Entrepreneurship, Marketing and the Interwebs

Blog by JP Zeni

Hiring Developers is Like Dating

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Hiring developers feels like a bad dating game. This is especially true when you are looking for contractors. Even though there are ‘plenty of fish’ in the sea (on oDesk) it always seems like all the good ones are taken. So you have to go about investing time and money on lots of ‘dates’ until you find someone that works. Not to mention the ‘one night stand’ projects where even though the business is done in short order you’re always left with that awkward morning after conversation …. ‘ya, I may have some more projects coming up soon, I’ll let you know’.

Then, once you find a good one, they tend to be expensive to keep happy unless you are really sexy (insert cool startup company of the week here) or an established alpha (see Google/Facebook/etc). But, I have found a few tricks to helping retain good help including:

1. Provide lots of feedback – include both the good and the bad – then set new goals
2. Keep them busy – Idle hands are the tools of devil
3. Include at least a few really interesting and challenging projects
4. Keep your eyes and ears open to potential warning signs that your developer may be unsatisfied
5. Forge a personal relationships – friendships and a happy work environment are a huge boost to loyalty

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August 27, 2010 at 6:27 pm

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Web 3.0 – taking your thoughts about the future of the web to another level

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Just watched the below video which I originally found on TechCrunch. It’s funny to watch this sort of video where people are desperately trying to get a grasp on what the future is going to look like but are failing so completely. At the same time, the mystery and incredibly dynamic nature of the web is really a huge reason why I love the space so much. I spend a lot of time in the work related web and getting this sort of prompting to ponder the future web is incredibly refreshing. Enjoy –

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May 11, 2010 at 11:02 pm

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Google updates it’s look

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Meh, not sure I love it. I actually think I may prefer the old version better. I’d be interested to see if this has any long term affect on user behavior but I’m sure that topic will be beaten to death (and that horse will get a continued flogging for a lengthy time thereafter) by seomoz et al so no more mention needed here ūüėõ

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May 5, 2010 at 11:32 pm

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Game Mechanics

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Just read a great post from a colleague of mine and the lead developer behind Plurk – a super cool microblogging platform that is currently the biggest social network in asia (minus china where it has been great firewalled … alas that is a story for another day).

Back to the post … it featured the following video by game designer Amy Jo Kim speaking to a group from Google.

The video made me think of a couple things. (1) How can I add game mechanics to my work or future work. (2) Getting speakers like this is another reason Google just keeps on raising the bar with new and innovative technologies … Kudos to their HR dept.

Finally, I really want to find a version of Jane McGonigal’s TED talk. Please let me know if anyone knows where to find it.

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February 27, 2010 at 9:06 pm

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Update on our update

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I must admit we had some initial problems with our last major design update. The biggest issue was that people continue to use IE 6. Seriously? That browser is sooooo¬†2001 … no, literally, it came out in 2001. Completely outdated, it is now¬†the bane of many a webmaster¬†doing cross browser compatibility. So, I encourage everyone to support¬†the noble cause for Killing IE6.¬†Please support the cause¬†and upgrade if you haven’t already. ¬†

Besides that, the DMV update went swell. Conversions are up, site interaction is up, revenue is up, profit is up … and it just looks so darn good too.

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February 19, 2010 at 8:57 pm

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DMV.com’s New Clothes

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So we just released the new look DMV.com and I must say that it looks pretty awesome. First off, let me shout out to Nik and Mihai for the excellent development and design work respectively. Secondly I want to quickly list some of the cool new things that come along with the site:

  1. New Logo – A patriotic theme with nice imagery of the flag that doubles as a road
  2. New header design
  3. Integrated CSS slider that really looks great
  4. New color scheme
  5. Updated fonts
  6. New layouts for homepage and state homepages
  7. Increased visibility and improvement of right column text ads
  8. Increased use of icons
  9. Top level navigation
  10. Reduction of confusing wiki controls

Also in the works is a new more easy to understand navigation scheme which I hope to have in place in the next two weeks. So for now I suggest you stop reading my blog and go admire my changes to everyone’s favorite DMV Guide.

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February 4, 2010 at 8:20 pm

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The Wiserhood – Give it an A

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There’s a lot to like about the Wisers – ‘Wiserhood – The Society of Uncompromising Men’ campaign. It is a complete campaign that is more than just good advertising – it has the underlying marketing message is spot on. Here are my thoughts:

Greate messaging. Simply put – the Wiserhood is inviting you to be part of a fraternity where the values are derived from the traditions of manhood and alpha male behaviour. Anything that can provide access to these values are magnetic to a man in his formative years.

Great targeting – This campaign is NOT¬† just the generic ’19 – 35yr old male beer commercial’ shlop. In my view, the campaign accurately sub targets a more mature (say 26+ audience) with messaging that resonates with their current life situations and by building scenes around mature themes such as Gerry Dee’s live-in/marital relationship and the responsibility of cutting a turkey. These are things which are not normally the purview of the pre-mid/late twenty year-old and differentiate Wisers from the plethora of brands competing with for the younger crowd with inane party/club/bar/beach sequences.

Further, the settings add to the sense of maturity through the use of old-fashioned wood panelling and the formality of decor. Personally, I’ve always been a big fan of some classic crown molding (though not so much with the wood panelling) and I’d say the ad team has done a great job creating not only a sense of maturity but have projected a classic, slightly upscale image upon the brand.

Throw in some solid humour to put this campaign over the top. The mustache episode (seen above) is my personal favorite. The excellent use of metaphor creates the perfect double entendre. Metaphor is used in a lot of commercials to create a lofty comparison for a normally mundane product so what makes this spot different is a. the double entendre and b. the mustache. Dropping a timely double entendre¬† is to wit what a posterizing dunk is to basketball – Spectacular and rare, so when you get one – take a picture of it and frame it on your wall. And, the mustache … those who wear it regularly and are under 40 are truly uncompromising. To top it off the commercial is finished perfectly by the actor with some real pride that stays short of haughtiness.

The only major beef I have with this campaign is the Gerry Dee episode. I typically like Gerry Dee’s segments on The Score and although I found meeting him in person underwhelming, I would still say I’m a fan. Part of his shtick has a passive aggressive edge to it and although that can be funny (see The Score segments) or not funny (see the car commercial with the voodoo doll) it doesn’t seem quite right for this campaign. Why? Because the Men are supposed to be Uncompromising. I suppose he actually doesn’t compromise and wear the sweater in the end but uncompromising is supposed to be derived from alpha male behaviour. I see an uncompromising ‘Alpha’ man telling his wife the sweater is not to his liking and would be better off donated to the salvation army … intact. Phrasing this appropriately so as to not offend his wife would be the mark of a true uncompromising gentleman.

Final Thoughts

Realistically as a non-whiskey drinker I’m not really the primary target market for this product so despite the fact that I won’t be buying Wisers I would expect this campaign to win over some current CC, Crown and other domestic whiskey drinkers. And, as much as I was annoyed with the Gerry Dee episode this campaign is not only really well thought out and produced, but it’s been brought up by some of my peers in unprompted conversation more than once. So,with style and impact points on the board I give it a solid A.

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December 2, 2009 at 6:43 am

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