I saw something the other day that really impressed me on how a coffee shop near me has stepped up the game of their loyalty program. If you have customers who you'd like to be more loyal, I think we can learn a lot from this.
Your typical loyalty program at a cafe is your average punch card. Buy 10. Get 1 free. Who doesn't have one these days? They're all the same. A punch card is a bit of a start into using psychology to help influence customers. Usually companies stop there.
“Do we have a punch card? Check. Let's hope people keep coming back.”
What's funny about these cafes and their loyalty programs is that I'm completely disloyal to all of them.
There's a never ending supply of coffee shops near me. I can go to Starbucks, of course, or to Intelligentsia. I have oodles of others. It's really hard to be loyal. I really like coffee.
And as much of a creature of habit as I am, I do like the coffee-getting opportunity to leave the office or home and take a nice walk somewhere different. So the coffee shop I visit is usually just a function of whichever direction I haven't walked in awhile.
So I'm at this cafe I've been going to off an on.
Of course, I have their punch card.
On this particular day, I order a small mocha. What happens next sticks in my mind, because it seems so rare.
The guy behind the counter takes my order and I give him my punch card. He then proceeds to punch my card, but then he announces to me: “Here have another.” And he punches my card twice instead of once.
Furthermore, he ends up upgrading my coffee to a medium.
All of this was random. I hadn't completed a loyalty card yet. Just randomly got some free upgrades and pleasant rewards. In the scheme of things his upgrades cost very little to him and his business.
But what he just took advatage of is something more powerful than just the loyalty card. He ended up tapping into the thing that makes so many things around us enjoyable and addictive: the variable interval reinforcement schedule. A well researched psychological phenomenon.
It's the reason people enjoy gambling so much even though they know they'll lose. The expectation of an unpredictable win is very awesome to our brains.
It's maybe the reason we get addicted to email and text messaging more than talking on the phone with people. A verbal conversation is usually pretty predictable. A text message conversation is much less so. When will the next message arrive? Will they find what I say funny or helpful? I can't wait to find out when I hear that ding on my phone…
Our brain's love of unpredictable reinforcement, may have evolved to keep us from sitting around without any ambition to hunt or gather. Makes the anticipation and chase of something much more fun. So we keep going at it, even when the going is tough.
The barrista probably didn't realize he was doing something that's been so well proven in psychology, but he nailed it.
Today I returned to that same cafe. Totally fixated on his hole puncher to see if I might just get an extra one. Nope. And was a little disappointed to see a small cup of coffee when I ordered a small :) But you better believe I'm going back tomorrow to see what happens.
If the manager wants what's good for business, he'll keep this game going.
P.S. If you enjoyed this, there's a real good chance you'll dig following me on Twitter: here
Dyson loves the color pink and sparkly things.
Sometimes he wears dresses, and sometimes he wears jeans.
He likes to wear his princess tiara, even when climbing trees.
He’s a Princess Boy, and his family loves him exactly the way he is.
A few weeks ago I had the tremendous pleasure of getting to spend time with my two year old niece.
For just a few days I got to glimpse into the life of someone who gets see the world fresh for the very first time. Without any prejudices or preconceptions. What I saw those few days continues to inspire me.
One day my wife and I were watching her, and my wife was going to read one of my niece's books to her. I was nearby and asked what she was going to read. When I heard the title “My Princess Boy”, I thought I misheard. My brain didn't quite make sense of those words together in a title. Then I heard what the book was about.
I'm insanely proud my niece has this book in her collection and loves it.
Even though I was raised to be tolerant, fair, and inclusive, I like many children growing up go through those moments when we aren't. I feel like I've done a pretty good job growing up and being a good person to others, but there are still the moments where I cringe. The moments where I remember some lack of understanding about things I'm unfamiliar with that got the best of me. But moments that I hang onto because they remind me to be a better person.
One of those moments that sticks in my head was when I was a freshman in high school. I remember how awesome it was to finally be able to wear gym shoes to school. We still had a pretty strict dress code, but gym shoes were allowed with our business casual pants :)
I remember how obsessed we all were about what gym shoes everyone had.
And not just gym shoes - BASKETBALL SHOES!
I remember the kid who was a star basketball player already as a freshman and was the first one to own a pair of Charles Barkleys. I envied those shoes.
Then there was Bill.
Bill wore a pair of grey running shoes to class.
