Archive for the ‘Marketing’ Category

h1

Book Review: The Dip by Seth Godin

May 8, 2007

There are generally three phases that go into writing a book review.  In the first, I read a book. I like to read books, so it’s fun.  As I read I develop a few thoughts on what I might say about the book.  That’s fun, too.

In the second phase, I write the review.  That sucks.  Putting the ideas in a logical order, searching for the write phrases, trying not to write too much or too little.  Torture.

In the third phase, the review is done. I read it and feel satisfied with the work and proud of myself for the accomplishment. Except, of course, when the writing is bad, which makes me wonder if I wasted my energy.

Don’t worry, this is going somewhere.

In the words of Seth Godin’s new book, the actual writing of this review would be The Dip—the time where the fun and excitement of a new endeavor is over and you’re knee deep in hard work, with no guarantee of a satisfying conclusion.

Unless your company happens to be YouTube or you’re plucked off the sidewalk to star in a new movie opposite Jude Law, you will experience The Dip. It’s that time after people stop patting you on the back for starting a new company or getting accepted to medical school or deciding to run a marathon, when you actually have to do what it takes to get there.  If you’re strong enough, you suck it up and take the pain as your price of admission into the world of the high flyers, coming out on the other end smelling like roses, rolling around in piles of cash.

Except it doesn’t always work out that way. Sometimes you put in all the effort and you get pretty much nowhere. You get enough clients to keep your business going, but not enough to make you even remotely wealthy. Or you hit Organic Chemistry and think maybe being a doctor isn’t for you.  Or you realize you don’t have enough time to train for a marathon. And you quit.  Or you don’t quit because you’re not a quitter.  Or you go back and forth trying to decide if you should quit or not. Hey! This is not what you signed up for!

The Dip is Godin’s attempt to encourage you to fight through on the worthy goals, to quit the goals that you simply can’t accomplish, and to figure out which is which.

If you’re starting something new, here are the key questions Godin suggests you ask yourself:

  • Can I/we be the best in the world?
  • Do I/we have the resources to make it happen?
  • Is the reward worth the effort?

If you believe the answer is “yes” to all three, slog through The Dip, keeping your eyes on the prize. Because most of the others will quit.  (Or, if they couldn’t answer “yes” to the questions, they’ll keep on trucking but get nowhere.)

If you answer “no” to any of the questions, quitting is not just OK but smart.  Quitting when you can’t win frees up you or your company’s resources to go after something that you can win. Godin convincingly makes the case that the axiom “quitters never win and winners never quit” is wrong, as long as quitters keep searching for the things they can win.

One point that Godin makes is sure to fly over some people’s heads.  It’s the question of whether you can be the best in the world.  Godin uses the “world” to mean your world, the world you’re competing in.  If you run a flower shop, you don’t have to be the best flower shop on Earth, but you’d better run the best flower shop in your city.  To the victor go the spoils.  Those in second place get the runoff. Do you want to spend your life living from the runoff?

As always, Godin’s writing is crisp, making The Dip a pleasure to read.  And, at just 76 pages, the book quickly but successfully makes its point, leaving you plenty of time to decide if it’s time to get back to work or back to the drawing board.

e-mail me: adam@bessed.com

Adam Jusko is founder and CEO of Bessed, a Web site promising “search without spam”, thanks to human-edited search results and ongoing visitor feedback. Do a search, offer your comments, submit your site–help create the “bessed” search site in the world.

h1

Disney and the Details

April 26, 2007

My family went to Disney World as part of our spring break vacation.  I don’t particularly buy the whole “magic” of Disney—it’s an interesting enough place, an impressive business success, but I didn’t spend a lot of time oohing and aahing over anything.  Granted, my kids’ ages kept us completely in the Magic Kingdom, so I can’t speak to the place as a whole, and I did LOVE the Mickey’s Philharmagic 3-D movie. If you’ve never quite understood the hubbub over 3-D, that movie will show you, and I hear Disney has other 3-D movies in other parks that are pretty awesome too.

Anyway, since I wasn’t so taken with the magic of Disney, why am I wasting time writing about them? Because I was particulary impressed with one aspect of Disney, and it illustrated why parents shell out the big bucks to bring their kids there.

My son has certain food allergies that are often difficult to explain to restaurant waiters & waitresses. They don’t understand why his hamburger can’t touch the bun, for example. They’ll come to the table with the hamburger on the bun and when we tell them he can’t have it (which we already made clear when ordering), they often think they can just take the burger off the bun and everything’s hunky-dory, not understanding that the contamination has already occurred.

