Thursday, August 1, 2013


YouSendIt is now Hightail.



Yousendit.com, the file transfer service that I wrote about in the last post, has changed its name to Hightail. Why the name change? Hard to say. The service still works very well. The new branding is good. And the internet-based ads can be seen everywhere.  But the video the company has on its website is cryptic at best in explaining WHY they changed the name. 

Mike Tripp, Hightail's Chief Marketing Officer, says in the video,"A lot of the names in this category are just boring and descriptive. There's a lot of clouds and boxes and syncs and shares and we wanted to get out of those descriptive names."
Okay, but what was wrong with Yousendit? It has no cloud, box, sync or share in it's name.

Brad Garlinghouse, Hightail's CEO, says,"The name 'Yousendit' constrained us in terms of our vision for what the opportunity is ahead."  But he doesn't go into much detail as to what those opportunities are.

Hightail is an archaic term that means 'to move or travel fast'. There are other archaic terms such as skedaddle, scoot, vamoose or scram. Today, most of the internet is lightning fast, as opposed to what file transfer speeds were before the world wide web. Modems were painfully slow. DSL lines became faster and broadband picked up even more speed. But most of those archaic terms came way before the internet! 

"Yousendit" means, well, you-send-it.  The "It" was whatever digital file you wanted to send. Which, when I think about it, is right on the money as a descriptor, Is Hightail faster than Yousendit? I didn't see any discernible difference, but I didn't run any tests, either. 

Matte Scheinker, the company's Chief Product Officer, states in the video,"There are so many factors in business that are working against you …the one thing you don't want working against you is your name. You want your name to help you. You want it to lift you. You want it to push you in the right direction. You want it to have the ability for you to put whatever meaning behind it you want." 
What is the meaning, then, behind Hightail? 

It seems fairly certain that the company plans to place a lot of brand equity behind the new name. Mr. Garlinghouse says towards the end of the video,"For me, the opportunity for Hightail gives us an empty vessel in many ways to fill with all kinds of meaning about how we want to interact with our end-users. How we want to be known as a brand."

My biggest pet peeve with the company is that the branding does not go far enough. Their website explains how their new Hightail mobile apps are available for download and can help your business. But when you download the Hightail for Mac desktop app, it installs what looks like the old Yousendit Mac desktop app. In fact, it still has the Yousendit logo on it. WTF?

Again, I ask, what is the meaning behind Hightail? 
Shaking the Magic 8 Ball reveals, "We'll let you know when we find out."

Check it out:

Friday, June 7, 2013

My Top Five

by Bob Aiese


I just read an article about the most indispensable applications you should have on your computer to function in life. Upon review, I found that there were some items listed which I already used. But some of the other programs for me, alas, were not very useful.

Like Caffeine, a program that prevents your screen saver from kicking in (http://lightheadsw.com/caffeine/). Or Big Stretch, an alarm app to remind you to take a break from working on your computer (http://monkeymatt.com/bigstretch/). Or another app that organizes your digital music collection (just Google it). 

I don't have a need for any of these. You might. I don't. 

But the article did make me think of My Personal Top 5 Free Applications…all of which I use everyday and  could not function without.

1. Dropbox

This free program creates a folder in your work computer that automatically syncs with the internet. You can then go to your home computer, laptop, smartphone or tablet and open your Dropbox account to access work files. All you need to do is install the Dropbox application and sign in using the same login. You get 2Gb storage free when you open your account and you can purchase additional storage if you need it. But the better way is to invite others in your circle of contacts to join Dropbox. For each person who installs Dropbox on their computer you get 500Mb of bonus space. Free space is limited to16Gb, but that is still a hugh amount of storage space for free. (http://www.dropbox.com)

2. Yousendit 

When I first opened a FedEx® account I was impressed with how quickly documents, CDs and DVDs would leave my door and arrive the next day on the other side of the world. My clients were impressed, too. Then the internet came and sending files became a no-brainer with Yousendit. This program enables you to send files up to 2Gb in size to anyone with an email address. You send the file via the yousendit app or website and the recipient(s) get an email from yousendit.com with a link to download the file directly from the yousendit servers. This eliminates the need to deal with the 5Mb email limit or complicated FTP sites. The transmitted file has an expiration date that you can set so recipients can download the file again, or forward the link to someone else to download if needed. Yousendit offers various plans depending on the size of your organization or your needs. I have the Pro Plan. $100 per year. Check out the free 2 week trial to start. (http://www.yousendit.com)

3. Crashplan

Ever since my first hard drive died I have been crazed about keeping a backup of my files: tape backups, CD backups, external hard drives to back up the internal hard drives. When one of my  external back up drives died, I started to use alternate backup external drives. I didn't sleep much. Then, backup services like Mozy and Carbonite came and made backup via the internet viable. But the ease of use, the ability to recover files, and low cost made Crashplan the most viable. I sleep a lot better because of Crashplan. (http://www.crashplan.com)  