Are you kidding me? No one wore grey shoes. And these weren't Nikes. Kids mostly wanted black Nike basketball shoes. Very little else was “cool”.
I remember the criticism my young naive high school brain came up with. I at least knew better than to verbally impose my judgement on the kid, but I still remember the act of judging him.
And I'm pretty sure even with me silently judging him, he still took a bunch of shit out loud from other kids.
I definitely remember telling the adults in my life about what high school was like and for some reason bringing up the kid who wore the weird grey shoes. I got a strong verbal lesson that day about the fact that someones shoes don't make a damn bit of difference to anything in this world.
Seems silly now of course, and My Princess Boy deals with issues much deeper than accepting the shoes someone wears, but that wasn't the easiest lesson to grasp as a kid. The lesson about not judging people who are different or dress differently. Still a lesson that's not so easy for way too many adults to grasp.
That's why I'm so proud my niece has books like these and loves them.
I know I had books and lessons about tolerance myself. But as you and I have witnessed, it takes repeated lessons for this stuff to really get in your head.
And we could use a lot more tolerance. From what shoes someone wears, to everything else they choose to do that makes them happy and doesn't affect us one frigging bit.
Including the color pink a boy might like to wear with his tiara.
There's a bit of irony with this story which is the reason why I remember those shoes so well.
See, the shoes Bill enjoyed wearing so much were a pair of grey New Balances.
Grey New Balances turned out to be the favorite shoe of a certain hero of mine.
What's even more ironic is that I only found out about a year ago that Steve was even a fan of New Balances, and for the last 14 or so years…
I've been wearing a pair of grey New Balances almost every single day.
P.S I'd be incredibly honored if you followed me on Twitter: here.
I thought this was a unique and non-intuitive marketing device from Coldwater Creek, a women's clothing store.
I'm curious if anyone reading this knows someone who works in marketing for Coldwater Creek who can shed more insight into how well this worked, or if you've tried a similar promotion and seen it outperform something more traditional? Email me if you want to share something.
My initial reaction was that this won't outperform a typical online sales promotion, for example: “This weekend, for 3 days only: 30% off!”
A premise of this particular sale is to get a shopper to start worrying about scarcity, a common marketing tactic. You don't want to miss buying something now, and risk missing the item you want because someone else purchases the inventory before you do.
Hence the “Tomorrow they may be gone!” sub-headline.
But if you are successful at getting people to start thinking about inventory scarcity and getting them to worry about missing those pants they might want, why on earth would you give them a way out of that thinking by telling them: “Oh but if you want it cheaper you can wait for tomorrow.”
Why give them an escape hatch?
It doesn't do you any good as a retailer to give them a tiny ounce of encouragement to just come back tomorrow to save more.
That's why rarely do you see a store attempt to telegraph their sales. Walk into a GAP and ask when the next sale is, and you'll usually get an employee reluctant to give an answer. They might very well have a prediction, but they aren't encouraged to tell you about it. They want you to buy today, not to possibly (but unlikely) come back tomorrow to try and spend less money.
The flip side however to my initial reaction, is that maybe this ad will actually be more successful than a traditional campaign because it creates a situation of relativity.
…humans rarely choose things in absolute terms. We don’t have an internal value meter that tells us how much things are worth. Rather, we focus on the relative advantage of one thing over another, and estimate value accordingly. (For instance, we don’t know how much a six- cylinder car is worth, but we can assume it’s more expensive than the four- cylinder model.)
That's why if I want to sell you an iPad, and you haven't heard what an iPad costs, my game plan is likely going to tell you first, what you'd expect it to cost given all the magic inside. “Folks expected to pay $999 for this”. Then I would tell you “but it's actually $499.” Now relative to $999 that doesn't sound so bad.
And if you buy an Apple product, you won't be shown 1 model to buy. But likely 3. Even 6.
6 iPads at $499, $599, up to $829. A $829 iPad!? The “cheaper” models' prices look like deals now.
Perhaps, Coldwater Creek knows that a 30% off sale is usually the sweet spot for them in terms of how much they want to sacrifice to a discount and where they've found the most lift in sales.
So what if now shoppers see that they could get a 20% off sale but that isn't as good as 30%, or they could get 40% but then have a much greater risk with dwindling inventory. Now getting the 30% off sounds even BETTER.