When we sat down at a Disney restaurant and looked over the menu to see what would be OK, a waiter came to our table. We explained our son has allergies, and he immediately said “I’ll have the chef come talk to you.”  Which is exactly what happened.  The chef showed up, made sure he understood the issues, offered some suggestions on dishes they could prepare that weren’t shown on the menu, and even came back a second time with a box to show us a gluten-free product we’d never heard of. It felt great to be taken care of, to not have to worry whether the food coming out was going to be OK.  And it also gave us a more nutritional option for our son than we usually have when eating out.

So, while I may not admire the magic, I admire the attention to detail.  And I understand why Disney succeeds in getting people to return repeatedly. It’s often the little things that make people return to you for business, and I think this one is a great example.

e-mail me: adam@bessed.com

Adam Jusko is founder and CEO of Bessed, a Web site promising “search without spam”, thanks to human-edited search results and ongoing visitor feedback. Do a search, offer your comments, submit your site–help create the “bessed” search site in the world.

h1

Free Home Page Links on Bessed

April 4, 2007

One of our challenges in building Bessed is how to cover the thousands of topics/keyword searches that people do every day. Obviously a human-powered search engine will never be able to cover it all. For example, I can’t imagine a day when you will be able to “Bessed” any person’s name in the whole world like you can with Google.

However, we believe we can increase our coverage to the vast majority of searches if our site visitors will help us Build A Better Bessed. We’re asking interested writers to submit a short list of at least 5 links, with descriptions, for topics of interest to them. When you do, provided you attempted to do so coherently and didn’t just heap junk at us, we’ll get your topic submissions listed on our site within one business day AND we will offer you the chance to have your site linked both on the topic page you created as well as on the Bessed.com home page. (Go there now and see sites already listed in the right-hand column.)

We’re not asking you to help us out of the goodness of your heart. We’re asking you to help us in order to help yourself, whether that means promoting your business, your blog, or your association of amateur astronomers.

Contributors on our home page will be ranked based on the number of submissions, so the more you contribute, the higher your listing will be. Also, the more topics/keyword searches you get started, the more pages your link will show up on, helping to make you an authority on the subjects that are near and dear to your heart.

Sound good? Go to Build A Better Bessed for details on how exactly to get started.

e-mail me: adam@bessed.com

Adam Jusko is founder and CEO of Bessed, a Web site promising “search without spam”, thanks to human-edited search results and ongoing visitor feedback. Do a search, offer your comments, submit your site–help create the “bessed” search site in the world.

h1

Bessed Review on SEO Chat

March 16, 2007

Terri Wells of SEO Chat wrote a kind review of Bessed this week (maybe even too kind considering where the site currently is in its development).

It has certainly sparked some interest and I’m grateful for that, so thanks Terri!

h1

Sphere – Blog Search and Destroy

February 7, 2007

I often check out the blog search engine Sphere to see what it’s showing as the “hot searches” of the moment.

I’m not enamored of Sphere’s search results, but I love their home page. The hot searches coexist next to some thoughts on other random blog topics I might find interesting. (I usually don’t, but knowing there are blogs on the Atlanta Hawks and rodeos is interesting to me.)

There’s only one thing that I can’t help thinking every time I go to Sphere. Their tag line shown in the top of the browser is “Blog Search & Discovery” and for some reason I can’t help but think to myself “Blog Search and Destroy” as if they are somehow offering a video game in which you shoot down blogs.

Maybe they could integrate a game like that into their site, with the most popular blogs being the hardest to kill. “Ha! I just picked off Guy Kawasaki!” “Today I’m finally going to beat Boing Boing!”

Funny the things that float through your mind, isn’t it?

e-mail me: adam@bessed.com

Adam Jusko is founder and CEO of Bessed, a Web site promising “search without spam”, thanks to human-edited search results and ongoing visitor feedback. Do a search, offer your comments, submit your site–help create the “bessed” search site in the world.

h1

Making It Relevant

January 22, 2007

Seth Godin, who I link to often enough that I’m entering stalker territory, has a post that’s simple yet worth remembering, titled Who Wants a Prize Like That? The basic message is that in promoting your work it makes sense to market in a way that is relevant to your target audience—in his example, the Thriller Readers Newsletter has a sweepstakes to win 150 “thriller” books signed by their authors if you sign up for their newsletter. Not cash, not an iPod, but a prize that that particular audience would crave.

