Cool Service!

I just checked out Book Mooch that was referenced on the Freakonomics blog.

Very cool!

If you haven’t seen it, you enter your books into a list.  Then, as people search for those books, if they find yours, they request them.  You mail them to them and receive a “point.”  You use your points to then order books from other people.

Now, if I’m late to the party…sorry.  I just think this is really cool and will only get better as more people sign up.

powered by performancing firefox

Cool Service!

The Number One Problem with Business Is…

…Business!

Now, I know that this meme….theme…meme has been done to death, but it’s been rattling around in my brain, so for the two of you that may read this, you can deal with it.

Why, when we enter the walls of a business do we have to stop being people?  Why, when the heart and soul of a business is the people, do we all have to put on the facade of “business person.”  (Incidentally, even there it’s business person!)

I think that in business, people get too scared to act like people.  Companies have to “talk properly” worry about how public perception is, etc.  In turn, customers tend to try to “step up” and match the speech patterns and customs of the business.  Why? 

Hugh sums this up very well.

I just can’t get past the disconnect between company and consumer.  We inside the walls of the company talk to each other like people.  People outside the company talk to each other like people.  But connect the customer and the company and everything changes.  The companies that are already the most successful are those that treat and interact with their customers like the people they are.  This won’t change…it’ll only get more widespread.

A great example is Kathy Sierra’s post today.  Now, if you are reading this and not Kathy Sierra’s blog…well, that’s very unlikely.  Anyway, she touches on something that I know bothers me and I think goes to this same end.  Treating potential customers as kings and queens and current customers like jesters.  Cell phone companies are the worst and this, but most companies have a bit of this ingrained in how they do business. 

I think we need to start treating people like people and start treating people who have rewarded us with their attention, money or loyalty as “super people” and court them as such. 

The thing that gets me is that the things in our personal life that drive each of us up a wall when we interact with a business are often the very same things we do day in and day out to our customers.

powered by performancing firefox

The Number One Problem with Business Is…

Contnxt?!?

John Dodds at Make Marketing History had a thought-provoking post today.

Basically, he’s discussing the “content is king” meme (or theme?  Joe? Neville?)

He contends that content is more important than distribution channels…but.  But, you have to still have some decent context.

Now, this is an elementary summary of his post, I know…so be sure to read his.  My thoughts are in line with his though.  I think some people have taken the “content is king” thought too far and have swung the pendulum to an extreme of content at the expense of context. 

I know from my experience, I could visit a website, get a magazine, etc and the content could be great, but if I have to struggle to find the content, it looks like a 4 year old designed it, or a number of other things…I’m gone.  I think that great content should drive great context.  They need to work together, for many reasons. 

Some people may be on a fringe of actually being your “desired reader.”  They could end up being a great client, connection, friend, but if they are turned off by the look or feel they get from your blog, book, magazine or whatever, you may miss that opportunity.

How did people used to know who the King was?  By the context.  If they saw someone in rags drinking out of the gutter, they probably wouldn’t have thought of the person as a King (well, except in one instance).  But, when they saw the king in his robes, wearing a crown, sitting on a throne, surrounded by servants…they knew he was King.

It’s important that we don’t crown the content king at the expense of the context.

powered by performancing firefox

Contnxt?!?

Can we be TOO Niche?

I know the mantra of, “Create a unique product for a very specialized market to be successful.”

I agree.  If you are very specific about what you make and who you make it for, then you can be sure to generally be talking only to those people who are truly your prospective customers.

My question is:  Can we get TOO niche, TOO specialized?

As I think it through to conclusion, it seems possible that by being specialized, it will be possible to exhaust the market for your specialized product.  At that point, do you adjust what you do to appeal to more people?  Does that hurt the specialization brand you have built?

I’m trying to think through the possibilities of if there is a potential of “running out of customers.”

I’m not sure that there is because there’s always room to evolve, change and grow.

But getting there is pretty scary.

powered by performancing firefox

Can we be TOO Niche?

Is there an opportunity here?

Anyone who is familiar with Seth is familiar with the concept of a Purple Cow.  Since the book came out, people everywhere have been talking about, “How can we make a purple cow?”  “Is this a purple cow.”  “Anyone have any grape milk from the purple cow?”  (OK, so maybe not the last one.)

My question is, if it’s not happening already, when will this spawn a new industry? 

When will someone say, “I’ve got a knack for finding unique and remarkable things in business…I’ll start a purple cow consultancy!”

Now, I know this is ripe for people to abuse, but I think there may be an opportunity here for the right person.  Someone who can come in, look at your business and find options for things you can develop to turn your offering into a purple cow.  They could suggest strategies, maybe even offer advice for implementation and roll-out.  But, ultimately, they are there to look at your industry and offering with a new set of eyes…focused on finding and suggesting the remarkable.

Maybe this is a dumb idea.  Maybe both of you who read this (and I REALLY appreciate you) think I’m an idiot.  But I really think that if done right, someone who comes in and helps you identify the remarkable in your company could do a lot…if they do it right.  Too bad Seth isn’t looking for a new gig!

As an aside, a funny story.

Last night I was browsing at a local used book store.  I found a copy of Permission Marketing which I was going to pick up because I loaned my copy to my father-in-law six years ago and haven’t seen it since!  Anyway, I was flipping through it and in the front cover someone had written to somone else (like the book was a gift) something to the effect that they were doing a big thing, “let’s be successful together this year.”

Given that I found the book at a used bookstore…I’m thinking it may not have happened!

powered by performancing firefox

Is there an opportunity here?

The Importance of Consistency

I sat in a meeting today in which the importance of consistency was made abundantly clear to me.

There were ads from all of our major competitors from trade pubs over the course of three months taped onto large pieces of butcher block paper.  Granted, they weren’t for the same product, or even the same subsidiary, but all extended from the same parent company.

Then came ours.

Two pages.

None the same.

Not one.

It just hammered home to me that, even if you are dealing with many small companies under the umbrella of a large one and even if they don’t sell the same thing, consistency is key.  The brand message and overall branding of our competitors was SO obvious and made far more sense than did ours.

Now the challenge is to get people to change.

powered by performancing firefox

The Importance of Consistency

How Do They Sleep At Night?

In this age of blogs, podcasts, vodcasts, social media and the like, there’s one thing (ok, many things!) I don’t understand.

Why are organizations, like the PRSA still charging $150 per year for 4 issues of a magazine?!?  I know the obvious answer is, “because they can get it.”

I guess the better question is…why are people paying it?  There are numerous BRILLIANT PR professionals out there that are blogging, writing e-books, writing whitepapers, producing podcasts…basically joining the conversation.  Why in the world would someone want to spend that much money on 4 issues of a magazine, from an organization that you (if you’re a member) are already paying $250 annually to be a member?  And why do they charge to view the archives? 

I think that the day of the “status” organizations/memberships is dead or on its last breath.  The organizations that provide the most value, in my opinion, are those that spring up from a group of like-minded people who are passionate about what they do.  They start a conversation and the rest of us get on board.

As a young professional beginning his career in marketing and PR I long for the organizations that are affordable and valuable.  Every time I’ve looked this one, while I know it’s the “big boss” of PR organizations, I cringe at the fact that EVERYTHING is pay for play.

powered by performancing firefox

How Do They Sleep At Night?