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December 6th, 2007

How To Get 20 Dates In 30 Days

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Written by Dominic Lee

Topics: Outsourcing

I have consulted with a lot of companies and entrepreneurs on outsourcing - I thought I knew it all: call centers, virtual assitance, customer support, product manufacturing, website designs…

This guy Tim Ferriss, the author of The 4-Hours Work Week totally kicked my butt - he outsourced online dating.

Here’s a few snippets of a recent interview on Tim about this experiment:

Donovan: I hear you outsourced your online dating. Such a crazy concept. Could you explain the general idea?

Tim: Online dating is largely a numbers Continue Reading »

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November 30th, 2007

Hackersafe Is Stupid - But It Works

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Written by Dominic Lee

Topics: Conversion Rate, Ecommerce, Internet Marketing, Retailing, Yahoo Store

Adding the Hackersafe badge on a already secured Yahoo store is probably the stupidest idea ever in the history of business - considering that it costs $1200 a year per site and does really nothing (for a Yahoo store anyway) besides adding a security badge on your website.

O well, as stupid as it is, it works… the conversion rate among my 3 websites increased by 20% overnight…

Go figure.

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November 25th, 2007

Online Retailers - Get Ready For Cyber Monday!

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Written by Dominic Lee

Topics: Ecommerce, Internet Marketing, Retailing, Yahoo Store

For those of you who’re not familiar, the term Cyber Monday refers to the Monday immediately following Black Friday, the ceremonial kick-off of the holiday online shopping season in the United States between Thanksgiving Day and Christmas.

Whereas Black Friday is associated with traditional brick-and-mortar stores, “Cyber Monday” symbolizes a busy day for online retailers. The premise was that consumers would return to their offices after the Black Friday weekend, making purchases online that they were not able to make in stores. While the idea has not survived the test of time with sales data from recent years, however, Cyber Monday has evolved into a significant marketing event, sponsored by the National Retail Federation’s Shop.org division, in which online retailers offer low prices and promotions.

As an online retailer, you need to get your store ready for this big day. The couple most important factors include a clear shipping and refund policy, cyber Monday promotions, and most important - watch your advertising dollars to make sure they’re producing results. It is not unusual for Cyber Monday ad spending and search volume to triple - remember to monitor them closely!

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November 11th, 2007

New Website Acquisition: Mom101.com

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Written by Dominic Lee

Topics: Business Opportunities, General Business

I just acquired a website yesterday called Mom101.com; the site is brand new without much traffic, but it has a really nice domain name to go along with it, a lot of work was put in setting up affiliate products, plus I have a niche baby gifts store at BabyGiftsUnique.com so I gave it a shot.

I am going to rebuild it with a new template, forum, social network, and blog in the coming weeks, monetize it better by rearrange the ads and find JV deals, and hopefully it’ll grow to a certain point before I sell it (or not if it does really well). Hopefully it’ll do well enough to compete with established mom social networking sites like CafeMom or OpMom.

Ok, I know I’m not exactly the mom type ;) but we’ll make it work. We’ll soon add a lot of parenting advice, baby care tips, and mom resources on the site, so if you’re a new mom, definitely stay tuned and let me know your feedback.

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November 9th, 2007

Rice Alliance Information Technology & Web 2.0 Forum

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Written by Dominic Lee

Topics: Business Opportunities, General Business, Internet Marketing, Startup Business, Venture Capital

I went to the Information Technology and Web 2.0 Forum at Jones School of Business yesterday held by Rice Alliance. It has been a while since I’ve been back to Rice (ok maybe not, I was there for homecoming last week), but it felt kind of weird going back.

Anyhow, back to the forum. It was GREAT. We heard five web 2.0 companies present their detailed business model, countless elevator pitches by startups, and feedback from a panel of VCs.

It was my first time to the forum (I was tempted to go last year but didn’t) and I was thrilled to find out there are so many like minded people in the Houston community. In a way, it reiterates and confirms what you’re doing and it was fun talking to other entrepreneurs, capital guys, and vendors about each other’s business.

Two ventures that captured my mind the most is IdeaTango.com and OpMom.com; both of which are niche social networking site with great potential, both spokeperson was very nice (Lisa Lylod & Carrie Pacini) and I’m interested to see the development of those two companies in the next 12 months.

Another guy that I remembered the most is Blair Garrou, Managing Director from DFJ Mercury (a VC) - he seems to have a really good understanding of the web 2.0 industry and provided a lot of insights in the final session. I immediately try to add him on Linkedin this morning and found out that he has over 300 contacts - wow.

I also learned about this open house event for entreprenuers to network called Open Coffee Club and coincidently, its right down the street from where I’m staying right now (Groundz Coffee on Bagby), so you bet I’ll be there next week.

Anyhow, it was a great event and props for Rice Alliance, Jones School, and all those that were involved. Hopefully, I’ll be able to go next year if I am at Houston.

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November 5th, 2007

What Is Over Outsourcing

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Written by Dominic Lee

Topics: General Business, Outsourcing

Many of the clients that I work with are small business owners, and most of them work at home or started out working from home. One of the biggest question they usually have is - can I outsource everything so I can work at home?

The short answer to that is yes, but you don’t want to.

I do believe that with all the modern ditigal technology, i.e. Skype, online meeting chatrooms, VOIP phones, sharepoints, emails, Blackberry … you can literally run your business through a virtual environment. You can even do pretty well with it - its not uncommon to hear people who work from home who brings in over $300-400K a year.

If that’s ok with you, then thats fine. But if you trully want to build a multi-million dollar enterprise, there’re things that you just cannot outsource. Emails and online chatting can never subsitute the level of interaction when you see the other person face to face. Management is so much easier when you can see your employees and discuss things face to face.

