Communicating one-to-few-to-many

A great email subject line is valuable, but targeting your message to the interests and preferences of your audience is even more important. If you can get someone who trusts and supports you to forward a message, that's worth more than a list. 

Quora: What is a good way to start promoting a church or business? 2019-Dec-4 by Paul O'Brien of MediaTech Ventures

Where once, a message sent was likely received by all (or at least most), now the two way relationship between communicator and receiver has changed; with the receiver being empowered to decide HOW and WHEN they receive. The communicator must participate on the receivers’ terms if they hope to be heard.... 

We used to live in a world where that 1 email, that one meeting, that one office flyer, or that one letter mailed, would reach and communicate with everyone. If I can impart upon you ONE lesson only, it’s that that no longer works.

Trickle down your communication to distinct groups, who can further and more effectively communicate what matters within their audience....

Where one-to-many... and newsletters fall short, is that they think in terms of the quality of the email exchange or the performance of an email sent. That is, they’re optimized for reception and engagement....

In organizational communication, our key metric isn’t an open or conversion rate, it’s KNOWING our “clients” and serving them meaningful communications.

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Two art guys from Houston: Robert Boyd and Michael Galbreth

One of my favorite Houston bloggers is Robert Boyd. The recent surprising death of Houston art icon Michael Galbreth hit him pretty hard but stimulated a couple of amazing posts on his blog "The Great God Pan Is Dead." 

Michael Galbreth was one-half of the internationally famous "Art Guys" who introduced thousands of Houstonians to performance art, and caused us to question the conventional way of life: drive around, consume a lot of things, take your friends for granted, etc. Jack Massing is the other Art Guy. 

The Great God Pan Is Dead: Tod and Verklarung, 2019-Oct-25 by Robert Boyd

I hope that someone organizes a memorial exhibit of Michael Galbreth's work. Because so much of it was in the form of performance, such an exhibit would necessarily contain a lot of video and other documentation.

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Recognition and loyalty

In the future, I want to commit to making this blog more and more about dispensing loyalty and recognition to others.

Zabar's delicatessen represents so much of what I love about New York. It's a symbol more than a store. It turns out the most recent heir (of many) to this family business is also a Columbia Business School student. I feel even more connected to this company. 

Read more here

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Watching the Charming Charlie comeback

Charming Charlie is reviving. Social media has been activated. The new store locations have been announced. A new web site collects together all the positive press that founder Charlie Chanaratsopon has had in the past, but the e-commerce web site is not available yet. The projected launch date for both physical retail and online sales is early 2020. 

A few months ago, Chanaratsopon did an interview with the Houston Chronicle after he was approved to buy the intellectual property and customer database at the bankruptcy auction. He stated that online sales will be more important, and physical storefronts will be fewer and half the size of the old ones. They may also create 'pop-up,' or temporary stores. 

Chanaratsopon is banking on customer loyalty and data to drive the reboot. 

Houston Chronicle: Founder plans to resurrect Charming Charlie after trademark sale, 2019-Sep-16 by Paul Takahashi

“Charming Charlie has over 10 million passionate and brand-loyal customers,” Chanaratsopon said. “In this age of retail, we still see an opportunity for the brand to thrive in the online ecosystem.”

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How to be a better consultant

I've decided to spend more time concentrating on newsletter and trying to find consulting gigs in the newsletter arena. So I'm trying to find role models, and Tom Critchlow has an amazing approach. 

The Strategic Independent: Yes! and... 2019-Nov-18 by Tom Critchlow

Who’s been in a meeting and been disgusted with people spouting things that are half-true, made-up or masks over the real truth?

There’s a fine line between reacting to a situation in the room and bullshitting.

As a consultant this is especially hard to avoid. Your default mode of operating is the liminal space between industries, businesses and markets. A few times a year I’m forced to learn something new from scratch. This forces us to work in spaces where we’re often the least knowledgeable about a specific business (even if we are experts in the industry… And sometimes we’re experts at a discipline but neither knowledgeable about the business or the industry).

So here’s a little guide to avoiding bullshit:

  • Immerse yourself in the core business mechanics, you should be able to draw a diagram explaining the core business revenue & profit function reasonably well. The more abstraction here the more you risk a fundamental mis-understanding and straying into BS.

  • Become a language chameleon - study and adopt the language, acronyms and buzzwords of the client’s business. If they call it “earned marketing” you should too. If their CMS is called PinkCloud you call it that too. Specificity allows you to avoid confusion and helps you distinguish between the client’s CMS and the market’s CMS (for example).

  • Speak clearly and within your limits. Ask for clarification on points that don’t seem to make sense. No pretending. Don’t adopt the language too quickly! (ha, see how hard this is?)

  • Ask stupid questions. Ask questions about company history, about alternative approaches, about failed previous ideas. Just because people at the client choose not to talk about obvious things doesn’t mean you shouldn’t.

  • Defend your ideas but not your points. Be willing to defend your ideas even if some data points get challenged. It’s very common that the number or stat you’re using to support your point will be wrong but that the broader idea still holds. Don’t concede the idea but also don’t try and put muscle behind the numbers - accept they’re wrong but keep pressing on the idea to see where you get.

  • When you get challenged pull out some counter-factuals - when someone is claiming that your data is wrong challenge them with proving the opposite.

  • Keep your eye on the prize for business outcomes, not intellectual debates. Executives are fond of theorizing and debating ideas that stray into the get into the abstract - you can play this game a little but try to be the one to ground conversations in reality.

  • Read widely - analogy is the core of cognition. Don’t be afraid to source things from different industries. This is the kind of cross-industry vantage point that clients find hard to get internally.

These are all ways to avoid bullshitting - but unfortunately there’s one simple way to avoid bullshit - by being critical.

It’s far easier to retreat to the critical, negative position and say why things won’t or can’t work. Except… this is a mistake.

Being positive and optimistic is far harder but more effective. 

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