July 30, 2010
Regardless of your generosity, if you wear out your bizmate, they'll stop replying to you or avoid you altogether. In my experience, there are three areas of 'too much' that all of us need to watch out for:
1. Too much noise - All of our lives are overstuffed with information, where attention is our scarcest resource. Over-communicators are part of the problem. They cc/FYI us, email us all day long, over-text us and then take f-o-r-e-v-e-r to get to the point in conversation. The result is that we filter them out, usually at the unconscious level. If you want to keep the relationship fresh, focus on giving great ROA (Return on Attention). Have a 15 minute meeting instead of an hour. Send one email that's action oriented, instead of five that are informational.
2. Too much marketing - Most people are well aware of what you sell. Remember, marketing is a service (thanks Sergio Zyman) that adds value when you buy or use a product. It is not a god=given right you have to exploit your network for income. When people over-market to you, you have to distance yourself from them eventually. They become sellers instead of partners. As a rule, give five times before you put your pocket out.
3. Too much complaining - I recently fired my dry cleaner. He always complained about the economy, wondering how he would keep his doors open. Eventually, I became afraid for my clothes and got tired of his sad sack banter. I'm not alone. People are tired of hearing how bad things are going, how much you've got on your plate and which politician you are upset with today. The bad news is everywhere and when you complain you are becoming part of it. If you have something negative to say, say it to you dog, not your business partner (but pet him as you say it).
July 27, 2010
Yesterday, I had a quick talk with former Starbucks exec John Moore (Brand Autopsy).
His message for the crowd was great: If you a little company, act big. If you are a big company, act little. Before he spoke, I asked him what advice he'd give a (big) company that's ready to finally "take the dive" into social media. His point of view is very actionable, and in a future post, I'll illustrate how a super-big company followed it to a tee.
July 23, 2010
These days, relationships count more than ever.
This is especially true with our best clients, the one's who pay the most and appreciate us for our work. They comprise the vast majority of our profit margins and give us the kind of feedback that keeps us motivated day to day.
Of course, the best way to boost the relationship is to outperform against expectations. But, again, that's harder than ever because clients expect more than ever for their precious cash. How else can you improve the relationship?
Based on my experience, here's five ways to boost the relationship:
1. Give great ROA (Return On Attention) - Tell your client that you appreciate her time, and moving forward, will protect it with shorter meetings, crisper reports and fewer emails. You will not lob in calls, 'just to check in' - each one will have a reason and produce action items or understandings.
2. Network her to one of your nodes - Review previous conversations or tune into future ones for her needs (resources, community, etc.) and find a match within your personal network. Introduce the two via a 3 way email or even better, stage a lunch. (See The Elmer Letterman Story for more)
3. Drop some knowledge on her - Go to the book store and search out a book that speaks to your client's business challenges or personal development goals. Find one that is great, read it thoughtfully, then give a copy of it to your client with a few suggested pages/ideas. Otherwise, put together your own two page report of the times and send it. (Do NOT pepper her with tons of forwarded emails and articles with the FYI tag, that just makes you a friendly spammer.)
4. Get involved at the cause level - If your client's company has a community or social outreach program, see if you can join and help. If you have one, see if your client would like to participate. Nothing glues two people or organizations together better than the experience of making-a-difference.
5. Surprise her with a unexpected service - If you have a new service or a low cost capability, bonus it to your client if you think it will add value. Don't make up any special reason for it, just give it to her and say, "This is a token of my gratitude for your business."
July 19, 2010
Facebook is your life's newspaper, the rest of the web is the wild wild rest.
By being a Facebook user, social media consultant and public page owner, I've confirmed what one CMO recently told me: People use Facebook differently than any web platform or tool. As a 20 year veteran to media and marketing, I haven't seen anything like this since ... early listservs and AOL."
What does that mean? When you logon to Facebook, your mind's been conditioned to believe, "this is a place I can let my security guard take a break, it's a place where everybody knows my (real) name. It's a place where I can get help, give help and share my thoughts and experiences safely. Somehow, we've convinced ourself that we can trust friends of friends and jump into conversations without fear of looking stupid - after all, we are just digi-hanging with our peeps!
On the other hand, we don't behave the same way on a commercial web site, especially one that's a lead-capture machine. On blogs, we comment far less often, and when we do, mostly keep it cerebral. When a blogger asks for comments, few loyal readers chirp in - unlike Facebook where a single question can yield a response-through ratio that exceeds a blog or Twitter by 1000%!
Facebook users are more likely, than the rest of the web world to:
1. Interact with you. This is just as true for public pages as it is personal profiles. Ask a question, get tons of answers. Post something funny, get LOLs or UGGHS.
