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Landing page of the week

No doubt what’s going on, no doubt about whether you want to use it or not, no doubt about what to do next: traineo | Weight Loss Community.

The graphics tell a story that’s backed up by the offering… No guarantees that it’s going to work, but it feels very powerful.

PS interesting comparison to Daily Plate. Both work, in different ways.

When culture gets stuck

Classical music wasn’t always ‘classical’.

Geeks spend a lot of time worrying about the cutting edge, focusing on creating digg bait, reaching the early adopters, making something cool enough and fresh enough to capture attention and to spread.

We spend very little time thinking about the other end of the curve.

That’s where culture gets stuck.

Once something makes its way to the mass market, the mass market doesn’t want it to change. And once it moves from that big hump in the middle of the market to become a classic, the market doesn’t just want it to not change, they insist.

So classical music gets stuck because the new stuff isn’t like the regular kind, the classics. French food got stuck, because no restaurant could risk its 3 stars to try something new. A convention can’t change cities or formats. Schools can’t start their curriculum over… the culture gets stuck because the masses want it be stuck.

That’s because the late adopters and the laggards have plenty of money and influence–while the early adopters have a short attention span and rank low in persistence.

Inside most fields, we see pitched battles between a few people who want serious change to reinvigorate the genre they love–and the masses, who won’t tolerate change of any kind. Hey, there are still people arguing vehemently about whether Mass should be in Latin or not.

History has shown us that the answer is crystal clear: if you want change, you’ve got to leave. Change comes, almost always, from the outside. The people who reinvented music, food, technology and politics have always gone outside the existing dominant channels to create something new and vital and important.

The 8 Free Things Every Site Should Do

Are there only eight? of course not.

But I thought I’d pick eight to start with: The 8 Free Things Every Site Should Do.

Print out the lens and bring it to your next IT/Marketing meeting. If you’re not doing all of them, I’m not sure you’re serious.

Balloon Marketing

A poster on flickr wants to know what I think of balloon marketing™, and why car dealerships use it.

I have a guess: Because it looks like you’re trying.

Old chairs, ugly paneling, flourescent lights, smelly carpets–these things do not look like you’re making an effort. Helium balloons and fresh flowers, on the other hand, do.

And it’s human nature to believe that someone who is willing to try is someone who might cut you a better deal, might be a bit easier to deal with, might actually lead to a process you enjoy.

Politics and the New Marketing

Well, fall is here, so it’s time for a quick roundup of the good and the ineffective in political marketing:

This book by Richard Viguerie lays out, far better than any traditional marketing book, the step by step approach that patient politicians can take to outlast and outpromote competing ideas. Emergencies rarely work in campaign strategy.

This site takes a totally different tack. No direct response here, just a virus in the making.

Pastor John Hagee spreads his ideas by making deliberately provocative statements (‘Katrina was God’s way of punishing gay sinners in New Orleans’) that he knows will upset and outrage many people.

This group has 51 members (after a few days) and is started by an ordinary non-politican person. For free. What happens when it has 51,000 members? 500,000? It’s unlikely that this particular cause and this particular site is the one, but have no doubt that it’s happening. There will be a woot or a digg or a daily candy for every political point of view.

And finally, Senator Barack Obama blows part of his hard-earned credibility by spamming people looking for $50 donations for the DSCC (hint: if it starts with "Dear SETH," it’s probably not personally written by the Senator.)

Your political goals (right, left or center) don’t really change the reality that marketing in politics is changing forever. The idea of a spend-and-burn candidacy is fading (how much more than a billion dollars per cycle can we spend?) and it’s being replaced by a person-by-person, viral approach that relies more than ever on authentic storytelling and worldviews.

Is it a good thing? It might be. It doesn’t really matter whether politicians like it or not, though, it’s happening. Behind the scenes, outside the Beltway, there are new assemblies of people coming together, people who are giving permission to hear focused messages, and people who are eager to spread the word, person to person.

Given the choice between a great TV director and an amazingly talented permission-marketing/viral specialist, I’d pick the specialist every time. The future of our world (if the future is determined by politicians… a scary thought) belongs to those that earn, build and protect a permission asset.

