Yometa: 3-D glasses for search engine results

An oft forgotten piece of search engine marketing is that every engine uses a different algorithm, which produces significantly different results. Getting an accurate view of your standing in the search rankings means visiting all the major engines - from someone else's computer so search history does not skew the results - and seeing where you are in each. Many companies choose to focus on a single engine, as SEO is already difficult enough, but getting the full view can be useful.

Yometa is a new web application that gives a more realistic view of search engine results. It shows the top results from the three biggest search engines (Yahoo, Google, and Bing), and generates a Venn Diagram that shows if a given site is on one, two, or all three engines. 

The company's blog points out that typically only 3% of search results overlap. For example, entering "concrete" generates only three pages in the center: WikipediaACI, and Concrete Network's concrete calculator.

Entering "construction" finds no sites common to all three: 

Even powerhouses like Wikipedia are not always in the center; entering "Microsoft" finds their customer support and download center, but not the company's homepage or Wikipedia entry. "President Obama" only found one page on all three sites, and it's not the White House

Now the good news is that even though we're talking about the "three biggest search engines", #2 and 3 combined get about 1/10 as much traffic as Google, so single-engine optimization is not leaving too much on the table. 

Great use of YouTube by a building product manufacturer

YouTube is one of the top five most frequently visited websites; considering how many of the videos on Google and Facebook are hosted on YouTube, it's probably even more popular than the numbers suggest. More importantly, it has set the standard for online video sharing. Given its popularity, posting videos to YouTube can be a great means of drawing more traffic to your company's website.

Question is, how can building product manufacturers accomplish that? Products that are visually stunning or experience-focused can use finished project videos, and technically interesting materials can draw viewers using installation videos, but many products are too small or focused in their use to make either type of video engaging enough to go viral.

Staticworx demonstrates that you can create an engaging YouTube channel even for products that few people would otherwise be interested in. Staticworx provides static control flooring solutions; static is an increasingly important issue, especially in high-tech manufacturing, but few people would spend more than a few minutes considering the issue unless their job related directly to it.

Staticworx solution? Find a bunch of fun videos that use static electricity.

As I write the post, Staticworx has five original videos uploaded. These short videos - most are only about three minutes - have good production values, and clearly explain fundamental concepts ("What is Electro Static Discharge (ESD)?" and "Making Sense of ESD Standards", for example). These videos are great sales tools; after watching just one or two I feel very well informed about ESD, and, more importantly, would probably make Staticworx my first call if I needed more information.

In addition to these videos, the channel hosts a playlist called Fun with Static Electricity, featuring Mr. Bean, Mythbusters, Bill Nye, and several cats, dogs, and pranksters playing with static electricity. This is a great idea; I went to the site originally because I wanted to see the Static Electricity Cat video they tweeted about. Once I got there, it gave me a reason to stay and play, which then encouraged me to learn more about the company.

They also did a great job designing the channel. Graphically, they kept it simple; the color scheme matches the company website, black and yellow, and the avatar is a still from a recent video. The name of the channel is fun and interesting; usually I would recommend going with "The Staticworx Channel" to help strengthen brand presence, but this was a well chosen alternative.

I don't know if this will help draw additional search traffic, or if many laypeople searching for Mr. Bean videos would turn out to be purchasing ESD flooring, but it does make the channel a lot stickier. Professionals looking for information will spend more time on Staticworx's website, YouTube channel, and Twitter stream, which greatly increases their likelihood of making a purchase.

Burying your dirt

Sooner or later everyone - and every company - will have some dirt, some embarrassing information, somewhere online. Eventually it will be less of a social problem for individuals, because everyone will have some, but for companies it could still be an embarrassment.

Sally Adee, writing for, has an intriguing suggestion on how to manage this dirt: bury it.
While you might think that reducing your internet presence is the way to go, you'd be wrong. The key to managing your reputation is to spend more time online, not less. The advocates of this approach argue that polishing your online persona could soon join healthy eating and exercise in your arsenal of everyday life-maintenance chores.
 She relates this to the Law of Surfing - the idea that web surfers rarely look past the first page of results. Which means you don't need to eliminate your dirt, just make sure there are 15-20 more interesting (in a SEO way) links above it.

