Are We Allowed to Write About Politics?


By Sonia Simone

I'll say one thing for Dan Kennedy, the guy is up front about how much he hates liberals.

I subscribe to his marketing newsletter, and am constantly on the verge of canceling. He hates liberals in every issue. He hates liberal politicians and liberal voters and liberal businesspeople and liberal household pets. If he finds out Mother Teresa or Martha Washington were liberals, they're going on the list.

I find this annoying because the newsletter is a paid subscription, so I'm always mentally calculating what his hatred-of-the-month is costing me. But it is what it is.

Frankly, Kennedy is too disciplined to do something that doesn't work for him. My guess is that his political stance resonates with enough of his audience that he can create a rapport with a good chunk of them through that alone. It reinforces his brand of a politically incorrect, cranky, "no-BS" guy.

Kennedy is a sharp enough marketer that he knows he doesn't have to be all things to all people–he just has to be valuable and memorable to the "herd" he's built up.

So this is not an argument to leave politics out of your content. That's up to you. It works very well in some situations and not at all in others.

But I will give you a little cautionary tale. I recently subscribed to another newsletter, written by a good writer who's very smart about what he does. I happily read through maybe a hundred pages of past issues of newsletters, special reports, and all the other goodies you get when you subscribe to something these days.

Toward the end of my pile of reading material, out of nowhere comes a nasty, angry rant about the ACLU. Not a sentence or two, but a full-on, pissed-off vitriolic diatribe.

Now if you're going to randomly explode into a violent rage one day, I would suggest choosing a target that enjoys more universal hatred. The IRS (or whatever your local tax agency is) will do nicely. Al-Qaeda is always good. And I think even other telemarketers hate telemarketers. You can rant away at targets like this and not do much collateral damage.

But there are quite a few people (like me, as it happens) who find the ACLU an important and even heroic organization. If you're Dan Kennedy and you've spent 20 years blasting away at anything left of Idaho, you haven't created any additional ill will. Your customer either agrees with you, tunes you out, or leaves.

If this is your first shot at the left side of your readership, though, you might want to reconsider.

If you’re going to use a controversial position to define yourself and your tribe, keep it at about the same level all the time. Put it front and center when you begin the relationship, and refer to it often enough that no one forgets.

Don’t worry about scaring away some customers. If you're passionate about this position, it will help you find your tribe and bind them tightly to you.

On the other hand, if it’s not really that important to you, find something that is. The world has enough pissed-off people in it without you looking for ways to add to the rosters.

Flickr Creative Commons image by riotjane

The Nice Guy’s Guide to Authority


I’m a big fan of being a nice guy. (I’m using “guy” in a gender-neutral way here. Feel free to read it as “gy” if that floats your boat.)

The kind of marketing I practice doesn’t work too well for jerks. It relies on spending sustained quality time with your customers—and who wants to spend all that time with a jerk?

But sometimes nice guys don’t project a sense of authority. Everyone wants to spend time with us, but they don’t necessarily want to do what we tell them to.

And make no mistake, my friends, we want them to do what we tell them to.

Here are a few observations I’ve made recently by carefully watching and modeling supremely nice people who also have massive authority and credibility. As I’m using these techniques more consciously myself, I’m seeing a significant shift in how I’m perceived.

Combine these with a basic commitment to decency and you’ll be on track to rule the world (nicely) by some time this summer.

Be incredibly good
True authority springs from true expertise. Become insanely good at what you do. If you’re already very good at one or two things, become obsessive about perfecting them.

Unless you’re Leonardo DaVinci, you’re not going to be able to pull off being a generalist. Figure out what you do spectacularly well, then become otaku about getting to be the best in the world at it.

Does “best in the world” sound scary? Remember that “the world” probably means the micro-world you and your customers happen to swim in (the Internet; mid-sized ad agencies in your zip code; barbecue joints in Duluth).

