Influence people

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.

Tuesday, September 19, 2017

The Sure-Fire, Can't-Lose, 100% Guaranteed Way to Troubleshoot Every Computer Problem You'll Ever Encounter

Computer problems are maddening; troubleshooting them, more so.

Googling for solutions merely heightens your frustration, spewing masses of inscrutable and useless results.

But my hack lets you cut through the palaver straightaway, to get to the answer you need.

Here it is:

Type a description of the problem—no matter what—and add to it, inside quotation marks, the phrase "piece of shit."

I assure you the solution to your problem will appear in the top one, two or three Google results.

For example:

Excel will not print odd-numbered pages "piece of shit"


Lightroom freezes when I save file "piece of shit"

I guarantee my hack works, every time.

By the way, where does hack come from?

The word, meaning "a tool for chopping," dates back to the 14th century and derives from the German Hacke, meaning "hatchet."

But the sense in which we now use the word originated at MIT in the 1950s. Students called any practical joke that employed technology (like welding a public trolley car to the tracks) a hack.

Monday, September 18, 2017

How to Make Moments Customers Remember

How do you create an experience customers will remember?

That's the question Chip and Dan Heath answer in their forthcoming book, The Power of Moments.

You'll recall the brothers' skills in science-based storytelling from their previous best sellers, Made to Stick and Switch.

The Power of Moments repeats those performances.

The Heaths call memorable experiences "flagship moments" and claim they're made from four ingredients:
  • Elevation (flagship moments clearly rise above the rest)
  • Insight (they rewire our thinking)
  • Pride (they catch us at our best) and
  • Connection (they bring us together)

It isn't easy to engineer a flagship moment, else every marketer would do it. Few do.

If you want to acquire the skill, the Heath Brothers advise you to "think in moments" and pay particular attention to three:
  • Milestones (regular occasions like holidays, anniversaries, birthdays, etc.)
  • Transitions (ritualistic events like bar mitzvahs, graduations, weddings, etc.) and
  • Pits (moments of downtime like waiting in a line, undergoing a medical procedure, etc.)
The astute marketer not only spots these moments, the Heaths say, but shapes them, by blending some or all of the four ingredients that yield a flagship moment.

And their recipe is simple: "Transitions should be marked, milestones commemorated, and pits filled."

The Power of Moments' 300 pages are packed with examples of moment-making artistry, and make the book worth reading.

You probably know Disney distracts you while you wait in long lines, Southwest clowns around during the flight-safety announcements, and Starbucks honors your birthdays with a free-drink coupon.

But you might not know that all Pret a Manger employees can give away free food, based on how much they like a customer's looks; that Sharp Healthcare, by bringing all of its 12,000 employees to a convention center for an annual pep talk, keeps patient satisfaction in the ninetieth percentile (unheard of); and that John Deere welcomes all new employees on their first day with banners, gifts, lunches, and personalized videos.

The Power of Moments will give you plenty of ideas for "turning up the volume on reality" and delivering experiences your customers will remember. And you don't have to settle for only the examples in the book. The Heaths will soon offer free podcasts featuring more.

Sunday, September 17, 2017

Why Event Organizers May Lose Their Shirts

An old joke goes:

Two partners are arguing over their shirt-retailing business.

"Sol, how can we go on buying shirts for $4 and selling them for $2?" one asks.

"Mort, don't worry!" the other answers. "We make it up in volume."

B2B marketing has long resembled Mort's approach.

But a trendy new form of B2B marketing, account-based marketing (ABM), throws out the "volume-based" approach to lead-gen, concentrating the marketing spend instead on a finite set of prospects.

And—unless they begin to help ABM practitioners—event organizers will soon find themselves losing out to digital channels.

Why so?

Because, for decades, events have always been, more or less, about volume.

Set up an exhibit. Wait for a ton of traffic. Meet and mingle. Rinse and repeat.

But ABM represents different thinking.

ABM means a "shift from volume to engagement," says Cindy Zhou, an analyst with Constellation Research and author of the white paper Why B2B Sales Success Requires a Holistic Account-Based Strategy.

