How to Use Targeting to Delight Your Customers

So you’ve drawn up kick-ass customer personas.  Now what?


Picking a customer segment to focus your efforts on is called “targeting”.  It’s a process of aligning an organization around the goal of blowing the socks off a set of customers that all share a set of characteristics.

Here are some words of wisdom from one of my marketing professors that show how this can be done incorrectly:

“I can’t tell you how many times how many times people walk up to me cold and say, Mark, Mark, check out our awesome customer segmentation.  Look at these vivid vibrant personas!  Then, when I ask which one they’re going to target they say … well ‘all of them of course!’. ” – Mark Ritson, Branding Legend

The entire point of customer personals is to help you understand what it is that will absolutely delight one group.  The same product, prices, channels, and messages will not resonate with the others.  The entire exercise is wasted if you attempt to satisfy everyone.

How To Get a Business Heavyweight on Your Board

I sat in a board meeting today at Testive with heavyweight Don McLagan.  It goes without saying that just having Don around is a huge bonus at our board meetings.  Don converts the meeting from a ceremonial paperwork ass ache into a useful business strategy session.  We’re super lucky he is willing to sit down with us.

So how do you get a business heavyweight like Don on your board?  Well, since we’re super paranoid that he’ll leave, we asked him what aspects of an organization he enjoys so that we know what to emulate.  Here’s what he said.

(1) Listen. There is no shortage of people who ask for advice, but aren’t really listening.  That can really grate on an advisor, because nothing is worse than feeling like one’s opinion isn’t valuable.

(2) Disagree. Important discussions aren’t clear cut.  It’s important to disagree when appropriate and have arguments so that the best decisions are made.

(3) Trust. The team members must trust one another and defend each other.  In Don’s words “if you have a trust issue between partners you have to fix it or shut it down, fast.”

(It should be noted that Don isn’t officially on our board.  He’s actually a board observer.  For the purposes of this post, the difference is irrelevant.)

Three C’s of Content Creation

Logo: UpToDate (Trademark: Wolters Kluer)

Need an ass-load of content for your company, app, or website?  There’s a right way and a wrong way to create it.  Choose wisely:

Crowd Sourced

Use this if: You need diversity or timliness.
Don’t use this if: Your content needs experts.  (I’m looking at you yahoo answers).

This is perhaps the cheapest way to generate content.  Well, cheap in dollars.  Your users generate it for you.  This is an overused type of content generation.  I can’t even explain how many startups I hear about that are doomed to failure because their planning to get their content from crowd sourcing.  There are some types of products however, that really require crowd sourcing.  Use this type of content generation if your information must be very timely, or if the sources must be extremely diverse.  A great example of a good choice for crowd sourced content is Reddit.  There’s just no way anyone could ever hope to


Use this if: you need high quality, organized content only
Don’t use this if: you can’t find a great editor or free/cheap content simply isn’t available.

My wife is an internal medicine doc and she uses an app called Up To Date that gives her searchable best practice knowledge about everything medicine.  This is a fantastic example of really well curated content  I recently met with Nancy McKinstry, the CEO of Wolters Kluer, maker of Up-To-Date and she bragged that it was “better than google”.  You know what she’s right.  On this issue, up-to-date IS better.  Here’s the key: curated content requires a dedicated, voracious, editor with great taste.  Peer reviewed journals are examples of curated content.  Their entire staff is basically just editors.


Use this if: Premium quality is needed and there is no free/cheap source
Don’t use this if: You haven’t explored all other avenues or you can’t afford it

Making your own content is a horrible slog.  It’s slow, it’s unwieldy, and it’s expensive.  Why would you ever do it?  Well, there are some times when really high quality content is an absolute requirement, and also, the content is not cheaply or freely available.  SAT Habit, one of my own projects, is a good example of this.  We make solution videos to SAT questions and there simply is not good source of these videos.  It costs us a fortune to do, but we think it’s worth it.

Open Office Restore Windows Error

I had to kill open office the other day, and after a reboot when attempting to reopen the application I was greeted by the following error (Using OSX 10.7.4):

Here is the text if you have trouble reading it: Restore Windows: The Application “” was forced to quit while trying to restore its windows. Do you want to try to restore its windows again?

Tony Zampogna has a near solution, but it didin’t work for me. Eventually, I got it to work the following way:

(1) Force quit open office

(2) Open a terminal

(3) Execute this: rm -rf ~/Library/Saved Application State/org.openoffice.script.savedState/

(4) Reopen Open Office

Good luck everyone.  I hope it works for you 🙂

5 Hot Trends in Ed-Tech

50% of high school students have access to an iOS device

(1) Mobile

According to Mark Kasdorf, 50% of High School students currently have access to an iOS device.  You know how?  iPod touch.  I didn’t even know ANYONE had an iPod touch.  Holy crap, *I’m* out of touch.  If your app isn’t mobile, but targets anyone learning, that stat should freak you out.

(2) Snackability

Snackability is the idea of interacting with software in many small bites, instead of marathon sessions.  Think of Farmville by Zynga.  You use it for 5 minutes, three times a day instead of 15 minutes, once a day, or an hour once a week.  More and more students are demanding snackability because it’s the only thing that fits in their crazy schedules.

(3) Games

Why would I use something boring, when I could use something fun?  Good question.  The usability of ed-tech software is going up so quickly these days that users are starting to expect learning to be fun!  Adding game dynamics to applications is practically a requirement these days.

(4) Analytics

As interaction with ed software moves online, so does valuable data.  That data can suddenly be used to create actionable data-driven insights for improving learning.  If your app isn’t proving some form of analytics, you’re likely either not capturing data, or leaving data opportunities on the table.

(5) DIY

For a long time, qualified teachers were a bottle neck in learning.  For the first time, low-cost, high quality content is starting to become ubiquitously available such that students are able to start directing themselves to achieve their goals.  Value is moving away from content and toward platforms that curate that content well.

Memory is linked to artifact

Turtling on the Charles by Dave Britz (You can’t tell
from this picture, but this print was created by
making a form, then inking it and pressing it
into a piece of heavy paper creating an embossed texture.)

 I’ve recently discovered that my memories are disappearing. This isn’t a medical condition. It simply is the case that no matter how awesome an experience is, eventually my memory of it fades and all I am left with is the boring present.

For example, the other day I was throwing out my archives from Business School. Throwing things out is painful for me. So painful that I was considering dumping all the records wholesale without going through them first. At the last minute, my wife convinced me otherwise and I started going through the stuff page by page.

While hunting, I found a work of art that was created for me with great time and effort by a friend from Business School. It’s a picture of a sailboat turtling on the charles.

I realized that the memory of the print, which is very special to me would have been entirely lost without the physical artifact. The memories would be intact, of course, but with no catalyst to activate them, they would never be used again.

I was suddenly saddened by the knowledge that tons and tons and tons of my experiences are essentially lost and trapped with no way to rescue them.

So, I have resolved to create a new artifact. The quarterly report. I will write something quarterly in this journal that will serve as a record of important memories so that they can be preserved.