Email is Dead, Long Live Email

You’ll find a low rumbling in the hacker community about how email is broken 1, 2 (or not broken 3, 4). Email is still the main communication medium on the planet besides Facebook, SMS, and the web’s attempts to change that. The problem is that it is still relatively unsecure, it is generally heavily filtered at the server and local level, and can’t do advanced (yet simple) things like embed video.

Attempts to *fix* email have resulted in new platforms like Google Wave or Facebook Messages, but people are so heavily invested in their current email readers (Outlook, Gmail) that making a new platform for email is not really wanted. So what I’m proposing is to make new systems for the people who DO want it and NOT for the masses.

I’m a web marketer. I want to be able to send out cool emails. I want my clients to be able to send out cool emails too. I define “cool” as being able to easily create and manage your own custom email signatures and be able to send active content like embedded videos (a la BombBomb email). This can be done through various services and programs today, but it’s piecemeal.

I’m envisioning creating a marketing portal like Salesforce.com for managing your online marketing. It’d be a cloud platform for people to login, send marketing messages, add to or edit their blog, manage their marketing message response rate, and other CRM-like functions from a marketing-centric side of things – instead of a sales-centric side of things. Maybe it’s not needed. It’s just an idea.

Read about my other idea of creating a reputation service for the Internet.

Nowadays

Zac Parsons, a friend of mine who writes about the arts, culture, and sports, recently asked me what Watershawl was up to nowadays. Here is my reply:

With due diligence and a lack of self sabotage things will continue to get better. They are good right now, but there’s room for improvement. I’m expanding my focus from WordPress web design to Google Apps and it’s corresponding marketplace apps such as Salesforce.com to be a cloud app shop more than just a design shop. This is what Small Box Web might call becoming more integrated.

I’ve always been a business analyst/consultant in a designers clothing so now I’m just letting more of the tech side shine through. I had other brands like Telablue, Growmotion MarketingProfessional Technology Consulting, Geek Hand, Managing Actions, and Ether Fleet, but I consolidated those late last year into one Watershawl brand. After redesigning my logo to have a “water shawl” around a user head I saw the connection between the “water shawl” and a “cloud” and saw an opportunity to rebrand my services as cloud apps.

I struggled for a long time with how to connect web design with technology consulting, but once I realized the connection was cloud apps, it was easy because WordPress and Google Apps both live in the cloud. Essentially I want to be an Appirio for small businesses. I looked at applying there, but it looked like I wasn’t qualified even though I’m doing a lot of that stuff already. Instead I’m just going to learn from them.

In high school I ran a club and when it came time for me to graduate I handed over leadership to a sophomore named Mike Martin. Mike went on to get a degree in computer engineering and now works at Appirio. I’m having lunch with him on Monday to pick his brain and see if he’d be willing to freelance with me on some projects.

I’d love to get a client in Evansville. If you run across a company that has a website, but is still using a Comcast or Gmail email address then they are a candidate for Google Apps. It’s free for up to 10 users and after that $50 per user per year. Once they are on Google Apps they can add CRM, project management, or accounting software easily and cross-selling a web design becomes easier.

What’s going on with you?

A New Logo for a New Direction

I realize we just updated our logo a couple of months ago, but consider that an iteration on the way to the final product, which you can see here. The last logo was a circle of blue around an empty center, with a cutout at the bottom. It was meant to symbolize a ring of water encircling the customer, but some people just didn’t get it or thought it looked like an unfinished life preserver.

Our new logo essentially means the same thing as the old logo: it’s a water shawl surrounding the customer representing the suite of services we provide. But one peculiar thing happened once the new logo was created. I was on my way to Lafayette to visit a networking meeting and I realized that the “water shawl” could also represent a “cloud”. It was if a light bulb went off and I didn’t know how I had missed it before. Erich Stauffer was a cloud consulting firm that specialized in WordPress web design and Google Apps integrations.

Who is Erich Stauffer?

Erich Stauffer has helped small businesses around Indiana build cloud-powered, WordPress web sites; and cloud-based email, document, and sales management. Erich Stauffer provides cloud technology consulting to help small businesses do more with cloud applications and platforms like WordPress, Google Apps, and Salesforce.com. Our services range from cloud marketing to cloud migration to cloud management. Cloud technology helps small businesses market their business, reduce spam, and be more productive all at a lower price point than traditional software.