By "engagement," Zhou means targeting "ideal buyers" with "personalized content."

At events, she says, ABM practitioners need to attract specifically targeted accounts to their booths, and present them content designed to convert them—quickly—into customers.

Tirekickers need not apply.

"Organizations adopting an ABM approach see higher conversion rates and deal sizes and an increase in cross-sell and upsell opportunities," Zhou says.

Zhou also say that 9 out of 10 B2B marketers she's in touch with have adopted ABM.

Yet event organizers remain clueless, refusing to provide the data exhibitors need to zero in on ideal buyers.

Case in point.

I recently asked the organizer of a large manufacturing show to allow my client to target accounts on his registration list with pre-show phone calls designed to attract them to the client's booth. Not his whole list (that would have been foolish); merely a select group of attendees.

His answer was a resounding, "No!"

"If I did it for them, I'd have to do it for every exhibitor."

Duh. What's wrong with this picture?

Event organizers are sitting on a mountain of data. Exhibit marketers—9 out of 10, if Zhou's followers are representative—need a bit of it. Why not help them?

If you won't, they may abandon events in favor of digital channels, which provide more data than they need.

What, you expect to make it up in volume?

HAT TIP: Thanks to Cindy Zhou for inspiring this post and providing a free copy of her white paper.

Saturday, September 16, 2017

Doctor, Doctor

Why do 7 in 10 B2B marketers say events are the very best marketing channel?

The answer's simple: ROI.

Events routinely deliver big brands 5X ROI; small ones, 3X to 5X ROI.

"In-person events simply have more impact than all the social media posts and email newsletters in the world," says
Michael Brenner, CEO of Marketing Insider Group.

Events allow you to generate leads and close sales; connect with buyers' emotions; expand your community; drive social media engagement and website traffic; and create months' of newsworthy marketing content.

But as importantly, Brenner says, events let you diagnose the cause of buyers' pain.

For inquisitive marketers, chatting with buyers over coffee, recording their comments at conference sessions, or conducting surveys through your event app may be just what the doctor ordered.

"You may discover a problem with your product or service that is the root of unexplained customer churn," Brenner says. Just as likely, "You could uncover strengths you didn’t realize you had."

Friday, September 15, 2017

Bad Apple

Why does Apple seem bent on sinking your event?

In the past 13 months, the tech giant has taken shots at three activities vital to your event's well-being:

  • In August 2016, Apple released Version 10 of iOS, which lays siege to your email marketing program. Version 10 begs users to opt out of senders' lists by displaying a mammoth unsubscribe banner above each incoming email. Opt-outs have soared ever since.
  • In June 2017, the company announced its next version of Safari will block retargeting, so your ads won’t stalk prospects any longer. Safari will "sandbox" any third-party cookie after a day; and if the prospect doesn't revisit the site that dropped the cookie within that period, Safari will prevent it from dropping another, should she later return. Ad agencies are in a lather over Apple's move.

  • In July 2017, Apple triggered "Appageddon" by prohibiting "white label" apps (built from templates) from its App Store. That includes the vast majority of event apps. Marketers must forfeit event branding in favor of the app developer's branding, or resort to paying for custom event apps.

Thursday, September 14, 2017

Fight of the Century

Tradeshow versus Digital is going to be a slugfest, says event-industry consultant Francis Friedman in his new, 287-page book, The Modern Digital Tradeshow.

Nimble contender Digital could handily clobber the out-of-shape champion.

Digital has already driven Tradeshow from marketing's "center stage" onto a "specialized side stage," Friedman says; and, unless the latter regains its magic, Digital could win by a knockout.

Friedman prescribes a rigorous, three-legged regimen to help Tradeshow get back in trim:
  • Redefinition. The tradeshow industry's "analog" business model is passé. "Our industry must change from its static 'show' industry self-concept," Friedman says. "We must view our future as a branded content and experience provider, and integral omni-channel member of a target community." Unless the industry rediscovers a purpose—its raison d'être—it will be excluded from the b-to-b marketers' club.

  • Transformation. Organizers need to embrace event tech—now. There's simply no more time to debate the topic. "The tradeshow industry must now play catch-up to the changing digital marketing landscape through a fundamental shift in its historical business model and product configurations," Friedman says. Event tech that "animates" events and enables exhibitors to verify ROI will matter most—gizmos like VR, AR, AI, beacons, bots, holograms, and drones.

  • Rebranding. The event industry needs to discover and express a new and dynamic "personality," or its transformation into a digital player will go unnoticed. "In the current tradeshow organizer model, 'the show' is inanimate, occupying a specific date and time on the calendar of its marketplace and unable to 'act.'" Friedman says. "'The show' per se has no arms or legs, no voice and no ability to act or interact with its market. 'The show' is just booths on a tradeshow floor at a given time and in each place."
Friedman for years—via keynotes, articles, books and white papers—has been prepping tradeshow organizers for the coming match. With The Modern Digital Tradeshowhe's provided the playbook they need to go the distance.

NOTE: The Modern Digital Tradeshow is available free on the author's website.

Wednesday, September 13, 2017

Uncle Sam Should Damn Spam

US anti-spam law hampers marketers, says email marketing expert Chad White.

The feds agree, and are moving to reform CAN-SPAM.

The problem with the law?

It's lax.

That laxity makes "deliverability overly difficult for legitimate senders," White says, because email providers have to police inboxes.

"If a brand only clears the low bar set by CAN-SPAM, they are pretty much guaranteed to be blacklisted and blocked by inbox providers," White says.

"While on the surface, lax regulations look like an advantage to American brands, it’s really setting them up for failure."

White urges these seven reforms:
  • Tighten the deadline for honoring opt-out requests. Marketers, by law, can now stall for 10. But customers want them to honor opt-outs immediately.

  • Dictate how unsubscribe works. Customers struggle with marketers' inconsistent practices; as a result, one in two resorts to clicking the “Report Spam” button.

  • Loosen the definition of "transactional" emails. Marketers should be allowed to send post-purchase emails (such as receipts, thank-you notes, and renewal notices) without be being flagged as spammers.

  • Require CAPTCHA on signup forms. "Unprotected open email signup forms allow spammers, hackers, and other bad actors to use bots to weaponize email," White says. Only 3% of marketers use CAPTCHA on their forms today.

  • Mandate authentication and encryption. Email personalization makes customers vulnerable to phishing. CAN-SPAM could protect them by mandating that senders authenticate and encrypt emails.

  • Require permission. That requirement would harmonize CAN-SPAM with other countries' tougher laws, and keep US marketers out of hot water. Permission is defined as "an expressed or implied consent or existing business relationship."

  • Stipulate that inactivity equals opting out. " CAN-SPAM should recognize that permission expires," White says. "CAN-SPAM should require senders to stop emailing subscribers when they haven’t opened or clicked an email in the past two years."

Tuesday, September 12, 2017


In a recent op-ed in The New York Times, Disrupted author Dan Lyons slammed Silicon Valley's work ethic.

Under the rubric "hustle," Lyons says, the Valley worships workaholism.

"You hear it everywhere," he writes. "You can buy hustle-themed T-shirts and coffee mugs, with slogans like 'Dream, hustle, profit, repeat' and 'Outgrind, outhustle, outwork everyone.' You can go to an eight-week 'start-up hustle' boot camp. You can also attend Hustle Con, a one-day conference where successful 'hustlers' share their secrets

Angel and hero Gary Vee (Vaynerchuk) tells hustlers to work 18-hour days, seven days a week, according to Lyons. So do employers like Uber and Lyft. They've fetishized hustle, and made hardship a mandate.

While too busy to read books, Valley dwellers would do well, in my opinion, to read the last pages of Steve Jobs, the entrepreneur's authorized biography. They recount Jobs' deathbed interview.

