Welcome back.

Have you thought about subscribing? It's free.

Who are these people?

If you look at the numbers, you soon realize that a huge portion of the population apparently:

  • Has read two books in the last year, Harry Potter and The DaVinci Code
  • Uses only two websites, Google and Facebook
  • Visits only a few blog posts a day, and every single one of them is on the home page of Digg
  • Watches only two or three TV shows, including the Super Bowl
  • Eats only at McDonalds
  • Watches only incredibly snarky or juvenile videos on YouTube

Mass phenomena are tricky things. It’s true, the typical American reads exactly one book a year. How are you going to predict which of the 75,000 books published are going to be that book? You can’t.

Many bloggers seem to be on a perpetual hunt for the front page of Digg. Sure, it brings you hordes of eyeballs, but then they turn around and leave. What’s the point of that, really?

I think that are plenty of tips you can follow to optimize your offering for this fickle mass group. But it’s still a crap shoot. Doesn’t it make more sense to incrementally earn the attention of a smaller, less glitzy but far more valuable group of people who actually engage with you? And the best part is, your odds of success are a lot better.

Just say it

Don’t let the words get in the way. If you’re writing online, forget everything you were tortured by in high school English class. You’re not trying to win any awards or get an A. You’re just trying to be real, to make a point, to write something worth reading.

So just say it.

The last interaction

Marketers (and high school kids) focus a lot on the first date. After all, you never get a second chance to make a first impression.

I recently had some waterproofing done in the basement. The first date was great. The company was professional and had every single element down, from their AdWords to the web site to the way they interacted on the phone and in person.

I think that stuff is pretty important, but I’m way more interested in the last interaction than I am in the first (and if you care about word of mouth, you should be too).

After they finished the job, they left my basement a mess.

Forever, my only memory of the job is going to be the mess. Forever, the only thing I’ll talk about is the mess. The last interaction, in my experience, is responsible for virtually all of the word of mouth you’re going to get, positive or negative.

That free muffin at the restaurant or the lollipop at the barber or the call from the Realtor a week after the house is sold and contracts are signed and the movers have left… believe it or not, it matters.

PS The waterproofing guys took the time to call me before I did this post, and that call led to a new last interaction… my bad feelings are already fading, because they stepped up and took action. More proof that it matters.

Bad judgment

All day, you run into people with bad judgment. That critic who didn’t like your last movie, or the prospect who refuses to buy your product even though it’s better. Or the angry customer who is bitter, vindictive, loud and out to cost you your job… even though they must know it’s not your fault. Or perhaps it’s the employee who refuses to exert a little extra energy even though it would help all of you.

It’s enough to make you scream. Or give up.

Here’s a thought: Maybe it’s not bad judgment.

Try this on: "If I believed what you believe, I’d probably be acting exactly the same way you are right now." (Better thought than said, probably).

You know what, that’s almost certainly true… if I believed what you said when you wrote that angry blog post, I probably would have written the same thing.

Once we realize that it’s not a matter of judgment, but a matter of belief, everything changes.

That’s because marketers are charged with changing what people believe.

If I can help change what you believe, I bet I can change your actions as well. And respecting your judgment is a great place to start.

Getting stuck in your head

That’s what great marketing and great ideas do. They get stuck. This song from Ini Kamoze just won’t leave my brain (and if you listen once, you’ve only got yourself to blame.) The video is lame, but the song is absolutely perfect if the goal is to spread the hook.

Authors and bloggers try to do the same thing. I did a talk yesterday with Chris Anderson, Tim Ferris and John Jantsch. I hope it sticks in your head. Here’s the audio:

boomp3.com (file download is here).

What’s a Blog?

I try to avoid any advice that includes the word "must." It seems like Brian has a similar take.

The thing is, for big organizations to embrace something, they often need the template, the strict rules, the golden path. TV commercials must be thirty seconds. Public companies must have a big lobby and a receptionist. Like that.

