How to Initiate and Participate in Conversation… Effectively

February 9, 2008

One of the main tenets of web marketing is that of the “most wanted response.” The basic idea is that for each web page, you should have exactly one goal. No more, no less. One goal for what you want the user to do.

It can be anything from clicking to the next page, signing up for an offer, buying something, or just watching a video. It doesn’t matter what it is such that each page has its own goal that fits into some larger picture.

And it turns out that understanding this will make you much better at starting or participating in contested, heated, and/or emotional discussions, especially when in print.

Let me explain.

When you are introducing a topic you KNOW will be hotly debated, it is tempting to cover every single base, explain every little facet around the issue, and include seemingly useful, auxiliary nuggets of wisdom. Some might call this “making a strong initial argument.”

But doing so could doom the conversation before it even begins. In covering all that territory and making all those points, you very well could dilute the focus and shift it away from the main point.

Different aspects of your multi-faceted argument will trigger different readers’ to respond, creating a diverging down pour of emotion and not necessarily productive, cumulatively progressive conversation. In face to face conversation, a controlling comment or 2 can usually get things back on track, but this isn’t always as easy in print.

To alleviate this, keep it short and concise or conclude your diatribe with a summary of your main, foundational points , perhaps ending with a question that jump starts the conversation in your desired direction.

What are your best methods for keeping a conversation focused and progressive?


Keep Your Word

February 9, 2008

 I understand that this offer isn’t available to everyone, and I will not be able to return here or receive the special discount later if I decide to leave the page now.

When you make a prospect click “yes” to statements like that, it’s probably best to actually back them up. Otherwise you’re training your customers and prospects to disbelieve everything you say about deadlines & scarcity, which are some of the most influential aspects of your sales pitch.

Your Rep

February 7, 2008

Your rep is built and maintained not just by what you are, but also by what you are not.

Not just by what you say, but also what you don’t say.

And not just by what you buy, but also by what you don’t buy.


Infinite Realities

January 28, 2008

I was speaking with Khailee the other day about aggression and one’s perception of reality, and it has sparked some continued pondering.

We speak of Reality as if it is singular, but, is it really?

Your perception of the key turning point in the last Packer game or conceptualization of what exactly Obama represents for White America are probably both different than mine. On a less ambiguous note, what constitutes as “spicy” is an oft-debated topic.

So, the representation of reality is different in every person’s mind. Is this worth noting?

You bet.

It means when you want to deliver a message, you’re better off tailoring it for every different set of ears you speak to. It means that what resonates with one constituency won’t necessarily resonate with another.

Here’s an example:

The HoboHookah website currently has sales copy tailored to travelers and hard party-goers. Send someone who’s into those sort of activities to the site and we generally do pretty well. The HoboHookah as an item is congruent with the reality those people desire or are a part of (within their own mind).

But. Send a hard core smoker there and we often stumble if we don’t fall.

Part of what I think is happening here is that we aren’t setting the Hobo up to mesh with the reality of those nuanced hookah consumers. There’s a gap between our portrayal of what the Hobo provides and the needs within these readers’ realities. We aren’t shaping the message well enough for them to see how it can fit in their reality.

When you’re creating or delivering a message, understand the reality you’re trying to fit it in, or else it will never find its place there.

Website Usability, Targeted Messages, and Ben Mack

January 26, 2008

I recently powered through a book I really liked, called Think Two Products Ahead. (Interestingly, I just saw the byline of the book on Amazon and it insinuates it has three authors, not one. Not sure what to derive from that.) It’s an excellent book and I recommend it.

The book was a superb introduction to branding for me, and inspired a load of ideas to test or apply in my business(es). His real, somewhat gritty use of language really jived with me and led me to sign up for his email list on his website. I wanted to hear more from him.

