's possible that other tapes may have suggested a different conclusion than I reached. So here's what I think I heard.

She kept asking him about his opinion of race. And each time she tried to reframe the question, he stuck to his original position early on in the conversation. He said towards the beginning that "there's nothing wrong with black people" and he didn't vary from this statement. What she tried to do though was twist his response to conform to her own agenda. And here's what I saw happening.

He continued to expand on his thoughts by describing the CULTURE we live in and how it has rules for the society that govern it. Now to be clear, my role is not to pass a ruling on the veracity of his opinion but rather to simply interpret what he was trying to say. And here's what I think he kept trying to drive home.

His opinion is that the world is racist, or anti-semitic or simply very opinionated about the backgrounds of peoples and habits attributed to them (whether rightly or not). He did not say in any of the tapes that I heard that this was HIS shared opinion. In fact, when she asked him about why he would not take a stand to change this state of affairs, he said very matter of factly that he did not feel he could make a change. And therefore, in order to live in this world, in a matter in which he had become accustomed over so many years, he made a choice to not try to change the world view. This is like exercising your right not to vote. Sure we have the right to vote, and far too many people do not vote in elections. Isn't there choosing not to vote a demonstration of their feeling of powerlessness to make a change? Is Mr. Sterling to be judged differently because he has more money than the next person? Isn't everyone's vote supposed to be counted equally in this country?

And once I came to the conclusion that he was taking an approach of INACTION or possibly even avoidance, the rest of the conversations I heard on the tapes got filtered through a different lense.

No longer were his comments about black people or hispanics per se. But rather, they were about his concern that he would be stoking fires in a conversation he simply wanted to avoid – and not because he was racist but rather because he wanted to continue living a vanilla life in a rainbow world that so far had given him lots more ups than downs.

Now let's be clear. I think what he said sucks because no one should ever feel powerless in this country to think we can't effect change. But at the same time, rich people and poor people all need therapy for their own particular issues. Howard Stern loves to talk about all the days in the week he goes to therapy. It's hard for me to relate to in all honesty because I put him up on so many pedestals for things he's done in his life. At the same time though, there's so many gaps in his pursuit of happiness that it sort of does make sense why he can't find a way to cope with the world and extract all the goodness from it instead of getting bogged down by all the distractions.

Well just because Mr Sterling is a public figure and a wealthy one at that does not mean that life is easy for him. We all face challenges of getting along in this world and finding our way. It's called the pursuit of happiness in our heritage because it simply isn't easy. But it is our right to pursue it in any way we see fit and in the privacy of our own homes and as long as we don't impinge on the rights of others.

And this is ultimately why I felt compelled to write this brief siloloquy (because how many people will really read this current monlogue). I may not like very many things and yet I hope that if I share my dislikes privately with a trusted person that those dislikes don't end up being broadcast on the front pages of the newspapers (sorry for this soon to be antiquated reference point). And if they do get broadcasted I think it's shameful for people to reward the perpetrators of these violations of one's inalienable rights to privacy. And most importantly, if my views are not impinging on other people's liberties or rights, then those same views are simply protected and should not be subject to anyone's assessment without my volunteering my views for others' review. If Mr Sterling, or anyone for that matter, is looking to live in this world and find a way to cope with the demands and pressures and judgments (whether real or assumed) then we owe it to each other to respect personal and private opinions (again, so long as they do not impinge on other people's rights or liberties) and hold our privacy laws to a very, very high standard.

Now I will conclude with this final thought. As this now newsworthy distraction from larger issues in the world tragically gains more traction and attention, it appears that Mr. Sterling has previously made comments on numerous occasions that suggest he has a racist perspective on the world. And that he may actually exhibit racist tendencies too. I am not a fan of such actions if they be true. I have not read more articles on Donald Sterling because honestly I have more compelling and interesting things to do like play with my new rescue dog Meatball (ok, the kids call her Lacey), rough it up with the kids or listen to another replay of the Sirius XM town hall with Billy Joel yesterday.

My point is that from the tapes I heard, Donald Sterling got shafted. He has been judged unfairly and readers should consider that this episode should be reframed as a battle cry for help from Donald's friend that the perceptions of the world should be challenged. Despite the fact that we've elected a non-white President, is Mr Sterling right that we still live in a racially charged society where even people of wealth feel that they have to hide their true feelings and just submit to the will of the People.

I ask you this based on my analysis of the tapes:

Is it possible that Donald Sterling really is not a racist and was too chicken to say otherwise even in the privacy of his own residence?

And if so, is this not a sorrier state of affairs than his alleged racist comments?

