Friday Branding Haiku # 2

Another Friday, another need for a Haiku, so here goes:

Of service so cold,

And Twitter feedback so hot;

Silence is not gold.

Add your Friday Haiku in the comments.  Remember, 5-7-5.

Let’s start a revolution!  What do you say?

Photo Credit: slytherin_prince

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Blog: Available For A Limited Time Only!

My favorite part of almost every episode of Inspector Gadget was when Chief Quimby would show up in a garbage can (shown), or locker, or sewer grate and give Gadget his assignment.  The best part was that each time Gadget would finish the letter it would self-destruct, making the message all the more important and secret.  Well, Gadget would inadvertently trap it back with Quimby, resulting in the hilarious cartoon explosion of blackface followed by the Wah, Wah, Wah sound. Classic.

Yesterday, I picked up Zaxby’s for dinner for my wife and I and I noticed a sign that said something like: “Our 20th Anniversary Birthday Cake Milkshake Now Available.  Available for a limited time only!”  So I of course bought one, these kinds of specials don’t come around all the time, right?

In his book Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion (non-affiliate link), Dr. Robert Cialdini talk about what he calls “The 6 Weapons of Influence”.  One weapon, which is an advertising and marketing tactic used for years is what is known as “Scarcity”.  Simply put, the tactic of scarcity creates not the desire to have something, but the desire to “not lose something.”  Opportunities seem more valuable when they are less available.  This is nothing new, we see it everyday.

Scarcifying Forever

This post isn’t about the time-tested tactic of scarcity and whether or not it’s effective (we all know it is), I’d like to ask a question today because I don’t really know the best answer.

Here’s the question:  How can the principle of scarcity be applied to what we do online since once something’s uploaded, it’s there forever?  Basically, how do we scarcify forever?

Here is what I imagine people will say and my thoughts/concerns in advance:

  • If it’s a video or ebook, only offer it for a few weeks for free them make it a “subscribers only” item or available for purchase.  This is actually the best idea I had thought of, but I’m still wary because once you put something out there on the Internet, how can you stop it from still being available other places after the deadline?
  • Use copyright on the information and them simply discontinue to service/product after the set date. It might be now illegal for someone else to copy it around the Internet, but lot’s of illegal things happen online.  What would be the best metrics/resource service to use to make sure it’s not still floating around out there?
  • Offer it for a “limited time only” in hopes to get people attached to the service or idea with the plan to continue it anyway. Sure, but that kind of feels like a cop-out.
  • Why would you offer something for a limited time only?  Don’t you want repeat business? The principle of scarcity works because the impending absence creates an additional value to what you are presenting.  Yes, I would like repeat business.

Okay, those are my thoughts, but I need yours.  What?  Not all blogs have all the answers.  I’m out here learning just like you.  So, leave your comments and ideas and maybe we can get a good discussion going on this topic, but act quickly, this blog is available for a limited time only and will self-destruct in 30 seconds.

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Posted in Blog | 5 Comments

Content Hunters: Social Media Edition

My wife and I moved into our first house last September.  The process we went through to find the house lasted about 4 months, caused many marital disputes, 3 abandonments of looking at houses all and hundreds of miles put on my car.  It was one of the most enjoyably terrible experiences of my life, but one thing that came out of it was an unfounded appreciation for the show House Hunters on HGTV.  (Alright, alright, I freaking love that show now…Man Card revoked.)

If you’ve never seen it, House Hunters follows a couple and their Realtor as they look at three houses in the price range and then choose which one to buy.  It sounds super exciting, doesn’t it?

One Of These Things Is Not Like The Others

House Hunters works because so many people have been in the position of buying a house and know the frustrations that go into it.  It also works because if you’ve looked at houses, you know what your preferences are and you superimpose your desires onto the couple in the show and decide which house they should buy.  The simple truth is that the show is 3 people spending 30 minutes on TV looking at 4-bedroom, 2-bath houses.  How many different ways are there to look at the same house?

If you have looked at houses in your life, you know the answer is, “About a million different ways.”  As I mentioned, my wife and I spent 4 months looking at 6-8 houses every weekend before we found the one that worked.  Sometimes you have to look at the same type of house over and over again with subtle differences in layout or surroundings before you find the one that fits your needs.

Why wouldn’t it be any different for the information and content your audience takes in?

