Business Cards and Permission

Recently, I had the privilege to both attend and speak at SXSWi down in Austin. It’s a pretty wild ride and well deserves its reputation as geek spring break. However, despite the number of margaritas I may have imbibed I still kept track of the number of mailing lists I opted in to (2) and the number of business cards I handed out (21). I’m weird like that.

As of March 30th the number of mailing lists I’ve somehow ended up on have totaled 11, only 1 of which is a list I actually subscribed to. How did this happen you ask? Well essentially it’s ignorance of best practices and people going for quantity over quality.

Rather than going into the myriad of missteps taken I’m just going to say a little bit about how it should work:

First, if someone hands you their business card after meeting you, that is not permission to add them to your list. It’s permission to send them an email yourself, and if you want you can say “hey I have this great newsletter, if you’re interested go here to subscribe.” But you can’t just add them based on being handed a card.

Second, if you’re running a competition at your booth, that doesn’t translate to permission to add someone to your newsletter. It’s permission to give them free stuff if they win. You should have an optional sign up form to let people subscribe if they’re interested, don’t just opt them in. Even if you put up a sign “if you enter my competition, I will add you to my list” it still isn’t kosher. How many people really paid attention to that sign in their frenzy to get a free iPad? They need to explicitly ask.

Third, have a sign up form at your booth. Ask people if they want to be added to your mailing list. Then, a few days later, a week at the most, send them a confirmation. Thank them for signing up at the conference, tell them that they’re on your list and this is what they can expect to receive, this is how often they can expect to get it and this is what email address you’ll be sending it from (so they can add you to their address book). They made a mistake or they just don’t want to receive it after all? Give them a link to opt out with no hassles. Or, go one step further and make them click to confirm their subscription (double opt-in is always best!).

Ask. It’s that easy. If you haven’t explicitly asked, you don’t have permission.

And if someone’s business card mentions email marketing, really, don’t add them anyway despite my recommendations. We likely know someone on the abuse desk at the ESP you’re using. I’m more likely to unsubscribe than complain at first email (don’t remove me and it’s another story), but don’t be surprised if you add me to your list without permission and then suddenly get an email from me talking about best practices!

Braces…the beginning

It’s now day 5 of anywhere between 540 and 730 days in braces, a tiny step along the path of a pretty epic journey. Most of the people I’ve spoken to, though, say that these are the hardest days. These are the days most fraught with discomfort, paranoia (“was that wax coming off or a bracket? aaahhhh“) and just general thoughts of “why the heck am I doing this?!” I hope so. I hope it all gets better from here on in.

I have learned a few things along the way, though, that I hope might be of some use to others thinking about making the same choices I did.

First, lingual braces are actually quite comfortable. Maybe it’s because I had a tongue piercing once upon a time and I already had to go through that whole learning to talk around an injured tongue and dealing with discomfort thing, but really, they aren’t so bad. My speech is most certainly affected, but I have no doubts that given time and practice I’ll get rid of my annoying lisp.

Second, ceramic braces are not comfortable. I’m already regretting cheaping out and getting the linguals only on the top. After all the horror stories of discomfort and speech issues I decided that more standard braces on the bottom made sense. No one is going to see them anyway so why spend more for the fancy gold ones. The ceramic ones are more comfortable than the regular metal ones (my back molars have regular metal), but they’re still extremely discomforting. I’m feel as though my lip has had an altercation with a weed whacker.

Third, the area where the ceramics really shine is in hygiene. If you think flossing is bad normally, try doing it with threader floss while trying to open your mouth wide and look in the mirror so you can see what you’re doing. At least with the ceramics there are no jaw contortions needed, linguals, not so much. For that reason alone the extreme discomfort of the ceramics is worth it.

Fourth, wax is my friend in terms of comfort, but oh the hours I’ve already spent putting it on, taking it off, putting it on, taking it off, so on and so forth. Wax on, wax off, I feel like I’m in a classically campy 80s movie, just without the martial arts skills.

Fifth, when they say “You’ll start to see movement soon.” they really do mean soon. I thought with 6 weeks to go before my first adjustment, soon meant 2-3 weeks, not 36 hours. Feeling as your front two teeth begin to slowly move out of alignment is freaky. It’s like living in one of my worst nightmares. I’m sure it’ll only get worse from here on in, though. To anyone just getting started, just be prepared, soon comes sooner than you think!

Sixth, you can eat an astounding number of foods without chewing.

That’s it for now. I have every intention of posting pictures at some point, if only because some people (such as my little brother) are demanding them. I’m planning on posting updates at least every few weeks or once every adjustment, if only to chronicle things for my own memories, I might move them to a separate section of the site though. I know when I was doing my regular obsessive over-researching while making the decision about what types of braces to get, I enjoyed reading people’s experiences. So maybe someone out there will glean useful some information from mine.

Nerves Getting the Best of Me

Today is the last day of my braces-free-life, at least for a couple of years. All I can think about are luscious plates of corn on the cob and sides of caramel apples and peanut brittle; foods I normally don’t love (well except for the corn), but the idea of not being able to have them, horror! At least it’s taking my mind off the worries of pain, inability to eat, inability to talk and other assorted fears that keep bubbling up at random moments.

Early tomorrow morning I go in to have both iBraces (uppers) and ceramic braces (lowers) installed (such an odd word, makes me feel like a car, having something “installed”). Wish me luck!

Macmillan and The Case of Tiered Pricing and Availability

Today Macmillan started to announce some details about their new agency model, book available and pricing. While pricing isn’t something I’ve really gotten into voicing my views on yet (don’t worry, I will) availability is and as much as I disagree with other things they’ve done I’m really digging their views on this, at least so far.

First, as CEO John Sargent says, “All the new adult trade books for which we have the rights to publish in e-book format will be available at the first release of the printed book.” Meaning, Macmillan books won’t end up on my boycott list.

How will they do this you ask? The same way publishers have been doing for ages now, with tiered pricing, meaning the initial release will be priced higher. Think of it as a hard cover for ebooks. If the book you want is released as a hardcover first and you want to read it the day it comes out, expect to pay more than you would if it was a paperback. They say that prices will be lower than the paperbacks, “between $14.99 and $12.99; a few books will be priced higher and lower” and as a paperback version is released or time goes by (for those that do not come out in paperback) prices will be lowered.

Is this going to solve everything? No, odds are their prices are still going to be higher than many are comfortable with paying. It’s a step in the right direction, though. I like that at least one publisher is recognizing that ebooks aren’t just another medium like paperbacks vs. hardbacks, it’s another market entirely. Pricing higher at release and lower over time is the way to go in my mind. If I want a book the day it comes out and it’s something being released in a hard cover edition, I’m already conditioned to pay more–I’m fine with this. As long as it’s cheaper than the actual hardcover (showing both the savings from the print costs and the loss of value in terms of resale, sharing, etc, to me as a reader) I’ll be happy. Will they actually hold firm to prices the market is willing to pay? That’s the real question.