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How many bloggers? A lot

Thanks to all the bloggers who took me up on my Compact Fluorescent challenge. That’s all on this topic for quite a while. Thanks for all the great mail, too.

How many marketers does it take to get you to screw in a light bulb? from 12gurus (the blog), I Do So Love Compact Fluorescent LightBulbs! from adam jusko’s bessed blog, ten things i didn’t about compact fluorescent lightbulbs until last week from MisEntropy, ten things i didn’t know about compact fluorescent lightbulbs until last week from MisEntropy, …With the bulbs you have from Clicked, Think Green Thrifty from True Story | Thoughts by Doug True, Compact Flourescent Lightbulbs from Happiness, Wellness and Healing, Seeing the Light from erniesblog, Its A Hard Habit To Break from The Happy Burro, House Lighting Tip #1 from Make a good house a GREAT home, How many Realtors to screw in lightbulb? from StarMaker Jason, A Good Idea from john t. unger studio, Let there be light! from mike brewer, You Light Up My Life (And My House) from Your Life. Organized.    Motivational Speaker , Wal-Mart Is Pushing Energy Effiecient Bulbs from NeoNetMarketing, Light bulbs from DJ Orion – the diary, An energy efficient hack – literally from palegreen.co.uk, The Turn of the Bulb from The Real Estate Zebra, Why I use compact fluorescent light bulbs from Search Engine Marketing Blog from Elixir Systems, The problem with those compact fluorescent bulbs from Simon Payn’s Effective Customer Newsletters, The Curly, Cute CF Light BulbCompact Fluorescent Blubs – The two big fundamentalflaws from Taco’s Toppings, Doodley Bulbs AreSquiggly! from The Learning Curve, Screw the Future – BumperSticker from The Learning Curve, Confessions from the darkside from ÜberEye, Wal-Mart Environmentalism from Acton Institute PowerBlog, Money saving tip: fluorescent light bulbs from Adventure Money, Energize Your Business from Customer Service Experience, Fab 5 on Friday from Balanced Life Center, Glow, baby, glow: The revolution will be illuminated . . . from BloodhoundBlog, How to light up 2007 from communicatrix, A Case For Compact Fluorescent Light Bulbs from Content Blog, The Blog Push for Compact Fluorescent Light Bulbs from Conversion Rater – web analytics, online advertising, and website publishing., Seeing the light – New Years ResolutionsSave $66 with a Light Bulb? from jcCommerce, Why Is It So Hard to Sell CF Lightbulbs? from LandingTheDeal, Gimmie a C! Gimmie an F! from Medium & the Message, Why don’t people use Compact Florescent lightbulbs? from Here’s The Thing, Compact Fluorescent Lightbulbs And The Lazy Gal from No Limits Ladies., How many bloggers does it take to shift traditional lightbulbs dominance? from Pedro’s Spot, Who doesn’t want $66? from JK’s Journal, How many bald guys does it take to screw in a light bulb? from Sly Bald Guys Forum, Save $66 per light bulb in your house from Sly Bald Guys Forum, Just one, Seth from Sparkplug 9 >> bizhack, Compact Florescent Lightbulb Packaging from The Deets, The CF Lightbulb that Could. from The Mostly Honest Truth, Do you make the same mistakes as Wal-mart and Seth Godin? from thinks, Ilu blogerów potrzeba żeby wkręcić żarówkę? from Zielone Migdały from Build A Solo Practice, LLC,  from Free From Blog

How to be remarkable

From this week’s Guardian:


Understand the urgency of the situation. Half-measures simply won’t do. The only way to grow is to abandon your strategy of doing what you did yesterday, but better. Commit.


Remarkable doesn’t mean remarkable to you. It means remarkable to me. Am I going to make a remark about it? If not, then you’re average, and average is for losers.


Being noticed is not the same as being remarkable. Running down the street naked will get you noticed, but it won’t accomplish much. It’s easy to pull off a stunt, but not useful.


Extremism in the pursuit of remarkability is no sin. In fact, it’s practically a requirement. People in first place, those considered the best in the world, these are the folks that get what they want. Rock stars have groupies because they’re stars, not because they’re good looking.


Remarkability lies in the edges. The biggest, fastest, slowest, richest, easiest, most difficult. It doesn’t always matter which edge, more that you’re at (or beyond) the edge.


Not everyone appreciates your efforts to be remarkable. In fact, most people don’t. So what? Most people are ostriches, heads in the sand, unable to help you anyway. Your goal isn’t to please everyone. Your goal is to please those that actually speak up, spread the word, buy new things or hire the talented.