There’s nothing colossal about that point, but it’s still worth noting.

Of course some businesses lend themselves to this point better than others. If you sell snowboards, it’s not hard to figure out what some relevant marketing angles might be. You think about what snowboarders might be interested in and follow the trail, so to speak.

But use that same logic for auto insurance—if you sell auto insurance, go where the drivers go? Hmmm… driving isn’t exactly a niche activity. Everyone needs auto insurance, but no one likes it and it’s not like marketing to auto enthusiasts would really be targeting your audience. Car enthusiasts like driving, not buying insurance in case of an accident. They want sleek design, not an insurance statement.

So what could companies that serve a general interest (or necessity) do to stand out, to be relevant? That’s a tougher question. Maybe they target their most profitable potential customers first? For instance, would Allstate or Progressive be wise to target Mommy drivers who are less likely to drive recklessly by offering free car seats to new Moms if they choose their particular insurance? That’s one way to go about it. Find out who are generally your most profitable or most loyal customers and target them first, with advertising or giveaways relevant to them. Do this in a few niches and your big general-interest business can be relevant in your most important customer markets.

By the way I have no idea if mommies are really safer drivers than anyone else, just guessing.

What can your company do to market relevantly to your potential customers? (By the way I have no idea if “relevantly” is a word.)

e-mail me: adam@bessed.com

Adam Jusko is founder and CEO of Bessed, a Web site promising “search without spam”, thanks to human-edited search results and ongoing visitor feedback. Do a search, offer your comments, submit your site–help create the “bessed” search site in the world.

h1

Should Disney Open the Floodgates?

January 10, 2007

Steve Rubel has a post today about Disney overhauling the Disney.com site. Rubel’s reaction is that Disney should be opening up more of its content to be hacked and mashed up if it really wants to take its interaction with online customers to a new level.

I think this is an interesting question for both Disney and other companies that own content that others want to mess with. On the one hand, sure, you want your audience to use your content in new and interesting ways. But, at the same time, you created that content, it has value, and giving it over to those who did not create it but want to use it as raw materials for their own works may not be easy, and it may not be wise.

This isn’t necessarily a new question. The Grateful Dead encouraged concert bootlegs when the recording industry wanted only official releases. Rap used samples from both hit songs and obscure songs as spare parts in creating a new style of music.

But just as artists like the late great James Brown felt that they weren’t getting paid for having their work sampled, media companies aren’t necessarily keen on giving away their content to be monkeyed with, especially if the result is something that someone else profits from while they don’t.

The arguments for opening the floodgates and allowing greater sharing of copyrighted work is that it enhances the brand, possibly bringing your content to an audience that wasn’t aware of it, or giving stale content new life. These arguments make sense, but everyone’s pretty familiar with Winnie the Pooh. He doesn’t really need brand extension, or need to have new life breathed into his brand. The kids are still feeling him. So, what would be in it for Disney in allowing someone to mashup Pooh eating some yummy hunny with the voice of Brad Pitt in Fight Club saying “I want you to hit me as hard as you can.” I’d find that funny, but it’s hard to make the case that it makes me feel more fondly toward Pooh Bear.

I just read Wikinomics (review here) and was glad to see this issue brought up. Because I think it’s great if content creators want to let their audiences interact with their work in new ways, but there also seems to be a feeling by some that they should, as if to defend your right to keep your content in the form that you created it is somehow wrong or pigheaded.

I’m talking about this from a business perspective, but even from an artistic perspective I think it’s important. If an artist has created a work that he/she is proud of, and if that artwork is somehow the realization of a vision that the artist feels he/she successfully brought to life, isn’t it natural that the artist might feel unhappy if it is twisted into a new shape? Should the Rolling Stones really desire to see Sympathy for the Devil mashed up with a Carrie Underwood song just because someone who may be a fan of theirs thinks it would be cool (or ridiculous, which itself can be cool)?

I’m all for social media and using old things in new ways, but I think the whole “content wants to be free” thing is at times simply justification for stealing. If companies and artists want to share, great. If they think it can help their bottom line, super. But should they feel compelled to share? I don’t think so.

e-mail me: adam@bessed.com

Adam Jusko is founder and CEO of Bessed, a Web site promising “search without spam”, thanks to human-edited search results and ongoing visitor feedback. Do a search, offer your comments, submit your site–help create the “bessed” search site in the world.