ThinkGeek, for all your caffeinated food item needs, and the value of email marketing.

At my last marketing job we bought a lot of stuff from ThinkGeek, for raffle gifts at networking events and business expos, for adding humor to gift baskets, and for our own entertainment. A lot of the goodies on our “Gifts for Geek Clients” Pinterest board came from ThinkGeek. Email newsletter marketing on mobile devices

So we got regular ThinkGeek email newsletters, and we actually opened and read every one.

How does a for-profit business get us to read its marketing email?

By knowing their market, having a really good email template, and filling it with great content.

Email newsletters are stronger than ever as a marketing tool, despite the challenge of making them render attractively or even decently across the increasing variety of devices and email clients people view them on.

Email templates have to be coded in HTML, with CSS. TG’s newsletters display perfectly in Outlook, even though they include lots of images and links.

In Gmail, which strips out all images and much graphic formatting, the newsletter is still readable with text formatting in place and messages that appear in place of the images.

Being mindful of what has to be explicitly built into the newsletter for each email client is crucial. It’s also very helpful to have your email newsletter template built by someone who knows how to make it stand out from cookie-cutter Constant Contact and MailChimp templates.

The TG newsletter is colorful and chatty, with a geek-friendly we-speak-your-language tone. It’s highly topical – like a reference to an Internet-exploding episode of Game of Thrones to promote TG’s GoT board game. A typical week’s also included a product so ridiculous we had to click over to the website- Caffeinated Sugar!

When writing an email newsletter to your client base, you want to keep the welcome mat out for future emails. Don’t spam readers with your priorities.

Keep the focus on what’s important to your clients and add value with interesting content. Gauge the tone to fit the level of formality that’s typical in your industry. Include clever social share incentives like a “tweet this tip” in your informative content. Don’t forget that email newsletters should always include icons that link to your social media and an RSS button to subscribe to your blog.

If it’s appropriate to your industry, make it fun; if your clients expect a more serious tone, make it elegant.

CEOs can help their marketing professionals when it’s time to write a newsletter: what’s new in hires, products or services from your company, are any sea changes in your industry affecting your clients, and is there a segment where you’re gaining or losing clients? Budgeting time for your company experts to write a technical tip for your newsletter pays off in value-adding content.

Offering a coupon, contest or sale at the top of your newsletter and mentioning the exact prize value or percentage off in the header will help you get opens.

If you have a great white paper, include a button to click for a free download. Engage readers by showing you value their input. ThinkGeek uses the brilliant gimmick of soliciting and publishing a weekly Tech Haiku from readers.

A photo contest is a great way to engage your clients, and asking them in your newsletter to submit the photos on your Facebook page can jumpstart your Facebook activity if it’s lagging. If your business is precision machining, like T324’s wonderful client QQE, you can still run a photo contest. Pick something fun about your team and include an example, like “most pictures of kids on desk”, and ask your clients to respond in kind; offer a gift basket as a prize. Ask for stories about how your clients use your product or service, and print the story in the next newsletter.

Remember, an inbox is a personal space. Enter it politely, sincerely, and with something worthwhile to give. And look like you dressed nicely to visit- make sure your template looks beautiful!

this post originally appeared on the T324 blog.

What to wear to the End of the World.

* this article originally appeared on Carnal Nation and io9, repubbed here for the ages.

resident-evil-afterlife-movie-image-milla-jovovich-12-600x400Things are always a little sketchy, globally.  They’ve been sketchy my whole life, what with Reagan and the Cold War and acid rain and global warming and shoals of plastic bottles in the Pacific. Now that we’re all depressed, let’s talk about clothes!

Obviously, when the Apocalypse comes you want to be dressed for it. You want to look good, and have a place to keep your tools and weapons and jerky. You want clothes that are sturdy, in case you’re dragged over the desert sands behind a motorcycle, and clothes that are washable, because your drycleaner is at the bottom of the new Los Angeles Sea. You’ll want clothes that are modular, because you’re likely to be wearing the same outfit for quite a while. You may want clothes that are armored, knife-proof or bulletproof, and you’ll definitely want some fucking bad-ass boots.