Different Strokes For Different Folks

Not everyone learns the same way.  It is regularly accepted that people learn in 3 main ways: visual, auditory, and kinesthetic.  Why is it then, that so many communicators and marketers simply say their piece and move on?

Blogs are great (I have one obviously), but they are not the only way to get information across.  I also speak and do personal consulting when asked.  I also am writing an ebook and have plans to have a video portion on my upcoming website.  Why wouldn’t you take advantage of the multiple ways you can approach your audience?

“Well, I’ve said what I needed to say.  I wouldn’t want to sound repetitive.”

That’s a good point, but what if 1/3 of your audience isn’t as savvy in the blogosphere as you are?  What if they spend their time on SlideShare or Youtube?  Shouldn’t you be there too?

Content Amortization

How should you roll out your content so that different sects of your market can take it in?  So you’ve written a great blog post, it gets more traffic and unique readers than ever before.  Could you expand that idea into an ebook or presentation?  You’ve got a speaking gig next week on “The Power of Twitter As An SEO Tool.”  Why not film it and either put it on your website, on Youtube, or make it part of a video training series?  You could even put your powerpoint from the speech on SlideShare.

Your content should be part of your marketing strategy and you’d never make a great commercial and say, “I spent a lot of time and energy making this great and persuasive, I’d like it to run on one radio station only the one time for maximum effect.”

Too Many Ostriches

The danger in getting your content to as many people as you can is the risk of spreading yourself too thin.

I am on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Foursquare, Brazen Careerist, and Yelp.  While that may seem like a lot, there are hundreds of social networks I am not a part of because I would not be able to use them effectively.  When we were house hunting we would look at 5-6 houses in a day because we wanted to look at each one thoroughly.  Theoretically we could have seen 20 houses each day, but we would have had to simply drive up to the front, say “yes” or “no” and drive away.  Not a very effective plan if you ask me.

Find out where your audience is hanging out and be there.  Be active and engaging and start to build real relationships with the people that you say you care about.

But I’m no guru, no saint.  What do you think?  Is there benefit in being in multiple places or do you think your time is better spent creating one fantastic medium?  Do you think you have to choose presence over quality?  (Personally, I think you can be great at many things, but that’s just one man’s opinion.)

Leave your comments and let me know how you feel.  Where all are you located, maybe we can hang out and watch House Hunters together.


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Inception Marketing, An Infection of Ideas

“What’s the most resilient parasite? An idea. A single idea from the human mind can build cities.  An idea can transform the rules and rewrite all existence.”

– Cobb (from Inception)

What’s the best idea you’ve ever had?  Maybe it was the idea to start your own business, or to switch those stocks at the last minute, or that invention that will change the face of blah, blah, blah.  What did you do with that idea?

In the new movie Inception (which I’m sure will breed many posts similar to this one), the premise is that ideas can not only be extracted from the mind, but also that they can be placed to grow on their own in someone else’s mind…..called the process of inception.

I got to thinking about this and it hit me: this is basically what we strive to do as marketers and business-owners.  We want people to take action and feel positive about that action and ultimately it is better if they believe they made the choice themselves.  We plant ideas with the hope that those seeds of ideas will grow into appropriate action.

Monkey Dream, Monkey Do

I’m not going to ruin anything about the movie for anyone, but here is basically how they do it in the movie.  First, they encounter the target in reality and infiltrate their dream.  Once there, the team interacts with the target’s reality to become a part of what they now believe to be real.  Through a series of (highly entertaining) maneuvers and ploys, the target’s subconscious presents the idea to himself, so when he wakes it’s as if he has had an epiphany.  Inception.

There are whole other layers to the movie that involve what is reality and what is perception, but for today’s purposes, I’m just going to stick with the theme of ideas coming to fruition.  It’s a little something I will call… [Hans Zimmer music playing] Inception Marketing.

Inception Marketing

So what is Inception Marketing?  If I were to define it (since I thought up the term) I would say it is “The calculated effort of a marketing team to present an idea to their target market with the intention that the idea will seem as if it came from within the market itself.”  The idea is that once your target market believes they thought of the idea themselves, they will be more likely to take the action your teams wants.

To pull of a plan of this magnitude, many things must be in place.  The first of which is…

The Team

Every great plan needs a great team.  Make sure yours has all the right components.

