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News from Australia

Acland Brierty writes:

Hi Seth,

Loved your books and now discovered your blog. I have one story to share with you today along the “free prize inside” lines. A friend of mine has just set up a backpacker hotel in Melbourne. In order to get backpackers to talk about their hotel here is the free-prize they came up with… GIRLS!… if they could attract girls to the backpacker hotel then the boys would follow.

So they went to great lengths setting up girls dorms and private rooms with good security and -get this-  pamper packs (moisturizer, masks, and other girly stuff). The boys dorms were pretty standard military affairs. The result was girls were checking in in droves to use the facilities… and the boys followed… as did the local boys as well hoping to get some Swedish loving.

So the place is packed out simply because of some hair products, face cream and foreign girls.

I have one more for you as well…

I don’t know if you’ve ever heard of Paddi Lund… he’s a dentist in Brisbane that shocked the dental world by firing his clients… he then halved his client base and doubled his profits and works half the time. You see, dentists have the second highest suicide rate of any profession. And one day paddi was going to work depressed as hell, and got to thinking… What do I hate about my business. The answer was most of his clients, the sterile environment… the whole drill, fill and bill process.

So he broke his clients into A, B and C clients. “A” clients loved what he did, paid on time and told their friends. C clients always complained, turned up late and bitched about his fees. So he wrote to all the C clients and told them to find another dentist. He then LOCKED his doors and put a sign up saying… if you’re a client, ring the bell we’ll let you in. If you’re not a client there’s a dentist up the road.

He then took an axe to his business and put in an oven and a cappucino machine.

Now here’s the best bit… The only way you could become a client of Paddis was someone had to REFER you. IN fact the referral bit was a condition of doing business with him. Before he would work on you he’d say… I’m going to give you the best dental treatment and in return I have one condition that you must meet… you have to refer at least 3 people to my business.

Paddi realised that getting A customers to refer their friends would simply generate more A customers… people have friends that tend to be like themselves… good payers etc etc.

He then had a Guarantee… the FREE PRIZE!… NO PAIN!… What do people fear most about dentists? Pain… by working with less clients and in a more relaxed environment he was able to take his time and that meant better pain control.

 So that’s Paddi’s story… fired his clients, halved his workload and doubled his profits.

Interestingly, he has been asked to tour the USA many times sharing his vision of a FUN filled work place and has written a book about it.

Hope you have a great new year,


Yes, it’s true

9% of all USA Today bestsellers are diet books. Yet today the New England Journal of Medicine reports that two years after going on a diet, on average, people weigh more than when they started. USATODAY.com – Our lives are an open book.

Also worth noting: The CliffsNotes of The Scarlet Letter outsells the real book more than three to one.

The other side of the shards of glass coin

Courtesy of Don the Idea Guy.

Link: Tobacco Ad Gallery (tobaccofreekids.org).

Now in menthol, too!

Link: ShardsO’Glass.

Thanks to Mark Hurst for the link.

Thought for the Solstice

It occured to me today that there has never been a better time in history to be in the business of spreading ideas.

Whether you are looking for a freelance gig, evangelizing a religion or an operating system, building a business or fundraising for a non-profit, the tools and the environment have made your position more highly leveraged than ever before.

If your ideas are the right ones, they will spread far and wide and fast.

This is powerful. Let’s all use it wisely. Just because an idea can spread doesn’t mean you should spread it.

I, for one, am fascinated at how the whole thing is going to unfold. In the meantime, do something amazing. The world is watching.

A new hierarchy

Promise Phelon (The Phelon Group) sent over a white paper her firm recently did about a new hierarchy based on Maslow’s famous self-actualization pyramid.


My take? You start with something that does what you say it will. You add value when you provide swift support, but even better, when it becomes clear to a user that there are ways that the product can do even more than they expected. And finally, you win when you create mutually beneficial relationships. These are easiest to imagine in the business to business world (conferences, professional advancement) but you can also see how this could apply, for example, to an iPod. It starts as a music player. It becomes a calendar and photo book. And finally, it’s hip jewelry that gets you a date.

My guess is that Promise was thinking of something a lot more substantial than that, but in a society filled with people in search of meaning, it’s worth a riff.

Blog disclosure

I wonder if the blogworld benefits if bloggers are crystal clear about their goals and influences?

For example, a statement like this:

This blog doesn’t accept ads or sponsorships. I don’t own stock or accept royalties from any company or product mentioned on this blog or in my books. I don’t serve on any boards. On occasion, I’m delighted to accept samples of stuff with very small (under $20 or so) value, just to be nice. I have to tell you, though, that there’s no correlation between mentioning stuff and whether or not someone sent it to me. I would change that policy immediately if Lotus sent over an Elise. I also go out of my way not to write about things if someone sends me a press release.