Once you know the size of your world, keep narrowing your focus. Divide and refine what you do until you hit the point where no one can outclass you.

Know where you are going
You may know more than anyone about millefiori Fimo or seahorse wrangling, but if you can’t articulate that knowledge in a helpful way, you aren’t an authority.

Create maps and checklists for what you do. When someone approaches you for help, use those maps to show them you know exactly what to do, in exactly what order, and using exactly which tools.

Of course the first step is always “figure out what the hell this person needs.” You know that and I know that. That step is on your map too, but don’t dwell on it in the early days.

Show your customer what the overall map looks like, and that you can travel the territory with confidence and ease. They’re already spending most of their time trying to figure out what the hell they need, they don’t need you to increase their anxiety there.

(In fact, you almost certainly need a mini-map to “figuring out what they need.” Get good at that and you’ll be better than 90% of the folks you’re competing with.)

You could get a little pompous and call this your methodology. If you do, the nice-guy rules require you to immediately snicker at yourself and point out your own pomposity.

Know your core
Nice guys are flexible. They listen. They take the other person’s position into consideration.

Authority figures have a core set of values that simply doesn’t move. It’s not stubbornness, it’s deep, confident knowledge. Think of the calm, centered energy of a mountain.

Remember, keep it relaxed, never cutting or defensive. You’re going for the Dalai Lama, not Donald Rumsfeld.

Know what you’re willing to bend on. And know what you will never bend on, because it’s integral to who you are and what you have to offer.

Get your ego out of the way
You’re here to facilitate solving someone’s problem, not to look smart or cool or in control. Watch yourself carefully for signs that it’s becoming about you and your ego, rather than about making things great for your customer.

Ego is such a gigantic force that there’s an entire religion devoted to trying to dissolve it. Keep watching carefully, and keep asking yourself, “Is this about me?”

Keeping a watchful eye on your ego is the best defense to keeping it under control.

Be disarming
If you’re three feet tall with a hair lip and long, flowing back hair, mention those facts frequently. Make fun of yourself as often as possible over something that isn’t all that important. Your appearance is usually a good place to start. On the other hand, if you’re stupidly good-looking, you might want to develop some really funny material about your vanity.

Confess to small flaws that people can relate to. For example, I’m a hypersensitive, cranky, politically correct, compulsive control freak with nearly disabling insomnia and a significant chocolate problem.

Weirdly enough, the more open I am about all of those, the more people trust that I’m also a smart, strategic, perceptive marketer and copywriter who uses content, relationship and community to create wildly successful marketing.

Tell us in the comments: what are you working on that you could become the best in the world? Is that how the world sees you, or are you still working on it?

Work Your Copy into Fighting Shape

This week's post on Copyblogger will have you turning your pudgy, wheezy copy into sculpted, toned paragraphs of steel.

How to Lose 30 Pounds of (Writing) Flab Overnight

5 Recipes for Success (and 1 for Tomatoes)


By Sonia Simone

Seth Godin did a great post on how to read a business book, in which he pointed out that good business books are 95% motivation and 5% recipes for acting on that motivation. My own struggle with Godin’s books is that I come out of them motivated as hell, but then I lose steam trying to translate the big idea into a recipe I can act on.

In fact, you could probably classify a lot of what I do as writing recipes people can use to act on the motivation they get from brainy strategists like Seth Godin or Tom Peters.

Anyway, here are some terrific recipes for your own professional and communication success. Plus one for when you have not-that-great tomatoes, because hey, we’ve all been there.