Those other relative options in Coldwater's promotion might just greatly increase the impact of the 30% off day.
Definitely an interesting promotion I don't believe I've seen before. I'd love to have a chance to experiment with this type of technique. Know anyone who has?
P.S. I'd be incredibly honored if you followed me on Twitter, here.
He also discovered on the ACT test that in the reading section, if he read the questions first, he had a better idea of what to focus on when he went back to do the reading.
I've constantly found this same technique to not just be invaluable for taking tests, but helpful in all sorts of things life presents you.
It's how I passed through my entire Spanish language requirement in college even though my skill at Spanish was weak.
Before college started we were required to take a set of placement exams. As I was going through the Spanish placement test, I would read the questions first. Then as I was reading the Spanish passages for reading comprehension, even though I didn't understand ¾ of what I was reading, I could locate the blocks of text the questions were referring to by pattern matching the question's words with the passage's words. Then I'd take my best guess at answering. Often I'd find an answer that had more similar words with the paragraph I just located than the other answers did.
Even though I clearly hacked my way through that particular test without enough proficiency at Spanish, I managed to pass out of my entire language requirement.
The reason it worked so well, as opposed to reading the passage first, was that working backwards helped focus my attention on the actual “important” task. In this case it was correctly answering questions.
If I had read the passage first, my memory would have been inundated with tons of text. It would have made it much harder and slower for me to read the questions later and match them up with blocks of text I had read previously.
Working backwards is an insanely powerful technique that isn't immediately intuitive to most people.
I don't know a lot of people who take tests this way. Most folks follow the order of things in which they are presented to them.
Look at starting a business. Most folks go from idea, to worrying about creating the idea. Finally after tons of time doing all sorts of things to create the idea, they start trying to sell their crafted idea to customers. But if you are a fan of Lean Startup work, you know how powerful starting with selling to customers first can be. Those conversations can focus you on the important things you need to know before creating a product.
Or look at happiness. Most people think they need to achieve this or change that to be happy. But as Charles Darwin noticed:
Even the simulation of an emotion tends to arouse it in our minds.
You can force yourself to be happier by working backwards. What's the usual final step to happiness? A laugh? A smile? The facial feedback hypothesis has been proven to show that forcing yourself to smile can significantly improve your mood.
Or look at acting. Most people who want to be an actor think: “I need some acting training. I'll take some classes. Meanwhile I'll audition for small neighborhood plays and such and maybe eventually I can move up to tv and film”. You know what Ben Affleck and Matt Damon did? Despite a few early movies Matt got some work in, Ben and Matt still had very little success in getting a film career going.
We were totally frustrated as actors. We couldn't find work. We couldn't get arrested. That frustration built and built, until we decided to write.
They decided to work backwards. They wrote Good Will Hunting.
Matt and Ben created their own movie they could have roles in, instead of waiting for someone to cast them in theirs.
You probably already know what happened next. The movie catapulted their careers.
No, of course, I'm not over simplifying anything in this article. You can't just work backwards and become an A-list actor in Hollywood.
But if moving forward isn't working for you, if you're stuck, or you feel a ton of resistance and need a fresh perspective on whatever problem is in front of you…
Starting with the last step and working backwards is a pretty helpful path to take.
One thing I've noticed about many of the people whose creativity inspires me is that they seem to be obsessed with something.
A few random examples are folks like Jason Fried at 37signals and his obsession with cars. Or there's Monet and his obsession with water lilies. Or the folks at OXO and their obsession with hands & gloves.
Sometimes the obsession is completely tangential to what they usually work on, but somehow eventually it finds its way back into their work. Often as inspiration.
Sometimes as gold.
One of my very favorite examples of this is Aaron Draplin and his obsession with graphic design heritage from the last 100 years. Especially old manuals, vintage ledgers and agricultural memo books.
I started finding out he was a collector of these types of things from some post of his. If I remember correctly, he was talking about going to an estate sale and going into some guy's basement to find all sorts of old manuals. Things like this:
Then I start finding out he's been collecting hundreds of old notebooks. In his collection you'll find the types of memo books companies would give to farmers to record farm stuff, or to their employees before they had fancy gadgets. Like these:
Those hundreds of notebooks not only inpsired his design work for companies like Panic and the U.S. Federal Goverment.
But became some real gold when he decided to start creating his own notebooks.
He created Field Notes. Which has blossomed into quite a business for both him and for Coudal, his partner on the project.