The reason that there’s so much pressure and focus on finding an ironclad list of musts is that the big and the slow demand it. That doesn’t mean you have to listen to them.

Help wanted: Software Developer–$3,000 bounty

Squidoo is looking for an amazing developer to join our team (a 25% hiring spree…). Here is the job description.

If you know the perfect person, send them over, please. $3,000 reward if you find us the right person… see the post for details. Thanks.


Here’s what we used to do:

Create —> Edit —> Launch

Here’s what happens now:

Create —> Launch —> Edit —> Launch —> repeat

Someone asked me which post on this blog represented the turning point of its growth. The ‘breakthrough’ post. It turns out that there wasn’t one. Instead, there were 2,500 posts, one after the other, each building (and I was learning from each) as we went.

Wikipedia is built on a bold idea: launch with a few hundred mediocre articles. Challenge people to add a few more. And then, day after day, layer on top of that, improving each one, improving a hundred thousand of them, improving a million of them. One after another, layer after layer.

Squidoo is a bit different. Let each person layer their own page, instead of a crowd. And then, as time goes by and the crowd gets bigger, the new folks are smarter (and building better pages) because they’ve watched the results that others have layered up.

Organizations that make the same mistakes every day (hidebound ones, rulebook based ones, airlines) rarely get to layer. They don’t grow and improve, because they’re not organized to do so.

And thus the challenge. We live in a layered world now. Those that plan and plan and then launch are always going to be at a disadvantage to the layerers.


Nic created the video below–the subtitles and edits are his. The bad cold is mine. I hope you like it (the video, not the cold).

Updated link

How much for digital?

The movie studios are starting to get excited about renting movies digitally (via Apple and others). The pricing seems to be modeled on Blockbuster (+). Figure $3 a rental, another buck or so for HD. That seems ‘fair’, because it’s in the same range as we’re used to.

But wait.

Blockbuster buys DVDs for $15 or $20 (probably a lot less in volume, but I have no clue what the real number is). The studios have to pay for duplication and warehousing and marketing and they take a risk with every pressing that they’ll have to shred the leftovers.

Blockbuster then rents them out 30 or 40 or more times each, meaning each rental costs Blockbuster fifty cents. Not to mention rent, surly clerks, cost of capital, advertising, etc. Or, in the case of Netflix, stamps.

In the case of online rentals, all of these intermediate costs immediately disappear. Gone.

So, why try to mimic the current model when it comes to pricing if the costs are mostly gone?

The same thing goes for online music and for PDF versions of books. Kevin Kelly figured this out with his book on films. He makes $1.50 a copy regardless of whether you buy the beautiful color edition or the cheapest edition he sells. Why should he care which version you choose?

The current phone novel craze in Japan is even more evidence for why this makes sense. 2,000,000 people download the phone novel you wrote (it costs you nothing) and then, when it becomes a hit, you make millions on the sales of the paper book and the movie…

No, I don’t think Free is always the answer, but I do think the studios are about to make a mistake of RIAA proportions. I’d charge fifty cents for an online rental. It would immediately hammer the rental stores (which is fine with Hollywood) and DVD replicators (also fine with Hollywood) but would instantly teach people a new habit. Then, once the new habit is set and you’ve earned permission, sure, charge more for new movies and for blockbusters. 300 million movie theatres, all selling tickets every single night–you don’t need to charge $10 a seat when you have access to everyone.

It’s important to charge something, because the act of paying fundamentally changes the dynamics of the relationship. The question is this: at the start, is your goal to maximize profit or to build a platform that scales? The fact is that the market is too small right now for the price to matter. What matters is whether you can build an audience that is in the habit of paying you, an audience that wants to hear from you, an audience that you can build a business on.

At fifty cents a rental, all desire for piracy goes out the window, replaced by convenience, ease of use and a clear conscience. More important, entire new services show up, habits are built and the studios end up with a direct relationship with consumers who want to hear from them. If they don’t get greedy at the start.