  • Cold Calling: Destined for Failure. If you’re doing any cold calling, this great post gives specific suggestions for tactics that will get better results with less pain. It’s also an excellent example of how to do a little seat-of-your-pants marketing through conversation, also known as the anti-elevator-pitch.
  • The Pocket-Sized Guide to Blogging. Skelliewag hasn’t posted much lately, but she’s back with an excellent comprehensive (and succinct) guide to what makes a blog work well. Follow this advice and you will see results in your blog. Nice to see her return!
  • How to Handle Customer Email. Terrific post about the right and wrong way to handle email from your customers. Yes, it’s common sense, except no one is doing it. You could be.
  • If you ever have to present information to anyone, allow me to grab you by the lapels and recommend that you pick up the book Beyond Bullet Points. While you’re waiting for Amazon to deliver it, check out the slide show How to Avoid Death by Powerpoint, which will whet your appetite and get you thinking in the right direction. You don’t have to actually use PowerPoint to use this–it’s a killer recipe for any kind of talk, speech or presentation you might make.
  • While we’re on the topic of PowerPoint, go see James Hipkin’s post about the Thread of Steel. He happens to tie it to PowerPoint, but it’s an important exercise for any communication–an ad, a newsletter article, a blog post.
  • You know how you get tomatoes from the store and they look like they will be amazing, and then they’re . . . not amazing? The charming and witty food writer Casey Ellis has a solution. The Tomato Wars.

Creative Commons Flickr image by jackie-dee

8 Ways to Use Numbers in Headlines

bingo card

I sympathize with blog readers who hate numbers in post titles. “10 Ways to X” is a classic headline formula, but it’s being worked to death online.

Up to 86% of the time, it’s a lazy way to drum up a post without putting too much thought into it.

64% of sophisticated blog readers believe that using a number in a post title is so pathetically obvious that it couldn’t possibly still work.

I recently got a big rush of new readers from a post called 50 Things Your Customers Wish You Knew.

Now I didn’t have a way to run a split test against a headline “Things Your Customers Wish You Knew” (wouldn’t that be a cool WordPress plugin?), but a quick look through my stats shows that posts with numbers consistently bring in between 2.5-8 times more traffic (and more referrals from sites like Digg or Stumble) than posts without.

Numbers are a time-honored trigger to get us to pay attention. When you use a number in a headline, whether it’s in a blog post, an email subject header, an ad or even in a face-to-face conversation*, you immediately hook the other person’s interest.

Numbers reach directly into our unconscious and say, “this message is important.”

(By the way, according to Jakob Nielson, numbers as figures work better on the Web than numbers as words.)

How to write a “numbers post” without being cheesy

First, tempting though it may be, don’t put a number into every headline. (Unless you’re using the convention of Stuff White People Like, which actually would work beautifully for a lot of serious topics.)

Second, realize that number posts are inherently likely to pull in more traffic–so capitalize on that. Make them meaty. Make them relevant. Put your best thinking and writing into them. These are the posts that will bring you new readers, so put your best foot forward.

It doesn’t seem logical that a simple (and overused) trick could be so effective in conveying authority and reliability, but generations of advertising and headline writers can confirm that it works. So don’t fall into the trap of avoiding number posts because they’re overdone. Use them intelligently and on posts that deserve the extra attention numbers can bring.

* Of course face-to-face conversations can have headlines. In fact, I just bought a brilliant audio workshop on this very subject–more on that later.

(P.S. Did I make up all the boldface statistics in this post? Of course I did. But don’t make up numbers in your own stuff–it makes the FTC cranky, and only Dilbert ever really gets away with it.)

(P.P.S. Yes, putting “8 Ways” in the title was a pathetically transparent attempt to get you to read this post. A little sad, isn’t it?)

(P.P.P.S. Got a “numbers post” you’re proud of? Post a link in the comments and we’ll all come admire it.)

Related reading:

Flickr Creative Commons image by hownowdesign

Why Mom Was Right About Success

By Sonia Simone

your mom was right about success

Let’s face it, moms know everything. (Of course, now that I have a child, I realize how pitifully incorrect this is. Never mind.) Mom had it right on the big stuff, anyway. And she had it right because she loved you, and love is smarter than anything.

So as a last-minute mother’s day present, here are 6 (ok, 5) mom-approved tips for your own personal and professional success.

