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Seth Godin

Getting Out of Your Marketing Bubble

Getting Out of Your Marketing Bubble

The one thing I know about most of the other individuals in my profession...they're passionate about what they do. It's a good thing. Working in marketing, especially digital, is fast paced and rapidly changing. You have to really love your field of work to be willing to keep up with all of the changes always taking place. However, is there such thing as too much of a good thing? I believe so. It may seem fruitful to always be reading the next big business book, the newest inspirational Seth Godin book and not leave time for anything that has nothing to do with your industry. Malcolm Gladwell suggests that it takes 10,000 hours to hit mastery skills, it only makes sense to achieve that level as fast as possible right?

Not all the time. Sometimes a more well-rounded approach works as well.

Advice From Outsiders

I read an interesting article by Jonathan Baskin in AdAge not long ago about two different conversations he had with two CMOs. One CMO was always checking his Blackberry, always chased the latest fad and copying his competitors trying to chase their successes. He notes that this individual has won marketing awards but sales at his company were average at best.

Then he describes another CMO who was also busy (it took three weeks just to schedule an hour long chat) but how both parties took copious notes and they talked on several subjects, some that touched marketing....but some that didn't. Baskin notes how this CMO was actually the more successful of the two and was one he wanted to seek out for another meeting.

What's the differentiator?

CMO #2 had a more well rounded approach to learning. Sure, he took the time to learn from marketing greats and smart people in the industry. However, he also took the time to learn things that not only made him a good marketer but a more interesting person. He invested time in learning things outside of his day-to-day body of work. He took time to invest himself in a world that didn't involve branding and selling.

Learning More About the World, Not Just Your Craft

As weird as this may sound, I think it's easy to forget that we're not selling to other marketers...but to people. People with all different tastes, interests and perspectives on the world around them. Knowing marketing best practices are good to have in your arsenal. However, taking time to learn more, outside of selling products and driving Likes, will help you better understand that world around you. The world that you're trying to sell to, not necessarily win awards from (though awards are a good thing too!).

The executive VP at my old company and I didn't always see eye to eye. However, one thing he drove in me from day one that will pay off was learning a little about everything. He talked about reading everything, from fiction books to books about science, art and history. I will say, he had some base of knowledge on almost any subject presented to him. His marketing acumen, in terms of reading people, was pretty good.

There's even research done that people who read fiction are smarter and more well-rounded, socially savvy individuals. Think about that before you read your 10th straight business book.

Preaching to the Choir

This is advice I need to take myself. Getting my head out of social marketing and coming up for air once in a while will be good for me. I know after a marketing-free vacation I come back to work sharper. Making a point to see what's going on around me will help me be better at my job in the long term.

"Life moves pretty fast. If you don't stop and look around once in a while, you could miss it."

What do you think? Is there a line between passion and unnecessary obsession?

 

Comfort and Avoiding the Flinch

Comfort and Avoiding the Flinch

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We all strive for "the good life" it seems like. The American Dream. We try and find that job that we can clock in and clock out, pay the bills and eventually be able to live the easy life. Is there anything wrong with that?

Not necessarily. Comfort is a good thing. It makes all the hard work worthwhile when everything is said and done. There is a balance in achieving and really enjoying those comfort moments and staying in those comfortable moments to the point of our detriment.

On a plane ride back home last week I finished up "The Flinch" by Julien Smith. He talks about how we are all given that natural reflex, "The Flinch," that protects us from danger. It's a helpful thing...but has taken a larger role in most of our lives than we think. Julien says that the flinch helps us from avoiding simply "uncomfortable" situations more often than it does protecting us from legitimate danger. The main point of the book is that when we avoid that discomfort, we fail to grow and really live. I believe that.

Discomfort Is A Good Thing

Not long ago Michael Hyatt posted in his blog his thoughts about why we should embrace discomfort. He draws his inspiration from Dean Karnazes with his quote (that is also in Hyatt's post):

"Western culture has things a little backwards right now. We think that if we had every comfort available to us, we’d be happy. We equate comfort with happiness. And now we’re so comfortable we’re miserable. There’s no struggle in our lives. No sense of adventure. We get in a car, we get in an elevator, it all comes easy. What I’ve found is that I’m never more alive than when I’m pushing and I’m in pain, and I’m struggling for high achievement, and in that struggle I think there’s a magic."

It's facing that discomfort, those moments of insecurity head on that we grow. I remember running cross country and track in high school and college, it was the painful runs that made me better. I remember going through all my classes with this nagging fear in the back of my mind about how that's afternoon's workout was going to hurt. However, the more I stared that pain in the face, the faster I got. Along with that, I went from being intimidated by almost everybody on my team and not making the team one year to being a vital scorer the next.

Now, I've been blessed with a job where you can't afford to be comfortable. As many of you who read this blog and also work in digital, you know it's a rapidly moving place. You can't rest on your laurels but have to keep looking ten steps ahead, trying new methods, testing new platforms and not being afraid of failure is something we have to face every day. Throw in challenges with client needs, being knee deep in work and having those days where "things just aren't going right for me", it's a job that makes me face discomfort...but in a good way. It's a place that helps me grow and where I have a lot of encouragement and pushing from the people around me every day.

