Just Say No to Crap

The best part about this video is how much it looks like its non-satirical cousins.

Click through on a service like Entrecard to 80 or 90% of droppers and you’ll see blogs that don’t surpass this video for sophistication of content or presentation. (There are some wonderful exceptions, I do not mean to bash.)

My Ten Commandments might have had a #11: Thou Shalt Not Be Lame. (Although I suppose #8 should cover that.) Be sure you’re creating something worthwhile before you try to share it.

I devoutly believe that everyone has a remarkable contribution to make. I believe that the hundreds of junky blogs I see are written by people who have something worthwhile to say. (It’s just possible that something might not be about making money online.)

Hold yourself to a high standard. Don’t slap together a blog or a Web site or a Squidoo lens that’s less than your best. You’re better than that.

Relationship Marketing Series #5: Pay Attention

Paying-attention Remember we talked about my friend Jon’s dictum: “Show up, pay attention, don’t lie?” I’ve already talked about showing up; today, I’ll share a few thoughts on paying attention.

There’s hardly anyone who won’t benefit from spending more time on this. It’s the cornerstone of at least one major world religion, and the watchword for everyone from mothers of toddlers to The Beatles. The subject is too vast for any one post to cover–I could probably write a daily blog called “Remarkable Attention.” (Which would be kind of cool.)

So I’ll pick out a few aspects of attention that I think are important, but give some thought to how paying better attention could make your own project work better. Put your focus (attention) on it and I guarantee you’ll find something.

It’s not about you

Have you ever considered what it is that drives you nuts about your friend who never pays attention to a word you say? What’s she paying attention to? If she’s making you nuts, I’m betting that it isn’t NASCAR or the Democratic primaries or her interprative dance career she’s putting all her attention on; it’s herself.

We can’t stand people who are so wrapped up in themselves that they can’t pay attention to us. We want someone to tune into our nonstop mental radio talk show, not their own. Being self-centered is a little like Dorothy Parker’s observation about the rich: “I hate almost all rich people, but I think I’d be darling at it.” We all think our own issues and concerns and preoccupations are important, or at least endearing, but we can’t stand the same self-centeredness in anyone else.

Like it or not, that’s what you’re dealing with in your customers. If your company is so enraptured with your own policies, rules, challenges, crises, concerns and problems that you’re not paying attention to your customers, you are doomed. Wal*mart can probably continue to get away with it–you can’t. (Here’s a pithy and very low-tech example of the right way to approach things.)

When you get complaints, feedback, and other useful information from customers, instead of immediately launching into all the reasons you can’t do that here, learn to SHUT UP AND LISTEN. Remember the cardinal rule of marketing: It’s not about you, it’s about the people who fund your payroll. Learn how to put aside any defensiveness–whether it’s your own or your employees’–to effectively pay attention to feedback when you’re lucky enough to get it.

I’m not saying you have to (or are able to) fix every problem and resolve every complaint. But if you don’t listen carefully and pay attention to grousing and complaints, even when they’re irritating, you’ll lose out on the opportunity to make some highly useful changes. And somewhere out there, you’ve got a competitor who will make them.

Tune in

It’s good to get a little obsessed with how your customers respond to you. This means you’ve got to have some way to measure all of your communication. What percentage of your email list is actually opening your e-newsletter? How many are clicking through? When they do click through, what kind of stuff attracts them? What services or products do your customers respond to most strongly? What kind of language and tone seem to be working best to reach them? What kinds of offers get them out of procrastination mode and into action?

There are a lot of books and blogs and consultants who want to give you all that information without your having to measure it. If you have perfectly standardized customers who are exactly average, that will work well for you. Are your customers exactly average? Are anyone’s?

If you get in the habit of asking tons of questions and then figuring out how to measure the answers, you’ll start to notice when something works especially badly or especially well. The act of keeping an eye on customer response will naturally provide the right directions for change and growth. Keep tweaking and testing, and keep measuring the results, and you’ll find yourself doing more of the right things.

Ask for more information

Whatever kind of organization you have, you can find ways to serve your customers better. One of the smarter ways to do that is to ask them.

Big companies, small companies and microbusinesses can all benefit from creating a regular survey program to ask their customers how it’s going. Big companies use fancy, expensive survey companies, but even a tiny business can set up a survey using cheapo tools like Survey Monkey.

How do your customers feel about that nifty (expensive) improvement you just made? Do they even know about it? Does it solve a problem they cared about? How’s their relationship with your customer service people? What do they think about your policies? What do they wish you offered that you don’t now?