At first I thought it might just turn out to be a fun novelty. I mean, how could you create a decent business out of notebook paper? I've got notebooks laying everywhere. From cheap things I've collected from Walgreens to junk picked up at conferences. And then Moleskine seemed to have locked up the fancy notebook market, right? I've got some of those too.
But I bought one of the first packs of 3 when Coudal got involved. Then I watched as the business snowballed. These guys have figured out how to create a tremendous business out of friggin notebook paper.
No idea where Brian got this number from or what kind of testing went into the statistic. Regardless of knowing its accuracy, I can attest that I would have had a much better reaction from a blog post I wrote last week, if I had followed his rule of thumb.
So. Last week I wrote a post I was hoping would further the thought in people's minds that we use way too many masculine metaphors for courage. We don't use racist metaphors for achieving more success or being smarter, so why do we still so often read advice like “You need to have the balls to be a great designer”?
I went ahead and tried to get clever with the title of that post, not so much as to bait users into reading, but I thought that the title would lead to a clever dramatic irony, since the post makes the complete opposite point the title “What's the appropriate age to start telling a young woman to grow a pair of balls?” would suggest.
Then I hear from more than one person things like:
Damn, they must have not read the article. My suspicions are confirmed when I asked them about it. Of course, when they eventually did read the article, they got pretty excited (in a good way), since they obviously felt pretty strongly in favor FOR the point I was actually trying to make.
I was further reminded of the possibility of making this type of mistake when I heard from someone this weekend that there was a commercial on TV telling folks to wash their mouth out with household bleach. I believe they were referring to this:
If you only catch the first 7 seconds of that commercial before fast forwarding your Tivo-like device, and don't pick up the overall context that the commercial is all about “bad ideas”, you may definitely come away thinking that the new idiotic trend is to use household bleach to whiten your teeth.
So let that be a lesson for you as you write and craft your clever bits. Way too many people won't get past the 110 character headline they see on Twitter or Facebook leading to your article of wisdom. Maybe they'll get to the article later or next week. But if they don't, do you really want to leave them with the completely wrong impression of what you're trying to say, if the headline is all they ever get to read?
P.S. I'd be insanely honored if you followed me on Twitter, here.
Nice article, aside from the fact it should be proofread.
I hate to nitpick, but it's very difficult to not get distracted by the horrible punctuation and spelling.
I want to share a a few things that have helped me be more creative, and more importantly more authentic, in my writing. I'll address a couple of my vocal critics soon.
First, I'd like to share a story about a kid I met a little over a year ago.
I was volunteering for an organization here in Chicago where we helped high school kids prepare for their college applications. These kids were part of the program because they were usually the first in their families, often underprivileged, to be applying to college. We were there to help them through the college application process.
So there's this one Saturday I met a student who wanted help writing and editing his college application essay.
We went over to the computer lab and he pulls up a draft he's been struggling with. I read it. Thoroughly.
The essay is fine. It reads grammatically well.
But you could have told me a computer auto-generated it from some kind of high school transcript and I wouldn't have doubted you for a second.
It was dry. It was uninteresting. It was soulless.
After reading it the first time, I doubt tomorrow you'd even remember a single detail.
Since I didn't feel I understood him from the essay, I started asking him to tell me more about himself.
What came out of his mouth gave me chills.
I'm sitting in this computer lab. Mouth open. Goosebumps. My eyes are starting to tear.
This kid is frickin amazing.
He proceeded to tell me a story of how just 4 years ago he came to the United States, poor, with a single parent. Every single awesome thing I had going into high school, he didn't have any of it.
But over the last 4 years, not only did he become an amazing student. He became a man for others. He was tutoring kids in math and leading programs to help other kids that were in very similar situations that he was in just 4 years ago. He was incredibly inspirational.
None of that came out in his essay.
“Don't end sentences with prepositions.” “Don't start sentences with conjugations.” “Sentences have subjects and predicates.”
When most of us write things, those are some of the many rules banging around in our minds.
And too often our writing comes across as stiff, formulaic, and unoriginal. It has no voice.
If I asked you to write me an essay about your day. It's likely going to come out a a lot like my mentee's.
But if we had an intimate conversation over coffee, the story about your day would be remarkably different.
You wouldn't worry about how you conjugate verbs, or how to correctly contract “it is”.