How do you achieve this? Promote yourself. Tell the story you want to tell about your company; tell it loudly, tell it often, tell it in many locations. Social media is a good route for this because the Big Four (Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, and YouTube) tend to pop up high in search results. So does Wikipedia, if you have a presence there.

What else can you do? Write a few articles for respectable online publications, send out press releases on the news wire, blog, and participate in a lot of forums. The more the better. If there is a bad news story, respond to it so your reply becomes a bigger news item than the actual story.

In other words, a standard, if aggressive, SEO plan.

Ideally, this is a game you will play on offense, not defense. Don't wait until someone posts something nasty about your company, or the wrong person gets copied on what should have been an intra-office memo; start now so you already hold those top spots. Then most of your dirt will automatically go straight where it belongs.


Gigabyte-Sized Photos add interest to website

A new digital photographic technique has exciting potential for building product presentations, websites, and social media.

Back in the days of film photography, I would take a dozen or more overlapping photos of a scenic panorama, then cut and paste individual snapshots together to show the entire vista. Software like Photoshop made the job easier as one could "stitch" images together digitally, even automatically. Recent advances take this a step further, making it simple to stitch together dozens of images. The composite files, which can contain gigabytes of information, capture an awesome amount of detail.

For example, this image of the most recent presidential inauguration is made up of 220 separate exposures. The composite image size is 59,783 X 24,658 pixels or 1,474 megapixels.

While an ordinary camera with a wide angle lens could capture the same view, it would not allow the viewer to zoom in to see details like the following:
When viewed online, one can see an amazing amount of visual information. In addition to the president, one can pan and zoom in to see thousands of individuals and details of Washington. For example, these architectural details are just below the dome of the Capitol:
If you have ever used Google Earth or the satellite or street views on Google Maps, you already know how powerful composite images can be. What is new is that an inexpensive device from Gigapan Systems now makes it possible for almost anybody with a digital camera to create gigabyte images that are easy to display and manipulate online. While the "pro" model costs $900, for only $300,
"the GigaPan Epic robotic camera mount makes it fun and easy to capture gigapixel panoramas with most compact digital cameras and works seamlessly with GigaPan Stitch software and Compact and lightweight, yet powerful and durable - the GigaPan EPIC is ideal for travel and adventure."

Scale: One of the challenges of architecture and engineering is to be able to move between scales. The architect needs to see an entire space or even an entire building within the context of its environment, but also has to understand how a doorknob or window detail fits into the the project. The structural engineer must understand how forces get distributed throughout an entire structure, but must also pay attention to individual joint and anchorage details.

GigaPan allows you to present your products in context. Beneath the overall composite, you can show thumbnails of interesting close-ups. When a thumbnail is clicked, the software zooms from the macro image to the indicated item.

A typical photograph will capture a viewer's attention for a fraction of a second. But a GigaPan invites a viewer to explore, increasing his or her time on your website page where other product-related messages can also be displayed.

Games and Contests:
This may be the ultimate "Where's Waldo" puzzle. A contest can encourage viewers to search an image to find your treasure or clues. Information about your product can be embedded throughout the image. Games like these can be especially attractive to a younger audience that grew up playing online games.

Technical and Quality Control Issues:
The stitching works not only with vast vistas, but also with micro photography. This opens many opportunities for use in technical presentations or for offering evidence of quality control.  Click here for micro images of insects.

Training and Presentations:
Complex products, machines, and systems can be made easier to understand when the viewer can move around and get in close to see parts of interest.

Social Media and Mobile Media:
These giga images can be inserted into websites or e-mail and used in other social media applications. They offer a way to display large images on a small mobile platform like an iPad or smart phone.