I reserve my final opinion for the moment as i know there are more tapes to hear. But at the same time, an episode of something on Netlfix is calling me. Priorities priorities.




Posted by Jason Ciment Monday, 04.14.2014 12:24am Comment



Eulogy for Yale Harlow Delivered by Jason Ciment on April 13th 2014

yaleandjasonYale was an avid reader. We shared a lot of books together that we both enjoyed and loved to talk about. I’d like to read a short excerpt from one of his favorite authors Daniel Silva as a way of introducing you to the core of the man I came to know and admire.

It was the Rembrandt painting that solved the mystery once and for all. The man’s neighbors would chide themselves for having missed the telltale signs, and they would share a good natured laugh at some of their outlandish theories about the true nature of his work. In their wildest dreams, there was not one among them who ever considered the possibility that the TACITURN man was an art restorer, and an Israeli undercover agent.

Yale may not have been Gabriel Allon, Israeli super spy but he was one of the most reserved people I’ve ever known. And yet, in his quietness, resided a deep reservoir of knowledge, compassion and most of all displacement of his self in favor of those around him. It is rare to have met such a selfless person as Yale.

Near the end of the Torah in Devarim there is a phrase which reads “Eish da'at, The fiery law.” The Midrash Tanhuma in Breishit says that this phrase is talking about how the Torah is written "black fire on white fire."

There are the black letters which form the words we read and then there’s the parchment with all the white space around the letters which the Rabbis call the white fire.

Yale was the white fire.

He let others do most of the talking. He was a man of actions, and mostly selfless actions.

I don’t think I ever heard him say anything critical about anyone. You didn’t’ come to Yale if you wanted his opinion. Far be it from him to tell you what to do. You came to Yale to tell yourself what to do.

Coming to Yale for advice was like going to a therapist. You would have to do most of the talking because he generally appeared to trust you to make the best decision on your own. He didn’t need to interject his advice. He just needed to be there to help you reason things out and then support you in your choices. You grew up real quickly in Yale’s house because you were treated like an adult and given your independence early on.

Unlike most of us whose reaction might be to give a suggestion or to give advice. That wasn’t Yale. Rather he’d let you consider your own thoughts and wait for you to come to your own resolution. And he was always happy with your choice. It’s a trait that has been inherited for sure.

Even yesterday when we told Gideon the news and Sari asked are you sad, in his innocence he exclaimed I’m not sad Mommy, I am always happy. Why should I be sad?

Yale was always happy too.

And you know where he was happiest in these last few years. It was in front of his computer. That was his black fire. Nothing stoked his fires like browsing the Internet to find the most obscure pieces of information and then sending out these videos, articles and blog postings to people all over the world. And people listened and looked forward to his messages.

If he had wanted a second career as a research analyst he would have had no parallel. His letters to the editor were often published because he knew what to say and how to say it.

It’s no wonder that his name resides on a plaque at Hastings law school where he was the winner of the first moot court in law school.

Yale Harlow was an extremely intelligent and accomplished person. He had the black fire when he needed it as he proved at Hastings and yet he never really let on how smart he was because his humility was like the music of Miles Davis. They say about Miles that his genius was in the silence between the notes. Yale too was a musician who played the trombone. And in living his life, he definitely knew something about the silence between the notes.

Yale put aside the parlor tricks of words and opinions and instead demonstrated the real power of the white fire by choosing to express himself with acts of kindness and compassion.

I think that to live righteously and make good honest choices in life, we are ultimately judged by the things we say and the things we do. Kohelet says that a good name is better than the best oil. Yale’s mandate as a man living a Jewish valued life was never motivated by the more pedestrian things like money, fame and honor.

His prime directive was to commit himself to his family, his friendships, his community and his fellow man. And you are all here because you have seen this commitment in him at all times.

It’s no coincidence that Yale returned to our creator on Shabbat Hagadol right before Passover.

In the moments of his passing yesterday I was in Shul reading the Haftorah which describes how Elijah was prophesying how in Messianic times the hearts of the children would be connected with the hearts of their parents. Family was everything for Yale and for Michele too.

They also redefined what it means to be included in their family. There are many people here who consider both Yale and Michele to have been something like foster parents to them. It really didn’t matter what you needed, he was always there whether you were related to him or not. It was just how he defined himself by meeting the needs of others.

I asked my kids on Shabbat to tell me things they remembered most about Zaide.

He drove me to my acting classes in Santa Monica every week.
He took me to ballet.
He took us to the airport whenever we on vacation.

My favorite is something Michele told me years ago. Jason, I’ve never filled a gas tank because Yale always filled the tanks.

