Influence people

Tuesday, October 17, 2017

Sponsors Want Spillover

Rigid thinking causes most trade show organizers to continue peddling sponsorships like they were ads, when today's sponsors want something much more valuable.

Sponsors want spillover.

Spillover results when attendees transfer their good feelings about an event to its sponsors―an effect no ad can produce.

While today's marketers believe awareness―the outcome of advertising―is hard to measure and cost-justify, they don't feel that way about engagement―the outcome of sponsorship.

Today's marketers will sponsor an event to engage people within communities; to build relationships and demonstrate market leadership, customer care, and social responsibility. 

They'll even do it merely to block a competitor from doing it.

But they won't sponsor an event for awareness.

Monday, October 16, 2017

Can You Overpost?

Is it possible to post on social media too often?

The answer is: yes, if your content screams, "Buy from me" (a single post like that is one too many); no, otherwise.

Remember: only a fraction of a fraction of a fraction of your audience ever sees your posts.

Sunday, October 15, 2017

How to Ignite More Attendees

That's seven times the dwell time—a duration likely to rise soon with the increase in ad-blocking in the coming months.

So how can you use influencer marketing to promote your event? 

Experiential agency Legacy Marketing suggests these 10 ways:

Find the right influencers. To find thought leaders in your category, surf on social platforms using hashtags and trending topics relevant to your event.

Set reasonable expectations. Understand both the positives and negatives of the influencer's preferred social network when you establish goals.

Chill out. Let influencers do what they do. You can mention guardrails they should keep within, but don't dictate their posts.

Build a relationship. Don't treat the influencer like another vendor. Make her part of your family.

Strive for quality. Quality trumps quantity. You're better served finding an avid "micro-influencer" with 1,000 followers than a haughty generalist with 1 million.

Run contests. Engage the influencer in helping you promote contests.

Minimize brand-speak. Give the influencer talking points, but let her do the talking.

Track. Ask the influencer to use tracking tags when possible, so you can measure her efforts. Be sure she also includes a link to your website!

Be patient. Influencer marketing takes time.

Be authentic. Influencer marketing works because it’s a way to leverage a trusted voice. Don’t compromise that trust by inserting marketing messages where they're not welcome.

Saturday, October 14, 2017

Magic Beans

Nobody can "soldier" without coffee.

― Ebenezer Nelson Gilpin

Coffee fuels every worthwhile enterprise. It has for 500 years.

Voltaire drank 50 cups a day, despite his doctor's warnings. So did Balzac, who once said, "Were it not for coffee one could not write, which is to say one could not live.”

Kant, like clockwork, drank a cup after dinner every evening. L. Frank Baum drank five, every morning, loading each with cream and sugar. Kierkegaard preferred to add only sugar to his―30 cubes per cup.

Bach, Bacon, Franklin, Johnson, Proust, Mahler, Sartre and Camus guzzled coffee all day long. Bach wrote an opera about coffee-drinking. Franklin marketed his own line of beans.

Beethoven drank coffee as his breakfast, brewing it himself. His recipe called for 60 beans per cup, which he'd count out by hand meticulously.

Teddy Roosevelt drank a gallon of coffee a day, sweetened with a new invention, saccharine. His 
son said TR's favorite mug was “more in the nature of a bathtub” than a cup.

Gertrude Stein adored coffee nearly as much; she called it a "happening." Patti Smith reports in her memoir she can drink 14 cups with no effect on her sleep. And Margaret Atwood so loves coffee she has her own brand.

Cartoonist Flash Rosenberg understands coffee's pivotal role better than anyone: “I believe humans get a lot done, not because we’re smart, but because we have thumbs so we can make coffee."

Friday, October 13, 2017


If you want to keep a secret, you must also hide it from yourself.

― George Orwell

While Facebook is nation's leading source of news and largest recipient of display-ad dollars, its COO, Sheryl Sandberg, insists it's not a media company.

“At our heart we're a tech company; we hire engineers," she told Axios. “We don’t hire reporters, no one’s a journalist, we don’t cover the news."

As Wired rejoined, "Facebook does not want to be viewed as a media company, which would bring a responsibility to the truth and potential accusations of bias.