  • The Point Man – The point man (or woman)’s job is to do the research about the target.  Extensive research about any mark is a necessity when planning a venture of this size.  You must know what your target’s interests are, how they take in their information, what they are most likely to respond favorably/unfavorable to, whether they have mind extraction security (that was in the movie and seemed awesome, disregard that one).
  • The Architect – Someone on your team must have the architecture for your plan in their mind.  Your strategy must be understood by every member of the team and it is the architect’s job to relay that information and structure.  Make sure you are all on the same team when it comes to the twists and turns to come.
  • The Forger – In the movie, this member impersonated someone close to the target in their dream.  For our purposes, the forger is the member based in the reality of the consumer.  Someone always must keep a tab on how life is for your target, someone that knows who the target trusts.
  • The Tourist – Get an outside perspective.  Sometimes we can be so focused on the job, we forget to look out the window.
  • The Extractor – This is the actual path the idea will take into the mind of the target.  The Extractor will have a great understanding of the target through the team’s endeavors and should have a clear path into the subconscious of your target.  Proceed with caution.

Now that your team is assembled and undertaking their responsibilities, it’s time to implement…

The Plan

If your Point Man has done his or her research and your Architect has a brilliant strategy constructed and your Tourist and Forger keep you in the mindset of your targets, your Extractor should have no problem getting into the minds of your target market.  The strategy will focus around one very important aspect of influence and trust:  the trusted referral.

John Jantsch has a great book titled The Referral Engine (non-affiliate link) that deals with this specific topic and rather than re-hashing everything he says, I’ll focus on the main issues.

Groundswell movements and social media tactics can be very powerful because of the level of trust incorporated into the systems.  Ideas are more quickly accepted when they come from within that market itself.  You must engage your audience and talk with them.  Nobody likes to be sold to, but everyone likes to buy/act and when your idea is suggested through conversation, active participation and trust, your Extractor can easily implant an idea seed. Once that grows into a full idea, like a virus it will overtake the market organically (and non-detrimentally) into the action your team desires.

Okay…

…I know this post was a little sensational, but there’s truth in there.  The truth may be that you are a small business owner and you are every member of the “team” but you still have to have your research, understand your strategy and market, and have a way to get them your idea.  You may not have the technology to infiltrate someone’s REM sleep cycle, but you DO have the ability to enter into their world via social media and conversation and make yourself trustworthy.  And it is true that once an idea grows organically within a market, it is more likely to be trusted and acted upon.

The future may not be here just yet.  But just like Mitch Joel suggests, don’t be a futurist because you never know what might happen, be a presentist.  Take a grasp on the present and find your way to make your target market trust you.  And trust is always bred from honesty and transparency.  Nothing will turn your dream strategy into a marketing nightmare faster than devious practices and outright lying.

But what do I know, I might just be a dreamer…but I’m not the only one.

What do you think?  Is there a future for Inception Marketing or is it already the present?

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Steve Jobs Is The Devil

“Steve Jobs is the devil” About 8,730 results (0.33 seconds)

This was an actual search I did just moments ago.  And this was the picture that I found:

To be honest, it didn’t surprise me to find so many posts that included the exact phrase “Steve Jobs is the devil.”  Why, you may ask?  Well, constant reader, that leads me to my observation over the past few days:

Everybody Hates You…

…especially if you are famous or influential.  There have been a multitude of stories recently about the iPhone 4’s reception issues.  You can see a few of them here, here, here (this one’s from the WSJ), here, here, here, here, and here.  I don’t expect you to read each of those articles, so here’s a condensed version of the conversation going on:

Public:  “The new iPhone 4 is here!”

Apple:  “We knew you’d like it.”

Public:  “We LOVE it.  It’s so sleek and updated and revolutio……wait, why isn’t it working?”

Apple:  “What do you mean, it’s working fine.”

Public:  “No it’s not, it keeps dropping calls and getting bad reception.”

Tech Guys:  “We looked into it and it’s because of how the antennae is built.”

Public:  “See?”

Apple:  “You’re just holding it wrong.”

Public:  “Holding it wro….what?  Fix it.”

Apple:  “It’s not broken.”

Public:  “It is so.”

Apple:  “Nuh-uh.”

Public:  “Uh-huh!”

And so on and so forth.