1. Just be yourself. If people don’t like it, they aren’t real friends anyway
There’s no worse waste of time, energy and money than trying to do work for clients who aren’t right for you. In the first place, it won’t work–you’ll go broke trying. And in the time you waste, you could have been connecting with dozens or hundreds or thousands of clients who would love and appreciate you.

Assuming you aren’t a sociopath with halitosis, spend as little time as possible dwelling on what you do badly. Focus on being unbelievably great at what you do well.

Consider constructing a 12-foot tall neon sign about anything you’re a little insecure about. Hot pink is a good color. (Mine reads: "World’s Least Competent Cold Caller.") This will, perversely, read as confidence, and the people who already liked you will start to put much more trust in you.

2. If you can’t say something nice . . .
I realize this somewhat contradicts #1, especially if you happen to be a snarky, edgy type of person who can hone an insult sharper than a San Quentin shiv.

Let’s face it. There are few pleasures that compare to trash talking, especially if you’re really good at it. That delectable shiver of superiority as your arrow hits the mark. The boom of approving laughter. Well-honed snark is a mighty, mighty drug.

There’s almost nothing about my life I would change, except for the times I’ve hurt people with something I have said. Even if the person you’re going after is Ted Bundy, you’ll do some collateral damage. Some nice, interesting, quiet person (who might have had something really remarkable to contribute) will be angered and hurt by what you’ve said, and you’ll never even notice.

The tricky part is, for some of us, this really is where our gifts lie. Some of us are Molly Ivins, or Bill Hicks. If that’s you, be sure to choose your targets wisely. Go after Google, or China, or network television. Remember the traditional journalist’s credo: afflict the comfortable and comfort the afflicted.

3. If you’re that bored, go clean your room
Feeling stuck? Can’t move forward? Spinning your wheels and making no progress?

I’ll lay odds that somewhere, there’s some uncomfortable business that you need to attend to, but you’re putting it off. Maybe it’s getting over your number-phobia and talking with a bookkeeper. Maybe it’s coming to terms with your fear and loathing of marketing. Maybe it’s just a half-day of errands, running around to get your PO Box and business checking set up.

The things you put off not only mutate to ten times their natural size, they also start creating weird unconscious blocks in other parts of your life. Somewhere, where you can’t quite hear it, there’s a tape (I suppose these days, this is now an MP3) running that’s saying, "if I can’t even get it together to set up an email newsletter, there’s no way I can actually succeed at this business/project/fundraiser."

I don’t know what "clean your room" will mean for you, but you do. It popped into your head about four seconds ago. Write it down, right now.

(Waiting for you to write it down.)

OK, now before you can think about it too much, just go get it done. If you can physically get off your ass right this minute and get it finished, do that. If not, scribble on a post-it the next thing you need to do to make this happen, and then figure out exactly when you’re going to do that. Before the end of this week, please.

You’ll be happily surprised by how much energy this frees up. That same MP3 player will start playing a new tune, something more like, "huh, I guess I’m kind of a stud after all. Now that I’ve got that done, I’m going to do this other thing right now."

Sounds hokey, but it works. Like so much of mom’s advice.

4. Look with your eyes, not with your hands
OK, I wracked my brain and can’t figure out a way to translate this one to success. It just cracks me up when I hear myself telling my own kid this. Sorry.

5. If your friends jumped off the Golden Gate Bridge, would you do it?
Never mind that the true answer to this is usually sure I would. Mom was trying to teach you that the right answer is no, and that’s good advice.

What works beautifully for Skellie or Clay or Caroline may not be the right choice for me.

My version of a great Copyblogger post (I thought the naked one was pretty good) looks significantly different from Brian’s great posts, or James’s, or Dean’s or Roberta’s.