Jobs tells his biographer he permitted the posthumous book not for the public's sake, but as a memento for his children. "I wanted my kids to know me," he said. "I wasn't always there for them, and I wanted them to know why, and to understand what I did."

Asked whether he cared much for children he never knew, the multi-billionaire said they were "10,000 times better than anything I've ever done."

The More You Lie, the Less We Buy

After 10 years as a user of Kaspersky anti-virus software, I'm switching brands, due to the treatment I received by an offshore sales rep.

My credit card was stolen a few months ago, so to allow my subscription to auto-renew, I contacted Kaspersky (which doesn't permit users to change the credit card numbers it keeps on file).

The rep who finally took my call refused to stop reading from a script of "security" questions that were blatantly meant to upsell me. 

Each time I asked her what her questions had to do with security, she insisted they were for my own good.

None of them were.

After 10 minutes of this, I told her I'd switch to the leading competitor, unless she helped me update my credit card info.

She wasted another 15 minutes of my time bumbling around with this process, to no avail.

I politely thanked her for the help and hung up. Now I'm moving on to the competitor.

Walk a mile in your customers' shoes, CEOs. Try a quarter-mile, if you have no time for customers.

The more you lie, the less we buy.

Monday, September 11, 2017


"It turns out that copy really matters,"
a CEO recently confessed on LinkedIn.

Until he was forced by circumstance to roll up his sleeves and execute, Adam Schoenfeld had been only strategy-minded.

"I didn't get it before," Schoenfeld says. "Now I've come to believe that the best marketing teams nail the details. They get the big picture for sure. But their magic is in the details!"


Why don't more executives realize execution matters? Particularly in copywriting.

The late, great marketer Herschell Gordon Lewis said, "The picking of nits is what copywriting that sells is all about."

Lewis was right, of course: nit-picking's the activity distinguishing copy that sells from copy that fails.

To wit, the following example.

The copywriter here indeed fails—big time. Perhaps he's too self-absorbed to "walk in prospects' shoes" (in this case, members of the military). Or maybe he's green. Or maybe he's just lazy, content to copy and paste from an internal brief. In any event, he isn't picky.

Association Members are entitled to specially negotiated Group Discounts not available to the general public. We continue to leverage the vast purchasing power of hundreds of thousands of Association Members to negotiate exclusive Group Discounts. You’ll save big on select Apple and Dell computers, hotel stays, car rentals, active-lifestyle apparel, outdoor products, and more. Association Members also save with FREE access to “concierge-style” travel services.

What's wrong with this copy?

Association Members are entitled...

"Entitled" is a politically-loaded word, particularly among right-leaning folks. (How many members of the military do you know who lean left?)

Members receive would remove the connotation. specially negotiated Group Discounts...

"Specially negotiated" is redundant. "Group Discounts" is shop talk.

Members receive savings not available to the general public would work better.

We continue to leverage the vast purchasing power of hundreds of thousands of Association Members...

More shop talk, plus a self-centered standpoint—and an awfully vague claim.

More than 370,000 members take advantage of these savings every year would work better.

You’ll save big on select Apple and Dell computers, hotel stays, car rentals, active-lifestyle apparel, outdoor products, and more...

Even more shop talk, plus erratic name-dropping. Consumers don't know what "hotel stays," "active-lifestyle apparel," or "outdoor products" are. And why aren't brands named for any of those product categories, as they are for computers? Are those offerings crap?

You’ll save big on computers, hotel rooms, rental cars, clothing, outdoor and sports goods, and more... would work better.
Association Members also save with FREE access to “concierge-style” travel services...

Shop talk. And what does "concierge-style" mean, anyway?

Members can also use our free travel service would work better.

Now, our perhaps-lazy copywriter would string together the revised sentences and call it quits.

Members receive savings not available to the general public. More than 370,000 of them take advantage of these savings every year. Members save big on computers, hotel rooms, rental cars, clothing, outdoor and sports goods, and more. Members can also use our free travel service.

But why settle for pedestrian copy? Why not tighten it and—more importantly—put to work the indisputable power of the word "you?"

Membership lets you take full advantage of deep, member-only discounts on purchases of things like clothing, computers, outdoor and sports goods, hotel rooms, rental cars, and more. You also get to use our concierge service to plan trips. It’s like having your own personal travel agent.

Stay picky, my friend. Execution matters.

Sunday, September 10, 2017


The only cure for contempt is counter-contempt.

— H. L. Menken

I'm keen about Alan's Blog, not only because its creator Alan Weiss serves up highly original business tips, but because he routinely skewers the arrogant, the hypocritical, the timid, and the incompetent.

No one—from the lowly cashier to the mighty CEO—is spared his delicious scorn.

Indeed, the blog might be better named Alan's Barbs.

I just introduced my wife to Alan's Blog and she hates it.

That's because she's the kind of person the philosopher Aristotle calls "good-tempered."

Anger for Aristotle occupies a spectrum.

Angry people—occupying one side of the spectrum—Aristotle calls "irascible." Irascible people "get angry quickly and with the wrong persons and at the wrong things, and more than is right. They do not restrain their anger, but retaliate openly, owing to their quickness of temper."

Too-cool people—occupying the opposite side of the spectrum—he calls "fools." Fools never give way to anger, and are "thought not to feel things nor to be pained by them." Fools never defend themselves, and "endure being insulted and put up with insult."

Tolerant people—occupying the mid-point of the spectrum—Aristotle calls "good-tempered." "Good temper is a mean with respect to anger," he says. "The person who is angry at the right things and with the right people, and, further, as he ought, when he ought, and as long as he ought, is praised. This will be the good-tempered person."

Aristotle's analysis of anger leaves me worried that, like Alan, I'm on the "angry" side of the spectrum.

But, thankfully, the philosopher comes to my rescue.

I'm merely, like Alan, "hot-tempered."

"Hot-tempered people get angry quickly," Aristotle says. "But their anger ceases quickly—which is the best point about them. This happens to them because they do not restrain their anger, but retaliate openly owing to their quickness of temper, and then their anger ceases."

That sure beats being "irascible"—or, just as bad, being the kind of person Aristotle calls "sulky."

"Sulky people are hard to appease, and retain their anger long; for they repress their passion. But it ceases when they retaliate; for revenge relieves them of their anger, producing in them pleasure, instead of pain."

When sulky people can't avenge themselves, Aristotle says, watch out!

Unavenged, sulky people "retain their burden; for, owing to its not being obvious, no one reasons with them, and to digest one's anger in oneself takes time. Such people are most troublesome to themselves and their dearest friends."

Saturday, September 9, 2017


It takes 15,000 casualties to train a major general.

— Ferdinand Foch

Global warming's mean tricks have a silver lining.

The beatings Mother Nature is inflicting will mount the casualties needed to teach our leaders how to address greenhouse gases.

If they fail, they'll be swept from office in a flood of anger.

How's that for a climate change?

Mother Nature is making the senile fool in the White House (and his ilk) seem more passé by the hour.

You don't need a weatherman to know which way the wind blows.

Friday, September 8, 2017

Where Should a B2B Marketer Spend Her Money?

It's September. You're being bugged for next year's marketing budget.

Spending is an art form. Don't let anyone tell you otherwise.

Sure, year-over-year analytics tell you which channels have produced, but—like any investment—"past performance is no guarantee of future results." We'd all still be buying full-page ads in trade magazines, if that were so.

For my money, your mix next year (ranked by percent of total spend) should look like this:
  1. Events
  2. Telemarketing
  3. Direct mail
  4. Retargeting
  5. Email
  6. SEO
  7. PPC
  8. Social
Too many channels for your paltry budget? Then work the list from the top down. You can't go wrong.

Don't be tempted to lay all your money on low-cost channels (like email and social), just because they're low cost.

A handful of proprietary events or an exhibit in a couple trade shows, done well, can generate enough leads to keep you in the black for 12 months. A well-conceived telemarketing campaign can do the same. Even a regular stream of pretty postcards can.