A good survey program measures two major themes–how happy people are with various aspects of your business, and how much those aspects matter to them. So if they don’t give your office hours high marks but those hours aren’t actually all that important to them, you don’t need to put that on the top of your list. Paying attention to what’s important to your customer, as well as to what they like and what they don’t, will help you prioritize improvements to provide the greatest value.

Paying attention is one of those things (like most of this series) that is easy to say and think about, but hard to do. It’s worth it. Push yourself to pay better attention to your customers (and while you’re at it, employees, if you have them). I predict you’ll start seeing some amazing results in a surprisingly short time.

The Relationship Marketing Series

Giving Your Readers a Break

Bad design makes for bad communication

I remember the very first issue of WIRED magazine. We all thought it was cool that there was a magazine talking about this geeky stuff we were doing. It looked really different from anything else that was being published, and not all that design innovation was useful. There was a lot of hot pink type on lime green backgrounds, text superimposed on text, and other effects that got used a) because everyone was young and had good eyes, and b) because it looked good (sort of) on a computer screen. On paper, it was both attention-getting and completely unreadable.

I’m currently struggling through Tom Peters’ Re-imagine!. It’s got large useful chunks, but it suffers terribly from the same disease. Random pieces of text are in red. Random stuff is in huge type. Ellipses are . . . used to . . . indicate . . . WTF exactly? Capital letters are used to express a kind of emotional spasm, without any seeming underlying logic. It’s a little like a homework assignment written by a hyper bright 10-year-old with advanced ADD.

The typography and layout of the book are a writhing mass of attention-grabbers, with the result that the whole thing is impossible to read. You don’t know where to put your focus. There’s not a square inch to rest your eye. It would make an OK one-page flyer, but as a book it’s brutally exhausting and doesn’t, in the end, get its point across.

If you’re communicating in writing, your best bet is to use words and sentences and paragraphs. Headers let the readers know This is a Pretty Big Idea. Sub-heads let the reader know This is a Subset of the Pretty Big Idea. I know that isn’t as fun as splashing red graphics over the top of your text. I know it isn’t as fun as squiggly lines (that look disturbingly like hairs, I keep trying to brush them out of the book) pointing to call-outs.

I know it’s more fun to write a white-board than a book. But it isn’t more fun to read one.

I may well be a big fuddy-duddy, although I’ll note that I have read at least one blog post (which I wish I cound find again, like a fool I didn’t bookmark it) pointing to the pages of Re-imagine! that one should actually read.

But let’s just say, for the sake of argument, that you might not be as brilliant as Tom Peters. (And I agree that there is some brilliance there.) If that is the case, and if your communication strategy is to wave your arms around and shoutAll Of This is important to everyone, gaaaaaah!accompanied by graphics that shock and awe more than they inform, don’t be too surprised if your effectiveness approximately equals that of a homeless guy.

Edit: Laura pointed out in comments that this blog’s default typeface is pretty darned small. Which is true. Annoyingly, it seems that the only way for me to change this if I use a predefined theme is to upgrade to a more expensive account so I can create a custom CSS sheet. Which I will, but in the mean time, I’m manually bumping up the font a little in each post. I hope this works better for folks!

How You Will Make Your Fame and Fortune

art, like communication, can be messy

Godin recently pointed to a page of color choices that would "change your life. A lot. For the better." I clicked through expecting something at least mildly earth-shattering, and found about a dozen nice color palettes.

Life: not changed.

I mention this only because it makes me just a little glad that Godin is not great at everything. Godin is great at what he does, but apparently picking colors is something he sees as fairly difficult. I probably couldn't handle being VP of marketing for Yahoo, but give me a simple set of tools and a free three or four hours, and I'll gladly hand you 20 good-looking color palettes that will work for a lot of different applications and appeal to a wide range of people. That comes hard to a lot of people, and it comes easily to me.

The hugely-hyped Peter Drucker asks, in The Effective Executive, "What are the things that I seem to do with relative ease, while they come rather hard to other people?"

Go write that down. (I'll wait.) Put it where you can see it just about every day.

What are the things that you seem to do with relative ease, while they come rather hard to other people?

Some world-changing things
Godin sees the patterns of a new kind of marketing communication. He's called those patterns "Permission Marketing," "Purple Cows," "New Marketing," "Ideaviruses," and a host of other labels. He can translate those patterns to things he sees every day, providing positive and negative examples. His examples help other people see the patterns that most of us couldn't see before, or couldn't see clearly.

