Monthly Archives: August 2009

Twitter’s Secret to Success

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When I first explained Twitter to my husband, who is a computer programmer, his response was “Oh, it’s just like ICQ.” And he dismissed it.

So what the heck is ICQ? Well, it was a program that was a lot like Twitter. And it was being touted as the “next big thing.” I actually remember it because my husband was using it. I looked at it and couldn’t figure what the big deal was and promptly dismissed it.

Fast forward 10 years or so, and now we have ICQ reborn into Twitter, and Twitter is all over the place.

So what happened? Why did Twitter succeed (although it still hasn’t proven to make money yet but that’s a topic for another article) and ICQ fail?

It’s not the technology. In fact, ICQ might have been more powerful than Twitter. (Note to all of you business owners thinking if you build a better mousetrap they will come. Not true.)

It’s all about the marketing and the packaging. Let me explain.

ICQ looked like some sort of programming forum. I stared at the screen and couldn’t figure out what to do or why I would want to do anything with it. I spent about 5 minutes looking at the screen, didn’t get a handle on it, and left, never to return.

Twitter, on the other hand, tells you what to do. You log into Twitter and what’s the first thing you see — a big question with a box under it. The question is “What are you doing?” The box underneath is where you put the answer.

Ah, so I’m supposed to type what I’m doing right now. I can do that. That gives me a reason to type something.

And once people start typing things, now you have action. And action leads to interaction, which leads to creating a community. And once we have community, now you have the secret for why Twitter took off.

If you don’t get people to start typing something, ANYTHING, then nothing will happen.

The other thing Twitter did was the name. Twitter. It’s a cute name. ICQ, what the heck is that? (Another important note — names are important.)

This is sort of what happened with VHS and Beta. (Remember those? Videotapes?)

Well, Beta was the better, higher quality tape. But VHS became the standard. Why? Because Beta kept talking about features (how good it was in technical terms) whereas VHS explained WHY you wanted to be able to record your shows. You could fast forward through the commercials! You didn’t have to be home to watch your favorite shows! You could watch movies whenever you wanted to! That’s what VHS told consumers. Not technical specifications.

Remember, when videotapes came out, this was completely new to consumers. They didn’t know what they were supposed to do with them. Just like Twitter or ICQ. What the heck is it and why do I care? Why is this going to be good for me? Why do I want to waste my time and/or money with this? If you don’t or can’t answer those questions, you’re going to be facing an uphill battle selling your products or service.

History is littered with businesses that have the best product or service and have gone out of business. Having the better mousetrap isn’t going to sell more products or services. Having the best EXPLANATION as to why your customers should buy your product or service WILL sell more. A lot more.

How Vampires Can Help Your Biz

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I recently finished watching Season 1 of True Blood. While I can see why it’s not for everyone, I myself enjoy a good vampire romp, especially when it’s populated by such a nice selection of hot-looking actors (who have no issues showing off their equally hot bodies).

Anyway, it got me thinking about all the vampire stories out there. Vampire legends have been around for centuries and in nearly every society. Vampire movies, shows, books, etc. continually pop up on a frequent basis.

So why all the fuss? What is it about vampires that just won’t die (pun intended)?

Well, I’ve come up with 2 theories:

1. There REALLY are real-life, blood sucking, undead vampires roaming about.

2. There REALLY are vampires roaming about, but they’re HUMAN vampires, sucking the energy, money, health, time and more out of other people. And these vampire stories are actually a combination of cautionary tales (evil vampires we need to kill) and a way to transform and tame our “inner vampire” to something loving and human (the vampire love stories).

For my part, I’ll put my money on number 2. Which leads me to how this can help your business.

Vampires are everywhere. I don’t think it was a coincidence I finish watching True Blood and discover one of my friends and clients was scammed. Con artists and scammers are just another sort of human vampire — typically they’re charming and attractive in some way to their victims (for instance, they’re offering something attractive) then suck them dry of money, energy, time or more.

The thing about vampires is they’re hard to spot. (Vampires look human and in many cases they’re beautiful.) This is why a lot of times you’ll let a vampire in, not knowing it’s a vampire until after you’ve been bit.

Here are some signs of common vampires that can be sucking the life right out of your business:

1. Are there tasks you do in your business that drain you? Typically these are tasks you don’t like doing and you’re probably not much good at them either. Yep, you’re looking at a vampire. The good news is these vampires are selective in who they bite. (Or maybe these would fall into those vampire love stories — one person’s dream vampire love is another person’s worst nightmare.)

Solution — do a bit of vampire matchmaking and outsource, find the people who love those tasks and let them take over.

2. Are there people who drain you? Maybe they’re a vendor or a client you really have trouble working with. They suck up a lot of your time and energy (and maybe even money) and you’re always exhausted after your encounters.

Well, this could be 1 of 2 things — either you have a real human vampire on your hands who makes a habit of sucking the life force out of everyone they meet, or this is like a task vampire. They don’t do it to everyone, in fact they probably don’t even want to be a vampire, but some people bring out the worst in them.

Solution — it’s the same, these people are toxic to you for whatever reason and it really doesn’t matter if they’re toxic to everyone or just to you, you still need to remove them from your life.

From time to time it’s always a good idea to scan your business and your life for any vampires, and if you find any, to send them on their way. Remember, vampires are seductive, so unless you’re looking for them you just might miss them.