Getting the word out…

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For some, this is the holy grail of marketing.

If only more people knew what you know.

If only they were aware of what you have to offer, of the work you can share.

Perhaps you can get more people to click on your video, read your tweet or see your Instagram.

Alas, awareness is not action.

Everyone reading this is aware that Peru is a country. But that doesn’t mean you’ve visited recently, or have plans to go soon.

Everyone reading this is aware that turnips are a root vegetable. But knowing they exist doesn’t mean you’re going to have them for dinner.

Awareness is important, but it is insufficient.

Action comes from tension, desire and fear. Action is the hard part.

Where does trust come from…?

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Hint: it never comes from the good times and from the easy projects.

We trust people because they showed up when it wasn’t convenient, because they told the truth when it was easier to lie and because they kept a promise when they could have gotten away with breaking it.

Every tough time and every pressured project is another opportunity to earn the trust of someone you care about.

Compared to magical…

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The easiest way to sell yourself short is to compare your work to the competition. To say that you are 5% cheaper or have one or two features that stand out–this is a formula for slightly better mediocrity.

The goal ought to be to compare yourself not to the best your peers or the competition has managed to get through a committee or down on paper, but to an unattainable, magical unicorn.

Compared to that, how are you doing?

Silencing the bell doesn’t put out the fire..

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Many big organizations have full-time employees who scan the social media, looking for people with a complaint. They swoop in and grease the squeaky wheel, solving the problem of the person who spoke up.

The theory is that these loud complainers are a problem, and the easiest solution is to give them something to make them happy.

Of course, that doesn’t do anything for the 95% of the population that has the very same problem but isn’t speaking up, right?

When Jeff Jarvis blogged about Dell Hell, he hurt the company very badly. Mollifying Jeff (and those like him) did the company no good in the long run, though, because they didn’t deal with the underlying cause, they merely gave the loud ones an excuse to be quiet.

The purpose of the bell is to point to a fire somewhere else. Worry about that instead.

The unforgiving arithmetic of the funnel…

One percent.

That’s how many you get if you’re lucky. One percent of the subscribers to the Times read an article and take action. One percent of the visitors to a website click a button to find out more. One percent of the people in a classroom are sparked by an idea and go do something about it.

And then!

And then, of that 1%, perhaps 1% go ahead and take more action, or recruit others, or write a book or volunteer. One percent of one percent.

No wonder advertisers have to run so many ads. Most of us ignore most of them. No wonder it’s so hard to convert a digital browsing audience into a real world paying one–most people are in too much of a hurry to read and think and pause and then do.

The common mistake is to reflexively come to the conclusion that the only option is to make more noise, to put more attention into the top of the funnel. The thinking goes that if a big audience is getting you mediocre results, a huge audience is the answer. Alas, a huge audience is more difficult than the alternatives.

A few ways to deal with the funnel:

  • Acknowledge that it’s there. Don’t assume that a big audience is going to easily convert to action.
  • Work to measure your losses. Figure out where in the process you’re losing interest and clicks or the other behaviors you seek.
  • If you can, remove steps. Each step costs you dearly.
  • Treat different people differently. If you alter the funnel to maximize interest by the wandering masses, you may very well miss the chance to convert the focused few.

Winning today (vs. winning tomorrow)…

Look around. You’re not number one on that bestseller list, or chosen for this RFP or invited to give that talk.

It’s frustrating. There are engagements you ought to have, sales you ought to be making, clients that ought to understand you…

One choice is to spend today frustrated that you’re not winning with the product you have for the market you’ve chosen.

The other choice is to focus on what you need to do today to win tomorrow.

Thriving in a wet environment…

If you’ve ever fixed any kind of machinery, you know that a device that’s exposed to the elements is incredibly difficult to maintain. A washing machine or the underside of a car gets grungy, fast.

On the other hand, the dryest, cleanest environment of all is the digital one. Code stays code. If it works today, it’s probably going to work tomorrow.

The wettest, weirdest environment is human interaction. Whatever we build gets misunderstood, corroded and chronic, and it happens quickly and in unpredictable ways. That’s one reason why the web is so fascinating–it’s a collision between the analytic world of code and wet world of people.

No software design survives a collision with the user.

You will be judged (or you will be ignored)..

Those are pretty much the only two choices.

Being judged is uncomfortable. Snap judgments, prejudices, misinformation… all of these, combined with not enough time (how could there be) to truly know you, means that you will inevitably be misjudged, underestimated (or overestimated) and unfairly rejected.

The alternative, of course, is much safer. To be ignored.

Up to you..

The flipping point…

When people say, “The tipping point,” they often misunderstand the concept in Malcolm’s book. They’re actually talking about the flipping point.

The tipping point is the sum total of many individuals buzzing about something. But for an individual to start buzzing, something has to change in that person’s mind. Something flips from boredom or ignorance to excitement or anger.

It starts when the story of a brand or a person or a store or an experience flips in your head and it goes from good to bad, or from ignored to beloved. The flipping point doesn’t represent the sum of public conversations, it’s the outcome of an activated internal conversation.

It’s easy to wish and hope for your project to tip, for it to magically become the hot thing. But that won’t happen if you can’t seduce and entrance an individual and then another.

Before the tipping point, someone has to flip. And then someone else. And then a hundred more someones.

We resist incremental improvement in our offerings and our stories because it just doesn’t seem likely that one good interaction or one tiny alteration can possibly lead to a significant amount of flipping. And we’re right

How to make money online…

  1. The first step is to stop Googling things like, “how to make money online.” Not because you shouldn’t want to make money online, but because the stuff you’re going to find by doing that is going to help you lose money online. Sort of like asking a casino owner how to make money in Vegas…
  2. Don’t pay anyone for simple and proven instructions on how to achieve this goal. In particular, don’t pay anyone to teach you how to write or sell manuals or ebooks about how to make money online.
  3. Get rich slow.
  4. Focus on the scarce resource online: attention. If you try to invent a way to take cheap attention and turn it into cash, you will fail. The attention you want isn’t cheap, it’s difficult to get via SEO and it rarely scales. Instead, figure out how to earn expensive attention.
  5. In addition to attention, focus on trust. Trust is even more scarce than attention.
  6. Don’t worry so much about the ‘online’ part. Instead, figure out how to create value. The online part will take care of itself.
  7. Don’t quit your day job. Start evenings and weekends and figure it out with small failures.
  8. Build a public reputation. A good one, and be sure that you deserve it, and that it will hold up to scrutiny.
  9. Obsessively specialize. No niche is too small if it’s yours.
  10. Connect the disconnected.
  11. Lead.
  12. Build an online legacy that increases in value daily.
  13. Make money offline. If you can figure out how to create value face to face, it’s a lot easier to figure out how to do the same digitally. The web isn’t magic, it’s merely efficient.
  14. Become the best in the world at something that people value. Easier said than done, worth more than you might think.
  15. Hang out with people who aren’t looking for shortcuts. Learn from them.
  16. Fail. Fail often and fail cheaply. This is the very best gift the web has given to people who want to bootstrap their way into a new business.
  17. Make money in the small and then relentlessly scale.
  18. Don’t chase yesterday’s online fad.
  19. Think big, act with intention and don’t get bogged down in personalities. If it’s not on your agenda, why are you wasting time on it?
  20. Learn. Ceaselessly. Learn to code, to write persuasively, to understand new technologies, to bring out the best in your team, to find underused resources and to spot patterns.
  21. This is not a zero sum game. The more you add to your community, the bigger your piece gets.