Thursday, September 7, 2017

Is Your Event Profit Proof?

What's the "inconvenient truth" about selling online?

You'll go broke, says blogger Steven Dennis.

"Only a handful of venture capital-funded “pure-plays” have (or will ever) make money," Dennis says.

The rest (including Amazon) operate at below-average margins for the retail industry, amassing huge financial losses year upon year.

Of themselves, free shipping and liberal return policies guarantee these companies will remain "profit proof," Dennis says.

Worse yet: the cost to acquire a customer. When it comes to customer acquisition, web retailers suffer "diseconomies of scale," Dennis says.

"Many online brands attract their first tranche of customers relatively inexpensively, through word of mouth or other low cost strategies," he says.

But then, marketing costs start to escalate.

"As brands seeking growth need to reach a broader audience, they typically start to pay more and more to Facebook, Google and others to grab the customer’s attention and force their way into the customer’s consideration set," he says.

"Early on customers were acquired for next to nothing; now acquisition costs can easily exceed more than $100 per customer."

The higher the acquisition costs, the lower the gross margin on the resulting incremental sales, a dynamic that eventually lands the business in hardship.

Whenever I plan an attendee acquisition campaign for an event producer, I budget the marketing efforts using, give or take a few bucks, the same amount of money Dennis mentions—$100 per attendee.

Want 500 attendees? Plan to spend at least $50,000.

Some event producers balk—How can it cost so much?

But after more than three decades in the event-promotion business, working on events large and small and in a variety of industries and professions, I've found it a real-world rule-of-thumb.

And most producers who spend that kind of money on marketing can, in fact, run a successful event and go home with a tidy profit.

The "diseconomies of scale" only enter the picture when registration fees are low ; or when producers discount and give away registrations; or—the worst case—when admission to the event is free.

Of course, attendees are a necessary evil: without any, exhibitors have been known to complain. But they need not have "negative value" when registration fees are low (or nonexistent).

Attendees can be little ambling profit centers.


Sell attendees livestreaming.

Events are cornucopias of content. When you capture that content on video, you can sell it to attendees for post-event consumption. None of them can be in two places at once, so none can possibly imbibe all the content you offer. What's more, every attendee loves to share good content with colleagues "back at the ranch." Why deny them that pleasure?

And why make your event "profit proof," when it can be enormously the opposite?  "Back-of-the-room" sales of livestreaming come cheaply, because attendees are already in your "store." The gross margin on the incremental sales you make will come at an extremely low rate—almost for free, if you already videotape content for projection purposes, as most producers do.

Want more food for thought? Check out my posts "Conference Planners: There's No Sin in Syndication" and "Just be Willing to Believe."

NOTE: CEIR reports that average attendee-acquisition costs currently range from $14 to $20 per person. But I don't believe the figures are reliable. My own past research, done in the 2000s, showed acquisition costs to range from $68 to $80 per person. CEIR's report, nonetheless, can help any producer get a grip on event-industry spending trends, and is worth studying.

Wednesday, September 6, 2017

Event Producers: Bodies at Rest

A body in motion stays in motion; a body at rest stays at rest.

— Isaac Newton

Most B2B events are tired, creaky and ridiculous. And it's no accident.

Most event producers are lazy.

Decades of easy money have made them that way.

That's not to say they're the only lazy businesspeople you'll encounter.

Laziness surrounds us—and runs rampant in industries where easy money once was made. Banking. Stock trading. Real estate. IT. Retail. Advertising.

Ad exec Mitch Joel—who calls laziness not sloth, but self-approval—laments what he sees in his own industry. "There is no doubt that certain strategies and tactics work, but it's the lazy mentality that has got me down these days," he says.

Folks in advertising, Joel says, are allergic to "long, hard and disruptive work." They're unwilling to wake up in the morning and say, "
Today is a great day! We're going to destroy what doesn't work, test more things, tweak others, build newer metrics, and keep at it."