Search Engine Optimization:
Images can be posted at the GigaPan website and linked into Google Earth. Undoubtedly, other platforms will embrace the format and they will become integrated into video and photo sharing sites. These sites allow the use of tags and keywords that can help search engines and potential customers find you.

New Advertising and Publishing Format:
I can imagine giga photos as a type of online banner ad that allows one to zoom in or out to get more information. An entire catalog or magazine could be captured in a single giga image.

Final Thoughts:
I am sure I have just touched the surface what will emerge from this technology. Eventually you will be able to use systems like this to transmit real time images, and photos like this will be integrated into building information models (BIM) and virtual reality worlds.

I invite you to contact Chusid Associates to discuss how giga photos can be most useful in your marketing mix.
Here are links to a few architectural or construction images from the GigaPan website:
Burj Khalifa Tower
Burning Man Waffle Structure
Frank Gehry's Fred and Ginger Building
Leonardo Dialogo (nanotechnology art) - Interior
Union Station, Washington DC - Interior
Building after gutting by fire - forensic record

Another publisher of panoramic giga photos is at

Using Wikipedia for traffic generation

Looking at our blogs analytics, I found something interesting: one of the all-time highest sources of referral traffic to our blog was a Wikipedia article on Taglines. Michael had edited it a few months back, adding a link to a post he wrote on taglines for building product marketing.

That post is currently one of our ten most viewed, and nearly a quarter of the traffic came from the Wikipedia page. But if you visit the page now, our link is no longer there. Which means, in turn, the traffic has dried up.

Here's what happened, both good and bad:

What went right

This edit worked because it added depth and diversity to a page that was, before our edits, entirely about movie and TV taglines. That covers many of the greats, but ignores the wide variety of product advertising taglines from across all industries that have entered our culture. Michael fixed this, writing: "Taglines are not limited to the entertainment industry. They have been used effectively in the building products industry, for example," and including a link to our post.

This should have been a valid change; we were not promoting our product or, directly, company. We were providing general information, on a topic about which we are experts, that expanded the usefulness of the page. So what happened?

What went wrong

Michael's addition was removed by another of Wikipedia's volunteer editors, which is also the way Wikipedia is supposed to work. Whether I agree or not, this editor acted properly to remove what was viewed as a commercial interest. The editor explained the removal, saying: "took out web address of ad for commercial business services in text, left reference in case this is really the only example of other use of taglines."

Wikipedia works as well as it does because the community keeps it honest. Even though this change went against us, I am glad it was made because the editor acted on right principles.

What should have happened

What prompted the deletion here was that ours was the only example of other types of taglines; that made it look suspicious. I can see that; Hollywood movies and building products are not two categories that usually go together. What we should have done is included examples for other types of products, possibly with examples.

For most building product manufacturers, the more direct application will be including links to multiple sources with useful information on the topic. Also, expand the discussion beyond the point where your product is used. The richer and deeper your changes are, the more likely they will stay put.

Finally, if the topic is one that's important to you, monitor it for future changes. This was not on our watch list because "Taglines" are a very small piece of what we do; the discovery it drew so much traffic was bigger than the discovery that it was gone. If this had been something more core to our business, like discussing social media in construction on the social media page (hmmm....someone should add that), we would watch more closely.

Your web site's first impression

Your web site's first impression just got more important than ever. Google's Instant Preview allows users to see a small screen preview of your web site before they click through. Take a look at copyblogger's post on the subject:
With Instant Preview, potential visitors are going to make a judgment about whether or not to visit your site without even reading the content. It’s too small to see in the pop up window. They’re going to decide based purely on — (drumroll, please) — design.

In building product marketing, the visual impact of your site was always important. But now that architects can leaf through a pile of online "brochures" and only open the most attractive ones, the pressure is on. In the preview, designers can see the shapes and colors of your site, the headlines, and the visual style of your text, but none of the small words. Even on my 24" monitor, the preview is smaller than the screen of my iPhone. And sure enough, the site I previewed had a Flash-based image, front and center, that shows up in the preview as a gray box. Give Google Instant Preview a try, and see for yourself how your site appears.