Being inquisitive and paying attention and learning by observation are all terrific. God knows I built this blog on the foundation of a pretty transparent role model. (I believe Brian’s term for the early days of remarcom was "a shrine.") I can heartily endorse copying someone really good for a little while. But you do it to learn your own voice, your own obsessions, and your own unique contributions.

If you’ve ever bought something just because the ad or sales letter was irresistible, try to find that ad and copy it out by hand. Do that with any written ad that really pulls you. You’ll learn a surprising amount.

Copy wisely, copy from the best, then set copying aside and do your own thing. You really can conquer the world that way.

6. Look where you’re going
When all else fails, pay attention. The more lost you feel, the more curiosity you need to cultivate about where you are and what’s going on right this instant.

There’s a ton of advice out there about just about anything. Irritatingly, each of us has to build our own version of the map. We construct it with 10,000 jigsaw pieces in front of us, only 4,000 of which fit the puzzle we’re working on. Horribly inefficient, but it’s the only way to make something real.

Keep paying attention. The path will appear. Make sure your shoes are tied and you’ve got clean underwear, a kleenex and enough money to get a taxi home if you need to. You’re going to do just fine.

(P.S. What’s your own favorite bit of advice from mom? Let us know in the comments, please!)

Flickr Creative Commons image by basykes

How to Take a Punch (Without Hitting Back or Sinking to the Mat)

how to handle criticism

Here’s the part no one talks about, when you’re creating content strategies for your business. You reveal a few personal details and make yourself vulnerable. You pour your heart into your content, because you know that in order to make a personal connection, people need to feel they know you. You work hard getting it as great as you possibly can.

And someone comes along who hates it, and you feel like you’ve been pissed on.

Now you may be one of those highly admirable people who takes nothing personally. If so, go check out something practical like Chris Garrett’s post today, this one will bore you to death.

But if you’re a thin-skinned sensitive soul like I am, you will feel like killing yourself. Jumping off a bridge seems like a pleasant proposition next to this. We quirky souls (I prefer quirky to neurotic, don’t you?) secretly spend a little too much time mentally listing all the ways we aren’t good enough, don’t know enough, and are entirely unworthy of any success, love, fame or money. An unappreciative remark (or a downright criticism) hits us like a bucket of ice water to the face.

“Aha!” we think. “I knew I sucked. Now I have validation. Add to my to-do list, find bridge.”

Since the world is a better place if you do not, in fact, kill yourself, here are a few strategies for when you’re finding it just too awful to go on.

1. Keep a testimonial file

Ideally you’ll do this before some brute rains on your parade. Create a file of great things people have said about you. Keep it where you can always find it. (The Web is nice for this–I’m never far away from my Backpack.) Unless you are Osama Bin Laden, your fans are going to massively outnumber your critics. Keep a lot of evidence from your fans, and make a point of referring to it frequently.

This is not vanity, this is a simple reality check. Most of us weigh criticism far more heavily than we do kudos, an unhelpful and unhealthy habit. We need to make a point of remembering to focus on the good stuff.

2. Resist the temptation to kick yourself for getting upset

You may have an internal monologue that goes something along the lines of, “Why am I such an idiot to take everything personally? I’ll never be able to succeed if I don’t get a thicker skin. God, if only I didn’t suck I’d be making as much money as Brian/Darren/ at the very least Remarkablogger. Stupid, stupid, stupid idiot to take it personally. Stop taking it personally. God damn it, stop. Ugh. Moron.”

Let me be gentle. This is not helping you, sweetie. You’ve just taken a right cross to the jaw–please try to refrain from giving yourself a left hook to follow it up.

When I catch myself doing this, I find it extremely helpful to wallow in my misery. Go ahead and feel bad about getting criticized. In fact, go ahead and feel awful. It’s quite helpful to zero in on physical reactions–my scalp always gets hot when I feel under attack, and my gut gets cold and knotted up. Pay attention to all that. Let yourself feel absolutely dreadful. The more completely you can give in to it, the quicker it passes.

