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Archive for June, 2010

A Schooling in Mediocre Business

June 29th, 2010

My friend, leader of the 12 for 12k clan and incredibly smart biz guy, Danny Brown recently shared something with me that I found rather appalling. It is a situation that involves a relatively well-known biz declaring itself to be most un-mediocre and then, behind the scenes of course, revealing it’s true nature.

I have so little patience for that. And, sadly, I see it every single stinking day.

I can’t resist the great lessons in this story so I am going to share it with you.

First, let me tell you the names of the players so you can follow along:

BlogCatalog: a Blog Directory that (and I quote from their site) “bring the voice of the people to you. From breaking news, to personal blogs, we are the largest user submitted blog directory the world has ever seen.”

Selina Eckersall – super savvy platform designer and owner of Sublime Digital Media.

IMHO: an ethical consumer review site where bloggers creatively and candidly review products or services that compliment the content of their blogs, with no marketing persuasion from advertisers. IMHO was a partnership project between BlogCatalog and Selina Eckersall.

Now that you have the cast of characters, here is the story of what went down:

Last year, Selina and BlogCatalog partnered to develop IMHO. Selena agreed to take a one-third ownership in the company and BlogCatalog took a two-thirds ownership. Once this new IMHO platform generated revenue, Selena would be paid. Until that time, she agreed to donate her time, her talent, her vast list of contacts and her marketing expertise to get IMHO off the ground.

BlogCatalog fronted the cash to design, program, and launch the site, form the LLC, draft an operating agreement, and provide cash flow until the business could sustain itself.

Great so far. This is how a lot of startups are set up early on.

Ah, but then the plot turns.

After a very soft launch at SXSW, BlogCatalog noticeably withdrew their attention from the project. When Selena inquired, she was told that they were re-vamping their primary site and that IMHO was on the back burner.

Fair enough. Gotta put attention where the money is being made.

BUT, when Selena asked to take full ownership of IMHO (she had done ALL of the work) so that she could get it launched, things go ugly.

The long and the short of it is that BlogCatalog demanded all of Selena’s designs, resources and copyrights, asked her to delete her account and threatened her with legal action if she made any attempt to contact any members.

Oh and they began diverting members who had signed up for IMHO to another site.

No discussion. No open and honest communication.

And here is the kicker. This is how BlogCatalog publicly describes itself: “about humble opinions about humble companies. Companies that don’t say one thing and do another”.

Now, to  me, it is fine if there a particulars in an agreement that need to be worked out. Or if each side has interests that they want to protect when a parting of the ways comes to the table.

But when you are a company that is declaring itself to be different, to be about sharing opinions, about humility and about doing what you say you will do?

Wow.

Fortunately, Selena walked away from this crazy situation rather than duke it out (you can read her resignation letter here) And I applaud her for that

So here is one of the many lessons I am taking away from this (and I would like to thank BlogCatalog for giving me such an excellent teaching example). A company, or a person, can make their public mission statement say anything they want. And they can keep up the facade for a good long while. But at the end of the day: 1) they have to sleep at night and b) their true nature will be revealed.

For me? I’d rather just be who I am from the beginning. It’s just a whole lot easier.

What say you?

P.S. I am gong to shamelessly self-promote the 30 Days to Creating Irresistible Presence Blog Series now. Read more and sign up here: http://bit.ly/irresistiblepresence

When It All Happens At Once

June 25th, 2010

If one more thing happens this week, I may go screaming into the streets.

It’s been a JAM-PACKED week for me. Getting Creating Irresistible Presence off the ground, organizing the 30 Days to Irresistible Presence blog series, and some very big stuff happening on the personal front that I can’t share just yet.

It is all amazing stuff.

And it is all happening at the same time.

And I am afraid I am going to drop something very important. Or that I will fall down.

And don’t tell me I won’t, or it will be ok, or nothing will break. And to take a deep breath.

Cuz I know all that and I am still scared.  And overwhelmed. And uncertain.

But here is the one thing I am NOT: alone.

I have my tribe. I have my inner circle. I have my family. And they will see me through. They will hold certainty for me when I cannot.

And what I know beyond a shadow of a doubt is, this too shall pass.

So I am keeping my eye on the prize that is right in front of me. Doing the do’s I know to do.

And that will make all the difference.

We Have Lift Off on Creating Irresistible Presence

June 22nd, 2010

Here’s the link: http://www.irresistiblepresence.com!

What’s a Launch Day without Bonuses?!

