Last Sunday night about 110 million Americans sat around their HD campfires and shared in a traditional event – the Super Bowl.
But this year something was different this year , and I’m not talking about the 34-minute delay caused by the Superdome’s super brownout. Instead, it was the proliferation of multiple screens people used while they watched the game. This year, more than any other, we didn’t merely discuss the game and the ads with the people in the room with us, but we interacted with our tribes from all around the world over Twitter and Facebook.
As I’ve written before, if the only tool you have is a hammer, all solutions look like nails. So while I was watching the big game, most of the online conversations I was following were about advertising. Opinions were flying around so fast and furiously that it sometimes seemed like people must’ve had their heads buried in Twitter during the game and only looked at their TVs when the commercials came on.
Here are a couple of insights I picked up from reading what people were saying:
Women viewers hated the face-sucking ad for GoDaddy (supermodel Bar Refaeli making out with proto-nerd Walter) and the male fantasy ad for Axe (a young bikini-clad woman ditches her hero lifeguard for a beach-walking astronaut) while they loved the feel-good Budweiser ad with the baby Clydesdale. Though the first two products probably aren’t bought by as many women as men (and boys), I always assumed that Budweiser was a male-skewed product, too. But perhaps the brewery wanted to appeal to the women who still buy the majority of groceries.
Audi was a big winner (the kid who goes to the prom by himself and scores both a kiss from the prom queen and a black eye from her football captain boyfriend) as was Mercedes-Benz (Willem Dafoe’s Satan pushes a contract for a new Mercedes CLA over the Rolling Stones’ Sympathy For The Devil). In fact, the auto segment probably garnered the most winners with standout ads from Jeep, Kia, and what I thought was the best effort of the night, Dodge’s “So God Made A Farmer.”
Coming on the heels of Dodge/Chrysler’s last two Super Bowl winners featuring Eminem and Clint Eastwood, the automaker continued to create an emotional statement about their products and the people who use them. Eschewing over-the-top special effects for simple photographs, Chrysler’s agency, The Richards Group, employed artful writing and the resonant voice of Paul Harvey to craft a modern classic (recorded in 1978, by the way, and used in a remarkably similar ad for Farms.com as well). Regardless of the original source, anyone who’s interested in the art of compelling writing could take a master class in this text:
And on the eighth day, God looked down on his planned paradise and said, “I need a caretaker.” So God made a farmer.
God said, “I need somebody willing to get up before dawn, milk cows, work all day in the field, milk cows again, eat supper, then go to town and stay past midnight at a meeting of the school board.” So God made a farmer.
God said, “I need somebody willing to sit up all night with a newborn colt and watch it die, then dry his eyes and say, ‘Maybe next year.’ I need somebody who can shape an ax handle from an ash tree, shoe a horse with hunk of car tire, who can make a harness out hay wire, feed sacks, and shoe scraps. Who, during planting time and harvest season, will finish his 40-hour week by Tuesday noon and then, paining from tractor back, put in another 72 hours.” So God made the farmer.
God said, “I need somebody strong enough to clear trees and heave bales, yet gentle enough to yean lambs and wean pigs and tend the pink-comb pullets, who will stop his mower for an hour to splint the leg of a meadowlark.”
It had to be somebody who’d plow deep and straight and not cut corners. Somebody to seed, weed, feed, breed, and brake, and disk, and plow, and plant, and tie the fleece, and strain the milk. Somebody who’d bale a family together with the soft, strong bonds of sharing, who would laugh, and then sigh and then reply with smiling eyes when his son says that he wants to spend his life doing what Dad does. “So God made a farmer.”
Did you notice something odd? They never mentioned Dodge or Ram trucks. Or that Harvey’s description of farming has little to do with the reality of today’s corporate agri-business. Instead, the ad created an aural and visual emotional banquet that made us feel good about America and about ourselves, even though most of us haven’t been to a farm since our fifth grade fieldtrip. All of a sudden, a Dodge Ram pickup becomes the way that we can embody the attributes of the farmer God made.
Fact is, actual work trucks account for less than 40% of total demand for pickups. Figures from Ford (Automotive News, June 1, 2009) show that only 39% of trucks sold in the U.S. fall into the “work” category with the remaining 61% of truck sales falling into the categories of “personal use while towing” and “image.”