Also, you should do your shopping as soon as possible, before the worldwide economic meltdown. For boots, get yourself some New Rocks. Sure, they cost a fortune, but you’ll never be buying another pair of boots anyway, on account of that EMP taking out all the electronic currency. If you must go with Demonia, the Stomp or Transformer models are good for kicking in zombie heads. The Transformer can be instantly weaponized with attachable spikes. The motorcycle gear company Icon also makes fabulous high-heeled boots for your chic cycling needs.

You’ll need a tattered skirt with lots of pockets, d-skirts and straps. I found this French-run company based in Hong Kong and Bali, Shaman Electro, by looking at the tag on the back of Carnal Nation Editor-in-Chief Theresa Ikard’s fabulous tattered skirt.

Cryoflesh-Aquarius-SkirtOr this amazing one by CryofleshOr some demented modular skirt plus pants thing. Then you need a jacket. Maybe you’ll want this fucking crazy stillsuit/desert nomad hoodie to protect you from the radioactive ash. Or how about Kevlar or Aramid lined hoodies that deflect knife cuts? Try out this razortape-print Kevlar-lined hoodie from BladeRunner in the UK. They even have a  sickening pink “ladies” version.shaman-electro-pandora1

 

If you’re protecting yourself from the elements in the frozen wastes of Brazil, you’ll want a warm coat. After much research, I’ve concluded that most women’s cold-weather gear is not hot, and therefore, by definition, sucks-not-in-the-good-way.

The only cool insulated jackets are from motorcycle gear companies—and they have the advantage of being armored at the shoulders and elbows, for when you jump out of  the speeding jacked-up BattlePrius in the middle of  the wasteland. I like the British motorcycle gear company Frank Thomas for their Armored Venus line. This jacket from FirstGear is actually electrically heated. FirstGear-HeatedJacket-2_0You can plug it in to your methane-powered hybrid motocross hoverbike!

Then you need a place to put your gear. You’ll want your hands free, so you need a utility belt or vest. Poizen Industries makes this cute bustier with zipoff pockets and ammo holders.poizen-corset2

The craziest, most amazing utility belts and holster belts anywhere are on etsy at Jungle Tribe’s shop:JungleTribe bage

 

 

 

Much, much cheaper are cloth utility belts.

Five and Diamond’s Wild Card belts are fabulous. There are Wild Card holster belts, and the Skin Graft holster belts sold both at F&D and at the Skin Graft site.

Once you’ve stashed your gear about your person in all your little pockets and pouches, you can protect yourself from the toxic rain with the Blade Runner umbrella— at thinkgeek.

Of course, the accessory you need most of all is Milla Jovovich and her machete.

Loves Saves The Day, third time lucky, and other adventures in second chances.

We’re in Berlin! Swinging on the subway pole, giggling, I’m delirious with the rightness of this city. “Who are you and what have you done with my depressed wife?”, my husband wants to know.

Who is this jolly person who walks for miles exploring, who carts home bags of groceries and cooks actual meals and even sometimes washes dishes? Who is this person who goes to the club at midnight second night in Berlin and says “Suzanne- I’m on der list”, and cruises past the waiting Brits? This giddy creature thanking the punk rock tweens on the subway for their compliments on her hair and replying, “Die rot mascara ist on point!” This grateful animal whose instincts are no longer in collision with her environment?

My true self, an urban animal, that’s who. Free of the car, loose and easy in a real public transit system, safe in a city that stays up all night, where you can get a decent espresso on the subway platform and the streets are full of people living ordinary lives. It is a miracle to be here, to be transported to this place where people live like people, like the New York of my childhood.