How To Work Through That Wall of Discomfort

In "The Flinch," Julien suggests exercises like taking a coffee mug and shattering it on the floor or taking a cold shower. Some people do it through exercise (something I try to do). Other ways I do it is something random like playing ping pong at work, especially those much better than I. Being down my a lot of points is discouraging and not being "the best" is not in my comfort zone. However, keeping my head down and not giving up helps me not mentally back down and keep playing like I still have a chance. Another way is trying to get rid a lot of my own personal items like clothes, movies etc that I don't really need and looking at what is really "necessary" to have around our apartment. I'm hoping these simple exercises have a positive carryover to other parts of my life.

I know that you shouldn't take a risk for the sake of taking a risk but sometimes there are risks and uncomfortable situations that really help us grow.

Does "The Flinch" hold you back from reaching your potential? What do you to to face fear and uncertainty (no matter how big or small)?

The Flinch is a book part of Seth Godin's Domino Project. You can download it for free here. 

We Don't Like to Read Anymore

We Don't Like to Read Anymore

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There's some irony in the fact that I'm writing a post about people not liking to read. If you are able to move past that, carry on below ;) I've come to the conclusion that people online don't like to read anymore. If there is any way to gather information without having to arrange words into a complete sentence (or day I say...paragraph!), it spreads like wildfire. A casual glance at online activity tells that story eloquently.

Infographics

2011 has definitely been the rise of the infographic. When I first started working in social, it was white paper after white paper coming across my Twitter stream. I gathered all my information from various industry white papers. Then came the infographic, giving us a 1000-foot glance at the information that a white paper gave us without the inconvenience of...you know...having to read a lot of words

Seriously, tweet information with the word [INFOGRAPHIC] in brackets and you're almost guaranteed a retweet, if nothing else a click-through. The infographic visually teaches us things in a quick, easy to digest manner.

Content Snacks

The best, most spreadable content on the web is short, sweet, to the point and easy to digest. I try to keep these posts on Brain Wads fairly short. Look at the success of Seth Godin. Sure his leadership insight and knowledge is second to none...but I truly believe his success is based upon its delivery. His blog and his books are written in small, short easy to read pieces. Something that is easy to quickly scan and gather the main points out of. He doesn't ramble. Godin gets to the point quickly and effectively.

Posts that aren't long essays but more "content snacks" are the ones that are the easiest and most read once across the board.

Social Network Activity

The most widely "Liked" or "Commented" Facebook posts I've ever written for a client were short and easily able to fit into a tweet. As people scan their Facebook news feed, the posts that didn't take a lot of time to read. Twitter thrives in the fact that posts limit to 140 characters. Pinterest is all visual, providing users the ability to tell stories without writing a sentence.

But Why Do We Hate to Read?

In the book "Switch" by Chip and Dan Heath, I read about a concept called "Decision Paralysis." Our brains have to make hundreds to thousands of decisions a day. The more choices that are presented to us, the less likely we are to act on them because the decision making process is tiresome. For example, restaurants with limited choices on a menu are more successful than ones with thousands of choices. It's why things like the "value meal" are popular...it removes some of the decision making we have to do as a customer instead of mixing and matching individual items.

Online today, we are thrown so much content on a minute-by-minute basis. It's definitely a firehose of information. Content snacks, like the visual bits of information found on Pinterest or in infographics, are easier for our brains to grab hold of and digest. The less work our brains have to do to consume information, the better, whether we consciously realize it or not.

Knowing this, if you're a marketer, make your messages quick and to the point. Make your user experiences online with apps and websites easy and with less work as possible. There's a reason minimalism has been rising. It's less stress on our brains.

In our always-on world, the less stress the better.

What do you think?

 

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Don't Be A Jerk

Don't Be A Jerk

I've recently just wrapped up reading Linchpin this last week (which by the way is a great book). I pretty much love any book by Seth Godin that I've read and this was no exception. One concept that really stuck out to me was Seth's focus on gift giving. He re-enforces the idea of gifts and how they are only really gifts if the giver expects nothing in return. The art of gift giving is selfless and genuine. It made me think of how a lot of companies work today. It seems like being good to those who are good to you is a lost art. Individuals will give a brand absolute loyalty because they love their product or service. What keeps these customers around? The companies who keep people loyal are ones that aren't jerks.

Just look at brands like Southwest, Zappos or insert any other HR case study here. The reason why fans keep coming back to them is because of their overwhelmingly awesome customer service. They give gifts to their customers. Treat them with genuine kindness and they're customers pay them back - sometimes doubly so. I remember how Gary Vaynerchuck talked at Digital Summit here in Atlanta about following a guy who had made a recent purchase from his wine shop. He followed that guy on Twitter, noticed he was a huge Jay Cutler fan and sent him a Bears jersey randomly - for no reason. In the end, that guy ended up devoting all of his business to the Wine Library - which was a few hundred thousands a year annually.

So whether you're a business or just a individual front facing a customer, just remember to be nice to people for a change. Your customers don't owe you anything. Doing good isn't just potentially good for business, it's just the right thing to do. You'll be surprised how much you may catch people off-guard ;)

What do you think?

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