The good news? Changes you make to create a better Instant Preview are also smart changes that improve the full-size impact of your site and the mobile view of your site. And the other good news? Chusid Associates can help you choose which elements to emphasize, to give your site the visual impact to survive the preview.

5 Tips for Branding Your RSS Feed

I had a disturbing realization last night: I no longer know where most of the blog posts I read come from. As readers of this site will know, I am a huge fan of RSS feeds. I think RSS readers are one of the true heroes of the internet, and I have spent a lot of time customizing the feeds I get, frequency of updates, and display order so I get most of my news now in a very personalized, very useful format.

As I realized last night, it's possible I may have been too successful in setting my reader up. My realization was prompted by my wife mentioning a post I sent her from a particular blog. I remembered the post and I remembered sending it to her, but I had no idea I had read that blog that day. I read something and liked it enough to share it, and didn't know who wrote it.

Thinking about what had happened, I realized the problem was a lack of branding. Most of the feeds display within the reader, so I rarely visit an external site, and stripped of all the original website's branding. So how can you keep company branding in a post that will be stripped down to plain text? Here are five tips:

1. Continue offering full-text posts. Many blogs solve the problem by providing just the title and maybe a teaser via RSS feed, forcing you to visit their site for the body of the post. For sites that are ad-supported or have server limitations (as ours currently does) this makes sense. For most sites, though, I recommend against doing this. Posts have a much higher read-rate when readers do not need to go to another website, especially mobile users.

2. Include a distinctive signature. This is probably the easiest fix. Many successful bloggers have developed a distinctive sign-off line, signature, or logo (it has to be in the body of the post) that gets used at the bottom of every post. If I enjoyed a post enough to read all the way through it, I know who wrote it.

3. Use branded language. Got a particular turn of phrase you like? A good company slogan? Use them. More importantly, be consistent in the way you discuss your company and products. Do you sell "bricks" or "masonry"? Do you use post-industrial or pre-consumer recycled content? Hopefully you are already doing this in your marketing literature - if not, send me an email - and it's important to continue across your entire online presence.

4. Format post titles. I always know when I am reading one of the Gizmodo blogs because the posts show up like this recent post from Lifehacker: The Best Photography Apps for Your Android [Android]. The bracket tag at the end of the post sometimes gets silly, but it is a consistent element that I have learned to recognize.

5. Link to other pages on your site. When possible, link to previous posts or other resources on your website that pertain to the topic you are discussing. ReadWriteWeb is very good at this. Even ignoring any SEO benefits (see what I did there?) the links might provide, they serve a valuable purpose because when I click on one, it creates one of two effects: either I realize I am reading one of your posts, or I assume you are enough of an expert that some other blog is linking to your site. Either result is beneficial to you. Don't overdo it though; that gets tacky.

Most people probably do not subscribe to so many RSS feeds - yet - that individual blogs get lost in the tide. The people that do, though, are some of your biggest assets in a social media campaign. It is vital that they can identify the posts that come from you.

Does Spamming Twitter Improve SEO?

Maybe. But I still recommend against it.

From the ReadWriteWeb article by Sarah Perez:
A Dutch design and development firm Conceptables noticed some odd behavior regarding Google's use of the Twitter API during their development of Mopinion, an online feedback tool. It appears that simply repeating the same tweet over and over was having an impact on the actual Google search results.
 Each tweet contained a link, so the large number of tweets created a strong association between their webpage and the desired search term. Perez equivocates a bit about whether it actually works or was coincidental, but seems to grudgingly admit it works before concluding "the domain is a different database and may operate differently than, especially when it comes to social signals."

This sounds good in theory, but I have a practical and ethical objection to Twitter SEO spamming.

First, as Perez points out, it will most likely work differently on the main Google server. More importantly, this flaw having been exposed, I doubt Google's engineers will take it lightly. I expect the next revision to the search algorithm will address Twitter spam, and control for or even punish sites that engage in it.