That's his thing. I would venture to guess that it has made him a pretty nice living. It has certainly made him hugely influential.

Pema Chodron's thing is taking esoteric and difficult Buddhist teachings and making them very clear and accessible to people living "normal" lives in the technologically-advanced West. Her mentor Chogyam Trungpa Rinpoche was a greater Buddhist master, but Pema is a much more effective writer and teacher for ordinary Americans. She has eased the suffering and enlarged the compassion of countless people. Those people have gone on to ease the suffering and enlarge the compassion of others. She was an ordinary woman–a divorced schoolteacher with a plain face and bright eyes–who developed an extraordinary thing.

David Allen's thing was a way of looking at how to get more stuff done. He published two skinny books about it. (This one and the other one. You need both of them, trust me.) I have no idea if the guy has any other thing. He doesn't need one. GTD has revolutionized the lives of hundreds of thousands of people (including mine) and gotten one hell of a lot of stuff done in the seven years since his book was published.

Naomi Dunford's thing is taking big-agency marketing tactics and translating them in ways that work for Itty Businesses. She works too much because people go crazy for what she does and she can't multiply herself. Plus she should charge more money. And take better care of her health. But all that aside, she came forth doing her thing (and talking about it in a vivid, memorable way) and people went for it big time. There's power in the thing.

Understand the thing you have to offer
Some people have one thing that really works. A lot of people have a small collection of things that work uniquely well together. Even people with very grave mental disabilities usually have a thing, and for almost everyone, that thing has the seed of something remarkable.

So what's your thing? What comes easily and joyfully to you, and hard to others? Consider the great gift you can make by offering that to those who have a hard time with it.

And what, precisely, are you doing to nurture that remarkable seed?

StumbleUpon Friday: February 15, 2008

From time to time I post some of my favorite recent Stumbles. Save yourself an hour or two, get the good stuff all at once!

And just as a bonus, I hope you all saw this killer Seth Godin post today (I know, I know, I quote him every ten minutes, what can I say the guy is just right all the damned time) about the mindset of an effective communicator.

If Remarkable Communication kicked the bucket, this could be its tombstone: The posture of a communicator.

The Ten Commandments of New Social Media

The Social Media Rules

A lot of people new to social media wonder if there are any rules, and if so, what are they? You’ll be glad to know that yes, this frontier isn’t quite as wild as it looks. Even in these relatively early days, there’s a healthy set of conventions, laws and norms. Just like the original ten, these won’t keep you out of every kind of trouble, but they cover the big stuff pretty well.

Commandment #1: Thou Shalt Participate in the Conversation
The conversation is going to take place with you or without you. The 21st century has no patience with cowards. Opting out is not an option, so get in there and participate.

Commandment #2: Thou Shalt Not Lie
Nothing will sink you faster in the wired world than lying and all its variants. It’s too easy to compare stories, and too easy for your attempted coverups to get leaked. Don’t tell two conflicting stories in two different media. Don’t say you’re one thing when you know that your actions tell an entirely different story. Don’t tell lies of omission. And . . .

Commandment #3: Thou Shalt Not Astroturf
See Commandment #2. Don’t try to engineer conversation or use fake characters to advocate for you. I guarantee you will get caught, and your credibility will take a beating you may never get over. Creating a space for conversation is good. Creating sock puppets is bad.

Commandment # 4: Thou Shalt Talk Like a Human Being
Corporations don’t hold conversations. Enterprises don’t hold conversations. Entities don’t hold conversations. Conversations take place among people. Be a person.

Commandment #5: Remember Thy Community and Keep It Holy
It’s not an audience of passive recipients of your message. It’s a community made up of a complicated mix of personalities. The community has its own needs and its own imperatives. Take care of your community.

Commandment #6: Thou Shalt Not Be a Wimp
Bullies have been a factor in every social group that has ever existed. The anonymity of the Internet gives bullies an extra measure of courage. You must face bullies down every time you encounter them, clearly and forcefully.

Don’t let bully-wrangling turn you into an aggressive butthead yourself. And don’t be a hall monitor, waggling your finger and quoting rules. (Or commandments!) Instead, see #5: be a citizen who values civility and defends it on behalf of your community.

Commandment #7: Thou Shalt Not Snivel
You’re going to get beat up every once in awhile. Never, ever whine about it.

