Category Archives: Business

We’re Moving:

I guess I’m all grownsed up.

I’ve moved Brett’s Blog over to a new location, So, for those of you that visit regularly, I encourage you to subscribe to the posts at this location and don’t worry about those here at much longer. This also accounts for my recent lack of posting, which I offer all apologies for.

For those of you scoring at home, I’m moving from a blog platform to a platform.

I can’t say I’m over-the-top crazy about the way MarketingInProgress is currently looking, but I’m also no designer. Be patient, as I’m sure there will be many changes to the site in the coming months.

Still, here’s what you’ll get – the same great marketing rants and obversvations with a twist for small business. Just now, it will be a little bit more professional with more robust features.

So, do this –

  1. Go here.
  2. Hit the orange “subscribe” link.
  3. Tell all your friends.
  4. Tell me what you think of the blog.

In the meantime, I’ll keep this site going for about another month or so, simply copying the posts from here. So don’t linger – change your feed settings, etc. And, thanks for checking it out.

Making It Harder

Spike Jones clarifies an often timidly believed principle in marketing: to get someone to want what you’ve got, it helps to make them think they might not get it. It creates a sense of urgency.

In his post, Spike has this to say about barriers of entry:

Barriers bring with them a sense of exclusivity. Everyone wants in the party that hardly anyone gets into. I’m not saying this is right for all social networks, but before you throw open the doors to the entire world, why not invite those true kindred spirits – those biggest fans – to the party first. Hell, let them be the gatekeepers even. And then watch how the barriers can become assets.

In reading through this, I started thinking through random situations where this works. Please add your own ideas in the comments:

  1. Traffic going in and out of a sports arena or concert.
  2. The ride with the longest line at the fair.
  3. Blogging consistently for more than a year (or more) before the studs of the blogosphere acknowledge you as legit.
  4. Sam’s Club and Costco – becoming a member before you can take advantage of their discounts.
  5. Waiting a little longer for the sou flee to cook at a top restaurant.
  6. A doctor who’s first opening for an appointment is in 5 weeks.
  7. The Red Sox having to pay $51 mil. just to make an offer to Daisuke Matsuzaka.
  8. Waiting 3 months for your Nintendo Wii to arrive.
  9. Paying high annual fees to the home owner’s association of your ritzy neighborhood.
  10. Getting asked to a friend’s poker game.

Making it harder sometimes makes it better.

The Fallacy in Writing Your Own Job Description

There seems to be a disturbing trend in today’s workforce. Too many supervisors are asking their employees to write their own job description.

This is stupid, and speaks volumes about the management (basically, that it sucks).

A job description should be written to fill a need of the business. It’s purpose is not to communicate what an employee can do, wants to do, should do or hopes to do, but rather what the employee filling that position must do to fill the need designated by the business.

Therefore, if a manager asks you to make up your own job description, they’re basically telling you they don’t know what the business needs, and they don’t know what you’re doing there.

Unfortunately, too many managers are asking their employees to fill in the blanks and make up their job description. Often after they’ve been working in a certain position for quite some time (who knows what they’ve been doing up to this point). The manager may see it as an opportunity for feedback, or empowerment, or input, but it’s really just a result of either laziness or cluelessness, both of which are deadly.

If you’re a manager, know what you want. Write the job description, then find someone to fill it. Never ask someone to fill in the blanks when it comes to what you, and the business, expect them to be doing.

The Most Dramatic Rose Ceremony Yet?

Rose Ceremony on The BachelorYes, I watch The Bachelor. That’s not the point here . . .

The point is that every single teaser before the last segment of The Bachelor is concluded with, “Coming up, the most dramatic rose ceremony yet.”

This has been going on for about six years. It rarely lives up to the billing, and now it’s a joke.

The real point is that you need to be realistic with what you communicate. If it’s really the best and most ever, then say it. If it’s not, don’t. Like the little boy crying wolf, promising “the most exciting product extension since the iPod Nano” will get old and wreak of distrust. You’ll become a joke.

No Value

I haven’t written a post in almost a week, which is fairly rare for me. The fact is, I haven’t really had anything worth saying, or an urge to say it. I’ve got nothing to bring to the table. And for once, I think it’s better to say nothing than to say anything.

I am offering no value to you, the reader.

Don’t get me wrong: I don’t always abide by these rules. I confess, I’ve occassionally posted some real crap over the past year just so I could just have something new up on Brett’s Blog. But I knew it was crap, and I bet you did, too. Sorry about that.

I’m hoping to provide value from here on out. Whether it’s a rant, an observation, a link to something else valuable, a stat, a question or a service, my goal is that each post has value. Obviously, you might not agree with me on what is and isn’t valuable, and we can figure that out along the way. But I have to at least personally think it’s valuable before it can be any value to you.

The principle obviously isn’t limited to blogging. Does your new product add value, or do you just need to launch something? Is your email newsletter adding value, or do you just need to get it out there cuz that’s what you do once a month? Is your time with your kids valuable to them (and you), or are you just clocking in so you feel better about yourself?

The point: Figure out how you can add value, find new ways of doing on a regular basis, and if it’s not valuable, don’t do it.

Ron Paul: Can He Digg Out of This Hole?

Jason Tanz wrote an excellent column in this month’s Wired magazine summarizing the great job the Ron Paul campaign is doing leveraging social media to raise money, and, more important, votes. In his words . . . .,

All that buzz might be easy to dismiss but for the fact that Paul — unlike mostRon Paul other Web 2.0 phenoms — has managed to convert eyeballs into dollars. On Guy Fawkes Day, he set a record for one-day fundraising by a Republican, pulling in $4.2 million in online contributions. He outdid himself just six weeks later, tapping the Internet for more than $6 million in a single day.

