Thumbtack is one of many lead generation portals claiming to help small businesses grow. I subscribed to Thumbtack as well as Wedding.com to help build my business and am cancelling both, in favor of other marketing avenues. To be sure, there are others (think: Angie’s List) but I find myself questioning the true value of any of these sites.

Thumbtack specifically annoys me because I feel that I am constantly competing against them to get business in my own local area. I do fairly well in local search results, but the following screen shot is an illustration of why I am so pissed:

Google Search 072715

What ticks me off about the Thumbtack listings is that when you click either, my business is NOWHERE IN SIGHT, in favor of other companies, many of which aren’t even close to being ‘near’ Costa Mesa. When I email Thumbtack to complain, I get a weak excuse as to why I haven’t ‘made it’ into those listings—whatever that means! What’s really disturbing is that my business DOES appear in Thumbtack’s search listing for the city of Arcadia! F-I-V appears in response to the search query: “wedding videographer Arcadia,” a city 50 miles away!!! A sidebar: I did set my Thumbtack profile to accept queries within a 75 mile radius, but you won’t convince me that with all the geo-targeting capabilities available to internet marketing companies these days, they can’t do a better job of driving leads closer to where a business owner is located. I have even appealed to their CEO Marco Zappacosta, and while he is respectful and pleasant enough in his responses, I think they are more concerned with their business model than they are truly helping the small business owner. For what it’s worth, I will probably just keep my Thumbtack profile on the site, but will no longer purchase “credits” to bid on jobs. In their advertising, they claim it’s “free” to sign up, so we’ll see just how that plays out.

I was in digital marketing for almost 12 years before starting my video business, so I know the drill. What I have never understood, though, is how so many of these companies willingly accept our money, while providing such lackluster service.

Search Engine Land just today posted an article entitled “Local Businesses Squeezed Out Of Organic Search By Larger Websites.” Thumbtack, you are one of those culprits. Google, you should also hang your head in shame, because you said you were going to fix this.

Guess not.

Greetings, everyone crazy enough to read my blog! And for those that do–or have–I apologize that I haven’t posted in over a half year. My video business keeps me plenty busy these days and I write a blog there, too, so that’s where all my content’s been going.

That said, I want to acknowledge another accomplished writer in the household: my wife–also known as “The Fetching Mrs. Wall.” She just published a post on her blog, “The Feral Cat Blog” that really speaks to the madness that seems to permeate all of society right now–and it’s really both disgusting and disillusioning as to where we are as a country and where we might be heading. I invite you to have a read and if you like it, please comment either here or on her blog. If you disagree, please be civil…we have enough incivility to go around.

https://theferalcatblog.wordpress.com/2015/07/12/i-know-you-dont-like-this/

~TRW

Hi, everyone! Here comes a rant, so tune out now if you don’t want to read it! Still here? OK, then…see if this sounds familiar: You answer your business line (or worse, your cell phone). It’s a “robo-call” from your own area code. The recorded message goes into a spiel warning that “your Google listing has not been claimed,” but as the business owner, you KNOW you’ve claimed it! You’re invited to “press 1 for important information,” along with (of course) a “special offer.” And you also have the option to “press 2 (or sometimes 9)” to be “removed from our list.” Have you heard this before? Bet you have!

Now here’s where it gets interesting (or aggravating…take your choice)! I had a minute or two to kill, so I called the number back, intending to admonish whoever had the guts to answer the call, since they allegedly represented Google, and Google should damn well know that I had claimed my business listing! And the response to my callback? “The number you dialed is not in service….” Really??  Well SOMEONE CALLED FROM THAT NUMBER!!!

My point to all this: Having worked at several companies that sell digital marketing services of all types, I know how this works. I’d like to think that over the years, the managements of these companies would have cleaned up this circus act—especially the part about representing Google (they don’t!). It just seems that the old “churn ‘em and burn ‘em” tactics are still alive and well and all the legitimate companies offering SEO, SEM, PPC, and other services, are getting a collective “black eye” as a result. I don’t have a beef with anyone working for a living, and these call centers provide thousands of jobs, but please don’t insult us business owners with information you know isn’t true!

In the meantime, I continue to Shake My Head on behalf of the companies out there that strive to do it right! Oh, and for the record, I pressed 2 AND 9!

NoRobocalls

Anyone still naive enough to think we have ANY privacy left just needs to look at this infographic. As I’ve said before, the internet is the world’s biggest innovation AND its biggest curse!! There is also an interactive version, which you can see here.