To get this party started in a most UNMediocre way, I have TWO launch bonuses to offer for your consideration:

Bonus #1 – Everyone who registers for Creating Irresistible Presence Live in the first 24 hours (that means the deadline is Wednesday, June 23 at 1 pm EST) will receive a one-hour, one-on-one, personal pre-event prep coaching session with yours truly. We will preview some of the event material and design your personal event plan to make sure you get the very most from your Creating Irresistible Presence experience. Value: $250

Bonus #2 – Everyone who registers between now and Tuesday, June 29 will be invited to a special group coaching call a few weeks before the event. During this call, I will walk you through my secret formula for making the most of live events and show you how to prepare ahead of time so that you get exactly what you want from the event once you are on the ground.  Value: $150

Creating Experiences Is Where We Are Headed

June 15th, 2010

I am re-reading a book I found on my bookshelf during a recent clean out called The Experience Economy by B. Joseph Pine and James H. Gilmore  Though it was published in 1997 and much has changed since it’s writing, I believe the central thesis is incredibly valid in today’s market.

We are moving from a service-based economy to an experience-based economy.

This post isn’t a book review, so I’m not going to re-count all the nuggets of wisdom. You are smart people and can get the book yourselves. :-)

But, I have to say that this book has me thinking – a lot. (I know I know – dangerous right?!)

To give you an idea of what I mean by an experience-based economy, just think about everyone’s favorite coffee shop, Starbucks. Up until it’s arrival on the scene, coffee was mostly an afterthought and cost somewhere in the neighborhood of fifty cents a cup.

Ah – but Starbucks decided to sell coffee a whole different way – and charge an unheard of price for the end product.  And it worked record-breakingly well.

Why? Because they don’t sell coffee. They sell the entire Starbucks experience. And we willingly que up and part with our hard earned dollar so that a barista can prepare our decaf-no-whip-skinny latte while we listen to uber-hip music and say hey to all our friends.

They sell the experience of feeling COOL. And every second of our time inside a Starbucks is orchestrated to enhance that experience. Next time you pop in for your favorite caffeinated beverage, pay attention to every detail and you’ll see what I mean.

(Another company who intentionally designs their customer experience is Zappo’s. GREAT case study to pay attention to.)

So how does all this apply to me – the humble blogger/escape artist/business coach?

I’m still working all that out but I can tell you what I am chewing on long and hard: What kind of experience am I designing for my tribe? My clients? My “guests”?

See I know we all crave great experiences – even online. It’s why we love bloggers like Chris Guillebeau, and tweeters like @SummerTomato. After spending just a few minutes of virtual time with them, we know we’ve been transported somewhere else and witnessed something pretty cool.

The success of recent “flash” launches lasting just 24 hours I believe rests largely on the story we watch unfold before our eyes. There is drama, suspense, urgency, humor, crowd-participation, climax and resolution – all rolled into the sale of a product.

Who wouldn’t want to pay attention to that?!

So I’m still working it all out in my head, but here’s the one thing I know for sure: From the get-go I have to be clear and intentional about the experience I am designing for you. Not in a fake, manipulative kind of way, but in a “how can I make it amazing for you?” kind of way.

Stay tuned for more on all that.

What do you think about this whole idea of experience? Because without you, I am writing a play for an empty theatre. :-)

Delivering Happiness Is An Inside/Outside Job

June 11th, 2010

So I am one of the lucky bloggers who received an advanced copy of Tony Hseih’s book Delivering Happiness. I talked a bit about it and even gave away a copy here.

No doubt you’ve seen all of the amazing reviews out there. If you haven’t just take a peek at the book’s Amazon page. The glowing kudos are well deserved. It is truly an amazing book with a TON of practical application (that I plan to use my very self!).

And instead of adding my own run down of the incredible content you will find in it, I’ve decided to take a slightly different tack. I know I know. Now there’s a surprise.

What I learned from the book and from my tour of Zappos HQ last fall is that Delivering Happiness is an Inside/Outside Job. And Tony lives it every day.

Inside:

First, even before the idea of Zappos entered his head, Tony understood that he had to be happy on the inside with whatever he created in the world. Having is turn a profit came second. He had to “deliver happiness” to himself before he could deliver it to others.

Second, he had to “deliver happiness” to his team before they could deliver it to anyone else. Even amid a difficult season of layoffs, Tony rose to the challenge of transparent giving and sharing that carried everyone through to the other side.

Third, his team had to “deliver happiness” to each other before they could deliver it to customers. The internal support, community and joie de vivre that exists inside Zappo’s is unlike anything I have ever seen. It makes me want to quit what I do and answer customer service phone call for them. Seriously.

Bonus: Reading the chapter on Zappo’s Culture Book should be mandatory reading for all CEO’s. #justsayin

Outside:

First, his front line call center team is totally focused on creating an extraordinary customer service experience. Did you know that there is no time limit on how long a rep can stay on the phone with a customer? This completely bucks the norm of running a stopwatch on customer service calls. And reps are encouraged to write handwritten notes to people they talk to. Sometimes they even send flowers. Think that approach “delivers happiness” to the person spending the money?

