Category Archives: Uncategorized

Capitalism, Good Business or Greed?

Here is another case where I have to question is this pure capitalism, good business practices or greed praying on those who are struggling?

Progressive Insurance

My son in Boston has progressive auto insurance.  He got an email notification that his car insurance was coming due.  It was interesting the various payment options available for the six month policy. I love how they thank him for being a loyal customer then reach deeper into his pocket to extract crazy fees.

Options:

Option 1 Pay in Full – For $696.00 – this is the best “deal” for everyone. It gets my son the best price for coverage and Progressive the money up front. This does mean he is “prepaying” for his insurance. If he wants to shift it is harder to do and takes about 30 days to get a refund.

Option 2 – Automatic Deductions:  $864.00 this is a 19% premium over the base price.  At this rate, you are paying about the same as most credit card interest for people without great credit so not a bad option if you can’t pay the full amount up front. It is easy, you don’t do anything except make sure money is in your checking account. Progressive does have to wait for their money since most of these are paid even if you don’t have the money and if you don’t you get hit with overdraft. It is automatic for Progressive and the $1.00 cost for the digital transaction is still profitable. I don’t understand the reason for a 19% premium other than they can.

Option 3 – Monthly Installments:  $1,009.00 – this is a 41% premium. This should be against the law. I would call this a “broke and/or dumb person penalty” since this person is broke and can’t pay and needs to call the day of the payment and pay them OR does not have a credit card where teh interest would be lower to just pay it and then pay the credit card each month.

Both of the periodic payment options represents the risk of the customer not paying and the loss of a customer but more importantly the time value of that prepaid interest revenue.
The capitalist in me finds nothing wrong with this since you are paying for a service where you have a choice in who you do business with.   But then again, this is prepayment of the insurance which you have not consumed. We don’t really do this with anything else?  These preapyments only seem to happen on insurance other than expensive medical insurance.

The emotional human side of me thinks this is wrong to prey on people that can’t pay for the full six months. You were laid off, had a emergency payment for a doctor or a large home repair and have to pay in installments – is a 41% for “installment fees” appropriate?  If they don’t pay in that month then they get cancelled so it is not like they could actually rip off the insurance company.

Fortunately, our son is doing well and learned when he was in high school that he needed to budget and save money ahead of these large expenses so that he can pay them in full which in this case he did.

Stupid Systems or Greedy Airlines?

A few months ago I was looking to book a flight for my wife and I go to from Sydney to Auckland New Zealand while we are in the area for a conference.  Being a “very” loyal United customer I went there first to check on flights.   I was going to one big trip – into Sydney – the hop to Auckland then back to the US from Auckland.  That was a problem so I tried to just add a simple leg to Auckland.

Now I have written about some crazy routs by United but this is a simple 3 hour flight in Economy that they thought a fair price for was over $3,000. Interestingly it would be on a code share partner Air New Zealand.

united_wtf

So like any good price conscience shopper I went ti Air New Zealand to see what they would charge to fly the exact same seat on the exact same airplane and it was starting at less than 10% of what United wanted. At the 10% rate I would get a better seat and a meal unlike what I would get with United.

air_new_zealand

You would think the systems would flag this type of thing but I guess if someone was willing to pay the yield on that route would be amazing. In my case I booked it with Air New Zealand.

Power of Ranking and Share of Search Traffic

Earlier this week Google announced enhanced functionality of the “Top Queries” report within Webmaster Tools.  This new function allows you to see more data for your organic phrases.  It helps you understand the importance of rankings and the share of clicks you can achieve and you move up the ranking ladder.  In teh example images below you can see where you were ranking on specific days and which page was ranking.

I suggest if you have not seen this new functionality you log in and check it out and make it a key part of your ongoing diagnostics.

Celebrating 25 Wonderful Years

On this day 25 years ago Motoko and I got married.   We are as happy today as we were then – well at least I am 😉

Some of the highlights of this 25 year adventure are:

  • We were joined by 2 wonderful, yet very outspoken children, Mariko and Bill 4th who have or are about to graduate college and are now starting their own careers and will soon meet the perfect person.
  • Moved at least 10 times including to 3 countries and 4 different states and have driven across the US 3 times moving to new locations.
  • We have each had at least 4 career changes including building and and ultimately selling multiple companies (Motoko has ran hers for over 10 years)
  • Have visited 49 of 50 US states and 30+ countries together
  • Have been to at least a dozen Def Leppard concerts and many others

A few who have sent congratulations today asked how we met.

It is a pretty interesting story and helped me believe completely that some things are destined to happen.  We first met at a McDonald’s in Hiroshima Japan.   My good friend Irv and I were in Hiroshima causing trouble and having fun with the locals.  He decided he wanted a Big Mac.  We would never go to McDonald’s for lunch but this day we made an exception.  What were the odds that we, two Americans, based 45 minutes away,  never went to McDonald’s,  would happen into one at that very time?

