Should Amazon have bought

On September 26, 2011 the federal bankruptcy court approved the sale of Borders’ brand trademarks, domain names, and customer lists to Barnes & Noble for approximately $14 million, sold through an action involving 50 rounds of bidding.

Where was Amazon?

Should Amazon have bought Borders’ assets, including its trademarks, domain names (including Waldenbooks), and its customer information, including mailing addresses and emails? What do you think?

Social media polls – looking ahead

Over the last couple of weeks we have held two different Web 2.0 polls on our Outskirts Press blog. The first poll determined that our clients wanted us to add a Social Media Market Research option to our growing selection of publication services. This option helps authors make the best, market-based decisions regarding their covers, titles, beginnings, endings, or marketing tactics, for example.

The second poll determined that our new and potential clients wanted us to offer a $300 “Mad Money” publishing promotion in October, which rewards new publishing packages with a $300 “line of credit” to use toward any pre-production service/option the author desires, including editing, professional custom cover design, Kindle edition, iPad edition, ghostwriting, or what have you.

But in both polls, the margin of victory between Choice #1 and the runner-up was fairly close. In the poll determining the next option we should launch, Market Research won by only 10%.   It earned 50% of the votes while the Featured Book-of-the-Week option earned 40% (author apps earned the remaining 10%).  And in the poll asking what promotion we should offer in October, Mad Money won by a margin of just over 1%. The instant 10% discount barely came in #2.

So while these polls helped us prioritize, the results certainly don’t prohibit the other options and other promotions from being offered. In fact, the Featured Book of the Week option’s showing with 40% demonstrated to us that it’s a highly-valued option also, so we are already working on it and will most likely have it available for our authors in October.   We’ve always known the instant 10% discount to be a valuable promotion, so we will more than likely offer that promotion before the end of the year as well.

The poor showing of the Author Apps option did surprise me, frankly. But, to be honest, it was also kind of a relief.  I was involved significantly in its pre-development here at Outskirts Press and now I feel confident re-prioritizing some of my other responsibilities and putting the Author Apps a little lower on the launch list, which will probably push it out to 2012 sometime.   I’m loving these author polls. They help us give our authors exactly what they want when they want them.  When you have so many things you WANT to do but a limited pool of resources with which to do them, this sort of insight directly from your  clients is invaluable.  

So if you’re a business owner, manager, entrepreneur, author, or other professional, I encourage you to start using polls on your blog or website, too.  They’re easy content, fun for your visitors, and provide you with actual useful feedback that validates your customers and helps your business.

Two social media polls – Results #2

Over the last couple of weeks our Outskirts Press blog featured two different Web 2.0 polls seeking the opinions of our social media community.  The first poll asked our community of authors, readers, and industry professionals what new option we should introduce and the final results voted for a Social Media Market Research option, which was subsequently launched a number of days later on our site.

The second poll asked our community what publishing promotion we should offer in October from among three choices: An instant 10% savings on our publishing services, $300 of “Mad Money” to spend on any pre-production option the author desires, or free Amazon Search Inside and Barnes & Noble See Inside submissions after publication.

Like the previous option poll, this survey was also a close race between 2 of the 3 options, with the Mad Money promotion squeaking out a very narrow victory.  Make it so, the $300 Mad Money promotion will be the one we offer come October 1.

Blog voting on blog branding

A few weeks ago I discussed the ongoing process Outskirts Press was engaged in to brand all our social networking channels–or at least the ones we were active with, which were/are Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, and our Blog).  

In those postings I showed screen shots of the new branding for each channel as it went live.  Our blog was the last one to join the branding party.  This week, it finally got a much needed facelift.  And, to continue the topic I started a few hours ago, we posted a poll on the blog to solicit our readers’ opinion of the change.

Now, this is always tricky, because people by their very nature are often reticent about change.  So we wanted to clarify WHY we changed the blog when we asked for feedback.   That way, votes would be more likely to be fair rather than impulsively negative based solely upon the notion that “Any change is bad.”  

And this is a very important part of Web 2.0.  Web 2.0 compels companies to take more time to explain WHY they do the things they do.  There are usually good reasons.   The reasons for why we changed our blog are outlined on this posting of the Outskirts Press blog, along with the poll.  Or, I’ve included the poll here, too — Yes, WordPress allows you to duplicate the same polls across multiple blogs, and share the same results. How cool is that?

How to add a poll to your blog

One of the major benefits of “Web 2.0” is that it facilitates and even encourages back-and-forth communication between companies and customers.  People can offer real-time feedback in the way of comments, star ratings, reviews, “likes,” “thumbs up (or down).”   Surveys, polls, and other widgets also encourage this type of “audience participation” in fun, friendly ways. 

We have two polls active this week on our Outskirts Press blog.   One is gauging our blog readers’ reaction to the new branded blog we launched this week.  The other is soliciting the winner of our 2010 Best Book of the Year Award.  More about both of those polls later today.

In the meantime, if you blog on WordPress, adding a poll to your blog is very easy. Along the left-hand side of your dashboard is a category titled “Polls.”   Click on that to “Add a New Poll.”  The functionality is self-explanatory, user-friendly, and flexible. You can control, to some extent, the width and color of the poll to make it “match” your blog theme.  You have a number of different settings for how the results are displayed (or whether they are displayed).  Since Web 2.0 is not only about feedback, but feedback ON that feedback, I would encourage you to set the results so they are publicly viewable, at least in percentages if not the actual number of votes.   One thing Web 2.0 has shown us is that people like being heard.  Not only do they want to vote on your poll, but they want immediate feedback that their vote has been counted.  The WordPress polls offer that voting feedback instantly.

Polls can be a great item to add frequently to your blog postings, and WordPress makes it easy.

Speaking of which, in a few hours I’ll talk about our polls that we’re running this week, and include the poll so you can vote (or just see how the votes are turning out thus far)…