2. Trust you. When you say you are somewhere, or just did something, even without pics, there's seldom any naysayers. Often, I've talked to people that follow me there, and they quote activities I'm doing from Facebook, like they were reading it out of my diary. This is why the phishing scams on Facebook are so dangerous: We click on links in FB messages much more often than emails or on blogs.
3. Tell you the truth. In Amazon reviews, anonymous blog posts and on commercial web site, what you read isn't necessarily the truth. People use these platforms to say hurtful things, spread gossip or spam. In Facebook world, people are much more transparent, because a lie can poison one's network - often consisting of high school buddies, old work colleagues and current BFFs. That tends to bring out honesty in comments as much as wall postings or notes.
4. Come to your aid. People use Facebook as the new smoke break (which really democratizes work life!). When they do this, they are not in biz or marketing mode, they are in community mode. Ask for a helpful hint, get tons of replies and even sometimes an offer to directly pitch in. On my author page, where I'm working on a new book (Today We Are Rich, March 2011), I've been helped tremendously by my user group: Finding resources, contractors and subjects to participate in mind-circumstance trials.
5. Be funny. People are likely to poke fun at themselves, post goofy pics (not always a good idea) and make sarcastic comments here - all intended to bring a chuckle to any reader. This is why Shit My Dad Says grew so fast here, but Unicef's page lagged. We come here to pass time, be entertained and connect at a personal level.
6. Respond to the brief and pithy. Unlike writing articles or blogging, where expansion of an idea is key, a Facebook post that's less than 2X of a Tweet can get the most comments or likes. Say it in a sentence powerfully, and you'll create a ripple. Write a blog length note about it and people just pass it over - too much info for a social stream stroll.
There are a few reasons that Facebook has succeeded in creating this phenom:
1. It's an RSS reader for the technically challenged and seasoned pros alike. Interact with someone's post once, and it is now part of your main stream until you click the remove button (which is hidden unless you move over it.)
2. The referral effect. For decades, we've been condition to trust advice from friends, and even their friends too. This extends the network of trust, just to the edges of Facebook.
3. Less spam. Unlike Twitter, which is a spammer-marketeers paradise, Facebook feeds don't include much spam. When they do, you can hide them or remove the friends pretty easily. Facebook's been diligent about this too. Recently, I downloaded Text Expander, which has saved me HOURS of not having to retype frequently used phrases or URLs. When I respond to new friend requests recently, using Text Expander to copy my Author Public Page or Web site yields a text-input required pop up and a warning that I'm typing too fast, a pattern recognized as affiliated with practices that "annoy certain Facebook users." Even when trying top copy and paste a URL more than a few times in one session, I get the same popup AND a warning that if I don't "slow down significantly" my account may be suspended. You don't get that vigilence on Twitter or any of the blogging platforms!
In the end, here's what it means to me as an author and business guy: Facebook is the best social media platform for brands to engage with people, so long as the brand plays by the rules and operates 'like a friend.'
July 16, 2010
Here's an exercise that I do every morning. It's changed my life.
Each morning, for the rest of your life, let gratitude be your waking thought. Researchers point out that our waking thoughts or ‘what side of the bed we get up on’ set the tone for our entire day - directing our subconscious to notice some things and ignore others.
As soon as your alarm goes off, or you wake up, it’s time to program your day. Get up, go to your bathroom and run cold water over a washcloth. Lay back into the bed (setting a second alarm if you are afraid you’ll go back to sleep), fold the wash cloth over into a three inch strip, and place it over your eyes. This will help activate your brain and keep you awake.
Lay very still. Focus on three people you should be grateful for. Two from yesterday and one that will help you in the coming day. Start with positive results, then work backwards to a human source. When you’ve locked into them, say their names out loud. Say their names again, and attach a sentence that describes their contribution and what it means to you. It’s OK for your list to be the same from day to day, in the beginning it likely will be.
When you finish, getting up to start your day, you’ll notice energy and vitality. You’ll feel a sense of confidence that you are on a roll, and that you are not alone in life.
I've had dozens of friends and seminar attendees try this too, with similar results. I'd like to invite you to try it for a week, then send me a note and tell me how it's working in your life. I'll use one person's testimonial in my next book, Today We Are Rich (FB Page for it) and make a donation to your favorite charity in your name as a way of saying thanks.
July 15, 2010
July 14, 2010
Each day, at 2pm, the stores of Born would close for lunch - to reopen at 5pm. The metal doors that pulled over each stores entrance served as a canvas for artists. Some were commissioned, and painted the metal doors according to the owner's wishes. In several other cases, graffiti artists treated shop doors to works of art.
I asked one owner why he had this graffiti on his door, instead of a black or silver paint job or something he designed. His answer: "Because it's art. It was good, why destroy it?" This is a human retail Wiki, where most of the work is volunteered, and only 'the good' remain for long.