You might say they need some woke.

A lot of businesspeople need some woke. Instead, they're imbibing hype.

Hype is particularly dazzling to event producers, says event planner Warwick Davies, who's down on the hype-of-the-month: event tech.

Event tech promises panaceas, but really offers little more than quick-fix "gimmicks," Davies observes.

Gimmicks won't resurrect a dead event.

"Sure, there are some tools and processes which will make your event more efficient and easier," Davies says, "but none will fix an event which is poorly conceived, researched, and not wanted by your prospective audience."

No silver bullet can substitute for long, hard. disruptive work.

"If your philosophy about how to create a valuable event is wrong, there’s no amount of technology that is going to save you," he says.

Tuesday, September 5, 2017

Civil Disobedience

Thou shalt not follow a multitude to do evil.
— Exodus 23:2

Every day I run into someone so turned off by Trump she's dropped out.

Her diversion of choice varies—job, kids, pets, prayer, TV, travel, sports, shopping, art, literature, Facebook, food, alcohol, pills, joints—but not the feeling: "I can't take any more."

No news here.

The vast majority of Frenchmen also did nothing to resist the German Occupiers in 1940. They played instead the apolitical
attentisme—the “waiting game."

Not to sound self-righteous, but I was raised by teachers who made us read.

Not only the Bible, but the Constitution. And not only those things, but Paine's "Common Sense" and Thoreau's "Civil Disobedience" (the 1849 essay that inspired Gandhi and King).

Thoreau, you'll recall, "raged against the machine," which in his day had invaded Mexico to protect the property rights of Southern slaveholders.

He spent a night in the county jail for resisting (by refusing to pay taxes).

"All machines have their friction," he wrote after his parole.
"But when the friction comes to have its machine, and oppression and robbery are organized, I say, let us not have such a machine any longer."

Thoreau's message was clear: don't lend yourself to the wrongs you condemn.

Resist. Rebel. Revolutionize.

"If the injustice is part of the necessary friction of the machine of government, let it go, let it go: perchance it will wear smooth—certainly the machine will wear out. If the injustice has a spring, or a pulley, or a rope, or a crank, exclusively for itself, then perhaps you may consider whether the remedy will not be worse than the evil; but if it is of such a nature that it requires you to be the agent of injustice to another, then, I say, break the law. Let your life be a counter-friction to stop the machine."

What's your plan for civil disobedience?

You need not copy Thoreau; French Resistors provide many models:

  • Heiress Comtesse Lily Pastré hid Jewish musicians in her chateau.

  • Gallery owner Jeanne Bucher held shows of the Jewish artists most despised by Hitler.

  • Mother Cécile Rol-Tanguy delivered secret messages hidden in her baby's carriage.

  • Teenager Jacqueline Marié smuggled political leaflets in her ankle socks.

  • Musician Vivou Chevrillon played her violin every day outside the fence of a Nazi concentration camp.

Monday, September 4, 2017

Did You Know Rachel Carson was Once a Copywriter?

Armed with a bachelors in English and a masters in biology, Rachel Carson landed a temp job in 1935 at the US Bureau of Fisheries, where she earned $19.25 a week writing scripts for a 52-week radio series, Romance under the Waters.

Her boss, Elmer Higgins, and his all-male staff called her scripts "seven-minute fish tales."

But a year later, Higgins promoted Carson to junior biologist, one of only two women in full-time professional jobs at the Bureau in 1936; within 10 years, she became editor-in-chief of all agency publications.

Carson, however, wasn't content only to shill for the government.

Through books and magazine articles published on the side, Carson also gained a large public following. Her 1952 book, The Sea Around Us, stayed on The New York Times' best-seller list for 81 weeks, cementing her reputation for making scientific research vivid.

Her 1962 book, Silent Spring, became a classic.

Sunday, September 3, 2017


On the comeback trail, disgraced televangelist Jim Bakker hawks high-priced “survival buckets," each one filled with freeze-dried nibblies guaranteed to come in handy at the Rapture.