If it’s in a manual, if it’s the accepted wisdom, if you can find it in a Dummies book, then guess what? It’s boring, not remarkable. Part of what it takes to do something remarkable is to do something first and best. Roger Bannister was remarkable. The next guy, the guy who broke Bannister’s record wasn’t. He was just faster … but it doesn’t matter.


It’s not really as frightening as it seems. They keep the masses in line by threatening them (us) with all manner of horrible outcomes if we dare to step out of line. But who loses their jobs at the mass layoffs? Who has trouble finding a new gig? Not the remarkable minority, that’s for sure.


If you put it on a T-shirt, would people wear it? No use being remarkable at something that people don’t care about. Not ALL people, mind you, just a few. A few people insanely focused on what you do is far far better than thousands of people who might be mildly interested, right?


What’s fashionable soon becomes unfashionable. While you might be remarkable for a time, if you don’t reinvest and reinvent, you won’t be for long. Instead of resting on your laurels, you must commit to being remarkable again quite soon.

Hard to say goodbye

Why should leaving a marketer be any harder than joining one?

Justin points us to: Just Cancel the @#%$* Account!.

Surely the CFO will argue that if you can create impediments to quitting your service, short term profits will increase. She might even argue that investing in staff to make it easier to quit is money wasted.

I think the opposite is clearly true.

The number one reason consumers don’t sign up for your free trial is that they don’t believe that it’s really free, and that they are sure that once the trial is over you’ll figure out some way to harrass them, steal from them or otherwise make them sorry they trusted you.

So turn that on its head. Make it easier to quit, not harder. Word will spread. Trials will go up. (Anyone interested in trying something from AOL? I didn’t think so.) And more trials from more trusting people can’t help but lead to more profits. Which will make your CFO happy.

I found the websheet

In September I wrote about the websheet, a tool that would allow me to put live Google and web data into a spreadsheet.

Four months later, the best version I’ve found is right here.

The web lookup part needs more functions and it needs to be open so others can add to it, but it’s a great start and it’s free. (hint: try ‘insert function’, hit ‘more’ and choose ‘Googlelookup’.) The help screen explains how it works.


The difference between strategy and tactics


I got a note from a frustrated marketer yesterday. She wanted to understand how to grow her business. It felt like they were doing everything right. They had a motivated, well-trained salesforce, a great product, a decent website, etc. Everyone was working super hard.

Her question: "We sell something to manufacturing companies, something that would essentially replace a large part of the plant operations team. Obviously, we can’t sell to them, because they want to get bigger, not smaller. We need to sell to the CEO, but we can’t get his attention because the savings involved aren’t big enough to get his attention. How do we get to the CEO?"

This feels like a tactical problem. It’s not. It’s a strategy question. And the strategy involves the entire business and the products they choose to sell.

Here’s the difference: The right strategy makes any tactic work better. The right strategy puts less pressure on executing your tactics perfectly.

Here’s the obligatory January skiing analogy: Carving your turns better is a tactic. Choosing the right ski area in the first place is a strategy. Everyone skis better in Utah, it turns out.

If you are tired of hammering your head against the wall, if it feels like you never are good enough, or that you’re working way too hard, it doesn’t mean you’re a loser. It means you’ve got the wrong strategy.

It takes real guts to abandon a strategy, especially if you’ve gotten super good at the tactics. That’s precisely the reason that switching strategies is often such a good idea. Because your competition is afraid to.

Do you want to be like Bob?

I get a lot of mail complaining about various companies and their customer service, and Home Depot accounts for a huge percentage of it. In fact, five times more people complain about Home Depot than any other organization.

Today, Bob Nardelli, their CEO, got fired.

He probably got fired for insulting his investors (his annual meeting will go down in history) and for alienating employees and customers. He appeared to go out of his way to annoy customers, especially. There are very few companies that don’t even bother to write back if you write to the CEO.

Here’s the thing. In addition to getting fired, Bob got two hundred and ten million dollars in severance. (Try this: $210,000,000.00)

Amazing. I’d been writing a post over the last few weeks trying to explain why Home Depot had some sort of strategy in carving out this niche for itself, but it sure looks to me as though Bob’s strategy was more about Bob.

My best advice is that if you can get a severance package like that, you should go ahead and get fired. Failing that, though, I’m at a loss to figure out why you would deliberately ruin a pretty decent brand by aggressively annoying all your constituents.

How many bloggers does it take to screw in a lightbulb?