If you were speaking to me, it wouldn't matter. The words would just roll. Your struggles. Your achievements. Your thoughts would hit my ears before you start worrying about “oh man, did I just say goin instead of going? And is it it's or its, I forget which one is possessive. Can I end a sentence with 'at'?”
And because you aren't worried about a hundred rules of grammar while you're talking to me, I'm that much closer to your internal voice.
The voice that guides you through life every day. The voice that makes you unique. The voice that you find so easily when you're talking to yourself in the shower.
But so often when we write, we pile up a ton of rules people have fed to us that need to be followed, and that makes it hard for that internal voice to break loose.
My first step with the student above was just to ask who he was, what he does, what he observes all day. And then I just typed what he said. A lot of it was run on sentences, and sentences without verbs. If he turned this draft in to his high school English teacher he'd have failed an assignment. But what was on that computer screen was his voice. And it was powerful stuff.
After it was now in front of us on a screen, we started editing it to fit grammatical rules that someone reading a college essay might expect. Which was a lot easier than staring at a blank screen with only those rules to guide us.
His essay became dramatically compelling. And it was so much closer to what you'd hear from him if you had an awesome conversation.
My critics are wrong about my lack of proofreading.
Dozens of times for a single blog post.
I'll catch many of my homophone spelling errors. Not all because I make so friggin many of them. Believe me, I know the difference between their, they're and there. And it's and its.
As for the grammar. Usually, after proofreading, I tend to make it worse.
I'll take a perfectly grammatical sentence and chop it to hell.
Because my goal isn't to get an A in English class, or even please someone in a college admissions office.
My goal is for you to hear a bit what's going on inside me. I want you to read my blog and recognize that it's ME on these pages.
To do that, I try and give you words as I'd tell them to you if you were in front of my face. I drop my g's constantly. I swear a lot. Especially when I have a cold. My thoughts can go pretty fast, then I stop. I pause. Then I realize I had another thought in that series so my next “sentence” starts with And. Or But.
Sometimes a single word is good enough for a sentence, or a whole paragraph. Because sometimes I like that drammatical pause.
Sometimes I make up words. But you'll know what I mean when I say them.
You of course don't have to mimic me to have any success in writing.
But if you do find yourself struggling to get who you are onto the page, start doing what I do, and just start writing like you talk.
Get it all on the page first. Then go back and make sure it flows like you'd actually say it. Read it out loud to yourself. You'll know when you sound fake when you stutter a bit trying to read a sentence back.
When you finally have YOU on the page, now go back and make your bits bend to the style you want them in.
Me? I just leave it like I talk. It's my personal blog after all. It's just for me, and you, and this conversation we're having.
And today, I don't need an A in an English class.
P.S. I'd be incredibly honored if you followed me on Twitter, here.
For those who don't know this term, re-targeting is the process advertisers and ad networks use to track you on the internet so that if you land on a website, say for example Coca-Cola's site, you'll then start seeing Coca-Cola ads on a ton of other websites you visit that show ads from that same ad network.
Since Google and its Adsense block are on a ton of websites, it ends up feeling like Coca-Cola is EVERYWHERE. Even though if your friend visited those same websites, they might not see those Coca-Cola ads, if they've never visited cocacola.com.
My problem isn't that re-targeting exists. In fact, as a marketer myself and as someone who has spent thousands and thousands of dollars on ads from places like Google and Facebook, I know very well how powerful something like re-targeting can be.
Re-targeting is extremely effective. Why?
Because it helps marketers achieve one of marketing's oldest rules.
The Rule of 7.
The Rule of 7 is a simple heuristic that on average a customer needs to see your brand's message 7 times before they make a purchase from you.
Re-targeting makes sure you do in fact keep seeing that marketing message as many times as possible.
Here's the rub though which I'm sure you can relate to.
Ever watch television and occasionally notice a certain company that is advertising on every single commercial break? Has that ever been a company you have absolutely no desire to make a purchase from?
Perhaps you're 20 years old with no history of incontinence and yet there's an adult diaper commercial playing over and over and over.
Or you work for an insurance company and already get a great deal on that insurance company's product. There is no way another insurance company could pull you out of your current situation. But on every single commercial break you have to watch a competing insurance company's advertising.
Hulu is great at this by the way. Showing you the same irrelevant commercial over and over and over. Which feels especially great considering they do it for people who even pay a subscription for Hulu Plus. Thanks Hulu!
