Tag Archives: Competitor

Word Of Mouth

How do you know that what you want to buy is any good?

If you’re buying something from a nearby brick-and-mortar store, you simply go there, take a look at it, heft it in your hands and get a feel for the object.

Then you go back home and do the same thing you’d do if you were buying the object, sight unseen, from a store on the internet: you look it up and start reading reviews.

I realize that there are some folks out there who are making a mockery of the review system, in that they are either hiring people to write glowing reviews of their product or scathing reviews of the competitor’s product, but I can’t think of a better system — when it’s not being gamed — for getting the unvarnished truth about a product.

Purchaser reviews are like talking over the backyard fence to your neighbor about her new lawn mower, or asking your cubicle-mate at work what he thought about that new Ethiopian restaurant downtown. You get to hear what each dude or dudette really thinks about the purchase or the food or the service.

You know that the person you asked isn’t being paid to speak only in glowing terms about the new nose-hair trimmer she just purchased. If you trust her, then you’ll trust her opinion of the nose-hair trimmer.

The internet, however, is a bit bigger than only your neighborhood. Odds are, you won’t know who the person recommending a product is, but you can be reasonably certain they are reviewing this under their own initiative, not because it’s their job to shill for Company X.

This came to mind last night, when I received a note from Amazon.Com that my review had helped another customer decide to purchase an item I got for Hyper Lad. It made me glad because, for a long while, I’d been reading reviews, but leaving hardly any.

That is just bad form.

See, you might recall that I’m a writer. (See A Dude’s Guide to Babies: The New Dad’s Playbook by Richard Jones and Barry Robert Ozer, on sale at Amazon.com, BarnesandNoble.com, Powells.com and fine brick-and-mortar stores everywhere for proof.)

Since the book came out, I’ve been begging people to read it and then leave a review on Amazon or Barnes and Noble or anywhere they think others will see the review. The more reviews we get, the more people will see it, the more people will buy it, the better I’ll feel about the whole thing. (Which might not be all that important to you, but is oddly high on my list.)

I still don’t think we have enough reviews, but as I was brooding over that, I realized that I wasn’t holding up my end of the bargain. That is, I wanted reviews, but I wasn’t giving reviews.

Now, I understand there’s no big review toteboard up in the sky that ensures if you leave a review, you’ll get a review. But I thought maybe it was time to practice what I preached.

So I’ve been going back and leaving reviews for most of the items I’ve purchased from Amazon.com and other places. It’s taking a long, long, long, long, long (I like to buy things on the internet instead of searching for them IRL), long, long time. But I’m sticking with it.

And I think you should as well. I know you dudes and dudettes have read the reviews others have left, but have you left one in return? If folks don’t keep leaving reviews, the system breaks down and then we have to depend on the paid flacks for their not-so-honest answers.

No one wins when that happens.

Do your part, dudes. Buy a product? Write a review. Read a book? Write a review. Watch a movie? Write a review.

It only takes a couple of minutes. You’ll be glad you did.

You can always start here, reviewing A Dude’s Guide to Babies: The New Dad’s Playbook by Richard Jones and Barry Robert Ozer. Just a thought.

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Cleaning Up To Get Down

by Richard

Today’s a big day around here. Well, not exactly around here, but in general. See, Sarcasmo and I are away in Salem, Virginia, on the campus of Roanoke College.

Roanoke is one of the institutes of higher education to which Sarcasmo was accepted earlier this year. The deal is that Roanoke is a great school, but it is expensive. So, when we learned that Sarcasmo could get a pretty good scholarship there, well, we were quite interested.

The only drawback is that Sarcasmo has to actually go to the school and participate in a competition with other incoming freshmen to see who gets the scholarships. The parents were thrilled. The competitor, well, not so much.

Sarcasmo is a young dude who believes social interaction is best achieved when there’s little to no actual social in it. That is, he’s not real big on the whole making a good first impression thing. Social graces to him consist mainly of not actually cramming food into his mouth at the dinner table. Dressing up? Talking politely and coherently to adults? Actually putting on an appearance of being interested in what the other person has to say? All these things might as well be in a foreign language that’s been dead for the past two thousand years to Sarcasmo.

Not a people person, is what I’m saying. Which is odd, really. Sarcasmo is bright, friendly, warm and a real charmer. When he’s with people he knows. When he’s around folks he doesn’t know as well? That’s when he starts avoiding eye contact, mumbling incoherently and fidgeting.

The competition in which he’ll be, um, competing today is two parts. The first part is a one-on-one interview with a faculty member, which is why we had to go out and buy the young dude a jacket, nice shirt, and nice pants. He’s too big to fit into my stuff now. The second part is a timed essay contest. He’s looking forward to the essay. Not so much the interview.

Which is why he’s been hating on me more than usual this past week. We’ve been doing practice interviews most every night. It’s hard to simulate an imposing faculty person when all he sees is his dad, but we’ve been working on it.

The strange thing is I don’t really remember ever having to be taught the whole, firm handshake, look him in the eye, focus on what he says thing. And those are the things we have had to work on first and the most.

It should make for an interesting day, to say the least. I’m looking forward to seeing Sarcasmo start taking those first couple of steps out on his own. I’m also really hoping for success for him. I don’t even care if he wins the scholarship (although it would be very, very, very nice to have that money available to send him to this school, don’t get me wrong). I just want to see him step outside his comfort zone and find out that he can do it when he wants to. I want him to feel good about what he did, what he accomplished, especially if he actually did do good and accomplish something.

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