From a personal standpoint, if you just work from home, like I did for 1.5 years after college, you lost your touch and connection with others. Your life becomes mundane and you lose conversation topics when chatting with your friends who work in corporate or other entrepreneurs who have their office and are constantly out there networking.

The success of anything lies in “showing up”, so get OUT of your home office, get a real office and build a multi-million enterprise!

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October 29th, 2007

Google Adwords New Feature - Compare Performance

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Written by Dominic Lee

Topics: Google, Google Adwords, Internet Marketing, PPC

Google Adwords just came out with a cool neat new feature which allows you to compare performance across two date ranges and / or metrics on Account Snapshot

They recently updated the Account Snapshot page with new features that let you:

  • Select a specific date range or ranges for viewing ad performance by metric.
  • Compare metrics over two time periods.
  • View two different charts and stats that compare and contrast metrics and dates.
  • For instance, you can compare your Average CPC for the last 7 days of this month and your Average CPC for the last 7 days of March. Or you can compare your CTR for July 13–20 with your Conversion Rate for August 3–15.

    This will really help with monitoring and improving your Google Adwords marking. Don’t know how to do it? Get an adwords consultant like me!

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    October 28th, 2007

    Google Page Rank Updated

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    Written by Dominic Lee

    Topics: Ecommerce, Google, Internet Marketing, Search Engine Optimization

    Google just updated the page rank two days ago, so please check it out to see if you website are getting some Google love!

    Don’t know how to check Google Page Rank?

    Just download the google toolbar and you’ll see.

    Don’t know what page rank is? Um… sorry this blog is not for you.

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    October 23rd, 2007

    Why You Don’t Want To Be Market Pioneer In The Digital Age

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    Written by Dominic Lee

    Topics: Business Opportunities, China, Ecommerce, General Business, Internet Marketing, Retailing

    In my last post, I talked about how it is not the right time to get into ecommerce in China. And a lot of people asked me, “As an entrepreneur, aren’t you supposed to solve those problems?”

    Yes, entrepreneurs are supposed to solve problems. But not if the cost is too big.

    Here’s why you don’t want to be a market pioneer in the digital age:

    1. Exponentially higher development cost - in the industrial age, where productions rely on machineries and physical infracstructures, the development cost of market followers are not that much lower than the pioneer. The reason is developing and producing a machinery requires component and parts which cost money. For example, if it costs $10M to produce the first automatic cleaning machine, it will still cost $3-4M to reproduce it.

    However, in the digital age, when what businesses need are more information technology, online services, and software programs, there is an exponentially higher cost of development for the market pioneer. For example, while if it costs $10M to custom made a software, the cost to reproduct it? Almost zero.

    2. Less customer loyalty - in the digital age, when one store to another just barely a click away, it is becoming harder to build up customer loyalty. That means even if you company’s market share is 30% this year, it may very well be much less than that next year. Because of this lack of customer loyalty, the benefit of being the first one to enter a marketplace has significantly reduced.

    Combining higher initial risk and lower potential reward, I hope you see why you no longer want to be a market pioneer in the digital age.

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    October 20th, 2007

    China’s E-commerce Opportunities

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    Written by Dominic Lee

    Topics: Business Opportunities, China, Ecommerce, General Business, Internet Marketing, Retailing

    When I was in Hong Kong this summer, a lot of people asked me if I will try to setup some sort of presence in China for my ecommerce company. And I will always tell them no.

    Here’re the problems I see associated with doing ecommerce in China or Hong Kong at this moment (in order of importance):

    1. Lack of supporting industries - the supporting industries of ecommerce is pretty well developed in North America and in Europe. E-commerce’s supporting industries include shopping cart system, fulfillment centers, payment processors, inventory management, marketing venues… Without these supporting industries, enterprises have to build these infrastructures or programs from ground up, and it is very costly to do. I’ll elaborate more on this point later.

    2. Problem with financial infrastructure and logistics - do you know it is STILL a pain in the back to pay online using credit card or Paypal in China? It is even harder for them to take out money from Paypal, not to mention the exuberant fees. This alone can deter a lot of online shopping activites. Besides, the postal service and logistics are far behind in China than in North America. If you think USPS is bad? Think again. Some areas in China don’t even have roads or addresses.

    3. Can they afford spending that much yet? - While there’re more and more high income families and a surge in the no. of middle income households, the spending ability in China is still relatively low compared with Europe, N. America, Australia, Japan, and Korea. The avg. income are about USD$500/month. Without the kind of profit margin we achieve elsewhere, it is hard to justify going into China.

    4. New Rich Mentallity - Many people tries to bring up the point that, “But there’re more and more rich Chinese families”. That is true. But you have you understand that because they are new rich, they prefer going OUT to shop to show their wealth, NOT hiding at home and purchase things online.

    5. Denser Population - The population of China is concentrated in the coastal area, in particular the higher income group. With denser population and denser cities, offline shopping is often preferred with more convenience and wide enough selection of choices.

    6. Internet is about widening, not narrowing - another problem with setting up an ecommerce website in China is that you’re limiting yourself with Chinese reading population. When I setup a website in English, not only am I selling to all native English speakers but everyone else from other countries who are able to read English. O and the cost of setting up a web presence is the same everywhere.

    Now I’m not saying that ecommerce is not going to be a huge business opportunity in China sometime down the road, but at least not now, and not for the next 3-4 years to come.

    Another question I get a lot is - “So why can’t you be the first one to solve those problems? That’s what an entreprenuer does.” I’ll explain to you in my next post why I believe it is no longer beneficial to be the market pioneer in the digital age.

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