4. Adobe Acrobat and Adobe Acrobat Reader

The paperless office is a myth. But Adobe Acrobat ($299) has helped to eliminate a lot of paper that would normally be cluttering my desk. My clients have embraced the concept of a digital workflow using Acrobat Reader. Released by Adobe in 1993, Acrobat is a cross-platform program that converts your digital documents into a format that can be emailed and viewed on the free Acrobat Reader. The document shows up exactly as the document creator meant them to be seen. For example, If I create a brochure in InDesign on my Mac I can save a copy of the brochure in an Acrobat .PDF file format that I can email to my client. The client can then download the file and view it in the free Adobe Acrobat Reader. It looks and prints exactly as I created it. My client doesn't have to invest in any software or jump through hoops to convert files. They can annotate and make notes on their copy of the file and email it back to me with their changes. Did I mention it's free? (http://www.adobe.com/products/reader.html)

5. Google

Remember when Microsoft was the monster corporation that was going to eat our brains and make us all slaves to their software? No? Oh, you might be too young to remember. Remember when Apple was the monster corporation that was going to eat our brains and make us all slaves to their computers? Well, Google might have done that already. What can't this program do? It's a calculator, dictionary, translator and picture archive as well as a decent search engine. Ever notice the 'More' menu item at the top of the page when you're on Google's home page? Clicking it introduces you to a plethora of Google products and many of them are free. (http://www.google.com)

If I don't use Google at least once in the course of my work day, I'm probably working with the other programs on this list or I'm saving the world… or I could be asleep.


Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Curbing Your App-etite

Bob Aiese ©2013
"We need to build an app! There's a lot of internal pressure on us to launch something right away."

Our agency hears this request so frequently right now. It's become the hot button, the Holy Grail, the "be all and end all" for many marketing managers.

Before you spend those marketing dollars, however, there are 5 questions that you should be able to answer.

1. Is my business really ready for an app?
Developing the app is just the first step in the process. You'll quickly be confronted with other questions like these: Will it be made available through our website or through an app store? How will potential users become aware of-and download-updates as they become available? Will we need to cross departmental lines to support the app? In short, you'll need to treat this more like a long-term strategy rather than a separate effort.

2. What kind of apps do my target users like?
They probably have a smartphone (about half of U.S. adults do), but that doesn't mean they're using it to its full potential. In the U.S., Gen X and Gen Y users make up two-thirds of the app audience, so before you build make sure you understand your audience's app habits.

3. What do I want my app to accomplish?
Understanding exactly what your goal is for this app and making the programmers understand your expectations will help alleviate many of the questions and problems that you might encounter. And remember, your app must offer users new content and utilities...it should never just be a recap of the PDF's, videos and information that customers can already access on your existing website.

4. What kind of schedule is realistic?
Most apps require time to formulate, review, program, review, debug, re-review and sign-off on once you give the initial go-ahead. Depending on the size of the project, this could take a few weeks or several months. Taking this into account will help when you are ready to make the app available to the public and--because adequate promotion is truly necessary-make sure you also include time for support efforts in your development schedule.

5. What's my total budget? 
Once the scope of the project and the skill set
and number of specialists working on your app are finally determined, you might be shocked when you get the bill if your expectations (see #3) are not communicated at the onset. You should also plan to buy and develop other media to promote your launch.

Addressing these issues before you call your agency in for a meeting will ensure that your app is successful...and that your potential customers are receptive and satisfied!

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Your Slice Of The Pie

Yesterday, Domino's Pizza launched a live webcam feed that enables customers to watch their pizza being prepared in real time. More than just a digital gimmick, it's part of the company's ongoing efforts to confront some unsavory impressions of their pies and to improve products and services.


Over the last couple of years, the messages from online posts and focus groups were loud, clear...and pretty harsh. Customers felt the pies were actually inferior to bland microwaved snacks and had "crust that tasted like cardboard".

Instead of burying the negatives, Domino's management confronted the problems head-on and went transparent. They did this by spicing up their pizzas with an added ingredient: online video.


The Pizza Turnaround video on YouTube captured the reactions of Domino's franchise owners, management and marketing teams, and even the chefs who craft the pies. Face-to-face, they reinforced the brand's values to viewers. And online visitors ate it up--with well over a million views!

The results: in 2011, the company's sales rose by nearly 20%.

So take a tip from Domino's. Open your digital doors and let customers in with relevant content that shows them how to enjoy your products and what your brand really means. If your advertising and marketing menu for the rest of 2013 doesn't already include a healthy portion of video, you need to place your order. Now.

Thursday, May 2, 2013

On The Aisles: Tradeshow Multimedia

Bob Aiese ©2013
If you think back to the last conference you attended, you're likely to agree that multimedia presentations were just about everywhere. There's a reason for that. Studies have shown that interactive multimedia displays at trade shows can increase customer leads by a minimum of 20%! Some of the reasons behind this are obvious.

• Familiar Territory
Multimedia and interactive presentations are now enmeshed in our daily lives. Thanks to smartphones and mobile apps, consumers and customers expect the answers they seek in an instant. An ideal interactive presentation welcomes conference attendees to your booth, and then enables them to help themselves to vital information.