3. Control your outward reaction

Since I am good with words, at one point in my life I responded to criticism with the verbal equivalent of neutron bombs. I can be pretty darned mean when I set my mind to it.

Not smart. Or kind.

Liz Strauss had a nice point on this at SOBCon. If you get slammed, say thank you. As unappealing as this may seem (and believe me, I’ve tried to find a workaround, but so far, no luck), criticism can sometimes be very useful. When you’ve had a chance to process everything, you can go back and decide whether or not there’s something to learn. In the meantime, you’ll look cool, calm and collected.

Which, in my evolved way, I like to think of as nice revenge on the rat bastard.

If you’re a true head case like I am, it’s smart to work up your response in advance. Feel free to steal this one:

“Thanks so much for that, [jerkface]. I’m going to give that some more thought.”

Expert communicator tip: This works better if you use their name rather than [jerkface].

4. Don’t over-correct

You’ve put a lot of time and thought into your content. If one person in a hundred hates it, the odds are not in their favor.

So yes, you may learn something valuable. But don’t change your direction until you’ve given yourself enough time to really process it. If you’re still angry and hurt, you’re not there yet. Once you can think about the comment and not get mad, you’re ready to learn.

If you’re still boiling, go back to step 2. Vent, vent, vent. Wallow in your rage and misery and be an absolute drama queen until it doesn’t really bug you any more.

You may be strongly (and subconsciously) tempted to do anything at all to avoid ever getting criticized again. Resist this with everything you’ve got. Nothing is more boring than inoffensive content.

5. Congratulations! You’re succeeding

This is the really annoying one.

When you’re getting criticized, it means you’re moving toward success. Your stuff is getting in front of more eyes, which means your odds of finding a critic go up. And you look strong and confident enough that the people who dislike strong, confident people will take a potshot at you.

Also, your thin skin can actually be a tremendous asset. Great content and relationship marketing depend on a high level of empathy. Being a delicate flower usually means you’re a blackbelt at empathy. If you can, think of your writhing agony as a price you pay for gifts that come in very handy at other times.

I know all of this is easier said than done. Believe me, I have 42 years of experience in how much harder it is to do than to say. But these do help me a lot, and I hope some of them may help you too. Most of you are far less mentally ill than I am, so you may not need all of them.

Related Reading:

So let us know in the comments: What’s your best technique is for handling criticism?

(p.s. If you like this post, I will be honored if you’d Digg, Stumble or link!)

Flickr Creative Commons image by ganessas

Monkeys and Bloggers and Tribes (oh, my!)

By Sonia Simone

hangin' out at SOBCon08

Have the past couple of days been driving you nuts (here and on some other blogs you might be following)? All this inside baseball from SOBCon–lots of us Twittering like crazy, mostly for the benefit of the other 130-odd bloggers who were there.

The worst part is, most of us are so exhausted that our notes are terrible. "Brogan said we should care about people! OMG he is such a freaking genius. BRB, I have to go schmooze Brian Clark."

(Note: this is in no way to suggest that Brogan is not a genius.)

There were exceptions, but I’m afraid I wasn’t one of them! I hope my fragments held some value for some of you, at least.

But I did pick up a lot of ideas to riff on, and the heart of SOBCon itself is one of them:

Community Is Fundamental
Community, along with ego and family and mortality, is one of those primal driving forces. If you want to tap into something deep and fundamental in order to deliver your message, community is one of the options.

When we were just starting out as upright monkeys, you kept your tribe solid or you all died. Finding stuff to eat was not so easy, and finding stuff that wanted to eat you was way too easy. We needed an intense bond that kept us connected, even when we wanted to kill each other. Connection was not optional. It’s why we, as a species, are still here.

Creating a community around what you do is still a great way to survive in a hostile landscape. If your customers can form a tribe around your product or service (or church or nonprofit or whatever your particular gig might be), you win. