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8 posts from April 2012

Finding the right narrative #li

As we've all been rushing to add narrative to our marketing communication, we keep asking ourselves "What the story?" And we've been asking the wrong person.

Gapingvoid Daily Cartoon Email: Empowerment, 2012-Apr, by Hugh MacLeod

When someone is using your product, don't ask what stories are they telling about you; ask what stories they're telling about themselves, and how you product fits into it. You'll get a far more interesting answer.

Cultivating resilience in the face of uncertainty #li

Don Peppers has always been one of my role models, and I love this recent post in Fast Company magazine. I'm going to paraphrase his strategies because that's how I embed things in my brain... 

  1. Use tools that quickly show a range of possible outcomes.
  2. Accept the fact that you've got to be prepared for the range, not your favorite.
  3. Leverage the most predictable aspect of a situation.
  4. Use a decision-making process that you respect and that informs you, and then you won't have to agonize over a bad outcome. (It was a learning experience, right?)
  5. Be like a tennis player, according to my friend Peter Bishop, bouncing on your toes and ready to return the ball. (Sorry, Peter, if I slaughtered your metaphor). 
  6. Establish yourself as trustworthy, not perfect. 

Fast Company: 6 Strategies for dealing with uncertainty in business, 2012-Mar-13, by Don Peppers

I replied yes, but did he know how many other new businesses I had actually started or tried to get funding for, at one time or another? No? Six. “What happened to them?” he asked, trying to take this in. I failed every time, that’s what. A group legal services firm, an all-first-class airline, a fax-based media company, a real estate investment operation, a marketing consulting business...down in flames, each of them. But Martha’s and my business had succeeded... 

A Scientific approach to looking for customers #li

When I get frustrated about the difficulty of finding new customers, Rob May is a good person to help me get over it. Finding customers is one of the riskiest, most expensive, dangerous activities that a company undertakes. When someone tells you that you just have to keep your nose to the grindstone and meet more people--they are wrong. If you don't find the right place to meet those people, you will never have a sustainable marketing model. 

Coconut Headsets: Customer Validation, 2012-Feb-21 by Rob May

Remember that your goal as an entrepreneur is to deploy capital effectively, and one of the most effective ways to use capital is to de-risk the business. This means investing in areas that help you learn about the market. The riskiest part of your funnel is the top of funnel, because that is the part over which you have the least control. Let me say that again. Focus on top of funnel the most, because that is where you have the least control. Your customer acquisition options are largely external and dependent on market structure, thus they are out of your control. Your conversion rates once users hit your site are primarily internal and under your control.

Heading in a westerly direction #li

You don't have to be an entrepreneur to enjoy adventures. Although I enjoyed being an entrepreneur, it was not something that worked. I do enjoy being a member of a team, and that's working really well. So from here I'll be heading west. Generally.  090414p Frighteningly Ambitious Startup Ideas, 2012-Mar, by Paul Graham

I think the way to use these big ideas is not to try to identify a precise point in the future and then ask yourself how to get from here to there, like the popular image of a visionary. You'll be better off if you operate like Columbus and just head in a general westerly direction. Don't try to construct the future like a building, because your current blueprint is almost certainly mistaken. Start with something you know works, and when you expand, expand westward.

The popular image of the visionary is someone with a clear view of the future, but empirically it may be better to have a blurry one.

Feed your audience great story-telling pictures #li

More and more people are taking pictures. Myself, I'm taking thousands of pictures a year now. (Most of which are just clutter.) Every business should be harnessing the pictures that will help them better communicate their story. 

Chasnote: Publisher strategy and the Image Explosion, 2012-Mar-15, by Chas Edwards

How can images increase engagement among my existing audience?

Homework for the day: Make up a story to go with this picture.