This post isn’t designed to shed new light on the iPhone 4 reception issue, rather I’d like to take a look at how quickly we are to judge and make sensationally scathing remarks about situations we may or may not be involved in.

We Love To Hate

Steve Jobs, LeBron James, Lindsay Lohan, Lady Gaga (what, just me?), and countless other celebrities and mini-celebrities are hated on almost a daily basis.  It’s like we have a drive to lift someone up and place them on a pedestal only to try and knock them off and watch them fall (Anyone remember Britney Spears).

For the last few days I, along with many others, have been following an online dialogue about a consultant’s right to ask for money for a “can-I-just-pick-your-brain” lunch.  Disclaimer:  I am not a highly paid consultant, nor do I work for one, nor do I have close, personal relationships with anyone involved in the following discussion. If you are unaware of the discussion, you can catch up a little with these links.

And throughout the conversation, there were a myriad of tweets going back and forth about the whole thing which I do not have the space here to repost.  Let’s just put it like this:  people agreed with both sides.  Influencers all across the board from @Chrisbrogan to Peter Shankman (@skydiver) to Scott Stratten (@unmarketing) to Olivier Blanchard (@thebrandbuilder) and Christopher Penn (@cspenn) all pitched into the conversation referring to blog posts they have written on the same topic.

My opinion on the matter is irrelevant (I agree with the side of them that say their time is valuable b/c they have built themselves a business and a brand and you wouldn’t expect the same from a carpet cleaner or accountant), what was interesting was how the opinions were divided.  Most people who are established in the industry and are looked up to as influencers and social media celebrities saw no issue with charging for their time.  The other side of the coin was filled with people who are working in the field, but haven’t risen to the level of fame as the others.

We love to hate those on high.

I Want To Be Hated

Don’t lie, you do to.  We all strive for the level of success where people’s opinions of us don’t matter and people are jealous of what we’ve accomplished.  It’s the American Dream.  You just know there was some guy on the Mayflower that said to himself, “One day they’ll be sorry. One day we’ll show ALL those Englishmen how great we are.  Maybe we’ll even save them from Germany or something.”

There is good news though, if you have no desire to be famous and no drive to get there, you won’t.  You will always be in the place you are, but for the rest of us, we will strive to be loved (hated).  I read blogs every day and have a shelf of educational books I’ve read (and not read yet), and I engage in social media platforms because I want to be better.  I want to get to a place where people ask for my opinion and want to pick my brain over coffee constantly.  And I’ll tell you, when I get there, I probably won’t have a problem saying, “Of course, my rate is $____ per hour.”

If you are striving for success with me, I’m glad to have you on this journey.  Hopefully we can learn from each other along the way.

If you get there before me, I’ll be happy for you……and also secretly wish that you burn in hell.  But when you’re there, would you pick me up an iPhone 4?

What do you think?  Should there be a price for success?  What have you truly earned when you are in a place of influence?

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I’m The New Stephen King

I found this writing analysis yesterday where you post a segment of your writing and it compares it to classical and modern writers to see whose style you most closely resemble. After I inserted a few blog posts, here was what my badge looked like:

I write like
Stephen King

I Write Like by Mémoires, Mac journal software. Analyze your writing!

I have to tell you, I wasn’t displeased.

Stephen King just happens to be my favorite fiction author of all time (although Chuck Palahniuk is a close second) and I have read 96% of his writings at least once, most twice.  I credit his books The Stand, It, and Salem’s Lot for my love of the horror genre and I truly believe The Dark Tower series is the best series of books written by an American author in history (disagree if you want, I respect your right to be wrong).

The Sincerest Form of Flattery…

The  truth is that I never once sat down and said, “Joey, this blog post needs to sound more Stephen King-y”.  It just kind of happened because that’s what I surrounded myself with literature-wise for most of my life.  Whether you want it to or not, the things you surround yourself do and will rub off on you.  Whether it’s your speech patterns (y’all), your musical interests, sports interests, or writing habits, you are made up of thousands of memories that collect into the mosaic that is you, but here’s the kicker: that’s not a bad thing.

Where this can really come into play is with your ideas surrounding success and personal growth.  I had this conversation not two days ago with John Morgan (@johnmorgan) or BrandBreakout.com.  The people you surround yourself with and the constant intake of information regarding what is “possible” and “acceptable” in business sink in a great deal more than you might want to admit.

Möbius Strip Tease

At this point in the post we could go round and round about communication theories like Social Influence Theory and Cognitive Dissonance, but instead I’d like to keep it simple.  Peer pressure is real and you are affected by the people and things around you.

Now that we’ve gotten that out of the way, what are you going to do with this new-found knowledge?  As I see it, you have two options:

  1. You can accept the fact the the people you surround yourself with play a factor in how you view the world and go out of your way to surround yourself with quality people. Or…
  2. You can do nothing.  (This is only the wrong choice if you are NOT currently surrounding yourself with quality people.)

Change Your Lenses

Make an effort this week to surround yourself with 10 new people.  Make sure they are people who you consider successful and whose opinions could actually improve your life situation.  You could do that on Twitter (probably the easiest way with things like #FollowFriday), you cold use Google Blog Search or Digg to find articles from people you respect and start commenting on those blogs (check out my blogroll if you want some good places to start too).  This doesn’t have to be a losing battle and you don’t have to get rid of your old friends, just make room in your life to let in  some positive reinforcements.

All great strides in life involve sacrifice.  Make sure the strides you are making are with people going in the direction you seek.

But hey, you don’t have to listen to me, I’m only the new Stephen King.

What do you think?

P.S. – Stephen, if you happen to read this, thank you and keep up the great work.


Posted in Blog, Writing | Tagged , , , , , | 4 Comments

Are You Inked?

I have three tattoos: one on my back that resembles a figure-8 that stands for endurance, one on the inside of my wrist that is the symbol for hydrogen (the building block of life), and a Latin phrase on the inside of my right bicep that translates into “Dreams are Free.”

“Why do I have them,” you may ask.  “Why do I have so few,” some other of you may ask.  But the simple answer is that they each mean something to me.  I’m not going to go into the deep meanings of each of them, just to say that I am of the persuasion that if you are going to get something forever inked into your skin, it should have some special connection to you.  I will never be the guy who has a manatee on fire on his calf or a drunk penguin on his ribcage (not that there’s anything wrong with that).

I have them because I am passionate about what they mean to me.

What are you passionate about?  Better yet, what about you/your brand are your customers passionate about?  The best brands create an emotional connection between their customers and themselves.  They intertwine themselves into the lifestyles of their target markets.  How else would you have things like this:

Or my personal favorite….

These are brands that have literally woven themselves into the skin of their fans.  But how did they do it?

Let me suggest 3 ways to Ink yourself onto your consumers:

  1. Create a Compelling Story – Everybody likes a good story.  People automatically relate to one or more persona within the setting.  Don’t simply exist in the ether waiting to be consumed, sit down and write out why you are what/who you are.  What are your goals?  Who are you fighting for?  What problem are you trying to rid the world of?  Make yourself something worth being a part of.
  2. Practice What You Tweet – If I find your story compelling and then decide to interact with you, then you are…how do I put this…shitty, Stephen King cold craft your literary wiles and I wouldn’t be swayed.  If you say you have a great product and then you don’t, guess what, people will find that out.  If when I spoke, I had no knowledge of what I was talking about and instead showed slides from a visit to my Aunt Muriel’s, no one would ever have me speak again.  And word would spread, fast.  Make sure if you say something, that it’s true.
  3. Engage, Engage, Engage – Alright, you got me.  I’m here and your product is up to snuff.  Now what?  Keep interacting with me.  Don’t let me forget what you do and why I keep coming back to you.  That’s why I try to do nice things for my wife for no reason at all, to remind her why I’m awesome and why she stays with me.  Brian Solis has a great book titled Engage (non-affiliate link) and he says it better than I ever could, so pick up that book and read it.  you’ll thank me.

This isn’t earth-shattering stuff, I know that, but I think it is stuff we tend to forget in our world of “the next best thing”.  If you craft a compelling story and then live up to the promises in that story you will bring the right people to you, then all you have to do is treat them like people and engage them.  Then, maybe next Mardi Gras, some drunk frat boy will yell out, “You know what brah, wouldn’t it be awesome if I got [insert your brand name here] tattooed on my back?”

Yes, that would be pretty awesome.

What do you think?

jS


Posted in Action, Production, Story | Tagged , , , , , | 2 Comments