"Admitting Facebook is a media company would require Facebook to take responsibility for its role in the spread of fake news, propaganda, and illegal Russian meddling in the US election."

War is peace. Freedom is slavery. Ignorance is strength. Facebook is a tech company.

Thursday, October 12, 2017

Perfect Genes

After weaklings like Lincoln, Wilson, FDR, JFK, and Reagan, I'm delighted we at last have a man in the White House with "perfect genes."

Trump and his men are pleased to point that out; and the few who are not are quick to remind us the president is a bit underschooled in history, so all should be forgiven.

The rest of us hear Trump's claim and eye our bank balances, to make sure there's enough to get us to Canada or Belize or you name it.

That's because we know the eugenicist's self-assurance isn't harmless snobbery, but hate.

It wasn't long ago (1899 in the example above) Irish immigrants were depicted in newspaper cartoons as apes, and slighted nearly as much as the brothers.

That vitriol is easy to forget, when you're not the target.

Me, I'm triggered when I walk through the cereal aisle and spot a box of Lucky Charms.

Wednesday, October 11, 2017

Stating the Obvious

John Hall's new book, Top of Mind: Use Content to Unleash Your Influence and Engage Those Who Matter To You, is getting rave notices.
There's a reason.

The author, CEO of a PR firm, has caught the wave we call influencer marketing, which he describes as a "content utopia" where your marketing messages are published and shared routinely by industry leaders.

This "top-of-mind strategy" can leapfrog your organization "from no online presence to industry domination," Hall claims.

And I'm sure the claim is true. But, for my money, Hall's book is a bust.

He spends most of the 180 pages of Top of Mind stating the obvious. Crack open the book and you'll find a lifetime supply of kindergarten lessons like these:

  • "Listen to your target audience; engage and communicate with them in ways they find helpful and meaningful; and repeat."
  • "Storytelling and sharing knowledge is a big part of our humanity, and we wouldn't be where we are today without it."
  • "Giving someone a gift is a nice way to establish a personal connection."
  • "The more personalized you can make your audience's experience, the more special and valued you will help them feel."
  • "To generate trust, you need to create a relationship; for that to happen, you need to open up lines of communication that are honest, meaningful, and authentic."
The greater source of disappointment stems from Hall's goal: it isn't to show you how to leverage industry influencers, but to become one yourself.

That's simply not something most marketers need, want, or are able to do.

Most, I think, are wondering: How can I use influencer marketing to sell more flow sensors, flood insurance, or file-sharing packages?

Hall doesn't offer much specific or practical help here, though he would.

He does sandwich halfway through Top of Mind four "best practices" for executing a "top-of-mind strategy;" but they're pedestrian as can be (set goals, find content, commit to a process, publish and repurpose). And he devotes his last two chapters to "turning your team into an army of thought leaders;" but good luck with that.

Besides, how many more GaryVees does the world really need?

Save your $26.

Tuesday, October 10, 2017

Can You Ever Send Too Much Email?

Does a rise in unsubscribes mean you should cut email frequency? Does a decline in opens and clicks?

Maybe not, says IBM.

Standard email metrics can deceive, unless you allow for the "frequency math effect," according to the company.

To understand the frequency math effect, you must assess unsubscribes, opens and clicks both per message and cumulatively over a sending period.

Looking at only the per-message metrics can mislead you to think you're sending too much email. Only by knowing both your per-message and cumulative metrics can you know whether frequency has an overall net-positive or net-negative effect.

For example, suppose you double frequency to four from two times a week. You might see unsubscribes rise, and opens and clicks decline from one message to the next.

But should you panic?

No. When you send email frequently, you should expect more unsubscribes—but, in the long run, more opens and clicks, as well.

Monday, October 9, 2017

Why Art Directors Should Never Overrule Copywriters

Adman Bill Bernbach is credited with first teaming art directors and copywriters. The idea spread rapidly across ad agencies everywhere, because it inspired terrific work.

Art director/copywriter teams produce solid work when the members are coequals. 

But when one or the other dominates, the work often fails.

I'll give you an example.

I recently submitted a direct mail package to an agency. The package is meant to convert military officers into association members.

With the account team's initial okay, I took the classic direct-mail marketer's approach: sell a bundle of tangible benefits that the research shows are the benefits most valued by the target audience.

In this case, the bundle included such benefits as free career consulting, free resume-writing, free financial planning, interest-free loans, and a monthly magazine full of expert advice about retirement planning, child-rearing, healthy living, vacation planning, and similar "lifestyle" topics. 

I wrote a four-page letter building up those benefits and "asking for the order."

After two drafts, the art director insisted we scrap the package and begin again.

His view was:
  • You shouldn't tell stories. You should write short and just list every benefit the association offers in two pages. "Military officers are trained to take orders. Just order them to join the association," he said.

  • You should sell lobbying. The whole reason to pay dues is to underwrite lobbying by the association, he said. "Military officers know more about lobbying than the people on Capitol Hill."

  • You should downplay the magazine. "Nobody reads the magazine."
The new direct mail package he ordered up, I predict, will bomb. 

Big time.

The art director's copy direction discounts nearly everything I know about association marketing, association membership, direct marketing, direct-mail copywriting, marketing research, military officers, and human nature. 

It also suggests he doesn't read, he has never joined an association, and he doesn't know much about military officers―or sales, influence, or human nature.

That's not teamwork. 

When the art director wins, the copywriter loses.

So does the client.

(The same goes the other way round.)

So how do you sell association memberships? It's not by selling lobbying. That's "Inside the Beltway" stuff. Instead:

You offer prospects help. People need help. They need help finding jobs, meeting employers, managing expenses, handling problems, staying up-to-date. Sell they ways you can help, and you'll attract new members.

You offer prospects savings. Life is expensive. People want to save time and money, avoid risk, and keep hassles to a minimum. Sell the ways you can save them time and money, and spare them risk and hassles, and you'll convert them.

You offer prospects community. Life can be lonely. People crave connections (it's why they join clubs and churches). Sell ways you can connect themmeetings, trade shows, online groups, webinars, magazines, newsletters, podcasts, videos and directoriesand you'll win them over.

Sunday, October 8, 2017

All the Way

The standard B2B marketing tactics are obsolete, says Evy Wilkins, VP of Account Based Marketing at Traackr.

Disruptors like ad blockers and email filters have outmoded them.

Thank goodness there's influencer marketing.

Influencer marketing works, Wilkins says, because most customers rely on expert opinions  to make buying decisions. 

They find the opinions on social media. 

When you win the love of opinion leaders (who'll parrot your sales-talk on social media), you can again begin to romance customers.

But it takes a change of heart.

"For decades, marketers have been in a rhythm of campaign-based activities," Wilkins says; but "influencer marketing is about long-term relationships that don’t go up and down with budget levels."

Influencer marketing, Wilkins says, is "always on."

You can't woo an influencer, for example, to love your brand for eight weeks, targeting only 30-year-old English-speaking males who work in greater San Francisco.

It doesn't work that way—even when you pay the influencer.

Saturday, October 7, 2017

Insider Trading

Don't get too excited about the "virability" of Twitter, if you hope to change minds.

A group of psychologists at NYU analyzed 560 thousand tweets about three polarizing topics: gun control, same-sex marriage, and climate change.

They found that, while tweets which include fiery "moral and emotional language" go viral, they're rarely traded outside users' in-groups. Sharing occurs almost exclusively among users in the same ideological camps.

"The expression of emotion is key for the spread of moral and political ideas in online social networks," the study's authors say.

But emotion doesn't make an idea worth spreading.

"While using this type of language may help content proliferate within your own social or ideological group, it may find little currency among those who have a different world view,” lead researcher William Brady says.

Friday, October 6, 2017

The Great Rule of Foresight

The best way to have a good idea is to have lots of ideas.

— Linus Pauling

Most ventures, products and ads fail. Mind-blindness, tone-deafness and overoptimism are the chief reasons why.

Nothing's fail-proof, but you can look positively clairvoyant—especially when no one's sure which direction to take—by presenting lots of ideas.

When asked, for example, to name a new product, create a campaign, or write a major headline, I strive to present clients at least 10 ideas.

I try not to fall in love with any one, but to think of all as straws in the wind.

"Throw straws in the air to test the wind," said the 17th century Jesuit Baltasar Gracian.

"By finding out how things will be perceived—especially from those whose reception or success is doubtful—you can determine a great deal about their chances of turning out well, and decide whether you should proceed in earnest or withdraw entirely.

"By trying people’s intentions in this way, the wise person knows on what ground he stands. This is the great rule of foresight in asking, in desiring, and in ruling."

Thursday, October 5, 2017

Right to Life

If Las Vegas doesn't cause you to question unchecked gun rights, what will?

Conservatives gaze at enemies and insist the Constitution assures our right to bear arms, because it's "a way that the weak can protect themselves against the strong."

Liberals gaze at young people's corpses and insist the Constitution assures "our right to a happy life."

There seems to be no room in conservatives' minds for equality, fairness, reasonableness, or real-life experience; there's room only for the endless fairy tale of "the weak" vanquishing "the strong."

In Stephen Paddock, they've found their perfect spokesman.

In defense of fairness, philosopher John Rawls once asked students to imagine themselves behind a "veil of ignorance."

Forget, for a moment, your personal situation (your wants and needs; your race and sex; your religion and education; your social and economic class; and so forth).

Then ask yourself: Without those privileges (or disadvantages), what kind of world would you want to be born into?

You'd be forced to conclude you want a world governed by fairness, where everyone is equal—and deserves equally to live.

Wednesday, October 4, 2017

Google: Popups Will be Penalized

If you value SEO, remove popups from your website.

Google doesn't love them anymore.

This January, its bots began to penalize sites that include them.

“Pages that show intrusive interstitials provide a poorer experience to users than other pages where content is immediately accessible,” Google's engineers proclaim.

Your site is toast if it displays a popup that covers content after the user lands on a page, or that appears while he's viewing it. 

You get doubly burned if the user has to kill the popup to view the content.

The only allowances Google makes are for helpful popups, like those seeking age verification or informing visitors about cookies.

Tuesday, October 3, 2017

Price of Freedom

The phrase "the price of freedom" used to be reserved for reference to war dead.

Bill O'Reilly has co-opted it for a new purpose.

America has lost its way.

Monday, October 2, 2017

The Under Toad

This post originally appeared December 19, 2012. My opinion has only grown stronger in the intervening five years. 

I met Gonzo journalist Hunter S. Thompson at a conference once.

It was 1972. The country was deep in the throes of a Presidential election.

Four months earlier, segregationist and gun-loving Alabama Governor George Wallace had lost his bid for the Presidency thanks to a would-be assassin.

I asked Dr. Thompson whether he thought Wallace might change his stance on gun control after being shot five times in the chest and stomach.

"I don't know," Thompson snarled. "But I do know this. Everyone should carry a gun. We all should carry guns. The streets would be a lot safer. America would be a better place."

Thirty-three years later, depressed and deathly ill, Hunter Thompson blew off the top of his head with a shotgun.

I don't understand the pleasure of gun ownership. I don't understand the thrill of hunting animals. But a lot of people I know and admire enjoy both those things.

As a parent, however, I understand how fear and loathing due to the loss of a child could exceed any imaginable sorrow.

In his novel The World According to Garp, John Irving famously described the brutal workings of the "Under Toad," code-words for "the forces that disrupt human life and sometimes destroy it." The life of a child, in particular.

The Under Toad visited Newtown, Connecticut, last week.

Several parents will never feel sorrow-less again.

Sunday, October 1, 2017

Should You Worry about GDPR?

The roll-out of the General Data Protection Regulation in Europe next May will be spotty.

Like most government crackdowns, GDPR—mandating that marketers protect consumers' privacy and data—will be rigorously enforced in northern nations, lazily enforced in southern ones.

But if you do a lot of business up north, you should take steps now to comply. Experts recommend you:

  • Appoint a "data czar" to police your marketing activities
  • Get a third-party checkup of your data's health
  • Segregate lists affected by GDPR, so you can treat them differently
  • Confirm your suppliers will be compliant by May
  • Sign up for "ready-made" solutions, if you're still worried
Unlike many current consumer protection laws, GDPR is tough. 

Screw up, and you could face fines in the millions.

GDPR disallows, for example, "soft" opt-ins, so you'll have to dump lists that aren't rigidly permission-based. It also grants the "Right to Be Forgotten," so you'll have to delete old web posts anyone could reasonably claim are inaccurate or defamatory. And it punishes marketers who make it at all troublesome for consumers to opt out of their lists.

Saturday, September 30, 2017

How to Name Your Event

My business partner and I are at work on a new name for an event. The conference has outgrown its birth name (as every conference should). It's time for something different.

My standards for a good event name are few:
  • It should be descriptive ("The Builder's Show") or evocative ("Magic"), or both ("Dreamforce")
  • It should be short ("CES")
  • It should be enunciable ("TED")
Event marketer Tony Patete has more complex standards:
  • It should be straightforward ("The Startup Conference")
  • It should be a keyword ("INBOUND")
  • If an acronym, it should not spell anything unseemly ("TURD")
  • It should avoid braggadocio ("The Best Conference Ever")
  • It can be a portmanteau ("ComicCon")
  • It can both evoke and amuse ("Brand Camp")
  • It should not already be in use ("Apple")
Naming or renaming an event need not be hard. I once renamed a puny conference with the laughable name SCUC (Satellite Communications Users Conference) using only my delete key. Today "Satellite" attracts over 13,000 attendees.

When your event's name doesn't cut it, a tagline can help. While no cheerleader for taglines, B2B marketer Gary Slack agrees:
  • A tagline can help explain what is new, unknown, or poorly named
  • A tagline can help communicate purpose, difference and value
  • A tagline can foster esprit de corps
Slack has his own simple set of standards for a tagline:
  • It should be necessary in the first place; otherwise, it's clutter
  • It should clearly communicate a strong promise
  • It should avoid corporate speak and pedestrian "happy words"
One of the better taglines I ever wrote was for CES: "What the World's Coming To."

Although lots of folks liked the slogan, it lasted only a year.

A newly appointed marketing director killed it, telling me, "Taglines are stupid."

He lasted much less than a year. But the tagline never resurfaced.

Friday, September 29, 2017

How Do You Reach C-Level Buyers?

A C-level buyer, Trisha Winter plays hard to get.

"Speaking as a B2B buyer, I don’t answer my phone anymore," she writes in Business to Community. "I don’t read cold emails—in fact, thanks to overcoming 'inbox zero' tendencies, I don’t even take the time to open/delete them anymore. I used to, but with the insane influx of new technologies geared toward marketing, too many people were trying to reach me pushing their 'life-changing' solutions. It was too much noise, and it wasn’t sustainable if I wanted to get my job done."

Winter wonders if any marketing tactic works with C-level buyers—executives who are so brutally busy, they're "forced to completely ignore the noise."

She rules out the top two contenders.

Content. Content marketing doesn't work, Winter says. Although it could be effective, most content is "fluff" no one ever sees. "Even if you create the perfect piece of content, you are still just crossing your fingers that it reaches me," she says. "For content marketing to work, it has to be combined with influencer marketing to have a hope of getting in front of the intended audience."

Trade shows. Exhibit marketing doesn't work, either, Winter says. "I do attend some trade shows, but I won’t stop by your booth unless I’ve heard of you and have identified that you meet a need or solve a problem I have," she says. "Which means trade shows don’t work for top-of-the-funnel lead generation. And let’s face it, TOFU leads are way better than BOFU leads because you can shape the deal without competitors."

So what works?

Account-Based Marketing. "If a seller is researching me, engaging with me in social media, learning about my business and personalizing their approach, there is a much greater chance they’ll get my attention," Winter says. "But remember, I don’t read emails nor answer my phone, so direct mail and social media are the only options here."

Referral Marketing. "As a buyer, there is no question that this is the most effective way to get my attention," Winter says. "If I’m approached by a former colleague or a trusted adviser (like a salesperson from a vendor I have a good relationship with), I pay attention. If they tell me there is a solution out there that could solve my problems, I’m clearing my calendar to take a meeting."

Winter recommends combing both tactics.

But what if you could combine all four?

That's the philosophy behind PLAYBOOK, a lead-gen system my business partner and I have created.

PLAYBOOKusing a combination of direct mail, email, telemarketing, and an appallows marketers to target trade show attendees with offers compelling enough to attract them to an exhibit. It also helps them motivate salespeople to chase and close deals immediately after the event—the Achilles Heel of exhibit marketing.

We're ready to assist any marketer eager to reach those hard-to-get buyers like Trisha Winter.

Just give us a call.

Thursday, September 28, 2017

The 3-Minute Guide to List Segmentation

I used to sell health insurance to letter carriers by direct mail (ironic, no?).

I targeted 27 segments within a list of 300,000 prospects, mailing each segment different creative. 
The individualized sales arguments made in the copy paid off, and more than offset the extra production costs.

So there's nothing new about list segmentation. 

It's high time to stop thinking of your mailings as "broadcasts" and segment your list.

But how?

Here are six tips (they apply equally to postal and e-mail lists):

Scrub your list. Seven in 10 names on a B2B list become outdated within a year, so don't dirty your hands with something unwashed. Send your list outside for a good cleaning.

Slice up the list. Comb through your newly cleaned list and identify commonalities. Slice up the list accordingly. I divided the letter carriers according to the health insurance policies they owned in the past.

Introduce triggers. Identify key events and add fields for them to every record. For example, how many mailings have they received? Have they bought anything? Have they changed jobs or companies?

Create niche content. Tailor sales arguments for each segment. Someone who's bought from you may jump at the chance to save with a "loyal customer discount," while someone who's never bought from you, but has recently been promoted, may be ready to save with a "first-time customer discount."

Keep it simple. Create a manageable number of segments and work with them for a while. Don't invent new segments or second guess yourself every month. Remember, if it isn't simple, it isn't scalable.

Grow your list. Rent highly-targeted prospect names from third parties, to protect your list from "list rot." B2B lists are volatile and decay at a rapid rate.

Wednesday, September 27, 2017

La Comédie Américaine

Sorry, I can't take a knee.

In fact, I can't take anything, anymore.

Our president is a failed reality TV star; our first lady, a Slovenian call girl.

Our cabinet secretaries oppose the missions of the departments they run.

The secretary running the largest one (Health & Human Services) flies at our expense on luxury planes every week to stay at his vacation homes.

The Secretary of Education encourages serial rapists.

Nincompoops (a shock jock, a wedding planner, a fashion model, a golf caddie, a shoe importer) run key federal organizations.

Our lawmakers believe nonsense (the earth is 6,000 years old, global warming is a hoax, contraception causes cancer, all Muslims are terrorists).

They also hope to deny you government-backed healthcare insurance, while they enjoy the same.

You're expected to honor both the flag and the rights of Nazis.

Washington, Jefferson, Lincoln, and the Roosevelt cousins may be rolling in their graves. But not me. I'm laughing at the comedy.

The calendar's no longer a calendar. It's the almanac of American decline.

Tuesday, September 26, 2017


Names should be as much like things as possible.

— Socrates

Corporate logos and road signs often demonstrate iconicity. But words?

A new study suggests they do.

While linguists like Noam Chomsky insist any link between a word and its meaning is a man-made convention, two research scientists, Nora Turoman and Susy Styles, say the link may be a natural occurrence.

That link may be iconic. An iconic word would be one whose form resembles its meaning.

Turoman and Styles found that ordinary speakers, when presented with pairs of ancient glyphs, can correctly guess which letter was used to represent the sound "oo" (as in "shoe") and which was used to represent the sound "ee" (as in "feet").

Their experiments further suggest some glyphs better represent the sound "oo," and some better represent "ee"—regardless of where or when they originated.

The glyphs that represent "oo" are more likely to be complex (i.e., use more ink); the ones that represent "ee," more likely to be simple (i.e., use less ink). The "guess-ability" of a glyph is higher for those that use more ink to represent "oo" and less ink to represent "ee."

But what's the link to nature?

Turoman and Styles claim it's acoustics.

The sounds "oo" and "ee" differ in their acoustic frequencies (we pronounce "oo" at a lower frequency than "ee"). So "oo" fits with big, inky glyphs for the same reason low-frequency sounds are produced by big bells; and "ee" fits with less small, less inky glyphs, for the same reason high-frequency sounds are produced by small bells.

Monday, September 25, 2017

Capital Mistake

You can dress up greed, but you can’t stop the stench.

