Influence people

Sunday, May 1, 2016

Random Fandom

Random fandom—the trait philosopher Bertrand Russell quaintly labels "zest"—is the sign of the happy camper.

You can be a fan of almost anything—foods, wines, games, cameras, books, birds, rocks, plants, people, countries, cultures—and it will light your fire, Russell says in The Conquest of Happiness.

The more, the merrier.

"The more things a man is interested in, the more opportunities for happiness he has and the less he is at the mercy of fate, since if he loses one thing he can fall back upon another," Russell says.

"Life is too short to be interested in everything, but it is good to be interested in as many things as are necessary to fill our days."

Newspaperman George Allen said, "Have a variety of interests. These interests relax the mind and lessen tension on the nervous system. People with many interests live, not only longest, but happiest."

Should Your Brand Use Profanity?

Friday evening I had the long-delayed pleasure of seeing comedian Lewis Black perform live.

Black raises profanity to an art, using obscenities not to shock, but to amplify, and lessen the pain of living in an absurd world.

In their drive to express authentic passion, more and more brands are resorting to the use of profanity in their marketing communications.

Should you?

The answer's fairly straightforward: the reward—authenticity—may not be worth the risks. By using profanities:

  • You risk going off-brand. A frighteningly profane Lewis Black would be on brand; a frighteningly profane Martha Stewart wouldn't. You can, of course, test the waters, and apologize afterwards. As Mel Brooks once said, "I've been accused of vulgarity. I say that´s bullshit."
  • You risk offending good customers. The Bowdlers are still with us. Thomas and Henrietta Bowdler were English siblings who published a family-friendly edition of Shakespeare in 1807. We get the word bowdlerize from them (they replaced, for example, Lady Macbeth's cry "Out, damned spot!" with "Out, crimson spot!"). The Bowdlers of this world are easily offended. Just observe any young parent or elementary schoolteacher.
  • You risk losing shares. Even people who don’t mind profanity might not share your blue content with family, friends and colleagues. The research is clear on this.

Friday, April 29, 2016

Capturing Millennials

The American Society for Association Executives this week shuttered its decades-old "Springtime in the Park" and announced a new un-expo, "The Xperience Design Project."

The move typifies every event producer's urge to capture Millennials, who'll comprise half of all prospective attendees by 2020.

Like event producers, travel companies are "scrambling to capture the business and loyalty of this new breed," Jordan Forrest says in Forbes.

Forrest notes five ways Millennials differ from their predecessors:

They travel. Millennials average five business trips a year, compared to only two for older professionals. They're also more likely to extend a business trip into a vacation.

They tinker. Millennials "expect mobility and crave convenience," Forrest says. They're more likely to use apps to book business travel and streamline travel plans.

They splurge. Millennials have expensive tastes, "as long as they’re not the ones paying." They're more likely to spend company money on fine dining and room service than seasoned colleagues.

They freewheel. Millennials are far more likely than older colleagues to book trips and change travel plans at the last minute. In response, "many airlines and hotels have begun offering last-minute online travel deals targeted at digitally savvy Millennial travelers."

They grouse. Millennials trust online reviews and aren't shy about posting negative ones. "It’s no wonder that businesses are eager to meet Millennial demands," Forrest says.

Thursday, April 28, 2016

Should You Blog When You're Tiny?

You're never too tiny to blog, says blogger Lindsay Kolowich.

"Some of the most dramatic successes we've seen with blogging come from businesses in niche industries," she says.

Kolowich points to the success of tiny Conversant Bio.

The firm boosted leads seven times in 10 months by publishing six posts a month.

When it comes to blogging, the burning question isn't should, but how.

Conversant Bio found the secret to blogging success when it quit being a supplier and became a thought leader.

Instead of publishing hackneyed posts like "10 Benefits of a Tissue Sample for Research," the firm published posts about trends in cancer research.

The posts pulled prospects because they included keywords pharma researchers use when they Google—and not by accident.

Before writing any post, the firm learned the keywords prospects Google by asking cancer researchers. Its writers then created posts that included one or more keywords in the title, subheads, body and meta-tags.

Within 10 months of starting its blog, Conversant Bio saw visits swell to 34,000 a month (70% as a result of Google searches).

The firm turned readers into leads by offering them e-books based on the blog posts.

Conversant Bio's chief commercial officer anticipates a 14,500% ROI in the effort in three years.

Conference Planners: There's No Sin in Syndication

Last year, Hulu bought the streaming rights for all 180 episodes of Seinfeld.

The price tag: $1 million per episode.

The $180 million Hulu paid came on top of $3 billion in syndication fees that Seinfeld had already generated from other outlets.

