Monthly Archives: March 2010

Take A Page From The Twitter Playbook

Twitter updated its homepage.

By itself that’s not exciting.  They tweaked it last summer but it didn’t really lure new users.  This time it does a better job of explaining what Twitter is and why it’s valuable.

Why in the world would a company that has 8,000,000 registered users continually make changes?  Because they understand that massive growth brings its own set of problems.  That upward growth doesn’t last.  That the next new big thing is right around the corner.

Here’s the thing. It’s easy to do when your company is small.  It’s usually mandatory. We try something, evaluate, tweak, try again.  It’s when your company takes off that just keeping your head above water is the goal.  Busyness can overtake importance in everyday to-do lists.

When was the last time you looked at how you targeted potential clients or upgraded your website?  Does your logo need freshening up? Do the first 450 characters of the home page content actually contain the keywords that describe your site?

It’s a good reminder.  You know what I’ll be doing today.

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The Danger Of Hoarding Old Ideas

The problem with refusing to let go of old ideas is they seem to gain value.  Not to anyone else of course…just to ourselves.

That’s why we dig our heels in sometimes. It’s  annoying to the other people in our lives.  It becomes painful and causes real problems when it goes too far.

Your mom says she won’t pay more than $1.99 for a gallon of milk?  Uncle Al has a fit because it’s not a “real” Thanksgiving unless you serve the horrible sage dressing nobody likes (including Uncle Al).  The small grocery story down the street won’t carry dark chocolate M&Ms because only a couple people asked for them – heaven forbid they ask their customers.

Okay. Not deal breakers.  Generally no more than an eye roll and figuring out a way to get around it.

In this crazy, chaotic, get it done right now world there’s hardly time for presenting new ideas before they are replaced.  So what happens when businesses are old idea hoarders?  They fail.

What ideas are you holding on to?  Have you asked your partners, your employees, your customers?  What could you let go of  this very minute?

I’ve put that question on my list of three most important things to consider today.  As Seth Godin said on his blog today (paraphrased)  “Are you writing fortunes for cookies that don’t exist anymore?”

Are You In Their Twenty Percent?

Very insight post today on Amber Naslund’s blog.  She has a list of Social Media “topics that must die”.  One of them concerned the value of high numbers of followers and friends.

Earlier today on the way into work I was listening to a Success Magazine CD featuring an excerpt from Jim Rohn.  The topic was the Pareto Rule better known as the 80/20 rule.

It’s not often that two separate lines of thought mesh together so perfectly on the same day.

Eighty percent of everything is noise.  Why do we focus on that rather than the twenty percent that actually makes a difference?

Maybe because there’s so much of it and it’s constant. Who would have ever believed that people dream of being completely unplugged one day a week?!  There’s so much information and conversation available to us we’ve become afraid of missing any.

A sad state of affairs.

Oh.  A sudden thought came into my head.  Maybe it’s not the 80% we wouldn’t miss that frightens us.  Maybe it’s not knowing how many people have us in their 80%.

If You Lie About One Thing I Won’t Believe Anything Else

I was introduced today to a man by a friend who told me he did data information systems.  That’s neat and boy is there a need for it.  I agreed we should talk sometime.  They left my office and almost immediately the man came back in.  He had not understood that I had my own company.  He thought I was my friend’s employee.  We laughed and I explained I spend most of my time optimizing online activities to drive traffic to client websites.

Then the most amazing thing happened. He gave me his card.  Not only did he do information systems he developed ecommerce websites, provided SEO, developed PPC campaigns, was a social media expert, SQL databases, etc.  There had to be ten to fifteen things on the back of that card.

“Oh, you do SEO, too?” I said.  “Not really” he replied with a small smile.   We chatted a few more minutes and he insisted we meet – there were opportunities to work together.

I’m not going to hold my breath.  He already proved he doesn’t tell the truth.

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Who In The World Would Do That?

As a kid I used to watch Popeye faithfully.  We used to laugh hysterically at Wimpy asking for a hamburger that he would pay for later…who in the world would do that?

An example of street markets accepting credit ...
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In the forty years since we’ve become a nation of Wimpys.  Need inventory?  Okay, we’ll pay for it later.  Need office supplies?  Get out the credit card and we can pay for it later. Need food, clothes, vacations and pay with cash when we can do it later?  Who in the world would do that?

What we’re learning to our dismay is there is no later.  No more time to avoid paying our credit cards, no more time to avoid health care costs, no more time to avoid getting a social media strategy.  It’s been a helluva fun time but the sins have come due.

Procrastination has become more than an amusing tee shirt or annoying spouse trait.  It threatens the foundation of our businesses, our families, our lives.  We rail against the government, the school boards, the hospitals for cutting services.  We want every service to remain intact even though there isn’t enough money to pay for it.  Unfortunately they followed our lead and we were okay with it.  Now that they can’t do that we are enraged.  Who in the world would do that?

We have a lot of tough choices and a lot of businesses are going to suffer.  What won’t help us through this time though is outrage directed at anyone but ourselves.  When we change ourselves we change our world.

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Crowdsourcing Is Not For Sissies!

Crowdsourcing is like venture capital.  You have to turn over control of the brilliant idea you have in order to make it successful.  Most entrepreneurs would rather poke their eye out with a stick.

Of course there are success stories: Wikipedia, Google Translate, Urban Dictionary.  Who wouldn’t want to have started those?

But take it down a notch.  Can you come up with a product or service you offer that could be made better by asking lots of people you don’t know?  Could you take the comments and criticisms?  What if you discovered that once a group helped design it they would all have to have it?

Maybe crowdsourcing is really the online version of the Pygmalian effect.

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It’s What They’re Thinking That Matters

Ever find yourself at party talking to someone who appeared to be a Stepford Wife?

Ever worked with someone who didn’t have the skill set to really do the job they were hired for and you had to manage them or maybe worse be on his “team”?

Ever tried to convince someone of your product’s or service’s value and simply got a blank stare?

These situations rarely end well.

One of the hardest things we have to do is step outside ourselves and try to think like the other person in the conversation. The great thing about parties is you can excuse yourself and simply move on.  An employee or customer is an entirely different story.

Most of us believe if we simply keep talking the light bulb will go on and we will get exactly what we want from others.  That only works if we are speaking the same language as the other person.

It’s a difficult lesson.  Keep at it.  Your entire world will change if you do.

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