1276_worlds-biggest-data-breaches_jun143

 

 

What are your thoughts regarding privacy? Do we really have it any more?

Despite this unsettling observation, be sure to have a safe and Happy New Year!

~TRW

 

Infographic source: Business Insider & InformationIsBeautiful.net

Thinking of the state of journalism today, I was motivated to publish a short remembrance on LinkedIn. I have lots of writer friends on Facebook and thought I’d share this there, as well as here, for the blogosphere:

https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/article/20141022162549-12495457-we-lost-a-giant-yesterday

BenBradlee

I worked in the airline business (Eastern) for nearly a decade. Sometimes, I miss it. But I DO NOT like what has become of the industry, whether a “legacy” carrier or one that hasn’t been around long enough to be considered legacy. Notwithstanding the insane air fares and “fees, fees, all them FEES,” we are now witnessing travelers’ patience starting to fracture as the airlines continue to shrink “seat pitch*.” The airlines, in their drive for more revenue, jam as many passengers into the coach cabin as possible, have reduced seat pitch to a point to where if you’re a six-footer traveling on a cross country flight, you will probably have a very uncomfortable ride. Add to that the passenger in front of you who incessantly slams into your knees to recline their seat as if going to bed for the night and the kid behind you who insists on using your seat as a tree to climb, and it’s not hard to see why we have a sudden spike in air rage incidents. You’ve probably seen them recently reported in the national media, so I needn’t rehash them here. Once upon a time, you could sit in an airline seat and actually cross your legs—in coach!—but now, you feel worse than sardines in a can. A well-known airline analyst, Robert Mann, said it best, in a Daily Beast article, “It’s like rats in a maze. At a certain point they start eating each other.”

I don’t anticipate airline execs’ being clobbered aside their collective heads with a sudden sense of benevolence, under which they might increase seat pitch, so in the absence of that level of sanity, it might be time to consider locking the seats so they no longer recline. If you’d like to see a list of all the carriers (domestic and international), and their respective seat pitch—for all classes of service, click here.

In the spirit of full disclosure, I certainly don’t have a beef with the airlines earning a profit. In fact, when I look at the days when I worked in the industry, most lost money…in the billions! But it stands to reason that there could be a better balance in profitability, while maintaining a comfortable on-board environment for passengers.

I don’t travel as much as I used to, but many of my friends still do, and some travel a lot, so this subject should resonate with many of you. Feel free to share your thoughts…and keep calm when flying the “friendly” skies!

*Seat Pitch (as defined by Skytrax)

This is the distance between a row of seats – the measurement from the same position on two seats, one behind the other – it is NOT the legroom area as some believe. (For example, the back face of the seat in front of you, measured to the same point on the back face of the seat you are sitting in).

Last week, The Fetching Mrs. Wall and I went to see the vintage WWII aircraft on display at the Lyon Air Museum, near John Wayne Airport. We had heard the planes flying overhead through the weekend, so we went to see them up close. Laurie’s dad was a B-26 pilot (“Marauder”) during that war and was awarded the DFC (Distinguished Flying Cross), so she wanted to see “Dad’s plane.” A slightly unnerving side note: The Marauder also had another, less attractive nickname: “The Widowmaker,” as it was one of that era’s most difficult aircraft to fly, and crashed all too frequently.

While at the museum, I had the honor of meeting (Ret.) Lt.Col. Robert Friend, a member of the Tuskeegee Airmen. Bob was signing autographs, mingling and talking with the museum’s visitors, and he had quite the line waiting to speak with him. Because I had something specific to discuss with Bob, I patiently waited in line for my turn. While chatting with Bob, we discovered we had a mutual friend: Col. Hannibal M. Cox, Jr., who was also a Tuskeegee Airman. Hannibal was a dear friend and mentor during my days at Eastern Airlines, and to have made this linkage with Bob Friend, made the visit to Lyon Air Museum all the more special! Alas, we lost Hannibal in 1988, and with him, went another of our cherished “red tails.” I’m just glad that Bob is not only still among us, but that he also lives in Orange County; which means I’ll get to see him again.

TeeLaurBobFriend

 

Editor’s note: After publishing this story, I was reminded by another Eastern Airlines colleague that we had yet another of the storied Tuskeegee Airmen in our midst: Jim Plinton. Jim was an Eastern VP and while a member of the “Airmen,” helped to train pilots! Two extraordinary men at an extraordinary time in US aviation!