But Dodge’s ad is a brilliant example of how brands work, creating an emotional badge that consumers can use to tell the world — and ourselves — who we are.
Thanks to all of our time-saving devices, today’s businessperson has less free time than ever. Still, there are times when your To-Do list is up to date – or at least under some degree of control – or you’ve got a few free minutes before your next activity. To be as productive as possible, I’ve created a quick life hack that I rapidly run through to fill those few minutes with tasks that make my life better. I think they’ll work for you, too.
1. Call your clients and ask, “How’s business?”
Most client calls are organized affairs with agendas and intentions. But now and again it’s good to pick up the phone and ask how things are going. Sure, you don’t always get an answer on the first ring, but when you do these unprompted conversations sometimes provide insight, occasionally provide new business opportunities, and always improve relationships.
2. Check your online status.
A few free minutes is the perfect time to zip through your various online personas and make sure everything’s working. Create a quick road map where you look yourself up on Google, log into your Facebook and LinkedIn pages, check up on Twitter and Pinterest, scroll through your website’s pages, and even take a quick look at your YouTube videos. This run-through is not the time to respond to queries or read all the collected LOLs — it’s just an opportunity to look for broken links, spam postings or disabled clips that you can repair quickly.
3. Reduce your piles and stacks.
After just a few days of work, my desk, wallet, briefcase, and pockets are littered with little stacks of little papers. Business cards, receipts, notes to myself, and articles I’ve clipped out of magazines to read or send to someone. All I need is a few free minutes to process these, so I don’t lose the information and can reduce the clutter around me.
Business cards get scanned into my contact database on Outlook and added to my blog distribution list on LinkedIn. To make this as easy as possible, I use CardMunch, an iPhone app that gathers the information from the card and imports information about each person from LinkedIn.
Receipts get scanned into Expensify, an easy to use cloud-based program that makes simple work of managing my various expense accounts.
Notes, scraps of paper, and articles go into Evernote, a cross-platform program that allows me to save, track, and recall all my memos and brainstorms on my phone, tablet, and laptop. And if I add relevant tags to my notes they become easily retrievable even when I can’t remember specifically what I wrote.
4. Send Thank You Notes
In his 1985 classic, Service America, Dr. Karl Albrecht wrote about his “high-tech/high-touch” approach, suggesting that as businesses use more and more technology, it became more important to personally interact with their customers. For example, I’m happy to use my bank’s ATM and online bill pay to take care of most of my banking needs, but when I have a problem I want to talk to a real person who knows my name and can help me.
Thanks to Dr. Albrecht’s book, I’ve become a believer in hand-written notes. Sure my clients and contacts can access our work on our website and web-enabled management system, read about our doings on this blog, and of course we keep in touch via emails and SMS messages. But every now and then it’s good to pull out a pen and write on a piece of real paper, stick on a real stamp and drop it in the mail. If nothing else, you know it’ll pop out on the recipient’s desk.
My good friend, Terry Bell, often responds to my Facebook posts with a single word, “Breathe.” It’s good advice and something I try to remember as often as possible. I suggest you try it when you have some spare time, too.
Or maybe when you don’t have the time.
Have you noticed what’s going on? Everything might seem pretty normal but without noticing, the world of media and marketing continues to change at lightning speed. Without warning, the newly crowned Holy Trinity of social media marketing — Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn — have been joined by an upstart that is now that fastest growing social media site ever. Pinterest has become a true player and is quickly changing the rules of the game.
In the 1920s adman Fred Barnard reintroduced the old Chinese proverb, “one look is worth a thousand words” which he subsequently evolved to “one picture is worth ten thousand words.” The saying we use today is an amalgam of the two but the meaning has never been truer than when used to describe Pinterest – a graphic-oriented site that lets people upload images to tell their stories.
You might have seen that Instagram, the iPhone-based photo-sharing site sold to Facebook for one billion dollars. Yes, that’s billion with a “B,” a figure made even more astounding when you learn that Instagram managed their entire business with only 15 employees.
Brazil just surpassed the UK as the sixth biggest economy in the world at almost the same time that Brazilian tourists eclipsed Canadian visitors to become the largest international group visiting Miami. All of a sudden, the South Florida community that has built an enviable economy and infrastructure on a bilingual workforce speaking English and Spanish has woken up to the realization that it’s time to learn Portuguese and depressa!