Craig D. Lounsbrough

This weekend, I "worked the booth" at the Capital Home Show on behalf of a remodeler, greeting visitors and cultivating leads.

While discussing a deal with another exhibitor, an overly dressed exhibit salesperson (the show manager, nonetheless) appeared suddenly and broke into our conversation, demanding to know why the exhibitor hadn't re-signed for next year's show.

When he said he was undecided, she proceeded to twist his arm.

I quietly left the booth, after a few minutes of the spectacle.

When I next saw the salesperson, I mentioned that she'd interrupted a deal.

"I thought you were just one of their staff," she replied, without apology.

If you sell anything—whether booths, biotech, or blockchain—putting your aims ahead of customers' is a capital mistake.

It may, in fact, be the chief reason most customers detest salespeople.

DiscoverOrg recently asked 230 customers how they feel about B2B salespeople. The answers are chilling:
  • Only 18% think B2B salespeople are trustworthy
  • Only 35% think they are likable
Chew on that, salespeople. Eight in 10 customers think you're dishonest; two in three, you're despicable.

Sunday, September 24, 2017

Ghost Signs

Preservationists call those faded 19th century ads on buildings ghost signs.

They evoke more civil times.

No matter its power, marketers would never have sought to shock 19th century audiences with tasteless imagery (such as this in an outdoor ad for the film Kill Bill):

A child psychologist might argue we should return to 19th century civility.

Not a ghost of a chance.

Saturday, September 23, 2017


Politico has outed Health and Human Services Secretary Tom Price for using high-priced charter flights at taxpayers' expense.

His flacks say Price is entitled to use private luxury planes, because he has to "meet with the American people."

I just hope he schedules me in, so I can share with him my thoughts on the morality of using public office to enrich yourself.

Entitled is a storied word.

Its Latin root intitulare meant "to give a title to." 

English first adopted the word to mean "to bestow a rank on;" and then, in the 15th century, to mean "to award a property title to."

Philosopher Robert Nozick was the first person to associate the word with welfare, in 1974.

A Libertarian, Nozick thought you were only "entitled" to things you made with your own tools and materials.

Anything else—like your public schooling, your polio shots, and your pension—you receive as the result of wealth redistribution, a kind of "forced labor." You don't really deserve those things, Nozick said, because you didn't create them; but you tell yourself they're entitlements, to feel better about robbing the rich.

The same year Nozick's book appeared, Richard Nixon used the word entitlements in his federal budget to mean "government payments."

Eight years later, Ronald Reagan used entitlements in a speech to mean "Social Security"—and the name stuck.

So, if Nozick is right, please tell me: why should Tom Price get welfare?

Thursday, September 21, 2017

The Guaranteed Cure for Writer's Block

Writing about a writer's block is better than not writing at all.

Charles Bukowski

A Freudian psychoanalyst, Edmund Bergler, dreamed up the term "writer's block" in the late 1940s. His remedy, naturally, was the "talking cure." At today's prices, that costs $300 a session.

Fine, if you can afford it.

A fiction writer like Stephen King cures writer's block less expensively.

King simply goes for a three-mile stroll, and conjures up another unhinged politico, demonic pet, or zombie retiree, to move a gridlocked story forward.

B2B writers can't use that trick (although walking is good for everyone).

You'll find lots of nutty advice (climb into a sleeping bag, or listen to pink noise, or down a martini), but the best cure for writer's block, in my experience, is a three-step technique I learned from copywriter Bob Bly:
  • Locate a project you wrote that's similar to the current project
  • Make a copy of the file and open it
  • Start rewriting your own copy
You'll not only avoid writer's block, you'll quick-start the new project. Don't have a similar project? Then swipe another writer's and start to rewrite that.

Try it. Don't wait til writer's block besets you.

Wednesday, September 20, 2017

7 Signs You're Mediocre

The general tendency of things throughout the world is to render mediocrity the ascendant power among mankind.

— John Stuart Mill

Nobody dazzles safely.

Nobody dazzles accidentally.

Nobody dazzles lackadaisically.

Nobody dazzles cost-efficiently.

Nobody dazzles by copying.

Nobody dazzles by committee.

Nobody dazzles by appeasement.

So why keep claiming you do?

Maybe you weren't designed to dazzle.
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