Commandment #8: Thou Shalt Write What Is Worth Reading
Typos aren’t necessarily a big problem, although you notice you never see one on Copyblogger, Problogger or Seth’s Blog. Vague, weak, insipid or meaningless writing are a big problem. Write clearly and with vigor. Cut out every line of corporate doublespeak. If you don’t know how to do that, subscribe to Copyblogger, read it faithfully, and put their advice into practice daily.

Commandment #9: Thou Shalt Not Pontificate About Shit Thou Knowest Nothing About
You will get caught and mocked and that’s just embarrassing.

Commandment #10: Thou Shalt Have a Sense of Humor
It’s just people, and people are pretty much the funniest thing ever. Nothing will serve you online as well as a sense of humor, especially about yourself.

If you found this post useful, I would be honored if you were to Digg, Sphinn and Stumble it!

Related Reading:

Make Compassion a Competitive Advantage

CSR and doing well by doing good

Image by mape_s

CSR is the hot new acronym in corporate PR, standing for Corporate Social Responsibility. Essentially, the idea translates into companies taking care of issues other than their own immediate financial interests–the environment, worker safety, the health of surrounding communities, etc. It’s certainly not a new idea, but it’s gaining a lot more attention lately.

Like most corporate fads, CSR is typically about 90% spin, but there are companies that are doing important work to make the world better (while making themselves plenty of money). The same techniques that work for giant companies will work even better for small, lean organizations with a commitment to ethical business practices.

What kind of programs can you run?
The simplest way to get started is to donate a stated portion of your income to an organization that resonates with your customers’ values. (For example, I donate 10% of my copywriting, consulting and editing income to Smiletrain.) You can donate a portion of your gross, a portion of your profits, a percentage of the proceeds for a particular product, whatever works for you.

You can come up with a little more talk value if you physically engage in something that tells a good story. Build a house with Habitat. Cook a meal for a soup kitchen. Pay your employees for their volunteer time working at charity marathons (hopefully while they’re wearing your company hat or t-shirt). If you can imagine photographs of your participation appearing in your local paper, it’s a good story. (Speaking of photographs, make sure you capture some!)

You can also pledge your company’s commitment to some worthwhile large project–maybe building a library for Room to Read. Or you could sponsor a child or children through one of the many great charities (World Vision is one I like) that do that. Be sure to let your customers know how the project (or child!) is coming along.

Design your program for talk value
Whether you’re a large organization or a small one, you want your efforts to be a good world citizen to get talked about. This is a lousy time for modesty. The nice thing is, updates on your charitable work make a great excuse to get in touch with your customers (and the press). And you should feel free to add additional information such as a sale or other offer that brings customers to your door.

Your communication will work best if the effects of your program are concrete and measurable. Look for either a number or a human story. ("Our hybrid delivery vehicles save 40,000 pounds of carbon dioxide emissions every year.") If they’re not concrete and measurable, why are you doing them exactly? It’s find to have some "fuzzy" components about respect and values, but make sure you can back that up with results and numbers.

Try to focus your company’s efforts on a theme or an individual charity that resonates with what you do. If you’re in the construction industry, helping the homeless makes a great theme. (There might even be some good donations in kind that you can make.) If you have a beauty salon, you might consider a charity like Smiletrain that helps the disfigured.

Here’s a test of your program’s talk value: imagine one of your customers talking with a friend about it. The "My dry cleaner uses silicone-based solvents instead of perchloroethylene" conversation probably isn’t going to happen. But "I have a great dry cleaner, and they only use environmentally-friendly stuff" might work pretty well.

Remember to give your customers the language and story points to get out there and talk you up to other people. You’ll never say anything about yourself that will be as powerful as what other people can say about you.

It should go without saying, but make sure you’re not "greenwashing." It’s perfectly ok if your contribution or project is small, but make sure it’s authentic and that you feel good about all of the details.

Don’t be a nag
Like all communication with your customers, you’re here to serve their needs, not yours. It’s usually a terrible idea to hit your customers up for donations to your favorite charity. (You can make an exception if that contribution can be used as a payment in full for one of your products.) Contributions are an intensely personal thing. Just do what you do, talk about it in a compelling way, and let the customers who resonate with it respond in their own way. Think of your CSR program as a way to help your customers feel even better about doing business with you, and leave it at that.

Focus on what matters to your customers
Different customers will respond to different kinds of stories. If your customers are women with small kids, find a project that helps poor mothers–and tell your story in a way that brings out your customers’ empathy for those women, that puts your customers in the shoes of the people you’re helping.