Perhaps it’s true that the more things change the more they stay the same but at the same time, what the world — and the economy — are going through is often unprecedented. George Friedman, the founder of the geo-political consulting firm StratFor, wrote a fascinating book titled The Next Hundred Years. In it, he chronicles he predictions about what’s going to happen around the world over the next century based on his company’s insight about what’s happening today. But as knowledgeable as Friedman is, even he admits that it’s likely that only five percent of his prognostications will actually come to pass. And this is a guy who’s paid millions of dollars for his viewpoint by oil companies, financial institutions, and governments around the world for decisions that need to be right.
There is, however, another way to look at the unfolding situation for a more nuanced and accurate understanding of what’s going to happen.
When you buy a piece of software for your computer, or an app for your smartphone, you also receive an unending stream of updates and improvements. Software continues to be developed, sometimes doubling or tripling the abilities of its already lightning quick actions. But as quickly as the software improves, the user (that’s me and you!) hasn’t really evolved in a million years. Despite our designer wardrobes, powerful computerized devices, and Ivy-league educations, we’re still hunter-gathers trekking across the great savannah looking for food and shelter. And because the last 100 years that have been responsible for so much of our incredible technological advancements are merely a blip on the greater evolutionary calendar, we have not evolved to take the best use of everything we’ve been blessed with.
For example, what’s to blame for today’s obesity crises? It’s nothing more than the reaction times of our bodies which were developed over hundreds of thousands of years of not enough food, no grain, and infrequent access to meat being suddenly awash in an embarrassment of nutritional riches and never-before processed foods. Just like our minds not being able to keep up with computer technology, our bodies can’t keep up with the rapid changes of food technology, either.
Quite simply put, The Tools Change. The Rules Don’t. So while we continue to be faced with more and more technological advancements and changes (the tools) our reactions to them (the rules), both physiological and psychological, lag millenniums behind. And regardless of how advanced our tools become, we will still deal with them in human — and predictable — ways.
Part of this online journey I enjoy so much is the interaction I have with you. For my end, I try to be open and transparent as we explore this brave new world of branding and online communication together and you’ve held up your end of the bargain with enthusiasm, support, and the appropriate virtual ruler to my knuckles when I’ve made a mistake or gone too far.
So allow me to let you in on what I’ve been thinking about lately:
As I see it, there are two keys to success in this blog thing — having something to say and having a critical mass of people to say it to. The rest of the requirements — modest technical proficiency and an ability to write reasonably well, for example, are as much cost of entry as a decent computer and an Internet connection. But to have people to communicate with — ah — that’s the beauty part.
So it should come as no surprise that I spend part of every week thinking about ways to attract new readers and continue to please and delight my current readers (that’s you!).
Here’s my latest thought: We are going to post a daily branding tip on Twitter, Facebook, Google+, LinkedIn, Pinterest, etc. Each tip will be titled (brand-tip-of-the-day is the working title), numbered (87 of 365, e.g.), and include a link to the website where they’ll be compiled. At the end of year one we should have chronicled 365 tips and an untold number of interesting comments that will be repurposed as a book, flashcards, a calendar, or who knows what. Plus, each posting will allow interested readers to sign up for more information that will create additional readers for this blog as well. Of course, I’ll keep you posted on how it’s going so you can use a similar (but different) technique to enhance your online promotions.
With all this in mind, I started working on compiling the initial 365 branding aphorisms. The first 67 came easily. “This is a breeze,” I thought. “I’ll be done in no time.” Of course, pride goeth before a fall.
The next 40 were tough. It took me hours and hours to reach 100. I flashed on the story of the guy who wants to lift a 2,000-pound bull onto his shoulders. He started with a baby calf, which is relatively light, and then continued to pick up the animal as it grew, day by day, pound by pound, into a bull. But even with his incremental approach, there’s a reason why no one can lift a full-grown bovine.
But I stuck with the project just the same. The harder it got, the more resolute I became about slogging through. And every so often I’d come up with a new way of looking at the problem that rewarded me with numerous entries.
How about citing other famous people’s thoughts on branding? Oscar Wilde, Bill Bernbach, Mike Tesch, Steve Jobs, and others much smarter and more eloquent than me gave me a gaggle. How about highlighting great brand lines throughout history? BMW, GE, Evernote, and more also increased my census.