Second, his vendor relations team treats prospective vendors like top clients. Zappos pays to ship in product they are considering and takes the time to set up an attractive display for the vendor’s presentation. I don’t know about you, but I don’t know of any other company who forms vendor relationships like that.

Third “If you just focus on making sure that your product or service continually WOWs people, eventually the press will find out about it..” Beats the heck out of traditional PR strategy, don’t you think?

Of course there is much much more to creating a Delivering Happiness kind of culture – but these are among my favorites.

If you want to begin your Inside/Outside job of Delivering Happiness, I highly recommend getting your mitts on the book, get a notebook and a pen so you can jot down notes and start taking happy action without delay.

Here’s where you can get yours: http://www.deliveringhappinessbook.com

Sometimes it doesn't go according to plan

June 8th, 2010

Actually, that should be the extent of my post because that is about where I am today.

It’s just not going according to plan – even with all the flex I built into the plan.

This use to freak me out (and truth be told, I freaked out just a bit over the past 24 hours). I used to pass judgment on myself and create never-ending nightmare scenarios in my head about how awful it was all going to turn out.

I don’t do that any more.

I do stress myself beyond the point of reason but fortunately there are people in my life who cut that pretty short. They won’t allow me to churn in my unreasonable thinking for very long. They are bright shiny spots in my life.

So now what do I do when it doesn’t go according to plan?

Well, first I say it out loud. “This is not going according to plan. And I won’t die because of it.”

Then I tell people who need to know that the plan needs modifying. Like I need to say to you, my tribe, that registration for my live event won’t open on Thursday because there are some key details that I am waiting for.

Then I let myself off the hook. Cuz, like I said, I won’t die and, as best I can tell, neither will anyone else.

And that’s where I am today.

Where are you?

Shama Hyder's Secret to Escaping Mediocrity in Business

June 4th, 2010

Lucky us! Shama Hyder, business whiz extraordinaire and author of The Zen of Social Media Marketing, shares her secret to standing up and standing out in the most mediocre world of business.

It’s AWESOME!

Sales Pages and What I am Learning About Them

June 2nd, 2010

ok- to continue our discussion about sales pages…….

I’ve been doing a TON of research on sales pages. Good ones, bad ones, elements that work, verbiage that sucks, etc.  And if I’ve learned anything, it is this:

Though we complain about sales pages, we do want someone to help us make a buying decision. And it isn’t so much the length of the sales page that makes or breaks that deal. It is what the page contains.

- Is it warm?
- Is it full of the same old bs?
- Does it respect and even love – the reader to an infinite degree?
- Does it have personality?
- Does it further the relationship (assuming there is a relationship in place?)
- Is it just a cookie cutter of lots of other sales pages?
- Is the information presented in a way that works for a variety of intake styles?
- Does it convert? (Because it can be an awesome looking/reading page but if it isn’t making sales, all it is is interesting reading.)

These are just some of the questions that have come up in the many discussions I’ve been having about sales pages.

I’ve also come across some that defy the odds and it get oh-so-right. For your learning pleasure, I will share them:

Well, the first one, I can’t show you because he took it down after his amazing 24 hours. BUT, I can show you Jonathan Field’s breakdown of Chris Guillebeau’s Empire Builder’s Kit Sales Page. You will learn a LOT: http://www.jonathanfields.com/blog/empire-building-kit-behind-the-launch/

ElizabethPW’s sales page for Build Your Tribe: http://elizabethpottsweinstein.com/buildyourtribe/

Catherine Caine’s Awesome Fear Wrangling course: http://www.beawesomeonline.com/awesome-courses/awesome-fear-wrangling

Pace and Kyeli Smith’s World-Changing Writing: http://worldchangingwriting.com/

Charlie Gilkey’s and Jonathan Meade’s Dojo Guide: http://thedojoguide.com/

None of these are sales pages for I am working on – a live event. Sadly most of these a still lame-o. But after the Ustream Tribe meeting last night (mark your calendar for Tuesday’s at 8:30 pm EST), I have some ideas. But chances are, it will LOOK like a sales page (I’m done trying to figure out how do something amazing and clever).

Will you like it? Will it speak to you? Will it convert?

That remains to be seen…..

Now, in your comments I would love to hear about what you think makes a sales page work and if you have examples, that would be great too.

Here’s to being awesome!

(P.S. My newest 30 Day Series will start on July 1. Sign up for 30 Days to Irresistible Presence here: http://bit.ly/irresistiblepresence