My goal in creating this blog is to spread my ideas and keep me from having to write a book about every single thing that pops into my head. I’m an amateur, not a professional.

If any of this changes, I promise to let you know.

More on politics and marketing

Jeff nails it: BuzzMachine… by Jeff Jarvis.

Sometimes, Purple Cows are

Black and White.

the black and white store.

The Music Industry: Aspen Report

Every year, Jim Lewi does a conference in Aspen about and for the music business. This year, they asked me to come out and speak with them.

The conference is off the record, but one attendee (Bob Lefsetz) put together a summary (at times a little salty, so don’t read if your ears are sensitive) and sent it to some press folks. Here it is, unedited:

We’re gonna start a business.

Lewi’s a business book fanatic. To tell you the truth, I don’t believe in them. Except maybe Clayton Christensen’s. And, of course, the classic “Tipping Point”. Usually they’re written by self-declared wannabes. Or people who think just because THEY were successful ONCE they know all the answers. Bullshit. So when Jim lobbied all of us to have Seth Godin speak at Aspen Live, we all said NO! But it’s Jim’s conference. He got Scott down to a reasonable price and overruled us.

I was wrong. This was the first time I’d heard a business speaker who GOT IT! Who I thought was on my wavelength. Who had something to impart other than his desire for a check.

Seth Godin said you’ve got to give it away for free. Since we refuse to charge.

Oh, Mr. Godin doesn’t think music should be free. It’s just that we should charge at the ISP level. Give MORE music for LESS money.

Shit, seems like EVERYBODY knows this other than the Big Four.

But, since the major labels are shooting themselves in the foot AND music is free, then you’ve got to sell a souvenir.

Wait a second. Music isn’t and shouldn’t be free!!!

If you believe that, you’re suing kids. Kids who know that the odds of a lawsuit reaching them are about as high as their parents getting videotape of them puking at the college mixer. FURTHERMORE, even if somehow the labels won, even locked down the hardware, there STILL would be no restriction on people giving music away who WANTED to. And people would STILL gravitate to this free music.

But since music is now free… You’ve got to sell something else.

Actually, at this point, to a great degree that something else IS the CD.

That’s what I think anyway, Mr. Godin wasn’t this sophisticated. I scratch my head and WONDER how we can still sell CDs to rippers and downloaders. Who seemingly only want the digital file. I’ve decided they’re TOTEMS! BADGES OF HONOR! A way to express your IDENTITY! AND, Seth DID say to do the math. That even if TEN MILLION PEOPLE got your stuff for free, if one tenth paid, you still were selling a MILLION COPIES! The majors have it all wrong. They’re suing Grokster to insure that their business remains small. No, the key is to BLOW THE BUSINESS UP! To have hit music on TENS OF MILLIONS of hard drives. But the majors can’t think that way. They’re like the hat business. All the businesses Mr. Godin had slides of. That went out of business. WHAT ABOUT THE STOCKHOLDERS someone chirped in from the peanut gallery? What about all those people who owned STOCK in the major labels? Well, the stagecoach company had stockholders too…

It’s all about permission marketing. Getting people to ALLOW you to sell to them. All the old wave marketing. On TV. It no longer works. Because of CLUTTER! Hell, I can see the same thing at MY HOUSE! I’m so INUNDATED with music that I listen to almost none of it. I need a REASON to listen. And it’s not traditional. Hell, even AIRPLAY doesn’t impress me. I’ve got to KNOW the person involved. Or else somebody NOT involved has to tell me it’s happening. And these people I trust. The relationship isn’t built in a day. And it’s based on honesty. Ongoing veracity. And you overhype me once, break my trust once, and you’re done.

Oh, Seth told a great story about CD Now. You remember CD Now. They ruled the online CD sales world. They sent a newsletter of new releases once a month and response was INCREDIBLE! They were bought out/merged and the new money men said to send e-mail to customers TWICE a month. Business went up. Then ONCE A WEEK! Business went up further! Then every three DAYS! And CD Now went out of business. Because now most of their audience was IGNORING the e-mails. CD Now blew it. They busted up the relationship.

But how are you supposed to reach the audience? How are you supposed to break the next diva?

You’re not. Sure, every once in a while there’s a Celine Dion, but most times the center, the mainstream, is a money pit. You spend a fortune to reach those mildly interested.

Yes, mildly interested.

You’ve got to work the fringes. Where the FANS are. Let THEM grab hold.

And then THEY’LL spread the idea. Seth calls this an “ideavirus”. And the people who spread the word “sneezers”. In reality, it’s just different language from Malcolm Gladwell. What we’re talking about here IS the tipping point. And connectors. But the key element is it’s SANS MARKETING! It’s not about beating people over the head, but getting your innovative idea out there. And hoping it catches fire.

