Author Archive

Humor: Gift Basket for a Customer

October 27, 2011

Gift BasketWhen I was first working in sales, a rather strange happening occurred. One of our other reps had taken one of our sales engineers with him on a sales call. The engineer tended to be a bit nervous in front of customers, but I, and others, had assured him he would be fine, and off he went.

Apparently the sales call went relatively well, but the sale rep returned without the engineer. When I asked why, well, I was surprised with the answer.

The customer had a number of questions about our product and was designing it into his product, but needed some guidance. Our engineer calmly and clearly answered all of his questions, and when the meeting was finished, he asked the customer if he had a waste basket in his office. The customer said yes, and the engineer asked for the waste basket.

The customer thought it was an odd request, as did our sales rep, but he handed over the waste basket to our engineer. He took it, thanked the customer, and proceeded to throw up into the basket.

Perhaps not the worst sales call, but certainly the worst ending to a sales call.

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Battery Safety — It’s Just Not Fair

May 29, 2010

I picked up the LA Times and once more read that HP has announced yet again another laptop battery recall. Our firm uses this brand, and once more our personnel are being exposed to volatile battery pack angst.

I am intimately aware of the possible consequences of ignoring my responsibility as a consumer responding to a battery recall, because the risks of battery fire or explosion are real. I know it, yet I resent it.

Here’s why:

  • MarkeTech’s involvement in the mobile computing industry’s safety efforts with the SMBus (Smart Battery Bus) battery specifications and standards. I attended the presentations (and even made a few) that invariably included videos and photos of battery fires and explosions.
    • I resent the outcomes of my and others’ work. Except for a rare few, the battery and battery-powered device manufacturers didn’t fully implement the SMBus standard. Too expensive.
  • I patented a number of battery-safety solutions that not only solved the problem for future battery packs, but also improved the safety of legacy batteries already in use. No takers for new technology that would have added less than a dollar to the retail price (usually, over $100) of a laptop battery pack. Too expensive.
  • I spent an inordinate amount of time traveling the globe to include battery-safety provisions in the commercial aviation industry specifications for passenger devices.
    •  After an onboard computer-device fire, a major conflagration at LAX involving pallets of L-Ion batteries, recalls of battery packs in the laptops pilots and crew were bringing aboard, and letters from the battery industry…these weren’t enough evidence of the safety risks. Instead, the safety issue was put to rest by an FAA safety officer “proving” that laptop battery packs didn’t combust or explode by using his backyard barbeque as a test lab! Oh, yes, let’s not forget – especially in commercial aviation, implementing safety is too expensive.

Today, I am responding to this second recall. Once again I’m spending time collecting battery pack serial numbers, logging on to the HP website, hunting down the exact product model (is this a zv5000 or zx5000?), then scanning an extensive list of battery serial numbers, blah…blah…blah. I resent it.

Yes, this reads like I’m venting. But, it’s supposed to be the darned battery that vents when it’s in a pre-failure mode, instead of me having to help clean up avoidable outcomes by responding to yet another recall.

I think I did more than my part to help avoid, or at least minimize, these recalls. Recalls are certainly the least expensive route, but…it’s just not fair.

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 Other Relevant Blogs

The Benefits of Specs and Standards Marketing
David v. Goliath:  Specifications and Standards
Code Word “Interoperability:”  Danger Will Rogers!

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Cliches: Trite or Trendy?

April 27, 2010

Successful B2B business communication always boils down to using just the right words or phrases.  Whether it’s a speech, blog, e-mail, tweet, or press release, word-smithing is a factor. As the author of any of these document types, you may want to consider clichés as a category of phrases or words to either avoid or embrace.

Here are the top ten business clichés according to business author Seth Godin. His original ten have now grown to over 380 words or phrases in his “The Encyclopedia of Business Clichés,” most all of which have been added, or voted upon, by site users on

 Top Ten Business Cliches

1. Win-win situation 6. Paradigm shift
2. Thinking outside of the box 7. At the end of the day,…
3. Giving 110% 8. Low-hanging fruit
4. Best practices 9. Going forward
5. Synergy 10. Push the envelope

Cliches are important to good writing and effective communications. Since we all write, even if it’s just e-mail, we should (more…)

David v. Goliath: Specifications and Standards

March 30, 2010


The underdog applies a little friendly guerrilla marketing.

I just put the finishing touches on a press release announcing one of our firm’s clients throwing its hat into the ring as a supporter of the federal government’s Virtual USA program. Writing the release was fraught with memories of one of my other involvements in getting a client’s technology into a government-mandated specification and global standard.

Those memories include traipsing all over the world from one spec meeting to another. Being up most of the night not because of jet lag, but putting the final touches on a specification document, updating a PowerPoint presentation, or lobbying spec leaders in a hotel bar.

The specification subject matter focused on global standards for passenger use of laptops on commercial aircraft. Virtual USA has similar implications, as a program that will standardize agency emergency response databases at all levels, from the local police and fire departments up to the FEMA and Department of Homeland Security level. Both specifications address issues of safety…ways to prevent an exploding laptop battery at 30,000 feet being analogous to emergency first responders having access to national databases via GIS (Geographic Information Systems) mapping software.

Another analog is that both clients are comparatively small fish, and both have IP and products that are (more…)

Code Word “Interoperability:” Danger Will Rogers!

March 13, 2010

It’s Saturday, and I’m preparing for Monday’s conference call with a GIS client. The topic is the government’s Virtual USA (vUSA) initiative, specifically a press release about the client’s mapping software as a viable end-user application in vUSA.

I’m conflicted as to how to counsel my client.

On the one hand, the vUSA information appears to be focused almost exclusively on data interoperability, with limited statements about the app layer (See my comment at Directions Magazine). The Technologies Working Group is working integrating data with different (read “legacy”) applications that agencies already he in place. The apps are going to be open-source, it seems. That’s may not necessarily be good for my client., because it infers the possibility of having to surrender the company’s strong IP.

On the other hand, my firm has considerable domain expertise in specs and standards. Hands on in key WINtel and the Mobile Advisory Council (MAC) specs and standards as players in Marketing SIGs. Our firm was a lead player in drafting government (FAA) specs/standards for mobile device software, hardware, and infrastructure for use on commercial aircraft. I hold 14 patents on those high-tech mobile devices.

In this situation with my client, I feel like the man who knows too much about how government agency specs/standards usually get created. Our firm marketed its mobile device client to success in accepting its interoperability requirements at the standard’s gray cover stage. Over a year and a half, our marketing/PR campaign hobbled the alleged incumbent, paralyzing that company’s already sizeable installed customer base.

Why couldn’t the AEEC (Airlines Electronic Engineering Committee), ARINC (Aeronautical Radio Incorporated), and other agencies accept both companies’ requirements? Because, even though government specs/standards are supposed to be open sourced, and are supposed to allow for “interoperability” performance from more than one vendor, the reality was that the spec process was only to give an 800-pound gorilla exclusive rights to monopolize the commercial aviation industry. We were also able to successfully resolve our client’s potential surrender of its IP rights…a common issue in some agency specs/standards.

By comparison, the firm’s experiences in the high-tech specs/standards bodies were not met with such interoperability issues. Any company, including our client, was able to bring its requirements into the standards. Our firm was able to leverage our client’s alliances that we created with Intel, Microsoft, and IBM to join the client in its government specs battle.

Our client believes in and wants to contribute to the success of the vUSA initiative but, if what that other client experienced happens here, I guess at least this client will have the benefit of how our firm engaged in the art of war with government specs/standards.

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One Editor’s Snooze Is Another’s News

March 10, 2010

By Patrick Potega (CSTO at MarkeTech)

It used to work fine. As far back as 1906, when the first press release was sent along a telegraph wire from a train wreck site to the editorial offices of an East Coast newspaper, communicating with editors was a piece of cake. By the mid-1980’s, the communications infrastructure was a bird’s nest, and the population of editors/journalists was overwhelming…to the point that Regis McKenna declared PR dead. That freaked me out, because I had just launched Video Games Magazine. Fortunately then, as now, no one believed Regis “Himself.” As the editor/publisher, I kept doing the same thing I had been doing every day during my previous decade as a technology-pub editor. Daily, I sorted through press releases, deciding what information my readership should (or shouldn’t) receive.  

In today’s over-connected public relations environment, anyone can self-publish, either as a contributor, or even an e-zine publisher. Online media can structure its content as news only, blogs+news, or even blogs only…and everything in between. I’m glad that I’m not on the publication side anymore. First, I’d be constantly pacing the floor trying to decide who were those people that I could legitimately identify as my “readership.” If I could figure that out with enough specificity, I’d then be getting brain cramps trying to judge what my audience considered news. Being an editor or publisher today must be tough, because many good periodicals and papers have folded. Maybe too many bad calls about what a most amorphous audience wanted to read. (more…)

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