The Ron Paul candidacy is a lot like the first wave of Facebook apps: thrilling as a notion, disappointing as content.

Tanz captures an idea that’s as relevant to marketing and business as it is to politics. Flawless execution of marketing tactics is hugely important. Leveraging new communication tools is hugely important. Raising venture capital is hugely important. But if the product itself fails to deliver, fails to be remarkable, then everything else can only take you so far.

I’m not completely anti-Paul; I think some of his ideas are really good, and I think it would be wise for the next President to give him a cabinet position for both his support and the support of his supporters. My problem with him, similar to Tanz’, is he just doesn’t seem presidential, and some of his ideas are simply too far out there to be practical.

The lesson? Buzz is crucial, fans/evangelists are a product’s lifeblood, but if what you’re selling has issues, it will catch up to you.

Web Views and Traffic Mean Nothing

Just because something is easy to measure doesn’t make it the most important thing to measure.

Both Ron and Fleet Street PR have interesting rants on the overreaction to views of viral video campaigns, questioning if the views really mean that much. And if they don’t, what does?

Here’s my take: Views mean something only in that they are a prerequisite to what you’re really wanting. That might seem like an overly simple statement, but it’s true. It’s a step in the right direction, but in and of itself, views and traffic mean nothing.

Exposure can only expose. It’s what’s revealed thereafter that prompts a response.

The thing to measure is what people do with that view. Do they click for more info? Do they make a purchase? Do they email it on to friends? Do they post it on a blog? Do the people they share it with seem like likely candidates to purchase? Do they leave a comment proclaiming how much they disliked it? Do they watch the whole video, or do they close it down 7 seconds into it?
All of that is a lot harder and more tedious to track than views. That’s probably why it doesn’t happen much. But it’s not impossible. Drill down into your analytics and see what you can figure out.

More importantly, figure out what really determines success to begin with. Popularity meant something in high school; it means a lot less in business. What’s going to actually make a difference for your business? Referrals? Purchases? Comments? Then measure that. Too often, those involved don’t remember what it is that matters; they just start making a big deal out of what is happening (like high traffic) and start talking up its importance. Bad move.

Quality will always outperform quantity. Always. Which means you’ve got a lot more to measure than traffic. Start asking if it’s the right traffic. Then ask if you’re getting the right reactions. And when you’re not, do something about it other than just getting more traffic.

Organically Grown Business

It’s amazing how well stories and analogies teach us. Maybe that’s why Jesus often spoke in parables.

This gem of a post on Start Up Blog relates growing vegetables to growing a business. The similarities are astounding. A few morsels:

The market is a competitive one. We’ll need to fight off bugs, birds and insects, who want to feed on our efforts. This proves you’ve got a fertile market… one worth doing, one with yield.

We’ll learn that all vegetables are seasonal. We’ll learn that not all climates (markets) suit all vegetables. We’ll realize we get better results when we focus on a veggie we have expert knowledge with.

The effort need not be excessive, just consistent. We can grow an entire garden, or even a pumpkin in a pot will give the same benefit.

Related posts on Brett’s Blog:

What the NFL Network and the iPhone Have in Common

NFL Network AdThe NFL Network and Apple both have one thing in common: they’re screwing their potential customers.

For the NFL Network, they’re only allowing their channel to be on the DISH Network, which most of us don’t have, and therefore most of us can’t watch this week’s Redskins/Bears game, or last week’s Cowboys/Packers game, or possibly the most historical game in NFL history when the Patriots take on the Giants on the last Thursday of the regular season to see if they can go 16-0.

Even though I had to hear Jerry Jones lobby for signing up for the DISH before his Cowboys took the field last Thursday, I have to think this kind of doing business is pissing more people off than it is generating new DISH customers. More importantly, it’s giving us all a sour taste of the NFL network and its new commissioner, turning them from possibly the last sports league that actually cares about its fans into the profit-hungry conglomerate that makes self-centered deals like this.

Then there’s Apple and its iPhone, sacking up with AT&T (at the time Cingular) as the only carrier of service for the new phone. Forget the fact that Apple’s discounting and apologies have taken a huge hit in the public the last few months. The fact that I’d have to possibly change carriers between now and 2011 just to get a cool phone is nothing shy of stupid. Pre-launch, Apple was on the verge of exploding. Why do they enforce these kinds of self-inflicted limiters when they didn’t need it?

In short, it’s cuz of money. More specifically, it’s cuz of money from someone other than their customers.

It’s always tempting to chase money from third-party services because you assume your loyal fans will do just about anything you ask them to. I’ve been a part of such schemes before. I’ve been in favor of them, in fact.

But they don’t work.

The simple principle is that your business should succeed because you’re offering more to your customers. Not by limiting them. Not by offering their loyalty to other “partner” companies. This is where the NFL and the iPhone is falling short, and they’ll keep falling until they change it.

2 Ways to React to Something New

The SmoothSpan Blog has a pretty interesting post here that seems to capture the two typical reactions to the web and all that entails in today’s business:

Reaction #1 = Scrutinize and critique according to your way of doing business.

Reaction #2 = Analyze it and explore it and wonder how it will affect the way we all do business.

I think the days of execs not accepting the web are far behind us, but as this post explains, they rarely understand what it is they’re accepting when they do. Yes, it’s very important to hold to your core principles and areas of expertise in the midst of change and growth, but it’s also important to make sure that the customers you’re looking for can easily look for you.