When I would leave our Chelsea apartment and go out to walk the city in the 80s I would feel like i was slipping into my true skin, like the city was an armature I was happily donning. It amplified my strength and fed my energy; I could tell the whole world, “Get away from her, you bitch!”. Here it is the same. After a quarter century of little cities, the buzz of correct urban density is electrifying. I feel right size, a single cell in a healthy body.

You can meet anybody here. I told the Italian guy who was making our pizza my name, and he said I had to listen to this song from when he was a kid, and the Polish guy pulled the video up, and we watched it while the Argentinian girl folded pizza boxes. Then he invited me to see his band play at a club in Kreuzberg.

Soylent is free research for space sustenance. Drink on, geeks!

Suzanne Forbes illustrationI just read Lizzie Widdicombe’s thoughtful New Yorker piece on Soylent. On the face of it, Soylent seems like a classic example of privileged people solving Valley problems. No-one wants to not need food but supertaster Aspies who think they’re too busy saving the world to eat, right? When the Kickstarter launched, I saw it primarily as another asshat lifehack from an engineer who lacks sensuality. And a possible solution for my hacker fiance’s dislike of eating.

But… I care about space travel as much as I care about heirloom tomatoes, and Soylent could be an important piece of making it viable. We know that the DNA of heritage turkey breeds could provide the genetic diversity from homogenized foodstock turkeys we need for a resilient new-planet ark. Slow food is part of the future of space travel for those reasons. So is DIY. The legion of unpaid researchers using their own backyards to develop greywater irrigation and raised bed planting innovations are working for space. Although they’re only trying to grow their own food to save this planet, and building these raised beds because their West Oakland soil is full of toxins, they’re advancing our sustenance palette.

NASA would have to pay people lots of money to live on beige post-food slurry and carefully monitor and record the results. Companies would spend fortunes on the R&D these Soylent formula obsessives are doing for free. If I get on the generation ship (as a resident artist, I hope!) I’ll be glad a bunch of vegans in a Santa Cruz dorm tested green sludge recipes for a year. So I withdraw my criticism of Soylent, and I say, drink all the sludge you want, narcissist ascetics. Just make to quantify everything you learn.

Targeted content marketing for conversion, or, “You talkin’ to ME??! You talkin to ME?!”

content marketing conversionBrands are becoming publishers.

Let’s say it again: brands are becoming publishers. Is this good? No. It’s stupid.

If you’re in the sneaker selling business, and you are forced by your marketing strategists to become a content publisher, are you going to have the experience equity in publishing you have in sneaker production? Hell no.

You are no more qualified to be a publisher than a squirrel is.

However, you do have one thing that publishers are desperate for- specialized knowledge which can be converted to content. You are deeply knowledgeable about sneaker production and the needs and habits of the sneaker consumer.

You have a treasure trove of potential content.

And since publishing is as simple as setting up a WordPress blog, if your marketing team or some blogger on Scribd can convert your knowledge trove to content, you have plenty to publish. So suddenly you have a content archive which is a value-add to your consumer. But you still don’t know anything about publishing.

About how to tell a story, how to sell a story, who to tell what story or how to use a story to create consumer aspiration, which is the real point, for you.

So do you just open a content firehose on your blog or site and hope it will attract people through search, get shared and give you beneficial backlinks?

Sure, you could start there. Or you could design your content to attract the people most likely to buy your product and use it to guide them to the purchase that will make them happiest.

Let’s do a case study, of how a company called Orchard Corset (link has no nudity but still NSFW) is doing a tremendous job at this with reasonable, not-extravagant resources. Orchard Corset is a company up near Seattle that sells mass-produced steel-boned corsets and shapewear, and their content marketing ROCKS.

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Secrets of the East Bay, Vol.1: Caldecott Tunnel Free-Fall

Oakland Sunset by Thomas Hawk

Oakland Sunset by Thomas Hawk.

If you come out of the Caldecott Tunnel towards Oakland at the right velocity, about 67mph in freely moving traffic, you can put your right foot flat on the floor and your car will simply drop down out of the hills. At sunset, with the Bay opening up in front of you, framed by the darkness of the eucalyptus-scented hills, the lights of the Bridge coming to life like fireflies and all the cities glittering, it feels like flying.