As you would imagine, some days are better than others. But, because of tried and true mantras such as “any job worth doing is worth doing well,” and “you can accomplish anything if you just stay with it,” I kept plugging. And the fact that I’ve spent the last 30 years creating great brands for our clients did give me a lot to draw on. Maybe I’ve even reached the 10,000 hours of practice that Malcolm Gladwell suggests is necessary for true mastery of any activity.
But with the finish line well in sight, I’m starting to run out of steam. Which is why I thought of you. After all, the first word of social media is “social.” So why not reach out to my legion of faithful readers (that’s you!) for help? I’m sure you’ve got a few great branding tips to share, after all, I wrote an article on Bill Talbert’s 10 great micro branding tips and he’s already given me 10 more for the next article. If we crowd source branding tips, we should be able to easily surpass the additional posts needed.
So here are the rules of the game: All posts must be original or attributed to the original source. Each must be no longer than 76 characters including spaces, quote marks, and other hazarai because we need space for the title, post count, link, and room for retweeting. They need to be about branding. They need to be profound, clever, brilliant, useful, educational or hilarious. In the case of duplicate entries, I’ll credit the first person who sends the idea.
Send them to me via the comments link at the bottom of the blog or as a private email. Send them as you think of them or compiled on one page. But send them. Because together we can learn from one another and build something of value.
Creative designer David Kustin was sitting comfortably behind a steaming cup of coffee at our conference table. He was starting to tell me about his background and how he got into the branding business.
“I’m a South Florida native,” he said. (I’m a South Florida native too, I thought. Wonder where he was born.)
“…went to FIU,” he continued. (FIU? My son is about to graduate from FIU. My wife got her master’s degree at FIU. I’m on their President’s Circle board. That reminds me, I need to call them.)
“…and then I moved out to LA…” (Hey, my sister lived in LA. My friend Brian lives there too. I’ve got to go to LA soon to try and sell our new TV show project. Oh yeah, I’ve got to call Michael and Chris about that project. Should I write that down so I don’t forget?)
That’s when it hit me. During Dave’s passionate and interesting pitch, I was thinking about myself and about things that concerned me. Am I really that selfish and self-centered? And if I am, are others as well? How often have I been making a sales presentation or just having a simple conversation where the person I was talking to wasn’t hearing what I was saying because they were too busy hearing what they were thinking?
How often have you suffered from the same problem?
For the next week I did an experiment. In every conversation and interaction, I would try to focus my entire attention on the words and responses of the person I was talking with. If they’d interrupt me when I was talking, I’d stop speaking immediately — even if I was in the middle of a sentence or a word. I’d just stop dead in my tracks, mid-word, and listen.
Rather than tell my own story or try to further my own agenda, I would only ask questions designed to get the other person to talk. And when I needed to write an email or a note to someone, I would give careful consideration to what the other person cared about and crafted my words only to embrace their interests.
Want to know what I discovered?
In every single instance, the person I was talking to happily filled in the gaps in my spiel and told me more about their activities and interests. Even when I stopped talking mid-word, not one person noticed, stopped, and said, “Oh, I’m sorry, I interrupted you. Please continue.” Instead they went on their way, chattering happily about whatever subject they found interesting. I learned more than I ever thought possible about Bruce Springsteen, how local government works, using Pinterest, the future of health care, and the difference between ophthalmologists and optometrists.
The comedian Gary Shandling built an entire career on the simple question, “How’s my hair look?” But my casual research would suggest that a better way to build your career would be to compliment somebody else’s hair and ask them how they keep it so shiny, manageable, full, dark, thick, wavy, straight, curly, beautiful, glossy, or whatever, and then shut up and listen.
If my theory is correct, it’s little wonder that the typical lines overheard at networking events all sound like this:
“You look great.”
“Love your hair.”
“Love your tie.”
“You lose weight?”
“How’re your folks?”
“How’re your kids?”
“How’s your dog?”
“Let’s do breakfast / lunch / dinner.”
“Have your service call my service.”
“Gimme your card.”
Each line is just a little bon mot tossed off with the sole intention of reassuring the listener that the speaker cares passionately about them. After all, they say that the two keys to a compelling presentation are honesty and sincerity…and when you can fake that, the rest is easy.
Pardon me if I sound cynical — that’s not my intention. What I want to make crystal clear is that whether we’re having a conversation with one person at a party, Facebooking to hundreds, Tweeting to thousands or sending advertising messages to millions, the way to connect is to make sure we’re talking to our audiences and focusing on what they care most about.