At that point, you start feeling like you now have motive for murder.
Google, I've finally had enough. I've resisted for so many years on installing Adblock. Adblock is a plugin for your web browser that basically eliminates the ads you'd see on many of the websites you visit. It's free, and does a very good job.
But I've always felt slightly bad at the thought of installing it. These ads are how publishers and advertisers try and make money while they provide me a ton of free stuff on the internet.
But after the constant barrage of ads from companies I have absolutely no intention of ever doing business with, I Just Can't Take It Anymore.
So I installed Adblock. Getting rid of practically all ads from my browsing experience.
But then I had some second thoughts. What if I could create a compromise?
One thing I could do would be to tell Google and its advertisers to stop tracking me, effectively turning off re-targeting.
That is a setting at Google you can find after clicking around a bit. The problem with this is that sometimes a re-targeted ad is a good thing, if it is from a company whose site I've visited and actually intend to do business with.
Wouldn't then it be great if I could just tell Google “Hey stop showing me this particular ad?”
But Google doesn't have that feature. So I created a proof of concept called: Compromise.
It's odd how often the phrase “growing a pair” or “do you have the balls?” comes up when talking about courage. Especially in the fields of business, technology and entrepreneurship. Things like 'Do You Have The Balls to Make it?“ or "It takes balls to build the best product ever. Grow a pair” are often the titles of advice we read or hear around us.
The phrase is usually a slang term defined as:
to act with fortitude, strength, determination; “man up”.
-The Online Slang Dictionary
Of course it's figurative. But what strikes me the most about this phrase is how ridiculous it would be for me to say something about changing the color of your skin or the shape of your eyes, in order to achieve a highly desired goal of humanity.
I'd likely get punched in the face (and rightly so) if I stated things like: “You want to be more successful? Change the color of your skin” or “To be a better student, you need to make your eyes more…”
A chunk of society has gone down the path of equating courage with something only a man can posses. Of course, men physiologically produce much more testosterone than women, which is linked to aggression and greater physical strength. But to come up with this phrase, we've gone ahead and confused aggression for courage, and substituted physical strength for strength of character.
Look, I'm not on a pedestal “holier than thou”.
You won't get any death stares or fist a cuffs from me if you mention the phrase.
I'm not pointing any fingers at anyone specific. Just something I found real odd that I observed.
An observation I made when I was considering using the phrase myself in a title to a blog post I was composing about courage and creativity.
I have two very young nieces. This weekend I had the immense pleasure of hanging out for many hours with my 2 year old niece. She's an amazing person. It's eye opening watching her enjoy the world and sponge up every single thing people are doing around her.
I started to think about the important advice I'm already giving her: Here's how you give your uncle a fist bump or Here's how you balance on your legs after uncle's been spinning you around in the air.
I thought about the things I'd share with her as she got older.
It dawned on me there's advice I'd love to share with her one day that comes from places like my blog. These wouldn't be appropriate for a 2 year old, but when she's 16, I wouldn't be embarrassed if she read a post of mine that tells her to:
There's going to be plenty of times she'll need to stand up to the resistance she'll face in being the best person she can be. Maybe she'll want to be an entrepreneur. Maybe she'll want to be a mom. Maybe she'll want to be President of the United States of America. Whatever she'll want to do, she's going to need courage to persist through the challenges life is going to deal her.
What's the lesson then I set, if she comes across this blog and reads a post of mine telling her she needs to grow a pair of balls?
Lily. Madeline. You'll never need to be more like a man to be courageous. I wish you could understand how strong you already are and what you're teaching me about being brave. Keep placing one foot in front of another. The baby steps you're taking today will be the same ones guiding you to accomplish anything you want to tomorrow. Just Keep Going Forward. And remember. It helps to giggle when you fall.
P.S. I'd be insanely honored if you followed me on Twitter, here.
This is a screenshot of a friend's public Fitbit (a fitness tracking website and pedometer device) profile.
I wonder if the language is intentionally funny.
The picture reminds me again of how important personality can be to a company's success.
8 years ago I wanted to use an email newsletter service to help my mom market her flip flops and other things she makes. There were a ton of options. Companies like ConstantContact and Aweber were real popular. But there were so many others I could choose from or even run from my own computer. You'd be crazy to create a software company to do email marketing.