Living in trouble

Practice, practice, practice

Sigh. I'm addicted to learning and not to practicing. It's really biting me now. Stop Thinking and Start Doing: The Power of Practicing More, 2015-March

We assume that if we knew about a better strategy, then we would get better results. We believe that a new result requires new knowledge.

What I’m starting to realize, however, is that new knowledge does not necessarily drive new results. In fact, learning something new can actually be a waste of time if your goal is to make progress and not simply gain additional knowledge.

It all comes down to the difference between learning and practicing.

When do we get to print the marketing?

For most of us marketers, printing has become a luxury. We don't avoid printing because we think people don't enjoy it (when done properly). We don't avoid it because it isn't profitable (when done properly). We avoid it because it requires a capital outlay and a risky expense that we can avoid by putting our message out digitally.  Tq-120807-dm

NY Times: Catalogs, After Years of Decline, Are Revamped for Changing Times, 2015-Jan-25 by Rebecca R. Ruiz

Some of their catalog forays, however, barely resemble the traditional merchandise book. These days, retailers are employing devices like adventure tales and photo spreads of wildlife to catch a shopper’s eye, hoping to secure purchases online or in a store.

Luring a specific customer base seems to be part of the strategy underlying J. C. Penney’s surprise announcement this month that it would revive a home goods catalog in March, three years after the struggling company discontinued all such mailings. Its new version will focus not on recruiting new customers but on reaching existing ones, according to a spokeswoman. Whether the company will resume a regular schedule for sending out seasonal or general merchandise catalogs remains unclear. ... 

With “so much clutter and information overload,” said Rohit Deshpande, a professor of marketing at Harvard Business School, “just getting attention is the hardest thing to do right now for brands. It’s conceivable that trying catalogs again is a way to do it.”

Mr. Deshpande said research showed that frequency helped consumers process marketing messages, but some studies suggested diminishing returns after three advertisements.

“The issue has always been: What do we have to do in order to get mind-share and not bore people?” Mr. Deshpande said. “Or, worse, turn them off?”

Why we need to understand what's driving growth of CRM software

The pressure for all organizations to adopt CRM software is not going away because our customers derive substantial benefits. Once they've worked with a firm that uses CRM data appropriately, they enjoy receiving more relevant updates, knowing that everyone at their supplier can understand their status, and being able to specify how they will be contacted. CRM software is an vital lever for improving customer experience and competing effectively for today's savvy consumers. And it can be used to drive down operating costs. It's never going away. 

Econsultancy: Seven reasons for the unstoppable rise of CRM, 2014-Nov-4 by Ben Davis

  1. A new set of customer expectations
  2. Mobile has dramatically changed data
  3. Business leaders work closer with IT leaders
  4. International markets
  5. Security and the cloud
  6. Working habits
  7. Automation and machine learning is here

Turning my Kindle off, and watching Amazon follow Walmart into the pits

I have been reading every long, deeply-researched article about Amazon recently, trying to find some renewed respect for them, with no luck. Turning off my Kindle, spending more on cat food, wondering what I left behind on my wish list... all these actions have been wrenching for me.  Tq140416td

My loyalty to Amazon was based on the amazing convenience they supplied. I have worried that their prices are "too low" to be healthy. Now there's evidence piling up that they are willing to exploit everyone else to maintain their control of the market. 

Sam Walton was a great guy with a vision to benefit society. Then his idea was high-jacked by a bunch of greedy people. Jeff Bezos, on the other hand, just seems to be on some kind of sick power trip. 

Low prices are not infinitely good. Long-lasting loyalty is based on transactions that benefit every side. 

Flavorwire: Amazon Publishing Goes American Idol After Terrible Week, 2014-Oct-3 by Jonathon Sturgeon

This is calculating, technology-driven corporatism that should, honestly, surprise no one. On this note, too, maybe it’s time for literary publishing to ask itself whether Amazon is actually evil or just indifferent to authors, editors, agents, and readers. (It’s customers, silly.) And if Big Publishing wants to compete with Amazon — although it really can’t, considering that Amazon dwarfs them all — maybe it should do so by finding new, pro-editorial platforms that humanize the publishing process.

Make sure your relationships are not based on transactions

Wonderful interview with Troy Carter about all the different views and habits he has that allows him to survive big career setbacks... Well, he doesn't view them as setbacks, and that's one of his secrets. 

Fast Company: Troy Carter's Hard-Won Tips for Handling Career Road Bumps, 2014-Oct-30

Luckily for Carter, his relationships were built on "years of nurturing" and saw him through his biggest career setback. "I got a lot of phone calls that gave me confidence that things were going to be all right. People took my phone calls."

These days, networking IS sales... agree?

At a recent workshop, Doug Bain of Growtheorem, a consultancy in sales management, stated that as far as he could see, getting in front of a prospect at a big company requires either (1) a personal introduction from someone the prospect already trusts, or (2) a major initiative in industry-leading content: articles in major publications, popular books or blogs which cause the prospect to contact us. Cold calling, trade shows, direct mail:  all kaput. 

The contemporary business scene has so many contact spigots wide open that we are all overwhelmed with people trying to do business with us. Hardly anyone wants to connect to someone who hasn't already been vetted either by the media or by a colleague. 

HBR Blogs: The Freelance Economy Still Runs on Word of Mouth, 2014-Oct-9 by Justin Fox

When we interviewed people, what they told us was, “Well, networking is sales now. It used to be different, but …”

Even when you’re talking about moving to these online systems like Elance-oDesk, your reputation becomes so important, and your reputation is a function of your network. And I have to add when I started in tech, networks weren’t that important. If you had a good idea, you could get a hearing, and you could get funded, and you could build a business. Quite honestly today if you don’t have access to a network that gets you introduced, you can be brilliant and get nowhere.

Why would that be more so?

It’s just gotten so much bigger. There’s so much going on, and at this point there are key gatekeepers and key people that you need to get to. The industry used to be a lot smaller, and you could meet people at shows, or you could just cold call them and they’d answer the phone, and that stuff just doesn’t happen anymore.

Using blogging to think for more than ten years

Although I've been blogging for over 10 years (exactly 10 years on the Typepad platform), I've never figured out how to get much traffic. Traffic for the things I care about, that is. Yet my commitment hasn't wavered. Blogging works for me. I like seeing my thoughts recorded here.

Now I'm trying to get in the habit of blogging every day. And one point that Anil Dash makes, really resonates. "Always write for the moment you're in." I'm at a big transition point these days, trying to form new habits. Instead of planning the topics my customers care about, I see that I need to use the topics I care about. My tastes may be rarified, but the only way I can make my concerns more well-known is to speak about them in the passion of the moment. 15 Lessons from 15 Years of Blogging, 2014-Sep-25 by Anil Dash

The personal blog is an important, under-respected art form. While blogs as a medium are basically just the default format for sharing timely information or doing simple publishing online, the personal blog is every bit as important an expressive medium as the novel or the zine or any visual arts medium. As a culture, we don't afford them the same respect, but it's an art form that has meant as much to me, and revealed as many truths to me, as the films I have seen and the books I have read, and I'm so thankful for that.... 

One sure way to trigger writer's block when blogging is to think, "I have to capture all my thoughts on this idea and write it about it definitively once and for all." If you assume that folks are smart and curious and will return, you can work around the edges of an idea over days and weeks and months and really come to understand it. It's this process that blogging does better than pretty much any other medium, and it's sharing that process with you that's been the greatest privilege of writing here for the last decade and a half.