It’s difficult to “hard work” your way to success

Mac fans are crowing about Apple’s current success–that they have a market cap 20% higher than Dell’s. The lesson, other than the fact that pundits and the media are wrong 11
times out of every 9 predictions, is that Apple didn’t succeed by
digging in, working all night and doing more of what they’d been doing.
They succeeded because they willfully changed the game. And then changed it again.

Here’s a great list from David Pogue: Pogue’s Posts.

* Fortune, 2/19/1996: “By the time you read this story, the quirky
cult company…will end its wild ride as an independent enterprise.”

* Time Magazine, 2/5/96: “One day Apple was a major technology
company with assets to make any self respecting techno-conglomerate
salivate. The next day Apple was a chaotic mess without a strategic
vision and certainly no future.”

* BusinessWeek, 10/16/95: “Having underforecast demand, the company
has a $1 billion-plus order backlog….The only alternative: to merge
with a company with the marketing and financial clout to help Apple
survive the switch to a software-based company. The most likely
candidate, many think, is IBM Corp.”

* A Forrester Research analyst, 1/25/96 (quoted in, of all places,
The New York Times): “Whether they stand alone or are acquired, Apple
as we know it is cooked. It’s so classic. It’s so sad.”

* Nathan Myhrvold (Microsoft’s chief technology officer, 6/97: “The
NeXT purchase is too little too late. Apple is already dead.”

* Wired, “101 Ways to Save Apple,” 6/97: “1. Admit it. You’re out of the hardware game.”

* BusinessWeek, 2/5/96: “There was so much magic in Apple Computer
in the early ’80s that it is hard to believe that it may fade away.
Apple went from hip to has-been in just 19 years.”

* Fortune, 2/19/1996: “Apple’s erratic performance has given it the
reputation on Wall Street of a stock a long-term investor would
probably avoid.”

* The Economist, 2/23/95: “Apple could hang on for years, gamely
trying to slow the decline, but few expect it to make such a mistake.
Instead it seems to have two options. The first is to break itself up,
selling the hardware side. The second is to sell the company outright.”

* The Financial Times, 7/11/97: “Apple no longer plays a leading
role in the $200 billion personal computer industry. ‘The idea that
they’re going to go back to the past to hit a big home run…is
delusional,’ says Dave Winer, a software developer.”

The next niche

Tom points us to: Extreme Ironing Bureau :: Ironing under the sky.

Niches are everywhere. And being invented every day. If you can’t find your niche, just wait, it’s coming.

All those lousy customers that came before me

Laura points us to the FAQ at FourPawsDesign (click the FAQ button near the top left corner).

Unfortunately, we can no longer take phone orders. Customers forget to tell us something and after
the order is placed and processed they claim we wrote down incorrect
information. By placing an order online we have a record of exactly what you want, especially for custom-designed items, leaving no room for error.

Part of being in business is being harrassed and annoyed and even burned by the customers that you had yesterday. Of course, if you hold that against the customers you hope to have tomorrow, it’s going to be awfully hard to grow.

How much do you care?

Two toilets. One in a park in New York City, the other at JFK.

The same economics apply. The same excuses. Different standards. You get to pick. Once you’re willing to settle for less, it’s really easy to defend that as the only possible status quo.

[PS the airport is the cracked, moldy one, below.]



Are you successful? Is your brand or your organization?

How do you know?

It’s a serious question. How do you know when you’re successful–when you have enough market share or profit or respect or money? How do you decide what success is?

This matters, because "never enough" is the wrong answer to anyone who wants to set realistic budgets or expectations or just plain enjoy the ride.

Too often, we let someone else define success. Critics, for example, want a movie to be only modestly popular and modestly approachable. Geeks want your brand to be new and edgy. Alexa-watchers want you to be bigger than MySpace. Stock analysts want you to beat the numbers that they told you they wanted you to meet. Your boss wants you to show up a lot and work late, regardless of what you actually do for her…

A lot of organizational conflict comes from mismatched expecations of success. A lot of kids live unhappy lives because of unrealistic benchmarking from parents (as popular as that kid, as attractive as this one, as smart as the other one…).

How’s this: success is largely about keeping your promises.

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