You have to wonder where Bakker―who fleeces his flock of shut-ins for millions annually―got his gift for hoodwinking.

To hoodwink means, of course, to pull the wool over someone's eyes. But the word comes from falconry, not shepherdry.

To calm a falcon―with eyesight 10 times sharper than a human's―until it reaches the hunting spot, a falconer covers the bird's head with a leather hood.

In a word, the hunter hoodwinks the falcon.

The term is redundant: both of its roots mean to blindfold.

In the 16th century, hood meant to scarf; wink meant to close both eyes.

A 1610 translation of St. Augustine’s City of God included the sentence, "Let not the faithless therefore hoodwink themselves in the knowledge of nature."

Hoodwink came into popular use thanks not to St. Augustine's translator, but to an amateur falconer named William Shakespeare, who used the word over 50 times in his plays.

HAT TIP: Thanks to Ann Ramsey for inspiring this post. Falconry has given us many common words and expressions, including under my thumb and wrapped around my little finger―expressions Jim Bakker no doubt uses daily.

Saturday, September 2, 2017

On Labor and Genius

A map of the world that does not include Utopia
is not worth even glancing at.
— Oscar Wilde

Not only will it drive innovation and equality, a universal basic income will spark genius. Or so thought Oscar Wilde.

In his 1891 essay, "The Soul of Man under Socialism," Wilde envisioned a world where automation relieves everyone from work; and a guaranteed income, from competition, "that sordid necessity of living for others."

Spared work and competition, everyone is free "to realize the perfection of what was in him, to his own incomparable gain, and to the incomparable and lasting gain of the whole world."

In a world without work and competition, everyone "is perfectly and absolutely himself"—free to be, Wilde says, an ingenious individual. Poet or scientist, student or shepherd, playwright or theologian, fisherman or child, "it does not matter what he is," Wilde says, "as long as he realizes the perfection of the soul that is within him."

We'd call it authenticity.

Wilde also thought accumulated wealth to be a "nuisance," because its possession "involves endless claims upon one, endless attention to business, endless bother."

Accumulated wealth drags down the wealthy, because "the true perfection of man lies, not in what man has, but in what man is," Wilde says.

"In the interest of the rich we must get rid of it."

Friday, September 1, 2017

How to Build Your E-list

Serious B2B marketers know e-lists are the way to sway an audience (only face-to-face and telemarketing are better).

But how do you build an e-list?

Pratik Dholakiya, co-founder of E2M, recommends these six steps:

Find your keyword. This step separates the winners and losers. Winners choose a keyword that attracts their prospects; losers don't. Winners chose an intentional keyword, knowing it's probably the one most prospects search with, when shopping on line (mine is "copywriter"). Then, they lace their content with it (copywriter, copywriter, copywriter).

Plan unique content. Prospects will part with their email addresses if you offer content competitors don't. Here, substance always trumps form. Prospects want to learn from you, and don't care much whether you provide an e-book, white paper, video, podcast, webinar, template, spreadsheet, calculator, or quiz. Just be different.

Construct your landing page.
Think "tiny house." Short and sweet landing pages work best. Focus on prospects' pain-points and the grievances they harbor about your competitors' me-too content. Be sure to split-test your page, to be certain you've chosen the right pain-points and grievances. (Tip: develop your landing page before you develop your content. You'll discover what you're really selling people.)

Blog, blog, blog. Blogging's pure Google juice. You'll not only drive traffic to your landing page, but entice prospects to request your content. (Tip: write posts that explain why your content differs from competitors', but don't crow about it.)

Hammer your audience. Don't sit back and wait for inbound traffic; send emails, early and often. Keep them brief and include "influencers," as well as prospects, on your list. People like to share good stuff, so you'll accelerate your list-building effort.

Rinse, repeat. This step, again, separates the winners and losers. Winners work at list-building, again and again; losers think "one and done." Pick another keyword and repeat the whole process.

BONUS TIP: Kick-start your list-building effort by renting good prospect lists. We can help you.
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