And, you can’t short circuit the process anymore. Because the public has been street teamed to death. No, your only choice is to find something REAL! Something SO hot that people will want to sell it FOR YOU!!

First you’ve got to get eyeballs.

We listened to Seth on Thursday. And asked questions thereafter. Then on

Friday, we attempted to come up with an outline of our business.

There were some who cringed when they heard the word “Internet”. ENOUGH ALREADY! We’re selling CDS!!!

But the Net is where the AUDIENCE is. The SNEEZERS!

Shit, just go to a house where teenagers live. PRE-TEENS! Right after school. FOR HOURS kids all over America sit in front of their computers and IM!!! MULTIPLE PEOPLE AT ONCE!! WHAT DO YOU THINK THEY’RE TALKING ABOUT???

And it’s not only kids now. Even adults are starting to IM. And certainly e-mail has infiltrated the marketplace. We’ve seen a paradigm shift. GET OVER IT!

But then there were people who said that music couldn’t be given away for FREE! It DEVALUED IT!!! Sent the wrong MESSAGE!!

THIS was a head-scratcher. The MAJOR LABELS made it free. By REFUSING TO LICENSE!!!

Music IS free. ENOUGH with the re-education programs. What, do we live in a third world country? Where the government tries to repress a suddenly informed populace? People know the truth. That you can download just about anything. And you can’t really stop it. It’s only the MAJOR LABELS who disagree.

Yup, I’ve got to single out one Cliff O’Sullivan. Who stopped the proceedings to tell us that the lawsuits were WORKING! That majors were selling a PLETHORA of CDs. That they weren’t going to go out of business. That there WERE pricing issues, but they’d been SOLVED!!

Shit, sounds like someone who works for Zach Horowitz.

I don’t know Mr. O’Sullivan personally. Maybe he’s a nice guy. Then again, he IS quite intense. But STATISTICS tell us he’s wrong. The number of files being traded has GONE UP!!! Public perception is that music is overpriced. And, the CD IS a souvenir. But it won’t be in the future. THIS is the kind of thinking that will drive the majors RIGHT OFF THE CLIFF!

Then again, Peter Tempkins had great insight on the lift the next day. Those leading the charge, those in front of the room facilitating the creation of our business were all ENTREPRENEURS! All people who could come to a decision and instantly EFFECTUATE IT! And almost ALL the naysayers worked for the man, the corporation. They couldn’t just say YES! There were higher-ups, policy, A WAY OF DOING BUSINESS! You just couldn’t throw the rule book OUT!

But that’s what Shawn Fanning did. That’s what most kids have done. It’s reality. GET OVER IT!

The key is to aggregate a TON of eyeballs. And gain their trust. And THEN to figure out how to sell them.

Yup, we’ve got that luxury. We’re not borrowing money from the public via Wall Street. We’ve all got regular jobs. We’re ALREADY selling things ourselves. But, we can SELL MORE if we can create a place where the AUDIENCE comes. An audience that TRUSTS US!

Hell, build it and they will truly come. Not only Internet advertisers, but the record companies THEMSELVES! As I told the Board the next day, if we aggregate music fans labels will PAY US to GIVE AWAY MP3s on our site. Yup, they’ll argue about music being free up front, but once we’ve BUILT IT they’ll be DYING to play. Because it’s JUST LIKE RADIO! But BETTER! Because our constituency will TRUST US! And we won’t sell space to EVERYBODY! And if it comes directly from the major label, we’ll call it WEASEL HYPE OF THE WEEK! Because that’s what it is. But, we’ll allow the major label to sell it as hard as they want. With all the bio and historical info they’ve got. Although now it will have to be written WELL, be INTERESTING, since this isn’t newspaper reporters who don’t care, but TRUE FANS, who don’t want to be LIED TO! Who are HUNGRY FOR INFO, as long as it’s real, and it’s INTERESTING! Gain their trust, and they’ll be looking for YOUR COMPANY’S giveaways. And WE won’t abuse their trust by giving away A TON of your shitty music. We’ll only give away one track at a time. Not abusing OUR relationship with OUR fans/customers. Oh, we’ll give away stuff they WANT!!! We just won’t be HYPING THEM ALL THE TIME!!!

We finally got it together in Saturday’s meeting.

I’m not going to give away most of our ideas, because you could rip them off. WOULD rip them off. Since you never had an original idea in your life. To think out of the box is ANATHEMA to those entrenched.

But the audience is yanking you from your perch.

The key is to throw in with the audience. FOLLOW THEM!

That’s the goal of our site. It’s not about beating THEM over the head, SELLING THEM. No, our site will be GIVEN OVER to the public. It’s THEIRS!!!! We’re just creating the framework. Which we will adjust based on their feedback. But they’ve got a hunger. For what we provide. And we’re gonna provide it.