Secondly, I am opposed to spamming of any kind on general principle. I even have reservations about direct mail, because too much of it is unsolicited and unwanted. Twitter spamming reeks of "black hat" technique; this type of behavior will clog Twitter, reducing the value of Twitter as a tool and the enjoyment of it as a social network.

Twitter can be an important SEO tool, but do it the right way. Publish consistent, useful information, and follow and retweet appropriately.

Are Digital Natives Media Savvy?

No, says a new study from Northwestern University. In fact, they seem more impressed by a site's search ranking on Google than by pesky details like who wrote it, is it an unbiased source, or is it useful information. From the study's abstract:
We find that the process by which users arrive at a site is an important component of how they judge the final destination. In particular, search context, branding and routines, and a reliance on those in one’s networks play important roles in online information-seeking and evaluation. We also discuss that users differ considerably in their skills when it comes to judging online content credibility.
This is important for construction product marketing in three ways.

First, it's another nail in the coffin for the "digital natives" meme. I dislike the term because it seems like a dressed up modern version of the "Those kids and their darn toys!" mentality. Not every Baby Boomer grew up to be a TV producer, so why assume every Millennial knows HTML and Java? Even worse, it becomes a hand-washing pass phrase that many use to absolve themselves of responsibility for understanding the latest digital technologies. It's possible that the net, email, and social media have little resonance with your target market segment, but that's more a reflection of the audience you serve than their age; odds are good that will still remain true even years after the "digital natives" take over the industry, and their habits will only transform because you offer them good, useful tools online.

Secondly, it underscores the importance of search in modern marketing campaigns. I did a search recently on a new client's company name, and they came up on the bottom of the first page. Beneath two university groups, an indie punk band, and some guy on LinkedIn with the same name. A search for their product category name did not include them at all. It is no coincidence their website traffic was way below target. Increasingly, people use Google as their first stop when looking for new products, inspiration, or help solving technical problems. Your webpresence needs to anticipate and facilitate searchability.

Finally, it is a reminder to be initially skeptical of anything you read online (including this blog, by the way; we occasionally make mistakes or show bias too). On the other side, as content producers it means we must be careful to act in a trustworthy, responsible manner. Sites that give bad information don't stay high in the rankings for long; they may claim the top spot for a few weeks, but then get burned by the wave of negative feedback and backlash. Providing consistently high-quality information may take longer to get results, but they will be more stable in the long run.

H/T ReadWriteWeb for the tip.

Don't let your website get dropped from Bing/Yahoo searches

The merging of Bing into Yahoo search is changing the way pages get indexed; that means your page could get dropped. Microsoft released new webdeveloper tools to help users adjust their sites so they display correctly in search results.  If Bing or Yahoo are an important part of your search engine marketing plan (hint: they are), have your webmaster check out the new tools and update your page.

Good Blog Writing Without Worrying About SEO

Cranial Soup has some great advice in Friday's post "How can you rank well on search engines, without fussing with SEO?"  Ironically, April's advice does contribute to good SEO, since so much of SEO comes down to putting good, useful content on a well-structured site. I agree with all but one of her points, which, since I have written enough to satisfy her 3:1 ratio of commentary to quotation, I can now insert here:
Don't copy other people's stuff, write your own.
If she means don't plagiarize or rely on form-letter posts, email chains, etc., then I wholeheartedly concur. If, however, she means write your own stuff instead of linking to others, I respectfully disagree.

Granted, I don't think she would recommend completely eliminating linked/quoted material (see the 3:1 rule), but that's a suggestion I frequently hear. Usually with the rationale that quoting someone else promotes them in a space that should be promoting you. However, one of the best services you can provide to your busy readers is to bring them important articles from around the net, saving them from having to build the reading list it took you years to develop. As she says, though, add your own viewpoint to it.

