The latest book, Poke The Box is a call to action about the initiative you're taking - in your job or in your life, and Seth once again breaks the traditional publishing model by releasing it through The Domino Project.
Great Caesar's Ghost! What's going on here? There's art?
It's like discovering a new cuisine or art form for the first time. Something you never knew existed, and then suddenly, you uncover an entire subculture.
What's next? People who enjoy dressing up as stuffed animals?
So, the predictable flurry of puff pieces is out to accompany the launch of Microsoft's Zune. The Times article includes the obligatory rockstar shot of the pointing brand manager, as well as the money quote, "The first days of working on Zune were like working in a start-up company..."
Of course, the question every entrepreneur asks is not how do I get a Zune, but, "How do we get an article like that one?"
The problem with most PR strategies is that they are actually publicity strategies, and the number of really good publicity spots available is tiny. And companies like Microsoft get a big share of them, because they're not reserved for the good, they are reserved for the big. The Zune was panned by the Times and many other reviewers just last week, and yet here's a piece that's practically written by their PR firm. What's up with that?
The answer is surprisingly transparent. The Times considers this news, news worthy of two photos and a front of the biz section placement because, "...after committing hundreds of millions of dollars, Microsoft is scheduled to release that device, Zune."
In other words, if you spend 9 figures on a tech device or a movie, you can count on publicity like this.
If you can't, time for plan B. Plan B is to hope for this but not count on it. Plan B is to have a plan that works just fine without counting on a busy editor at the local paper to make it work.
So I'm driving into New York City this morning and we notice that the car next to us is being driven by a guy who is playing the flute. It's more of a recorder, actually, but flute-sized, without the big mouthpiece. Anyway, he's driving while playing, using his knees to steer. In thirty years of driving, I don't think I've ever seen something quite as ridiculous (or dangerous).
Then, an hour later, driving back north, we pass another car, driven by a different person, also playing the flute. A real flute, the silver kind. Also driving with his knees. At seventy miles an hour.
Hey, I know a trend when I see one. Consider yourself warned.
[PPS on Monday, Marti sent us this flute news... from 2003. It's global]
One more thing to add to your list of new media worries.
They didn't recall Tylenol. The Google magic computer looked for an image that matched acetaminophen. It turned up a Tylenol bottle. Tylenol, of course, isn't being recalled. The Google magic computer didn't do it on purpose, but it sure doesn't make it any better.
Standing in a Radio Shack yesterday, I watched a customer walk in with her new phone. With box. With receipt. She says, "This phone came without a power cord."
The clerk argued for a while.
The manager came over. He proclaimed it impossible that it was missing. He then offered, "as a one-time accomodation" to sell her a new power cord for half price.
First, why bother with the one-time nonsense? Do they keep a list? Does every Radio Shack in America now have this woman's picture in the back... "Don't sell her another power cord!"
But worse, why not just say, "Get out! We hate you! We don't trust you! We don't want your business!" Because that's what charging her $10 for a new cord was.
Either you're going to make someone happy or you're not. Doing the 'right' thing is irrelevant.
Here's the short version: If you try to teach a customer a lesson, you've just done two things:
a. failed at teaching a lesson
b. lost a customer
This is a two-part thank you.
First off, The Big Moo hit a milestone this week. Because we've sold so many copies, the publisher has sent us an additional $50,000. This money, on behalf of the thirty three authors, is going directly to three charities that are changing the world: Room to Read, JDRF and the Acumen Fund. This will fund another scientist's research, build most of a new school and library in Cambodia and help fund a new factory for malaria bednets in Tanzania. I want to thank each of the authors and especially you, for supporting the book.
Then, just two days later, Squidoo posted lens #50,000. To celebrate, we're making an additional contribution to Oxfam, and we're challenging you. Here's the one day challenge: go build a holiday lens (about stuff, about life, about your site, about your blog) and have all the royalties earmarked for Room to Read. If every reader of this blog and every lensmaster on Squidoo builds just one lens today, we'll create tens of thousands of lenses, each donating money every day to build new schools. It only takes a few minutes...
So, from deep down: thanks.
I was riffing with someone about an idea last week and I told him he had the, "chicken and an egg problem." It seemed like he knew what I meant, and I thought I knew what I meant, but I've since decided it's worth a few paragraphs.
The quick background is that chicken and egg is a cliche for a (false) conundrum: which came first? [it's false because the egg came first... the only thing a chicken can come out of is a chicken egg, while something that's not quite a chicken yet could lay a real chicken egg... sorry to digress].
When a business is described as a chicken and egg problem business, we're going back to the cliff. The only reason people want to use it is that other people are already using it! In other words, no one wants to go first.
There are countless innovations that would make our world a better place (and would make you a wealthy marketer). The problem with almost all of them is that getting from here to there is almost impossible. That doesn't mean you shouldn't try, but it does mean you should count on failing. Sure, every once in a while an eBay happens. But for every business that solves the chicken/egg problem, there are thousands that fail (insert dead chicken/broken egg joke here).
In almost every case I can think of, the problem isn't solved by fixing a big industry. It's just too hard to get all the big players to change at once. Instead, the problem is solved in a tiny industry (college admissions a hundred years ago) and then the industry grows around it. So, if you've got a breakthrough for the big guys, watch out.
NBC Universal just launched their own version of YouTube today.
They forgot to turn on the user-submissions part (lawyers, probably) and there are certainly some glitches, but there's a lot of content here as well.
The billion (point six) dollar question is this: are there going to be 1,000 YouTubes or just one?
It's not a price war, because they're all free. It's not a carriage war, because anyone can use any of them.
If you're not an investor, the real question is this: how do you create ideas that spread on all of them?