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Tim Peter Thinks

Tim Peter

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October 27, 2010

What the World Series can teach you about measuring what matters

October 27, 2010 | By | No Comments

measuring what matters imageThe World Series starts today, which makes this something of a holiday week in my house. You see, I love baseball. Actually, “love” may be an understatement. I watch dozens of games every year. And one thing I’ve learned about baseball is that, like business, what you see isn’t always what’s real. What do I mean? Let’s take a look.

According to Michael Lewis’ extraordinary book “Moneyball”
(reviewed here):

“One absolutely cannot tell, by watching, the difference between a .300 hitter [one who gets a hit 3 times in every 10 at-bats; in other words, a star player] and a .275 hitter. The difference is one hit every two weeks.”

To really know how a player – or your business – is doing, you’ve got to rely on measures and metrics, statistics that tell the real story of what’s going on. People like Kevin Hillstrom and Avinash Kaushik do a great job of looking at business statistics. And in baseball, the name to know is Bill James.

I’m reading one of James’ older books – if you’re curious, it’s called “Whatever Happened to the Hall of Fame” – and in it, he writes the most remarkable passage:

“When a statistic is given… you need to submit it to a few little tests…

  • Is that true?
  • What does it mean?
  • Is it relevant to the discussion?
  • How is it relevant to the discussion?
  • Is it biased for any reason?
  • What does it indicate?
  • What does it prove?”

I immediately thought of it as James’ own version of my 7 keys to successful web metrics. More and more, teams in baseball are asking these types of questions about their players and their metrics. And that’s what’s helping them get to the World Series.

And it made me wonder, “Do you look at your business metrics with the same critical eye Bill James uses to evaluate grown men playing a little boy’s game?”

Admittedly, it’s not likely to get you to the World Series. But it can definitely help you win more business.

What do you think? Is James missing any key points? Is what happens on a baseball diamond irrelevant to what happens in the business world? I’d love to hear what you think. Let us all know in the comments.



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Tim Peter

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August 7, 2009

How to gain new perspectives (Small Business E-commerce Link Digest – August 7, 2009)

August 7, 2009 | By | No Comments

“…you know what I’m craving? A little perspective. That’s it. I’d like some fresh, clear, well-seasoned perspective. Can you suggest a good wine to go with that?” – Anton Ego, “Ratatouille”

Coming right up, sir! There’s nothing like a little fresh perspective to clear the mind and point you in the right direction. Fortunately, we’ve got just the thing on today’s menu:

I hope you enjoy these tasty morsels today. I suspect they’ll add immeasurably to your perspective. Oh, and I almost forgot the good wine. Try the 2006 Chateau Ste. Michelle Cabernet Sauvignon Indian Wells. It’s nothing fancy – only $13-$15 a bottle – but it pairs well with a hearty meal, such as the dish above. Bon appetit!



Are you getting enough value out of your small business website? Want to make sure your business makes the most of the local, mobile, social web? thinks helps you understand how to grow your business via the web, every day. Get more than just news. Get understanding. Add thinks to your feed reader today.

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Tim Peter

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August 4, 2009

Should you increase email frequency?

August 4, 2009 | By | No Comments

I subscribe to email lists for many of the top converting sites, just to keep an eye on what they’re up to. And I’ve noticed an increasing trend towards more frequent email communications.

For instance, this is what I’ve gotten lately from ProFlowers:

frequent-email-proflowers-small.png

And Office Depot:

frequent-email-office-depot-small.png

And Victoria’s Secret:

frequent-email-victorias-secret-small.png

Now apart from the fact that ProFlowers calls me “Timothy” – something I only used to hear from the priests at my high school and my dear Irish mother – this is a heavy increase from a year ago. MediaPost backs up my observation, noting an overall increase in email frequency across the industry.

The questions I have are:

  1. Is this a good thing? Are these retailers seeing a boost in conversion from the increased frequency?
  2. Is this a defensive tactic? Are retailers just trying to steal share from competitors in a down economy?
  3. Are these retailers risking customer attrition due to “spammy” behavior?

Obviously, these are some pretty smart folks. I assume they’re testing to see what works best. If you’re increasing your frequency, don’t forget to do the same.

What do you think? Are you testing frequency of communication? And how’s it working out for you? Tell us in the comments.

Hat tip: The more alert among you may notice the “ad-swipe-file” label attached to my Gmail messages. See Linda Bustos’ email swipe file post and do the same for your business.



Are you getting enough value out of your small business website? Want to make sure your business makes the most of the local, mobile, social web? thinks helps you understand how to grow your business via the web, every day. Get more than just news. Get understanding. Add thinks to your feed reader today.

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Tim Peter

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July 17, 2009

More from the Blogging All-Stars (Small Business E-commerce Link Digest – July 17, 2009)

July 17, 2009 | By | No Comments

Well, you can’t name your Top 9 Marketing and E-commerce All-Stars then not use them for the Weekly E-Commerce Link Digest. Seriously. It’s simply not done. So this week’s list is a showcase of the best these folks offered this week. Enjoy!

Now, I don’t know about you, but I think it’s time you back away from the computer and enjoy some of this great summer weather. Or go see the new Harry Potter movie. Just make sure you’re back with us next week. Or better yet, subscribe to the thinks RSS feed or email list and never miss an update.



Are you getting enough value out of your small business website? Want to make sure your business makes the most of the local, mobile, social web? thinks helps you understand how to grow your business via the web, every day. Get more than just news. Get understanding. Add thinks to your feed reader today.

Or subscribe via email.

And while you’re at it, don’t forget to follow Tim on Twitter.

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