I am not suggesting that he felt his purpose was to be a Chauffer. Rather, these examples just highlight how Yale simply lived to be the white fire around other the black fire of other people’s needs and desires.

I’d like to say one last thing about Yale because this is something that many of us in the family have already integrated into our lives and it’s an easy custom to emulate.

If you knew Yale on the Sabbath or Holidays, you’d relish in knowing that his favorite moments in all of the blessings he would recite was when he would thrill us all in Kiddush with a loud and pregnant pause as he would practically scream BOHRAY Peri Hagafen. It seems that for all these years, he’s been trying to get the attention of his creator.

Well he’s finally going to meet him now.

He won’t be there tomorrow night at the Seder or in the future to give us those momentary thrill rides but Sari and I and the rest of our family for sure will be remembering him as we look at all the kids around the table and recognize that his legacy does live on and that his life made a difference and was valued and that the doors are wide open upstairs waiting for him with a brand new virus-free laptop and free wifi.

 




Posted by Jason Ciment Monday, 03.03.2014 12:23pm Comment



Communications Strategy for Customer Engagement

Websites need to talk to their customers — more often and more intelligently.

More often because you don't want them to forget about you as they are deluged with offers from other sources.

More intelligently because you need to figure out a way to stand apart from a barrage of other communications.

If you want someone to "see your message" and act on it, you may have to send it up to 29 times. It's called the Rule of 29. The number of messages isn't important here. Rather, it's the idea of meaningful repetition.

The Rule of 29 applies to someone who opts in to receive messages. juwt like a good shampoo, you need to Rinse and Repeat. The key is to reinforce your message to your clientbase. Guide them down the path you want them to follow. Lead them to the sale.

The best way to learn is often by trial and error. Until you get your hands dirty and start "testing" your abilities, it's a long-distance relationship — and we know how unsatisfying long-distance love can be. Case studies are the second-best way to learn (at least, that's what they told us in law school). So, I submit for your review a case study and primer on client communications developed at my first company by its first communications director, Vanessa.

Her first step was to develop a format that would be consistent in all communications to customers.

Here's what we've adopted when we launched this previously.
 

  • New products being offered and which products were no longer going to be available. This tells customers our catalog is constantly changing and enables them to make certain their needs are in sync with ours.
  • Cut-and-paste featured offer. This offer is usually for the most popular or most profitable product.
  • Category killers. We offer 12 product categories. It's difficult to predict which categories will interest individual affiliates. So, we provide links to specially designed pages devoted to each category.
  • A feedback link. This link requests input from customers on how we can improve our program. We include a quote or testimonial from a customer to make it seem real and participatory. As important as it is to enage customers, you need to listen, too. Affiliates and your customers are the best barometers for how your business can be improved.
  • A viral tell-a-friend link. This link forwards the newsletter, or portions of it, to people who may become new customers.
  • A time-sensitive incentive. The incentive can stand alone or be applied to any of the above items. An extra commission or freebie will incentivize customers to take advantage of particular offers or provide feedback. Customers love giveaways, and salespeople (i.e., affiliates) love them even more. They'll demonstrate that love right into your bank account. Any incentive should be for a limited time, or human nature will take over and they won't act.

Keep one thing in mind before you set a communications strategy: spoon feeding. Assume your customers just woke up and don't have a clue how to proceed.

Make your call to action simple and easy to implement. I try to lay out my propositions step by step in this column. Do the same for your customers. If you don't want to use valuable space in an email message, put the longer, more detailed step-by-step scenario on a Web page and link to it from the newsletter. Your customers will appreciate the effort you've made to show them how it should be done.

If you're interested in a 12-month communications plan or tactics that have worked for other companies, drop me a line. If you have comments on the above, which, as with anything else on the Web, is a work in progress, please share them, and I will update the program in a future article.




Posted by Jason Ciment Thursday, 02.20.2014 5:19am Comment



Search Engine Optimization and Marketing Services

Search Engine Optimization

Having top search engine listings is important for any company who sells a product or service that people search for online.

A first page search engine listing will position your website to attract targeted visitors who you can covert to leads and sales!

It's fair to say that if you fail to achieve website listings in the first 20 positions on the major search engines, you will not see impressive results for your lead generation efforts.

This is why companies with websites spend considerable marketing dollars on promoting their websites with Search Engine Optimization and Pay-per-Click advertising campaigns.

In my capacity as co-founder of LADezign I have spent six years sharing tactics and strategies that create more sales for businesses. My partner Michael and I with our team have spent more hours than we can keep track of in perfecting our techniques to drive more traffic through broader and more comprehensive and ultimately higher search engine rankings.