Come to think about it, that’s why the first chapter and branding rule in my latest book Building Brand Value is titled, “All About Them.” And if you keep this in mind when crafting your communications, you’re on the right path to getting the response you’re hoping for, too.
In today’s social media-savvy world, one of the most important things you can do to increase your opportunities is to generate buzz. There are a number of activities you can undertake to increase your public perception and generate the kind of buzz that has the potential to expose you and your brand to new revenue opportunities. I say, “has the potential” because the unfortunate reality of this method is that there are no guarantees that when you generate buzz you will generate business. But the other realities are that 1) there is more chance that increased buzz will present you with chances to generate business and 2) you can do a lot of this work yourself so at least your activities don’t have to be expensive.
All of your activities will relate around media — specifically you’ll be dealing with both public media (newspaper, radio, TV news shows, etc.) and private media (blogs and social media sites). Interestingly, the two have a symbiotic relationship — public media will increase your blog readership and your blogging will entice public media to cover you.
Creating the actual blog is easy. Just go to www.wordpress.com and register for a free account. Then contact an administrator to build your initial site and host it for you. You could do that yourself but since you most likely have no idea what you’re doing, I suggest you find someone to help you. You want to look for someone who is knowledgeable, responsive, and inexpensive.
Setting the blog up is the easy part. What’s harder is having something worthwhile to say day after day and week after week. There’s not much I can do to help you with this except to suggest that you’ll grow into it over time as you experiment with what works and what doesn’t and as you begin to find your own unique voice. Things I can tell you from experience is that consistency is critical, shorter posts (two pages max) are better than complicated, multi-part documents, and a personal view or revelation is better received than a pure business-like essay. Most important, be sure to write about things that both interest and help your audience instead of posting updates about what you or your company has been up to lately.
I’m too impatient to wait for readers to find my blog on their own, and I’m neither popular enough nor presumptuous enough to believe people care about what I write enough to search me down, so I chose to send my blog out to an ever-growing list of readers. This adds some expense and effort but I believe it’s well worth it in reader volume. Still, most bloggers just post their data and hope the rest of the world beats a path to their literary mousetrap. I know many bloggers think my technique is akin to spamming but it works for me.
Because my entire strategy is built around getting people to read my blog (and then hire me to speak at their conferences and then hire my firm to build their brands), I use the other social media sites (specifically LinkedIn, Twitter, and Facebook) to generate traffic to my blog. For that reason, I accept almost every single person who invites me to join their SM rosters and I post to those sites with the goal of generating interest in who I am and what I write about.
To make life a little easier, I use www.ping.fm to send my messages to all three sites simultaneously. To make my Twitter management as painless as possible, I use TweetDeck to segregate both my followers and those I follow so I can continue to accept and “refollow” anyone who wants to follow me while having immediate access to the tweets of those I care most about. And I’ve ended any concern about whom I accept on Facebook by accepting the fact that I use the site for business, not as a personal communication device.
Once you’ve established your blog — both technically and as part of your weekly To-do list — the next activity is to create podcasts and post the videos on YouTube. An oft-repeated statistic is that YouTube is currently the world’s second most visited search engine (after its parent, Google) and soon its volume of searches will outpace Google itself. Because different people consume information in different ways, these video posts can be simple re-reads of your written posts or new content that takes advantage of the video format (you can show examples of your points, for example, or do magic tricks or hand puppets or whatever else you think will add interest).
These activities may seem overwhelming, but they’re really not. They just require a little bit of knowledge, a commitment of time to both learn the techniques and create the content, and the discipline to do them time after time, week after week. But after a couple of months of activity, you’ll have enough critical mass of content established online to undertake stage two — pursuing public media.
Here’s where you’re going to reach out to various reporters and other bloggers to get them to write about you and direct people to your online persona. The easiest way to do this is to simply call them. Consider your public relations outreach to be a daily part of your new business cold-calling activities and set aside the time to establish relationships with reporters and bloggers. Once they know who you are and what you do, they’ll be much more likely to want to include you in their stories and come to you for information.
Here are a few rules to keep in mind when dealing with reporters:
1. Never lie to them. Even in today’s shifting journalistic environment when standards are dropping faster than a hooker’s panties, most journalists still live and die by their reputations. The worst thing that can happen to a reporter (other than being fired) is for their editor to have to print a retraction because they got something wrong. If you don’t know an answer, either say so or change the subject. Don’t make it up.