Beyond that, she talks a lot about building a community by being part of a community:
Reach out to blogs by reading and participating in discussions. Never leave a "nice post" comment. Put some thought & work into your responses. You want to catch the attention of other readers and the bloggers themselves, and make them ask "Wow! Who is this guy?" so they will click your name and visit the site it links to. Always make your comments increase the value of that bloggers page. 
 I think this is a too-often overlook piece of building blog readership. Part of the way people find you is through your participation in conversations they already follow. Furthermore, demonstrating your commitment to other people's blogs encourages them to participate with yours. Given the tightly define niches most building product manufacturers work in, the "rising tides lift all ships" philosophy is a powerful force online.

Social Media in Trucks, Exams, and SEO

Three posts that, taken together, reveal the extent to which social media is changing our cultural landscape:

1. Tweet While Driving Hands Free: Ford CEO Alan Mulally is bringing innovations that will make Ford trucks a part of your mobile media life. Major changes include live streaming of Pandora internet radio, iPhone-like customizable controls, ability to send/receive Twitter posts using voice-to-text software, and major overhauls of the truck buying experience to make it a highly personalized "design your own" experience reminiscent of online shopping.
"What is striking to me about Ford is that many people often ask about the ROI of social media. With the great work of Mulally, James Farley and Scott Monty at Ford there is something that can’t be measured; a cultural change."

2. Danish pupils use web in exams: Fourteen schools in Denmark are experimenting with allowing students to surf the web during exams. They are allowed to access a wide range of sites, as long as they do not send or receive messages or emails. Supporting this change,
"Students are no longer required to regurgitate facts and figures. Instead the emphasis is on their ability to sift through and analyse information."
Says one of the professors involved,
"As a nation we've been really good at embracing technology - we've been really at the forefront of doing this well in the classroom. Then they go into the exam room and all that's taken away and they're given a fountain pen and a sheet of lines paper and a three hour time limit. It's time to get real, isn't it?"

3. The Battle Between SEO and Social Search: As social media results are popping up more and more in search engine results, the way we think of SEO needs to change. People tend to put more stock in their friends' experiences, rather than paid ads or third party reviews, meaning these social media results could be disproportionately influential. On the other hand, Google is still far and away the first stop for most inquiries.
"Ultimately choosing the right tool for the job is as important as ever. SEO, social media, and all of the other facets of online marketing (don’t forget email marketing) will continue to be relevant for some time to come."

Taken together, these three articles make a powerful statement about the extent to which social media is now influencing our "real lives" - even our digital real lives! When my family got our first car phone - the size of a modern netbook - it was strictly for emergency purposes only. And ordering pizza during the commute home. We could barely imagine needing to talk to anyone so badly that we needed to take the call in the car. But now there is such an expectation of constant connection that "I'm busy driving" feels like too weak a reason to turn off Twitter.

The shift in educational styles reflects this, too. The knowledge of the world is at our fingertips 24/7; locating, analyzing, and processing information is a far more valuable skill than rote memorization.

The integration of social media into every aspect of our lives will continue, and probably even accelerate during the next few years, limited only by the availability of high-speed wireless networks. Even as specific technologies come and go - someday even Facebook and Twitter will become passe - our culture has permanently changed.

How will you integrate social media into your sales and marketing plans this coming year? Which technologies do you see as most important for your company?

The True Benefits of "Non-proprietary" Articles

The latest e-newsletter from American School & Hospital Facility has an article titled "The True Benefits of Cleaning "Green"".
Cleaning institutional buildings poses many challenges for facility managers. In education and health care buildings, mangers must find safe and effective cleaning solutions, sensitive to the volatile health of their occupants. At the forefront of most managers’ cleaning agendas are needs to improve indoor air quality (IAQ), improve the health of buildings and the people who visit them, and reduce the negative impact to the environment both in the building and beyond. These are demanding objectives for any facility manager and are especially tough today for many who are faced with shrinking budgets. In these unique environments, managers must be armed with cleaners that are:

• Affordable and meet their budget requirements;
• Effective at removing a multitude of stains and dirt;
• Agreeable to their building’s IAQ and the environment.
Good start; sounds promising. Especially since the newsletter itself opened by talking about Indoor Air Quality (IAQ). As I read further, the article quickly came to focus on green cleaning as it applies to carpets. All the specific examples pointed to carpets. The case study discussed carpets. Even the section on reducing injuries discussed only injuries obtained by cleaning and changing carpets.