[Note: this is part of a webwide series of blog posts about compact fluorescent lightbulbs. January is the darkest month of the year in the Northern Hemisphere (December might be a bit darker, but with all the candles, trees and dropping balls, we work hard to light it up). To fight off the darkness, bloggers everywhere are invited to create a post with their own riff on why CF bulbs are cheaper, better politically, harder to market or just plain cute. Your choice. If you trackback here, I’ll post your link in a future post and/or you can add your link to this lens, which donates all royalties to Ecotrust].

So, why have only 6% of all US households installed even one CF lightbulb?

It can’t be the economics. After all, a typical CF bulb saves the user more than $66 over its lifetime. Count the bulbs in your house, multiply by 66…

It can’t be the environmental impact. CF bulbs actually reduce the amount of mercury in the environment, because even though there’s a tiny amount of mercury vapor in each bulb, the amount of coal production they cut down more than makes up for it. Add to that the hundreds of pounds of greenhouse gases they reduce… (if you had to buy and bring home the gases with each purchase, I think it would make a difference in the the relative sales).

And it’s not the geopolitical impact either. If we switched all our bulbs, we could stop importing oil altogether. Without giving up one Hummer.

So, why are people apparently immune to the benefits. I mean, why won’t we even try one of the bulbs?

Ready? It’s because of everything you’ve already read on this page.

Lightbulbs are often the one and only home improvement most people ever make. Even tenants and college students install lightbulbs. Installing a lightbulb is so simple that it’s even the topic of an entire genre of jokes. (Ten points if you recognized the picture and the joke that goes with it.)

Lightbulbs are simple. Lightbulbs come in simple packaging. They represent a trivial decision. You need a sixty watt bulb, you buy one. Cheap, please.

CF lightbulbs, on the other hand, didn’t used to be cheap (they used to cost $10. Now it’s $2). Far worse than that, they come in horrible packaging, packaging that belies the entire point of the exercise. Installing a CF lightbulb isn’t jokeworthy. It’s harder.

CF lightbulbs have a story problem, plain and simple. They need to stop looking so weird, being so expensive and being so hard to open. Either that, or we could just grow up, suck it up and deal with it. (And they’re cheaper (much cheaper) now too.)

If you buy three or four and hate them, well, hey, it’s your choice. But if your office and your home don’t have a bunch yet, it’s a little bit of a bad joke, isn’t it? Sometimes, just because a marketer has a story problem it doesn’t mean it’s worth giving up.

Welcome back

Lost in the Christmas shuffle was my newest day long seminar.

I hope you can come. The date is 2/13/07 in New York. We usually sell out, so you should hurry.

Doomed to repeat them

The Internet Year In Review – 1994 courtesy of Chris Fralic. It was only 13 years ago, but it was a very, very different world. The first thing you’ll discover is that listening to experts predict the future is a lousy bet.

Electable vs. Marketable

It’s easy to get the two confused, but if you do, you’ll probably regret it.

To be marketable, you must be remarkable. Marketing isn’t about getting more than 50% market share, it’s about spreading your idea to enough people to be glad you did it… 3% of a market may be more than enough, especially if you have a local business or an expensive service.

The temptation of the marketer is to try to get elected. To be beloved by everyone. As a marketer, you hear from someone who doesn’t love your product and you work to change it. Eventually, that strategy leads to boredom, to sameness and to stagnation.

I know it’s tempting to create electable products, but it never works. All the tried and true warhorse successes (Nike, Starbucks, Apple… the NSA of marketing examples) didn’t accomplish market share until long after they accomplished becoming remarkable. If the founders had set out to get elected, they would have failed in creating much of anything.

Contrast this with the plight of the typical politician. To her, 45% market share is total failure. In my opinion, remarkable politicians (using the word non-judgmentally) like Hillary Clinton, Barack Obama, David Duke and John Ashcroft are unelectable.

Not because there aren’t some people who are passionate about them. Obviously, there are people who are quite passionate. And the media loves to feature politicians that generate passion on the cover of magazines. The challenge isn’t coming up with a remarkable story… the challenge for a politician is ensuring that the story is both authentic and appealing enough to spread to the majority.

If I were a marketer, I’d forget about getting elected. I’d ignore the dissidents, even if they are in the majority. You don’t need the most popular blog, the consulting firm with every single company as a client or the flavor of ice cream that almost every single person loves. What you need instead is a passionate minority, a minority so passionate that they spread the word. Jackie and Ben call these people the 1% and they exist in just about every community.

If I were a politician (heaven forfend), I’d studiously ignore the 1%. The 1% are the fringe, and they don’t actually want you to get elected. They merely want you to make a point. I’d skip this group and pay attention to the next 3% of the population. These people still have passion but they also understand what it takes to get elected.

So, back to my original point: Who have you offended today? You’re not running for anything exept perhaps Mayor of the Edges.

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