Sitting next two us were two Japanese women reading a Japanese heavy metal rock band magazine.  We noticed this immediately since in the early 80’s you could not go anywhere in Japan without hearing Michael Jackson planing and the Japanese loved his music.   Don’t recall if it was Irv or I that asked them about not liking MJ and they told us they were into bands like Def Leppard, Scorpions and Judist Priest.  We were amazed and teased them a bit for not being real Japanese and liking MJ.

We commented on their English ability and learned they were college students.  Motoko was in town helping her sister move into the dorm at her college.  Motoko was attending college 4 hours away.  The net is, we spent the day together and over the coming months talked on the phone, wrote letters and met in person when ever possible.

Again, what are the odds that Motoko, attending college 4 hours away, also not a fan of McDonald’s would be at one and would pull out a magazine that would get the attention of the two American’s sitting next to them.  On top of that, she was supposed to be studying in Hawaii in a semester abroad program but did not go at the last minute.

Not sure exactly when, I am sure that will get me in trouble, but I knew she was the one for me and started the process of asking her very traditional family for permission to marry her.  In parallel, Motoko was trying to finish her University program and graduate while I was facing the US Military foreign marriage paperwork gauntlet while bouncing around the Pacific in training operations.  Clearly I received approvals all around and we got married.

Over the next 7 years Motoko experienced the harsh reality of being a Marine’s wife as I deployed to a number of far off lands and transfers to different duty stations and training rotations.   After a 14 month deployment during the first Gulf War I left the Corps and became a full time dad and student supported by Motoko and the GI Bill.  As they say, the rest is history.

The time has gone fast and unless you really site down and think about it you don’t realize what has passed.  I am very fortunate to find such a special woman and best friend who is tolerant of me and is willing to have me for another 25 to 50 years.

Moving On

Since Ogilvy let the cat out of the bag with a release to the New York Times I can talk about my upcoming departure from Global Strategies. Actually, I am still here until the end of May and will continue to be a shareholder.

My departure is an amicable one of my choosing. I needed to take a break from integrating into a large organization with a different belief system and flying 300,000 miles a year to dozens of countries spreading search wisdom and working with clients. Working 18 to 20 hours a day, as anyone running a company knows, will wear on you and I realized I needed a physical and mental break from pushing the search rock uphill at large companies.

I have not decided what I will do yet other than the wifes required rest and relaxation period and the SEMPO Asia Roadshow in June. I do plan to write another book on global search marketing as well as this and other blogs. I will continue to speak at conferences and do seminars on how to leverage search marketing and enter overseas markets incorporating the bet practices described in Search Engine Marketing Inc. I am most looking forward to frequent SCUBA diving trips and underwater photography.

I would encourage anyone to take stock of their life and make sure what you are doing is true to your heart and goals. I created GSI nine years ago after leaving another agency. I was frustrated at the lack of foresight they had and saw a huge opportunity in the marketplace that turned out to be right. I set specific goals to achieve and I hit most of them so I can leave with a sense of accomplishment.

Selling to Ogilvy was the perfect option for GSI since it gave us infrastructure and a global footprint that would have been cost prohibitive on our own. While it has been challenging at times it has also been a growth expereince for me professionally.

I will truly and deeply miss being part of GSI, which I still believe is one of the best search consultancies in the world. I do believe they will go on to great things under Jeremy Sanchezs leadership.

I also want to thank my team at GSI for supporting my decision while being understandably pissed and disappointed. You guys rock and I am extremely proud of working with you and calling you my team and friends. I will truely miss my role as leader of a team of “brilliant strategists”

Our clients, especially the IBM team, I have worked with for the past 9 years, you guys have been a nightmare to work with but I have learned so much – actually a 600+ page book that was parlayed into a multimillion dollar search marketing company sold for millions. We turned client organizational challenges into opportunities and how “not to do it guides” and I will always be greatful for the opportunity to work for worldclass brands like IBM, Intel, P&G, Adobe, Nestle, Cisco and great people at these organizations. Sincerely, it has been a pleasure to work with you and grow with you.

Special thanks to Mike Moran who gave GSI a shot many years ago and taught me how to navigate the waters of IBM – and helped write the book that led to the company that led to my financial ability to walk away from it all. Thank you to Todd Watson who was a taskmaster but made sure we got the job done and did more for search evangelizing at IBM than anything I could have ever done. Lee Moore who will continue to drive organic implementation across the board and be my voice in the IBM community.
Thank you to everyone who helped GSI grow and prosper and give me encouragement and support over the years.

Please reach out with ideas for a new journey and speaking opportunities 😉