Looking at the end of the article, I was not surprised to see the piece was written by someone from a carpet cleaner manufacturer, XL North.

Let me be clear: I have no problem with this. Some people are distrustful of what they see as "insider articles", but I find them to be useful, as long as any potential author bias is made clear. Consider: cleaning carpets in an environmentally conscious way is an important issue. I would assume someone who produces carpet cleaning products can speak on the issue with expertise. I see no reason to doubt his facts and figures (although one study mentioned without citation seems a bit too good to be true). Important topic, expert writer, good information; sounds like a good article to me!

So this article is helpful to me as a reader, but how is it good for the company sponsoring it? Several reasons:

1. Viral marketing. They wrote an article, it got emailed to thousands of readers, I reposted the link, exposing it to new readers. Soon it will go onto my Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn profiles, get listed on Digg and Readit, and if even one person likes my article enough to repost it, the whole cycle starts again, bringing a whole new set of eyes to the magazine, the article, and the company. Meanwhile, all these links, mentions of the company name, etc. help raise the company's SEO score.

2. Expertise. A large part of successful marketing in the communication age is convincing prospects you are the one that can help them solve their problems. The internet has brought that to a personal level as well, which is why so many CEO's have their own blogs and Twitter accounts. Placing non-proprietary articles in respected periodicals demonstrates how much you and your company know about the topic.

3. Setting the Terms of Debate. This is an important but often overlooked benefit. Non-proprietary articles allow me to define the important issues in the way that is most beneficial to my company and my products. Done well, this means you determine the questions prospects ask your competitor.

I do have one qualm with this article; it is important that a non-proprietary article provides what it promises, and I think the title and introduction promise more than the article provides. If this were a seminar at a trade show, I would be disappointed by the exclusive focus on carpets when what I wanted was IAQ. This would be a stronger article if the title used the word "carpet". It would still be useful and interesting, but I would not walk away feeling something was missing.

Where will your next great marketing idea come from?

If you are reading only the design and construction trade publications, you will usually be following the market rather than creating them.

I was thinking about this while reading Journal of Healthcare Protection Management, Vol 25 No 2, a journal published by International Association of Healthcare Safety and Security. Its articles are written mostly by healthcare facility management professionals and discuss concerns that may still be below the radar of designers and the building product manufacturers that serve the industry.

For example, an article by David Corbin, "Designing a 'Safe Room' on a Medical Nursing Unit Floor" describes an experiment at Faulkner Hospital, Boston. They observed an increase in violence by "at risk" patients. Following
extensive planning, they remodeled a patient room so it could be used with patients deemed to be a security risk, but without the sterility of a prison or psych hospital room. The table below identifies some of the changes. (Click to enlarge.)Note that it the changes affect hardware, cabinetry, communication systems, plumbingware, specialties, and other types of building materials. While this was one room in one hospital, it could mark a trend that may expand to include the hardening of walls, lighting, finishes, etc.

Another article in the same issue, "The SEO (Security Entrance Officer): A Wave of the Future of Healthcare Security," by Edward Panell, describes efforts by a hospital in Seattle to provide better control of entry into its facility. By the time a phenomenon becomes a TLA (Three Letter Acronym), it may well be on its way towards becoming a wave. While the Seattle Hospital solved its problems with aggressive staffing, it is possible to imagine that future hospitals may require different types of entrances, hardware, controls, monitoring equipment, and other building products.

When Chusid Associates did an extensive healthcare market research project in the 1980s, it was a time when the trend was to make hospitals "warmer" and more accessible. Perhaps the pendulum is swinging. One of our clients is already profiting from the increased security in healthcare.

Trends like these are occurring in all building types. Building product manufacturers who want to be leaders in their market segments should monitor leading indicators, and conduct fresh market research on a regular basis.