And because funding these campaigns is a moving target, our search engine optimization services can be modifed to support the right service for every reasonable budget.

Are you currently paying for search engine rankings? It pays to do a review and see how you are really doing. Don't just pay the monthly retainer. Make sure you have an expert review your results at least twice per year.

Consider selfishly that our search engine optimization services may actually increase traffic and cut down on your website promotion cost at the same time!

Here are services you can get help with

  • Natural Search Engine Optimization (SEO)
  • Paid Inclusion (PPC) Bid Management & Tracking
  • Paid Search
  • Shopping Site Promotions
     



Posted by Jason Ciment Monday, 02.10.2014 5:15am Comment



Website Design Services Overview

Is your website hitting the mark?
Are visitors connecting with your goals?
Bottom line: Are you converting visits into leads or sales?

How your website looks and reads is a leading indicator of how well it will perform to drive visitors through your sales funnel. Just like the old adage you are how you look, the same can be said about a high performance website.

I've been selling things online since 1997. I've written for the main marketing journals like SearchEngineLand and ClickZ. I can name drop with the best of them. But really who gives a hoot about things I've done when what really matters is what can be done for you going forward.

This website is all about your future and your sustainability. If you want to survive you need more than a me too website. You don't need to be ahead of the curve or cutting edge. Instead you just need to abide by 3 time-tested, proven principles that come right out of debate team:

Tell 'em what you do.
Do it.
Then, tell them that you did it.

This is the formula.

I'm going to save you money on your car insurance.
Here's how I am going to do it.
Here's how i did it for Mr "X" just last week.

If you are believable, you will be believed.

All you need is to tell your story with good copy, strong headlines, nice graphics and an overall intuitive design and you will close more business.

it's really that simple.

if you want to take the dramatic first step and achieve the growth you are pining for then just drop me a line and let's talk = for real.

I am not going to distract you will sales copy about the highest quality website design at affordable prices because you do't need affordable. You need to win. If it costs more to be victorious then make the wager and invest in yourself to be a leader not a follower.

If you are starting a new project from scratch or having a current website re-designed, I will guide you and direct you to get the job done.

Think of my as your website architect. I have the information and development resources here to help you organize what you might need. I will be glad to design and/or oversee a complete strategy for the entire site design and development process.

Just to recap:

Still wondering what makes for a terrific Website?

Attractive graphics are appealing but great Web sites are designed at the intersection of your brand message, what your customers are trying to accomplish and what you want them to do. Based on this information and analyzing these factors, the right overall design and technologies can be created and implemented.

With every project, I will help you integrate a balanced blend of your customers' needs with your business requirements, while at the same time providing a measurable return on investment and encompassing your interactive goals. Now if you understand what i Just wrote you can be obliged to tell me because I don't even understand it.

Let's try again in plain english:

If you want a website that will drive dollars to your bottom line, then let's talk.
If you just want a second opinion on your website project, then let's talk.
If you aren't sure what you want but you know you need to make a change, then let's talk.

Anyone else with a different agenda? let's not talk. You are probably not the right fit for my website services.




Posted by Jason Ciment Saturday, 01.25.2014 12:23pm Comment



Ecommerce Shopping Cart Software Solutions

If you are selling online then your success quite often is tangible connected to the quality,functionality and flexibility of your eCommerce shopping cart enabled web software platform.

Selling online is a tricky thing.

As the world continues its transformation into the Google economy, any competitor is often just a click away from your website.

The challenge of making the sale often comes down to engaging your customer not only with a competitive price but also with a user-friendly and content compelling (what some might term "Persuasive") web site experience.

As the selling experience proceeds to be commoditized – especially with the adoption of the very very boring responsive and very impersonal websites – the challenge to differentiate is even more complicated.

Your online ecommerce success boils down to 3 things:
- Good Copywriting,
- Fast Load Times
- Smooth User-Interface

I have spent years on the inside working on upgrade after upgrade with the developers of the Adrecom enterprise eCMS system, one of the original ecommerce shopping cart platforms that evolved from the Webcart platform.

The Adrecom developers have taken the Best Practices from other web site platforms and integrated them into one comprehensive web site solution that is designed for one purpose in mind – make you money from online sales.

If you want to tour the Adrecom platform, visit www.Adrecom.net.




Posted by Jason Ciment Friday, 01.10.2014 12:22pm Comment



Is Your Website Trustworthy?

Does giving away something free still work to induce people to give you their contact details?

In this age of the "what's in it for me" society I advocate that it still can work.

Once you hhave initiated the give-to-get strategy, you still face a new challenge:

Who are you to deserve their ongoing attention — not to mention their money?

Web site owners are often slaves to their own need for credibility.

