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« February 2006 | Main | April 2006 »

When did the Beatles

Beatlesrunning_1 ...become THE Beatles?

I was looking through a day by day biography of the group last night, and it quickly became clear that the image that we have of the four youngsters running away from their screaming fans didn't happen overnight.

At the beginning, they were playing two or three clubs a day, dives, making a few pounds if they were lucky. Not for a month or two, but for years and years.

As they got more traction, the thing you notice is how often they showed up on the radio. They were constantly on one radio show or another, or one multi-billed concert or another. The marketing picture probably looked like this:

Picture_2 Outbound marketing in every possible direction. Auditions for record labels, rejections, pitches to media outlets, concerts on spec, concerts for anyone who would show up. This is classic marketing, stuff that's easy to forget when we listen to the Shea Stadium concert or see the flickr guys on the cover of Newsweek. It's easy to imagine that suddenly, everyone knows you, wants you and makes it easy for you.

The next stage was brief but essential. That's when people started noticing them, started showing up, started screaming. At this moment, the Beatles didn't stop marketing. They didn't stop doing radio shows at the BBC or flying all night to play a concert in Denver (empty seats) or Kansas. During the transition stage, in fact, the Beatles and their management really poured it on.

One of the most misunderstood and misused phrases in marketing (okay, in business) is Malcolm Gladwell's, "the tipping point." The Beatles didn't tip. Nothing magical happened. Instead, gradually, they shifted from being the chasers into being the chased.
Picture_3_1
These were the Beatles on Ed Sullivan and the Beatles on tour and the Beatles making wigs and the Beatles making movies and pioneering music videos. It was the Beatles in a frenzy, not sure what was going to come next, but pretty sure that it could all disappear in a heartbeat.

Many organizations reach this stage and stop. They harvest. They take profits and remind themselves that they are geniuses, all powerful and immune to the laws of boredom.

Only by pushing through this stage and by using their newfound power to create the last stage of their career did the Beatles actually become the Beatles.

When we rewrite history (and we do it every day) it's easy to imagine that Starbucks and JetBlue and all the other poster children for new successes just got blessed. It's almost never the case, though. It's just that it's easier to think of them as winners.

No fool

MSN, ranked #3 in the world for traffic, has donated ad space on their home page this weekend to help us promote The Big Moo. In a world where there's more talk than action, I can only smile and applaud. Thanks, guys. (The Big Moo donates 100% of all author royalties to charity).

The ads that you'll see were created by Simon Andrews, founding partner of big picture and by Scott Case at Networkforgood.org. They competed against a wide range of talent, and came up with the winning executions. Scott's goal as chairman of Network for Good  is for you to donate to your favorite charities online. Here's my list of favorite charities. Feel free to check it out and you can create your own.

Plussing

Here's a great Walt Disney phrase, new to me, which is similar to edgecraft.

Plussing.

Taking your work a little farther. Going closer to an edge, whichever edge.

Is there anything you can't plus? Anything you can't make simpler, more luxurious, cheaper, more extreme? Anything you can't make more remarkable?

The trade off, of course, is in the time and money it takes.

But not really. I was tricking you. The trade off is in the perceived risk it takes. Pushing your team a little harder in one direction means you're going away from the center, abandoning "everyone" to really appeal to "someone". And that's the secret of edgecrafting. Plussing yourself all the way to the edge, whatever that edge is.

See The Ward-O-Matic: Ava Thursday: Plussing Faces, via Mark at boingboing.

Home run!

Link: Scott Heiferman's Notes: 50 Reasons Why People Aren't Using Your Website.

1. Because they don't want to generate content, they want better life

2. Because it solves a problem they don't have

3. Because it won't help them with their problem

4. Because oprah didn't mention it

5. Because everyone they know isn't using it

6. Because it doesn't let them spy on people they care about

7. Because they just don't care about what they see

8. Because nobody at work said they should use it (and 42 more!)

Speaking in NYC

I'll be at Gel on Friday, May 5: Good Experience Live (Gel).

How do you spell agony?

As in defeat?

I was talking to my good friend Mike today, and spelling bees came up. I still remember losing my third-grade spelling bee (Elisa Silverberg beat me... I didn't know that there was a 'd' in 'handkerchief.')

Well, Mike made it to the nationals (no surprise). He still remembers the word he missed as well. He was nine.

And that's one reason it's so hard to do remarkable work. Because we're sure that we'll remember the screwups forever. It's just easier to play it safe and not have to worry about the highlights reel with the wipeout on it.

Of course, there are new rules now. Without wipeouts, you can't grow.