On the other hand, if your clients are CEOs, most of them probably won’t put themselves in the place of the homeless–but they may be very receptive to messages about helping the less fortunate. Different story approaches will resonate with different people.

You will, by the way, have at least one customer who will ask "If I don’t want to make a donation, can I get a discount?" Smile very nicely and say, "Sorry, that’s not how we do business."

Unless you know your customers are very passionate about the environment, you’ll usually come up with a more powerful message if your CSR efforts benefit people. Like every animal species, we’re biased in favor of our own kind. There’s a reason we’ve reached a tipping point about environmental awareness–it’s because so many people can see that global warming doesn’t just affect spotted owls. Try to find a human story of individual people who benefit from what you do, and don’t be shy about telling that story in vivid detail. (There are a lot of environmental projects that also benefit people–if you want some ideas, visit the WILD Foundation’s site.)

Failing that, loveable animal species actually work pretty well too–dolphins, great apes, abandoned pets, etc. Someone should benefit in a way that makes your customers feel good. If your project primarily benefits an endangered centipede, you won’t get a lot of customers thanking you for doing such important work.

And of course, consider the political implications of your particular project. Understand who your customer is, what they value, and how they will react to the work you’re doing. You should go ahead and do anything you feel strongly about, but don’t do it without at least thinking through your customers’ reactions.

Feeling guilty about "benefiting" from charitable work?
Get over it. Think of it this way: the more of us who can "do well by doing good," the more attractive it is for others to start pitching in. Leave your hair shirt at home and just get on with it.

Understand that you will almost certainly face some criticism on those grounds. The same argument holds. Doing business without giving back is not morally superior to blending the needs of your business with the needs of the greater society. Not everyone can be Mother Teresa. (Even Mother Teresa found it pretty tough going.)

(This post was inspired by another headline challenge issued by Brian over at Copyblogger. This is a great exercise for sharpening up your own headlines, and whatever you’re writing, your headline carries 80% of the impact. As you can see from this post, what you come up with might be pretty far from the original headline source.)

Is Social Media Better for PR or for Marketing?

Can marketing and PR be friends?

Image by emdot.

Somewhere along the line, a strange distinction grew up between PR and marketing. Each side tends to hold its own set of not-very-realistic stereotypes about the other. (I won’t make enemies by describing them here.) I can’t tell you how many times I’ve heard PR pros say "That’s just marketing," and marketers say "That’s just PR."

Anyone who’s read this blog for a bit can probably guess where I stand. The label isn’t very important–what matters are communication and relationships. The old message, market and medium have been replaced by conversation, community and connection. And for that new work, the title on your business card can be pretty arbitrary.

Today Chris Brogan asks if social media is better suited to PR or to marketing. PR would seem to have the advantage here–it’s public relations after all. And PR is all about fast reaction times–being able to think on your feet, communicate clearly (especially in a crisis) and keep your message from getting muddied in an environment you don’t control.

As Dr. Seuss said, "Except when you don’t, because sometimes you won’t."

Where PR gets it wrong
Here are the mistakes I see a lot of PR pros make again and again with social media:

  • They pitch without knowing who they’re pitching to.
  • They write like corporate robots.
  • Their messages are so spun you could knit socks out of them.
  • They’re stuck thinking in terms of media relations, instead of genuinely public relations.
  • They’re still pissed off when bloggers tell them traditional media is dead.

I’ll get the last one out of the way. Traditional media is not dead, and it just makes bloggers and social media types look dumb when we say it is. Traditional media is going through a radical and painful metamorphosis, and when it’s done it will probably look a lot more like social media. But to pretend that most people don’t want established authorities to digest their information for them is to grossly overestimate the majority of the population. Most people don’t want to be their own citizen journalists–they just want someone to tell them what the hell is going on.

So are PR professionals incapable of learning new habits? That would be a stupid thing to say or to believe, and I don’t. But PR shops are going to need a lot of guts and a lot of agility to shake off the habits and practices that define much of their industry. The ones who do are going to make some exciting stuff happen. In the land of the clueless, the one-clued man is king.

Where marketing gets it wrong
So if PR pros face some hurdles, where do the marketers go wrong?

There’s one (really big) bullet for this one: Trying to keep control of the brand.

There’s a reason marketing projects are called campaigns–the organization and cohesion are nothing short of military. 400 pages of brand standards. Approved colors and fonts and design elements predefined. The definition and redefinition of the target.