While conference planners take pride in staging profitable "first-run" events, unlike the creators of Seinfeld, most turn their backs on the profits to be made from "re-runs."

That's a pity, says Mark Gross in MarketingProfs.

"Your organization is building a valuable repository of content waiting to be deployed in new ways for new audiences," Gross says. 

"Commercial event producers, corporate conference organizers and professional associations can all benefit from reusing conference content."

With all the affordable technology out there, repurposing conference content should be a no-brainer.

But conference planners in the main still see repurposing as virtual "double-dipping."

Something odious and "not for us."

Gross urges planners no longer to think of conference content as perishable, but instead think of it as a marketing asset.

"Approach this content like you would any other marketing asset and use it at every stage of your marketing strategy," he says.

Re-purposing your conference content can open "a world of possibilities," Gross says.

A few include:
  • Marketing packaged proceedings to non-attendees.
  • Reusing visuals from technical presentations in online tutorials for newcomers to the field.
  • Delivering "gamified" online training modules to team members of attendees' organizations who do not attend the conference.
  • Offering an e-book compiled from transcripts of the keynotes to promote a future conference.
  • Offering an e-book that collects the best presentations from the same field to create inroads into niche markets.
  • Publishing a series of blog posts based on the abstracts from a set of related technical papers, to spotlight an industry issue or trend.
Repurposing conference content not only extends the shelf-life of your event, but opens new doors to increased revenue, brand loyalty and market share.

Tuesday, April 26, 2016

5 Sure-Fire Steps to Thought Leadership

Master marketer Edward Segal contributed today's post. Edward helps corporations and organizations generate publicity about their activities and shows leaders, staff and members how to deliver effective presentations.

What would you rather be: a chief or just another member of the tribe? A trail blazer or trail follower? Someone who helps determine and influence the conversation or a worker bee that waits for others to establish the agenda? 

If you’d prefer to help set the pace instead of simply run the race, then the chances are you would like to be a thought leader. Here’s how to do it: 

Be an expert
  • Select topics or issues about which you have knowledge.
  • Have or develop a track record of writing or speaking about your topics or issues to groups and organizations in the industries or professions in which you want to be considered a thought leader.
  • Stay ahead of the curve by thinking about your field beyond today and sharing predictions or forecasts that illustrate your authority in the field.
Be a joiner
  • Join or lead groups and organizations that are more likely to help establish your role as a thought leader.
  • Volunteer to serve on committees or task forces that can bolster your expertise and add to your credentials as an authority.
Be visible
  • Identify, create and take advantage of appropriate opportunities for you to be seen as an expert or authority, including speeches, presentations, and media, blog, and podcast interviews.
  • Post on your website or social media platforms links to articles, interviews, speeches, etc. that you have done about your areas of specialty.
  • Practice your ability to prepare and deliver short, pithy and memorable quotes that will be used by journalists and bloggers in their stories about or interviews with you.
Be a student
  • Keep current on the trends and developments in the areas in which you are or want to be considered an authority.
  • Study other thought leaders inside and outside your industry or profession. What can you learn from their successes that you can apply to your own efforts to become or stay a thought leader? 
Be persistent
  • Identify or create new opportunities to position yourself as an authority and expert.
  • Maintain a blog to which you post on a regular basis, and install a widget so that people can be notified about each new post.
  • Reinforce your role as a thought leader in ways that you have not done before, such as writing a book, starting a blog, becoming a public speaker, or proactively seeking media interviews and speaking opportunities.
  • Set monthly, quarterly or annual goals and milestones of important activities and accomplishments that can help you become and remain a thought leader.
Becoming a thought leader can be a self-fulfilling prophecy. The more you act like you are a thought leader, the more likely it is you will become one.

Monday, April 25, 2016

2 Monkeys Wrote 50 Headlines: See Which Worked Best

When it comes to novel ideas, less isn't more, Adam Grant says in Originals.

"Many people fail to achieve originality because they generate a few ideas and then obsess about refining them to perfection," Grant says.

But originality take tonnage.

"Quantity is the most predictable path to quality," Grants says.

He cites the case of two copywriters employed by Upwworthy.

Each wrote headlines for a video depicting monkeys receiving food as a reward.

Some were good. One was gold.

The headline "Remember Planet of the Apes? It's Closer than Your Think," for example, drew 8,000 viewers.

The headline "2 Monkeys Were Paid Unequally: See What Happens Next" drew 500,000.

Upworthy in fact has a house rule: You must write 25 headlines.

You need to unearth tons of debris to discover a diamond.

"It's only after we've ruled out the obvious that we have the greatest freedom to consider the more remote possibilities," Grant says.

The first twenty-five headlines may be lousy, but the twenty-fifth "will be a gift from the headline gods."
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