Black suits

Competition I was giving a speech at a hotel in Philly this week and found myself completely engulfed in a sea of black suits. Literally hundreds of eager beaver college kids, all milling about preparing themselves for a competition. Sife.org runs a nationwide tournament, where students compete with business and community projects.

The thing is: there's no rule that says you have to wear a black suit when you present.

Everyone is so focused on not messing up, on not blowing it, on not standing out that they all blend together instead. I talked to a few of the competitors. Amazing kids. Focused, smart, dedicated. I wish, though, that they could realize (before it's too late) that standing out is better than being invisible.

Tom Asacker on Stress

Best thing I've read today: acleareye.com: Lily Tomlin on stress.

Going to meetings

A lot of people get paid to go to meetings.

Not to haul lumber or polish steel or clean sewers. Nope, we get paid to go to meetings. Sales calls, presentations, and strategy sessions.

There's been an awful lot written about how to be a better salesperson, or how to give a presentation worthy of your audience's attention.

I want to take a few paragraphs to talk about your obligations at being in the audience.

When a sales rep shows up for a scheduled meeting, it seems to me that you're not doing her a favor. You agreed to the meeting. You're getting paid to be there. You might as well get as much out of it as you can, right?

I mean, if you were a volunteer, or if you're at home, it's a little different. But here you are at work, not pounding bricks with a sledgehammer... you've got the Evian and the air conditioning and hey, it's your job to go to this meeting.

So go!

Make it work.

Same thing with that 30 minute Powerpoint that the head of the division is showing to twenty of you. Or that seminar you're scheduled to go to tomorrow.

Here are a few tips, tips that are based on one assumption: if you do a better job in the audience, the person speaking will do a better job. You'll learn more, get more, accomplish more, today and the next time she comes back as well.

So, here goes:

When you meet the sales rep in the lobby, have a few interesting questions ready. Offer her a glass of water. Be on time. Act like you're glad she's there. Even if you're not, acting that way will get her to do a better job, and that's your job, right?

When you go to the presentation in the auditorium, don't sit in the back row. It doesn't matter if you don't feel like sitting in the front row, you should. The presenter will do a better job. And if you're tired, work hard at smiling and making contact. The presenter will do better, especially if he's particularly boring and nervous.

Don't bring a bag of Fritos. Don't sit back. Don't close your eyes.

Do bring snacks for your guest. Do lean forward. Do smile at attempts at humor. Laugh, even.

When the sales rep is giving you the specs on the steel pipes or the consulting services, challenge him. Ask hard questions. Figure out what he knows. If it's worth you having him come over, it's worth discovering what he knows.

When the sales call is over, tell the truth. Don't say, "we'll get back to you," unless you intend to. If you're going to meet with your boss on Friday, tell him. If it's not your decision, tell him.

Why?

Well, first of all, it's your job. Second, it's more likely he'll try hard for you the next time you need him to.

If someone flies across the country to see you, offer to call her a cab to get back to the airport. If you can, put it on your account. It makes a huge difference.

When you treat your vendors the way you'd like your vendors treated, it comes back to you. It pays off. It gets you better information, better attention, better prices. You're a professional at your desk. You should be a professional at a meeting, too.

Waiting in line

The airport in Las Vegas is at maximum capacity. It's jammed. There is a line for everything, even the men's room.

What amazed me, though, was the line ten or twelve deep at the food concessions. People were waiting ten minutes or longer to buy a bottle of water for $2.59 or a yogurt for a few dollars.

All day, every day. A line.

On the way home from the airport I called an organization that sells $500 training programs to businesses. Even though I was trying to reach someone that worked there, I was calling in on the orders line (the only number I had). I waited 15 minutes to talk to a real person.

Think about that.

In both cases, this is the last step of a very expensive chain. It's expensive to rent that space in the airport. Expensive to outfit it. Expensive to bring in all the supplies. It's expensive to build a training business, expensive to have the outbound marketing, the brochures, the events worth talking about.

The last step, though, that's cheap. The last step, the step where someone actually takes your money--it's not just cheap, it's nothing but incremental profit.

It amazed me that no one had bothered to look a the concessions at the airport. To do simple things, like change the pricing so that with tax, everything came out evenly--no need to make change. Or to change the product line up, eliminating the items that take five times as long to prepare. Never mind the more creative things, like having an employee working the line, taking orders in advance and bringing back change so that the person at the counter could work three or four times faster...

And what about the training company? This is classic business-to-business order taking, and I'm unable to think of one reason that you don't get a human being on the first ring. No auto attendant, no queue. Just a person, ready to answer the phone. Even one non-lost order a day pays for an entire person's salary.

It's difficult to cost-reduce yourself to growth.

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