Millions of dollars’ worth of advertising materials are thrown away every year because the color of a brochure background is a little off. Marketers are used to being able to completely control their message within the confines of the medium they choose, whether it’s a 30-second TV spot, a billboard or a magazine ad.

In other words, a good marketer tends to be a colossal control freak. They’re not used to (as any decent PR pro is) creating something that’s designed to be picked up and used in all kinds of contexts without losing the message.

Social media sucks for control freaks. People take your stuff and mash it up in all kinds of ways you can’t predict. They get tattoos of your logo on rude parts of their body. They post videos that show your product being destroyed in interesting and innovative ways. They do what they want with your message, and you can’t do anything about it.

Great advertising and marketing minds have always known that customers don’t give a rat’s ass about us, the consumer only cares about himself. That’s one thing when you’re making an ad targeted to that customer, and another when you’re watching your brand get soaked in gasoline and lit on fire on YouTube.

On the other hand, marketing as a discipline has a big advantage with social media. Marketing includes lots of creative people who can make cool stuff, and cool stuff gets talked about. Companies like Apple and Volkswagon are very smart about making ads that are worth passing around. And the "creatives," in agency jargon, are themselves good coolhunters–when encouraged to do what they find interesting, they have a good instinct for what will appeal to the social media crowd.

What’s actually new
Traditional PR and marketing relied on one-way conversations. PR pros shaped media coverage that was delivered to readers or viewers. Marketing pros created advertising that was delivered to consumers. The messages were broadcast out and the results were measured, but no one expected to hear much from the other side of the conversation.

Today the conversation isn’t one-way or even two-way, it’s billion-to-billion-way. There are an infinite number of permutations, and no way to control the message no matter how big you are.

Good PR pros and marketers have a lot of transferable skills to new social media. They know how to come up with a message that’s worth repeating. They know the difference between a good story and a boring one. They have a high tolerance for shit hitting the fan and usually have good skills to deflect/handle it when it does.

For the increasing number of PR/marketing folks who get it, it doesn’t matter if you call it new marketing or PR 2.0: it’s the same work and there’s going to be a lot of it to go around.

The new social media pro will combine what’s smart about PR with what’s smart about marketing. So what do we call this person? Director of Hanging Around Engaging in Conversations? Remarkable Communicationalist? Tortipotamus? Drop me a comment with your own brilliant suggestion.

Related reading:

Linky Saturday: Resources for February 2, 2008

useful links for writers, marketers and creative people

Image by LittleGoldWoman

Here’s another collection of interesting and useful resources for you.

How to be Creative on Gaping Void. This is Hugh Macleod’s signature manifesto on creativity, risk, integrity, success and doing what you were put on this earth to do. The original posts are several years old, but he adds to it frequently. How to be Creative is required reading (and bookmarking, and re-reading) for anyone looking to expand their professional, personal and creative lives.

11 Top Secret Recipes for the Aspiring Copywriter Chef, a guest post by Dean Rieck on Copyblogger. I’m not sure about that chef metaphor, but this is a good list of 11 copywriting "recipes" that describe the points you need to touch in order to write persuasive copy. It starts with AIDA, a formula most of us have heard of, Attention, Interest, Desire, and call to Action. Reick then gives 10 variants, each of which can be useful in different situations. A nice reference for folks who want to write better Web pages, blogs, or sales material.

Are scrapers stealing your content? If your content has been ripped off by some jerk who’s passing it off as his own, you do have (some) recourse. This post walks you through filing an official DMCA complaint with the scumbag dirtball scraper copyright infringer’s host.

When Seth Godin Isn’t Seth Godin. Do you follow Seth on Twitter? Actually, no you don’t–you follow someone who has borrowed his name and his photograph in order to post pointers to Seth’s blog. The actual Seth Godin has no connection with that person. This is an interesting little article on Problogger about the importance of registering your Web identity on all the major services, even if you don’t necessarily intend to use them.

The Starfish Story. Yes, this has been passed up and down the Web quite a lot. That doesn’t matter. What does matter is that the principle behind it will help you find the right customers and take the right actions. Do what you need to help one starfish at a time. Freaking out about the size of the beach doesn’t do anyone any good.

Tips for Joining the A-List by Robert Scoble. A fascinating (two-year old) post with tips for joining the blogging "A list." Not just for bloggers–there’s some good advice here on writing better headlines and getting yourself noticed, especially online.