In some cases, layers of artwork, covered up to be recovered or repainted, make the doors a mixed media masterpiece. This one in particular is striking:
Take a look at the entire collection of doors, four dozen in all, that I photographed over a few days time of walking around. This is a great example of the organic nature of art, the collaborative nature of community and the enduring value of human expression. Life would be boring without these transactions.
July 12, 2010
On Saturday night, Anthony showed me a video on YouTube he'd heard about that day.
It wasn't anything spectacular, just a double rainbow. The shot was shaky, and the focus jumped around a little. It was a nice video of a double rainbow, but we've seen these nature shots before. At the time, the two minute video had over 2.5 million views -- why?
The voice over. The guy that shot it obviously had never seen a live double rainbow and was inspired to see it near his campsite in Yosemite. He was over come with emotion, and gushed/cried and sobbed for two minutes as he took the shot. It is both funny and disturbing at the same time. What is he seeing that's giving him a religious experience?
The video's distribution is fueled by raw emotion. Unedited, sincere, raw emotions.
There are over 10,000 comments to this video and it's a viral sensation at this point. It's clear that it's authentic and not staged, like a pratfall or 'wanne-be-on-TV' video. You can't make this stuff up.
But you CAN learn from it. Let your emotions out, even the ones that are personal to you. If it becomes part of your expression, you'll attract more into your life because raw emotion draw us in. I'm not suggested to weep openly at a sunrise, but learn from this video's success that emotion beats promotion in marketing every time.
Two days later, the view count is above 3 million and rising! Watch it until the end, it just gets funnier as it goes along.
July 07, 2010
Recently, I re-read a great book that I discovered about a decade ago.
The Experience Economy revolutionized my point of view about the nature of business (it's a stage to create an experience on) and helped me sell streaming video while at broadcast.com. Later, on the lecture circuit, it offered great content for my talks to retailers and service providers.
Reading it again, I'm picking up on entirely new points: Create street theatre, don't measure satisfaction, differentiation is an enduring profit driver, etc. The book's premise is as true as ever, but with my growth over the last ten years, I'm taking away fresh insights.
The same goes with my recent re-read of Norman Vincent Peale's A Guide To Confident Living. I read it twenty years ago, three years ago, and two weeks ago. Each time, I marked new sections and took away new insights. That's the way great books work. They are meant to be read over and over, and with the passing of time, their truths will build your total wisdom. Think about Good To Great: You may have read it back in 2002 or 2004, but reading it again will likely give you fresh leadership ammo (maybe the Hedgehog Theory resonates now that you are at a new company?)
Too often, we want to read the latest and greatest book, thinking the older ones are 'out-of-date.' While this is true of certain eCommerce or social media books (that were just a snap shot of a tech development), you'll find that mixing in the ones you've already read can really add a lot to your perspective.
It's like visiting your home town after being gone a decade - If you open your eyes, you'll discover it all over again!
July 05, 2010
Every time I visit a new city, especially abroad, there’s a familiar process, a ritual I go through every time: Arrive disoriented, afraid I’ll get lost and never find my way back to the room. Alone, with no friends, often not speaking much of the local language.
Within a few days, everything changes. I find my way around and discover, for myself, the wonders of the locale. Not from the pages of a travel book or word of mouth from a friend, for myself, I discover a new place. I learn several words and phrases, even pick up a little of the accent, and within a few days - I’m a temporary resident of the culture.
From the shop doors of Born in Barcelona to the Loop stroll in Cape Town, you’ll find energy and vitality that you learn to make your own, as if you were the only person in the world that noticed it’s uniqueness. At first, I take pictures like a photog on assignment, then later, just relax and take it all in, storing everything in my subconscious memory, to likely withdraw on my deathbed as a moment I could never forget - part of this rich life I’ve led.
Every place has it’s beauty, it’s awesomeness and of course, the lovely people that inhabit it and make it the special place it is. I’m glad to say that I’ve learned how to drink from this cup, and fill it up every time. I take all of this, and pour it into my sense of gratitude for my job, that flings me around the planet with a purpose: To give a speech.
My friend Nick Morgan, a guru to guys like me, says, “the only reason to give a speech is to change the world.” And to that I’ll add that the only way to do that is let the context of the situation change the speaker, giving content and inspiration from the very place you were booked to visit and serve.
I love my customers, who book me to speak at their events and trust me with their people -- my audience. I love the wonderful life their trust affords me and I'll pay it forward with everything I've got. In Cape Town, I gave all to a group of Brazilian retailers on behalf of Univlever, giving them dozens of ways to green up their business and boost their bottom line. In Marbella Spain, I'll do the same for a group of executives at a global company. I'll talk about team work and building community, with a smile on my face and a song in my heart.
My name is Tim Sanders, and I’m a man on a mission.