This is safest if you’ve come through the left-hand bore, as otherwise you may have to cheat and tap your brakes smartly when people exit onto the Warren Freeway towards Berkeley. Caveat: I’ve only tried this with a variety of 4-door Hondas and Corollas, and my friend Tinny’s small pickup. Larger, heavier cars may not have the right combination of wind resistance, momentum and cambering to effortlessly keep up with traffic.

the photo was taken September 25, 2013 by Thomas Hawk, about whom I know nothing except that he has a photo named “Straight to Hell” (after the Clash song) in an album called “Where’s Rothko when I need him?”, so he seems cool. It is cc-licensed.

10/25 & 26- Suzanne’s Halloween Pop-Up Art & More store

Have you ever wondered what happened to that drawing I made of you or your friend at Dickens or Hubba-Hubba or Folsom or Decompression or the Upper Floor?Suzanne Forbes art

Have you ever thought, I’d like to get one of those drawings Suzanne made from 2005 to 2012, before she leaves town?

Are you one of those people who’ve been telling me for years to sell the other things I make besides drawings and paintings- the dolls and embroidery and costume jewelry and hats?

Do you need some really creepy gothy earrings for House of Usher?

Would you just like to come over and eat cupcakes and hang out?

If any of those things describes you, please stop by our house on Saturday October 24th from noon to 9pm (you can go straight to the Uptown, it’s just a few blocks away) or Sunday October 25th from 2pm to 7pm. I’ll have all the drawings (hundreds) from ’05-’12 plus some paintings for sale, as well as all my crazy other projects.

LEGThere will be prints and pendants of the Children of Evilness series, very popular for the gothic nursery, and prints of Defending the Electronic Frontier, my EFF benefit painting.Defending the Electronic Frontier by Suzanne Forbes

The first two people to find a drawing of themselves each day will receive the drawing as a gift from me!

I’ll have the last three Anatomical Heart of Gold necklaces, Disco Trilobites, Cthulhu wine charms, and so much more! Stocking stuffers for all your people, Halloween jewelry to wear to work, and lots of creepy skeleton dollies in corsets!

If you’d like to come, email me, comment here or RSVP to the Facebook invite for address!6034123959_1528f62ea7_mphoto 1 (2)Horribella 2photo 5 (5)The Gack Sistersphoto 3 (10)Huntressphoto 2 (4)

What the hell is that creepy thing you made?!?

photo 1 (1)

Suzanne Forbes dollAll my life I’ve made things besides drawings and paintings.

photo 1 (3) - EditedSculptures, embroidery, costume jewelry, accessories, bricolage and mixed media art. For fun.photo 3 (8)

 

I’d never sold of any of it til this year, when people kind of insisted on buying my embroidered bugs.
embroidered moths

So I decided, what the hell, when I make something for myself, I’ll make a few extra. Suzanne Forbes disco trilobites

Of course, this means my pretty much deranged obsession with insects as a visual motif is no longer on the dl.

And you will all know I wanted Disco Trilobites and Cthulhu wine charms enough to make them.

 

But maybe you want some too?Suzanne Forbes dollsphoto 4 (1)

Handwork is the new handwork.

A few years back I participated in an event with Madison Young’s Femina Potens gallery. It was a DIY workshop where we sat in a garden behind a yoga place on Haight St. and did handwork. There was a wonderful redwork artist there who refreshed my memory on how to embroider, something I did a lot as a little hippie teenager. So when I shut my portraiture business down, I took up handwork again. This time I had a wonderful helper: Pinterest. Reference photos, tutorial gifs, inspiration boards. Heaven.

Here are some of the things I’ve made- the octopus is the oldest and is all wrinkly cause I hadn’t got the hang of using the hoop yet.

embroidered deaths head mothembroidered mothsmothembroidered octopus