2. Ever notice how reporters tend to quote the same people over and over? Every wonder how you can become one of those people? Make yourself available to the reporter when they want to write about you and when they don’t. Your goal is not to generate lines in the paper or minutes on air but to build a relationship with the reporters so they come to think of you as the expert in your specific field. That way, they’ll use you as a research source and will be much more likely to think of you when they need a quote or an example.
3. Take them to lunch. These are the four magic words of PR as far as I’m concerned and a great way to establish a relationship that’ll pay off many times over. And, by the way, don’t only take working reporters to lunch. Because their world is so volatile, reporters live in a very unstable environment right now. If they are unlucky enough to be laid off, they find it an added indignity to be dropped by all of the fair-weather friends who used them when they had a public outlet but no longer see any value in the relationship. Remember that many reporters will be back in the public reporting sector sooner or later. They will certainly remember those who were supportive when things were tough. They’ll also remember who stiffed them. Who would you rather be?
Your bottom line should be to generate as much interest in you and your activities as possible. While there are no direct metrics to extrapolate how many blog readers or magazine articles it takes to generate additional income, a good rule of thumb is the more the merrier. Work hard to make your professional persona ubiquitous and it will pay off in perception and interest.
The other day the CEO of one our largest clients was sitting in my conference room discussing a project he wanted us to do for him. While he was talking, his phone rang and he glanced at the screen. “I’m sorry,” he said, “but it’s one of my board members. Pardon me while I take this.” During the conversation, he mentioned to the board member that he was in my office talking to me about the new project. “Oh, you know Bruce?” he asked the person on the phone. “Do you know him from when he presented at our board meeting?” He listened. “Oh, you know him from his blog.”
Here’s the beauty part: My client and I were just talking about us starting a robust social media program for him and now he saw the direct benefit of what we do. I was no longer a vendor selling a service but an expert who clearly practices what he preaches. I don’t yet know what the financial result of the project will be and there’s no reason to believe that we wouldn’t have gotten the project without the unplanned interaction but it certainly helped sell my point of view.
These sorts of things happen to me all the time. With a little work, they can happen to you, too.
When I started my business my father called my action “the confidence of ignorance.” I didn’t really know what I didn’t know so I held my nose and jumped right in. And with some long hours, perseverance, the hard work of lots of great people, and some good luck it turned out pretty well. Yet almost thirty years later it’s finally dawned on me that my dad was right – I often have no idea what I’m doing.
Social media has become a critical part of our agency’s branding and marketing. I’m promoting my ad agency, my speaking, and my books on Twitter, Facebook, Google+, LinkedIn, and whatever new technology has emerged since I wrote this post. But I have no idea what I’m doing.
I blog about branding and marketing and my own personal opinion about what’s going on in those worlds. I post it all online and send it out to my mailing list and try to promote it on all the social media sites that’ll have me. But I have no idea what I’m doing.
I travel around the world speaking at conferences and corporate meetings and attend acting classes and speaking workshops to try to make my platform skills better. Even with all the time spent and experienced gained, I still have no idea what I’m doing.
I’m starting to shoot videos and produce podcasts about branding and marketing and post them on YouTube. I’m taking videos of speeches I’ve given and learning how to edit them in Apple’s Final Cut and sending them out online and on CDs. But I have no idea what I’m doing.
I wrote a couple books on branding and produced them with traditional publishers. Then I self-published the latest book and we distributed it ourselves. Finally, I wrote a novel called The Mouth of the South and didn’t even self-publish it, just uploaded it to Amazon as a Kindle book. But I have no idea what I’m doing.
We’re creating a new website, trying to make it as interactive, mobile-friendly and user-friendly as possible and all at the same time. But I have no idea what I’m doing.
When people ask me if they should promote themselves or their companies on Facebook, Google+ or LinkedIn; if they should blog, tweet, email or send handwritten letters; if they should shoot videos, record podcasts, write books, or speak at conferences; if they should offer discounts on couponing sites, or run ads on TV, radio, newspapers or billboards, my answer is a resounding “yes.” When they tell me they don’t know how to do it, I say, “don’t worry, I have no idea what I’m doing either.”