Sadly, this is where my awe for Ben ended. It’s obvious he’s been in cohorts with internet marketers (or direct marketers, as he plainly mentions in the book) as the long copy of the site reveals. This itself isn’t a bad thing, but the difficulty in finding his additional resources sure is. Please, it isn’t just potential customers coming to your site, it’s also REAL customers. Cater to them both.

Make it easy for me to find the resources you mentioned in your book. I am seeking to consume more of your content, to build a wider bridge from me to your personal brand, but you’re making it really hard.

The nails in the coffin are the continuous, completely irrelevant emails I continue to receive (it appeared I had to opt in at the web site to get the additional stuff).

Why did you just email me an affiliate link to meditation? I did not ask for this, nor did I give any indication it would fit with my interests.

And sadly, the emails contain little value beyond mildly interesting copy observations. Every day, a new irrelevant pitch for a product. Every day, my desire to see your name in my inbox or on my book shelf decreases.

This is not the way to build a deeper relationship. And I don’t think this is Thinking Two Products Ahead, either.

It’s time to follow your own advice, dude.

One versus Many

January 21, 2008

You may have many customers.

You may have many employees.

You may have many readers of your blog.

But while there are many of “them,” there is only one of you. And so for that one initial moment when they contact you, you will be receiving their full attention.

How much of yours do you give them?

Travel and Proximity Relationships

January 19, 2008

Two thought pieces I’ve read lately have catalyzed some thoughts in my mind. The first was Tim Ferriss’ words on urban camping and what travel should really be about:

Experiential travel isn’t about places, it’s about people. About exploring different interpretations of the human experience: what’s important and what isn’t, what can wait and what can’t, what’s beautiful and what isn’t, etc.

The second piece I can’t find specifically, but it is a riff Seth Godin consistently proclaims, which is that the most effective way to market a cause or movement is to increase the proximity of said cause to the target audience. Make it fit their world view. Here’s an example of why he believes a global warming movement hasn’t taken off like it should:

It doesn’t fit the worldview of the very people you’re trying to reach and influence. Most Americans care about a very very short time horizon, and are easily swayed with group pressure on things like patriotism and faith. (Just try to criticize people for spending time and money in church and you’ll see what I mean.) Global warming is vague and distant.

And this got me thinking about travel, and the impact it has that very first time you venture beyond your own border. Suddenly, sidewalks matter again because they aren’t perfectly flat, easy to walk on squares anymore.

A trip to the grocery story is exactly that; a Trip, because you can’t perfectly interpret all those labels or find your favorite toaster tarts.

These may seem like trivial issues, and they probably are if you’re sitting in the comfort of your own couch in the comfort of your own zip code. But step outside your Zone and the triviality falls away.

How do proximity and world view play into this?

Traveling to, or (even better) setting up shop in a foreign land, places that culture in much closer proximity to your world view, potentially even becoming a part of it.

Your friend studies abroad in the Middle East. Upon his return you listen to his stories with waning interest and pick up a few tips on what what to eat “when you go there.” All the sudden he breaks out a hookah… and BAM – now you, the urban hipster, can relate.

And the hookah acts as a bridge for you to that distant place fast becoming and actual blip on your radar. You watch the news and see a clip of soldiers at a hookah cafe in Baghdad and for some reason it seems a little less distant than before. Baghdad is no longer an ominous vacuum devoid of good news; now it’s a bit more personal to you, the listener.

And for your buddy who studied in the region, it’s like a neighborhood nearby.

And that, I think, is the power of traveling and why we need more of it, not less. As your world view increases, so too does the proximity of those far off places.

The first step to magnifying this is fitting travel and its importance into the world view of the 80% or so of our citizens without that crucial travel document.

Where size does and does not matter

January 18, 2008

Of late, the size and audacity of goals have been on my mind, and I’ve been telling people the size of yours should make others uncomfortable.

The size of your goal matters.

That 1st step you take towards it does not.

Especially if a longer-term, mapped out direction is new to you. Just make sure your velocity is always towards, and not away. The results then follow with time.