• Star Quality
Getting noticed at the show is always a challenge. But a combination of animation, special effects, video and arresting headlines can carry enough visual impact to lure potential customers into your booth.

• Speed Reads
Detailing your 40-year company history or explaining the intricate design features of a new product probably involves a lengthy conversation. Multimedia gives you the ability to get to the heart of the matter and quickly tell your story in an engaging way.

Those were some of the easy advantages. But perhaps you've already invested a great deal of time and money in producing a dazzling multimedia presentation and your leads haven't increased that significantly. Right now, you might be rehashing some of the following positives, which could be hiding other critical issues.

"The presentation is amazing...like nothing we've ever done before!"
Multimedia shouldn't break totally new ground. That's why we always advise our clients that the images, words and visual icons used throughout the booth and in handouts should be the building blocks of their interactive presentation. Reinforcement of key messages also helps to make the experience more memorable.

"The booth representatives say that it covers absolutely everything."
Our creative strategy team holds firm when asked to do a presentation which includes all the "talking" that the salesman used to do. Too often, multimedia is crafted to cover every detail of the company pitch, rather than to enhance and deepen it.

"Our staff was a little hesitant at first, but we knew they would see the advantages once they started using it at the show."
Our agency usually starts out by listening to sales and booth reps and assessing their needs. Be certain that your staff is very enthusiastic about the overall experience and that they are also 100% comfortable about using the new technology. If show representatives aren't excited about the multimedia in your booth, then show attendees won't be either. You might also consider maximizing the impact of the larger display by adding tablet-driven applications for booth representatives that will drive conversations.

"The agency that produced it delivered a real winner, even though they had never worked with us before."
Don't choose an agency solely because of the work they've done for other clients or the new techniques they offer. They need to be familiar with your company's reputation, objectives and goals. To sum it up, their specialty should be you, and not just bells and whistles.

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Budgetary Ties

Ah, September! It's the month in which many corporations wrap up the fiscal year. As a result, advertising agencies often receive many requests and proposals for new projects right around now.

The resulting RFP's, NDA's and marketing briefs try to cover every possible angle. But one critical item is often TBD or even MIA in this information stream...and that's the client's budgetary parameters.

Why does this happen? Perhaps lips are zipped because clients sometimes feel that sharing budget details with the agency too early in the process will put their company at a disadvantage. They fear that the agency will automatically jack up its pricing. In reality, nothing could be further from the truth.

When you share a budget with your advertising partners, you give them a framework on which to build your campaign. In fact, agency teams actually welcome challenges. They are usually happy to work with reasonable numbers and limitations and, believe it or not, the most innovative strategy can sometimes stem from limited funding (just think about why tactics like guerrilla marketing and social media advertising were born).

But when you don't disclose a budget, you're really doing both your company and your agency a disfavor. The creative team doesn't know whether your plans call for a Maserati or a KIA. If you see a luxury plan, you cringe because it's out of your price range. If the agency then shows you a more economical approach, you feel cheated when comparing its impact to a higher-priced strategy.

It's almost like walking into a store to buy a necktie. The salesperson asks if you'd like to see the Armani collection and you say "Yes!". He tells you that the tie you like is $250 and you murmur "Hmmm!". He then asks how much you'd like to spend and you say "Just keep it as reasonable as you can" or "I'm not prepared to share that information with you right now."

When the budget question is avoided, no one gets the necktie...and no one gets the sell.


Thursday, August 30, 2012

All You Need Is Love? Or Respect?

Working in multimedia presents unique marketing challenges. We often have to "corral" different media assets about the same product or issue and transform them into one clear message. Oftentimes that isn't easy because some of our client's favorite efforts from the past may actually contradict or clash with each other when brought together in a new advertising presentation.

We try to convince clients that if this editing isn't done with care, the overall message gets muddled and murky. It's kind of what happened at The RNC on Tuesday night.


Ann Romney gave a thoughtful speech. Every word in it resonated beautifully. She stepped up to the podium and began this way:
"I want to talk to you tonight about that one great thing that unites us, that one great thing that brings us our greatest joy when times are good and the deepest solace in our dark hours.
Tonight, I want to talk to you about love.  I want to talk to you about the deep and abiding love I have for a man I met at a dance many years ago.  And the profound love I have and I know we share for this country.  I want to talk to you about that love so deep, only a mother can fathom it.  The love that we have for our children and our children's children."
Her thoughts were followed almost immediately by barnstorming NJ governor Chris Christie. His speech discussed love and valuable advice that his late mother gave him:
"And the greatest lesson that mom ever taught me though was this one.  She told me there would be times in your life when you have to choose between being loved and being respected. Now she said to always pick being respected. "
Instead of two efforts echoing one clear message we get a conceptual tug of war. Did anyone bother to read these speeches together to vet their synergy and overall content?

Learn from The RNC. Understand that all of your advertising messages leave strong individual impressions...but together, they might be saying something entirely different. And be assured that even though Mrs. Romney chooses love and Mr. Christie ditches it for respect...we advise our clients to always opt for clarity!

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