I’m not smart enough to figure out SEO and SEM. I don’t have enough time to respond to all the tweets I receive. I don’t like Facebook enough to really want to dive into it. I think I only use about 11% of the capabilities of Final Cut. And not one of my books has become a bestseller regardless of how much time, effort, and money I’ve spent on them.
Why not? Could it be because I have no idea what I’m doing?
My marathon times aren’t dropping, my harmonica playing’s not getting much better, and the TV show I’m trying to create isn’t rushing itself into production. You already know the reasons why. It’s because I have no idea what I’m doing.
Are you starting to see a pattern here? Have you gotten the message? As much as I’d love to use this page to brag about all the brilliant things I’m trying to accomplish I have no idea what I’m doing.
I think that my feeling is the true zeitgeist of what’s going on today in the world of online marketing, new entrepreneurship, and personal development. Of course we can listen to the experts pontificate about whatever it is they know about, but just like the tip of the metaphorical iceberg, what they know and talk about is just a small portion of what’s really out there.
What I have in common with those experts is that they don’t have any idea what they’re doing anymore than I do.
They just do it anyway. And so do I. And, truth be told, so should you.
The key, as Nike taught us, is to “Just Do It.” Microsoft has built an enormous company around the notion of implementing first and perfecting later. Or as my dad also used to say, “There’s never time to do it right but there’s always time to do it over.”
So blog, post, tweet, self-publish, promote, and sell, to your heart’s content. And don’t worry if you don’t quite know what you’re doing. Why not? Because I have no idea what I’m doing, either.
Jackass star Ryan Dunn was killed when he crashed his Porsche 911 GT3 early Monday morning. A few hours before the 3 a.m. accident, Dunn had posted a photo on Twitter in which he is seen drinking with friends. Hours later, movie critic Roger Ebert tweeted: “Friends don’t let jackasses drink and drive.” By Tuesday, Ebert apologized on his blog, “I was probably too quick to tweet. That was unseemly.”
Unseemly?? Now that’s an understatement.
In the meantime, the tweet prompted an outpouring of criticism against Ebert on Facebook and Twitter, so much of it profane that Facebook removed Ebert’s page.
Ebert might have felt marginally contrite about his insensitive tweet, but certainly not about Facebook cutting his ties with his followers. “Facebook! My page is harmless and an asset to you,” he wrote. “Why did you remove it in response to anonymous jerks? Makes you look bad.”
Facebook promptly returned Ebert’s page with a quick statement: “The page was removed in error. We apologize for the inconvenience.”
“He lived up in Malibu on a tiny street and he was texting while driving and he accidentally went over the cliff,” the surgeon’s ex-girlfriend told People Magazine. More specifically, he was tweeting. Below a picture of his dog, he wrote, “Border collie jill (sic) surveying the view from atop the sand dune.”
And don’t even get me started about Anthony Weiner, the married US congressman who lost his seat because he was caught sexting with a Las Vegas blackjack dealer and then lied about it. Without even commenting on the banality of his texts, didn’t he know that the Internet is forever? (Obviously not, the question was rhetorical.)
Has the world gone insane? People are dying to tweet and tweeting about people dying. Politicians are posting public messages that they wouldn’t dare to whisper out loud. And then a whole online keiretsu of statements are released about the tweets and the comments.
Look, we all know texting and driving is a really bad idea. Recent studies show that it’s even more dangerous than drinking and driving. But that study wouldn’t have helped Ebert, Ryan or Weiner. They weren’t DWI (driving while intoxicated); they were TWS (texting while stupid). And as comedian Ron White says, “You can’t fix stupid.”
Common sense tells us that when you’re in a hole and you want to get out, the first thing to do is stop digging. But the better thing is not to fall in the hole in the first place.
Maybe it’s time for some marketing lines to come to the rescue. Want to know what to do when you’re on fire? “Stop, drop, and roll.” How about when you approach a busy intersection? “Stop, look, and listen.”
Those lines work. After all, how often do you read about flaming pedestrians being hit by speeding cars?
So why don’t we take a page from elementary school safety campaigns and and adopt The Seven Steps for Successful tweeting? “Think. Write. STOP. Edit. Decide. STOP. Post.”
If people would just pause for a moment to think about what they’re posting, texting, and tweeting – or where and when they’re doing it – maybe they’d think twice before endangering themselves, their brands, and all the people around them.