Be the Ball, Danny For Only 200 Microsoft Points!

For whatever reason , I decided that I needed a good old fashioned golf game for my XBOX 360. I was hearkening back to the good old days of playing Links on my MAC back in the 90s. Golf video games are important to me, a man who has played real golf once in his life and shot a respectable 85…on the front 9. After about a week of playing Tiger Woods PGA Tour I was somewhat shocked by what Microsoft was offering me as a player through XBOX live.

I wasn’t sure I really wanted to go out and blow $40-$60 on a Tiger Woods PGA Tour 09, so I had picked up last year’s title Tiger Woods 08 figuring if I got my $15.00 worth out of it I would invest in the latest and greatest incarnation.

Tiger Woods 08 is actually a pretty damned nice golf simulation for what I’m used to. While it still has the standard “click meter” system that goes as far back as the earliest golf games I played, the current gen game gives you free swinging using the analog stick, which is the bees knees so to speak.

There’s a range of different play modes from tournaments, standard PGA tour schedules, challenge ladders or standard stroke play. All pretty nice.
You start the game by building a golfer from the ground up. Of course, I built myself a nice shapely young woman golfer. Nice snug white Capri pants and tight t-shirt. You know, the kind of thing that most 30-40 year old men still going through puberty are interested in.

You have a series of skills that go with your golfer : driving skill, putting skill, accuracy, and even luck. You pretty much start dead bottom on the skill chart for everything. As you play more rounds and achieve better results, the skills build in a very slow but consistent manner.

A couple of nights ago I noticed as I started up the game an option on the pre-loading screen an XBOX option for “Maxed Out Player” for 200 Microsoft points. What?

Yes, apparently, for the mere pittance of 200 Microsoft Points you can just get on XBOX marketplace and purchase your way to maxing out all the skills at 110%. I wavered for a moment. I had been busting ass to build the golfer and seeing the improvement in my game as I played on night to night.

What the hell, I always try to keep a small reserve of MS points on my account for just a tempting offer. So I did it. I maxed out my player with one click and a download that took about 5 seconds.

I understand there are plenty of people with the desire to cheat in a game. In my PC FPS days cheats were out there and waiting courtesy of coders and hackers galore (well below me. I’d rather get my ass kicked repeatedly than cheat online). But now we have sanctioned cheating directly from the company that makes my game console?

So you have an entire game that is built around practicing and improving your skills and you just make it all moot with one download that only costs a few measly bucks. I rebooted the title and there it was. I stepped up to the tee and prepared to take my first drive. I pounded it for 345 yards immediately unlocking a 20 point achievement.

I had just bought an achievement for 200 Microsoft points. My longest drive prior to the download was in the mid 200s or so.

I managed to get my first 18 hole stroke play under par that evening . The list goes on. There is still a challenge in the game, but this really sucks. Now that I’ve played with maxed skills, sure I could go back and create a new golpher to start from scratch, but who’d want to?

Sanctioned cheating for sale.

I’m pathetic for buying it , but what message is Microsoft and EA sending us by offering it for sale? I really expect the reaction to this to be that this kind of crap is available on XBLive all the time. If it is, I guess I’ve just missed it.

Would Our Web Designer Sell Us A Junk Design?

Junk just gathers dust
Web designers are in the business of selling web designs. That is the first principle of business for a web design firm, as it is for many other types of businesses. There is nothing new here except that the whole purpose of a web site is to create business for the owner, and a site just gathering dust does not do that.

No one says that a web design needs to create direct sales for any business but it must connect with the business owner’s market and engage that market. If the site doesn’t connect with the market it is just junk collecting dust. It may be a beautiful piece of work but it’s still collecting dust.

Part of this problem is our responsibility as small business owners. We didn’t go to a web designer and say, “I need a web site designed for my web market.”

Instead, most small business owners say, “I need a web site designed for my business.”

Our market doesn’t care about us
The difference is about the focus our words create and the intent that gives to a project. And when the focus is on our business it is not on our market. Thus, we end up with something we are thrilled with even though our market is not impressed and doesn’t care.

What our market cares about is their problem, not the looks of our web site. They are not going to share our web site with others because it looks cool, but they will share when our business web site helps them and educates them about our industry and how to make the best choice for their needs.

Are we being educated on our marketing options?
The chances are that our web designer doesn’t really want to go there. Instead they jump right in to giving us a good look at their portfolio and suggesting how they could customize and come up with something totally original for us.

And our fault is that we go for this – not knowing any better.

But it’s not really our fault. We go to experts to get the best information and all too often we are talking to a professional that has a conflict of interest. This is where the web designer is advising us about the very product they sell. We may never get clear information about what all our choices are.

For instance:
If the conversations never touches on the low cost, or no cost, of “Pull Marketing” then we are not getting all of the available choices.

If the conversations never come around to discussing the differences between a demographic market and a virtual market then we are not seeing our real needs.

If the conversations never get around to discussing how to define a marketing profile for our web market (not just guessing about our virtual market) then we are not getting to use the best of what a web site can offer our business.

And there are more if’s that the web design industry does not talk about. Web designers don’t talk about our market other than to ask us to describe them. It is so much easier for them to design something for us. So most small business owners end up with a beautiful site that is headed for the scrap pile from day one.

To design for our web market a design firm would need to know how to discover things about our virtual market that even we don’t know. They would need to know about virtual markets and why they are different. Web designers need to know our market’s shopping habits, what our market values the most and which values we have in common with our market. But web designers, trendy or not, don’t give us any of this.

The solution is in market segmentation
This is just another term for psycho-graphics. Segmentation divides a whole geographical or national market into 7 segments where each has a psychological profile that describes the segments shopping habits, values, likes & dislikes as well as general beliefs. These are better tools to work with on the web.

Reverse engineer
We could also stand back from our own business and ask that business a few questions to discover things about the market it serves.

Doesn’t our business provide solutions for a market?
Doesn’t our experience include the pain and distress our market feels?
Can we name our market’s biggest problem?

Once we have put words to the solutions we provide and for who we provide them for then we are well on our way toward knowing who our web site should be designed for.

We do not have to accept trendy web designs that have no appeal to our market. These just sit and gather dust. We want a site that engages our market and this means engaging our market.

Read that last line again. It’s like saying, “If nothing changes… then nothing changes.”

If our web site doesn’t engage our market it’s just junk

No matter how beautiful and pleasing it is to our eyes.

And it is our job to make sure that our web designer is going to think about our market and what would be best for our market but we shouldn’t really expect this to happen. The reason for this is that there is no one that knows more about our business than we do, but we need to stop listening to the professionals who are only thinking about us.

A professional web designer may not deserve all the blame for junk web site, except that they are the self proclaimed experts and they expect that we will listen to them. Therefore, the first rule of hiring a web professional is to not let them design our web site.

There is, of course, a great deal more to learn about our virtual market and how they think, what their shopping habits are, what their values are and what they believe in. There isn’t room in one article to cover the web as a virtual marketplace or market segmentation to develop a market’s profile. You will find this information in other articles.