Ask yourself, is your web site trustworthy? 

Do you have years of experience in your industry? Do you have clients that will go out on a limb and vouch for your pathetically trite yet valid "total commitment to customer service"? Exclusively Web-based businesses, because they lack the brick-and-mortar reputation their competitors may enjoy, have an even tougher uphill battle to satisfy new users.

Here are three techniques to encourage visitors to stay on your site and enjoy a cup of virtual tea and perhaps even spend some money or share in some sage advice before leaving.

1. Make your site easy to use and intuitive in order to be perceived as credible and desirable,

Look up Bryan Eisenberg online and search for anything he writes. His books and articles have done loads for me personally over the years. You can even stop reading this article until you absorb his simple building blocks for Web site usability.

2. Be relevant, yet independent.

In this shift from just "giving" to "giving and satisfying", you can greet them with symbols of unbeatable convenience and reliability.

The first symbol can be a logo of an independent and reliable verification service such as Yelp. This puts the user one mouse click away from a variety of comments and ratings about your site. A second symbol might be a shopping verification logo of an organization such as the BBB (Better Business Bureau) OnLine. These two emblems reinforce the idea that your business may develop a relationship which is credible and capable of backing up its integrity.

3. Make visitors feel special.

People want relationships. Some want a really quick experience with no follow up — get in and get out. Others may want the cushy feeling.

Regardless of the nature of the relationship that will develop between Web site owner and Web site user, your customers want to know that you care and that you will make yourself available to provide help.

This is really the easiest technique and can be addressed by focusing on one mantra — "no time, no time, no time." No time is what everyone has tons of. Therefore, since people have no time, don't make them waste time hunting for answers.

- Make your frequently asked questions (FAQ) section obvious.
- Make your phone number bold and beautiful.
- Make whatever experience you provide online really fast and easy so that your users leave happy.

I call this the "FEH Principle," from an old Yiddish word that I'll more properly describe one day.

To recap, running a successful credibility strategy requires more than just ongoing communications. It requires that your Web site experience be enjoyable to each and every customer. To make sure that your customers keep sending you targeted traffic, just obey the FEH Principle. Because by doing so, the "who are you" question will answer itself: "I am Web site, hear me roar."  

 




Posted by Jason Ciment Wednesday, 12.25.2013 12:20pm Comment



Launch Your Web Site

How do you launch a new Web site in a highly competitive marketplace?

Here's a step-by-step methodology to follow — even in an environment with many established players.

1. Identify keywords. Use deductive reasoning and some keyword matching software — similar to how NameBoy comes up with domain name matches. For example, in the nutrition space you might find phrases like "nutrition products," "health food," "protein drinks," and "keeping fit" as highly relevant terms that people would type into search engines to locate relevant nutrition product sites.

2. Create personalized pages for each keyword set. Design each page with slightly different content and target it to a specific demographic audience. For example, on the two pages designed around the keywords "health food," the content on one page is targeted at health food store owners and the content on the second is uniquely targeted toward health food lovers.

3. Get links from other sites that offer content or commerce specifically relevant to your products and services.

4. Link to sites as well that are highly authorative like Wikipedia. For example, on a page targeted at store owners, he added links to other health food stores online (mostly noncompetitive) so that his buyers would think of his nutrition site as more than just an e-commerce store.

5. Ask for reseller relationships. Personally contact (not email) site owners to discuss more intricate affiliate relationships. Sometimes, instead of offering standard commissions make special deals.

6. Focus on quality — not quantity. 10 targeted super affiliates could bring you much more business than 1,000 randomly acquired resellers. Supercharge your impact by asking for referrals to other affiliate marketing or joint venture opportunities and frequent updates on the types of promotions (and the results) each affiliate was running internally.

7. Implement a Pay per click campaign. Look for bidding software, like Tangare, to bid on high placements on pay-per-click engines such as Google and Bing. Don't buy untargeted ads; the best ROI for your money today is specific keyword buys on search engines or pay-per-click engines.

8. Provide something for free. Using the guidance of Robert Allen, author of "Multiple Streams of Internet Income," emailing short surveys designed to motivate participation in the development of the site. Space the surveys a week or so apart and slowly build momentum among the email recipients. As an example in the nutrition space, to whet their appetites for a "revolutionary new nutrition site," the email surveys can include some viral recommendation components attached to a giveaway (either a discount coupon, a contest to win free supplies, or a surprise bonus gift to be determined).

So there you have it. For less than $1,000, you can initiate a site launch with instantaneous traffic from both affiliates and search engines. After the launch, wyou can then try other indirect promotions such as public relations and personal appearances.






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