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Open Big

That’s what Hollywood wants. Martha Stewart is a write off because her first episode of the Apprentice had horrible ratings. That female president show, on the other hand, is on a roll. The irony, of course, is that these ratings are based on the promotion and the premise, not the show itself–they reflect viewership before word of mouth or first-hand experience.

We all want to open big. We want our product launches to be instant successes. We want the resumes we send out to be opened in one day, a call the next, an interview the third and a corner office by the end of the week.

The new marketing, it appears, doesn’t work that way.

This is blog post #1,002 for me (I was so busy blogging today, the milestone flew right past… sorry). When I first started (thanks, Joi) many years ago, my readership was tiny. Just a few people a day. Today, they say this is one of the top 100 most-visited blogs in the English language… and I hear from people I never imagined I’d run into again (if I taught you canoeing in 1978, sure, send me an email!)

Permission Marketing : Turning Strangers Into Friends And Friends Into Customers. a book I wrote seven (SEVEN) years ago just went back to  press at the publisher and continues to sell. Unleashing the Ideavirus, which you can get for free online or in a handy paperback edition, came out five years ago… but they’re just now launching trade organizations around the ideas in it.

The bottom line is that it’s way way easier to start things than it used to be (opening a movie big costs a tenth of a billion dollars, while opening a blog costs about twenty). The natural, user-driven networks that make a product succeed or fail rarely hit all at once. But the snowball effect online is far more powerful than the old-world scream & dream approach.

So, what’s it mean to you?

Make something worth making.
Sell something worth talking about.
Believe in what you do because you may have to do it for a long time before it catches on.
Don’t listen to the first people who give you feedback.
Don’t give up. Not for a while, anyway.

Now, if you’ll excuse me, I gotta figure out how to help The Big Moo open big. Hope you’re around for post #2,004.

David Galbraith disagrees with me

…about my viral shorthand post. And he’s mostly right: David Galbraith.

What to drink while looking at your Donald Trump watch…

Thanks, Red…  Ed McMahon Vodka? You Are Correct Sir! | Liquor Snob.

Here it comes

For a few months now, I’ve had that feeling of the impending rush, the way you might feel just before a thunderstorm or at the beginning of a much-anticipated play. I used to feel that way when a copy of Wired or Fast Company hit my mailbox in 1996…

The web is changing, and so fast it’s almost impossible to keep up.

But Emily is trying.

Check out: Emily Chang – eHub.

In just a few weeks, she’s collected literally hundreds of new companies/projects that are examples of things that are turning the web upside down.

Hang on, here we go.

the browser wars

I apologize to anyone who signed up for ecomXpo who browses the web with Firefox. It turns out that the only way to watch the presentation is to have a PC (gasp) running IE (double yikes).

It’s unavoidable, and I’m told that they’re aware of the issue but, alas, that’s the way it is this time around. I just wanted you to know before you got there.

The interesting opportunity for Firefox is to reward sites (by giving them traffic) for making themselves incompatible with IE. Could get messy. (yes, that’s a joke).

Check out web 2.0

Dave’s new site: ROLLYO.

Web 2, in my opinion is the junction of:
1. large scale audiences with high bandwidth
2. no need to explain what you’re doing
3. lots of tools you can use to build your app so you don’t need a big team
4. user generated content
5. platform orientation

(note, it’s not just #4).

Tip: to be #1 (check out the most popular rollyo on the site) it helps to go first! I’ll never have a shot once it gets crowded.

Viral ideas and inside baseball

I’m getting a ton of mail about the iPod Nano "controversy". Mostly crowing about how powerful the blogosphere is and how the bloggers "won"  (Elizabeth sends us to On Demand Business : Blogs : Todd Watson.)

Well, the reason the idea spread so fast is that Apple is eminently viral, especially re: negative stories about new stuff. Report: Apple to replace iPod nanos with broken screens – Sep. 28, 2005

The thing is, I think we’re noticing this a whole lot more than the general public. (the line to buy Nanos at my local Apple store was huge). And I think there’s a danger here, because alert marketers are also online a lot, and if you drink your own koolaid, it can backfire (by the way, there wasn’t Kool Aid at Jonestown, it was Flavor Ade… another example of how ideas spread and leave a history).

Yes, Apple discovered that 1% of the Nanos were defective, and yes, within a week, they agreed to take them back. Good for them. But no, this isn’t the sort of groundswell public conversation that all the online pundits (like me) keep telling you about.

You never get a second chance to make a first impression. Noted. But you also never get a chance to tell a great story with a boring product. The real story here is how gaga the world went over the Nano. Don’t hesitate to build something like this just because someone might build a blog complaining about a broken screen. Nope. Build something this cool as fast as you can so you can be in the center of our conversations.

What about Ringo?

Robert Prisament points us to big news about Kiss: Kiss News on Yahoo! Music.

The guys in make up are about to hire other guys in make up to go out and sing in concert.

As the babyboomers age, what happens to personal brands? L. Ron Hubbard is gone, but Dianetics lives on. Mark Levinson is still around, but it’s not him behind those amplifiers that cost $10,000. Is there something inauthentic about buying Martha Stewart fabric that Martha didn’t make, or listening to a Kiss concert with someone else singing? Or for that matter, lip synching?

Is it okay for a blog post to be written by someone other than the blogger? Daily Kos is now written by a team, not a person…

First we got smaller, with lots of tiny, personal brands. Then, as those brands succeed, the temptation is to scale them.

And, yes, the Beatles were never the same after Pete Best left.

What makes an idea viral?

For an idea to spread, it needs to be sent and received.

No one "sends" an idea unless:
a. they understand it
b. they want it to spread
c. they believe that spreading it will enhance their power (reputation, income, friendships) or their peace of mind
d. the effort necessary to send the idea is less than the benefits

No one "gets" an idea unless:
a. the first impression demands further investigation
b. they already understand the foundation ideas necessary to get the new idea
c. they trust or respect the sender enough to invest the time

This explains why online ideas spread so fast but why they’re often shallow. Nietzsche is hard to understand and risky to spread, so it moves slowly among people willing to invest the time. Numa Numa, on the other hand, spread like a toxic waste spill because it was so transparent, reasonably funny and easy to share.

Notice that ideas never spread because they are important to the originator.

Notice too that a key dynamic in the spread of the idea is the capsule that contains it. If it’s easy to swallow, tempting and complete, it’s a lot more likely to get a good start.

But that doesn’t mean that there’s no role for mystery or ideas that unfold over time. In fact, the unmeasurable variable here is style. Howard Dean’s ideas spread at the beginning–not because of the economic ramifications of his immigration policy, but because of the factors above. The way they were presented fit into the worldview of those that spread them.

A key element in the spread of ideas is their visual element. iPods and visual styles spread faster in the real world than ephemeral concepts. Pictures and short jokes spread faster online because the investment necessary to figure out if they’re worth spreading is so tiny.

And of course, plenty of bad ideas spread. Panic, for instance, is a superbad idea at all times, but it spreads faster than most. That’s because spreading an idea is rarely a thoughtful, voluntary act. Instead, it is near the core of who we are, and we often do it without thinking much about the implications.

Live online

In October, I’ll be doing a presentation for eComXpo that will include a preview of the new Squidoo project. I wanted to let you know about it, and I finagled a free pass for my readers.

Go to eComXpo October 05 Registration and sign up. Choose the cheap option ($29). On the next screen, you’ll see it goes to $0.

It’s virtual, so there’s no travel, and the show lasts for three days, so you can come when you like. My talk is the first day, the sixth, in the morning, but you can catch it on reruns any time you like.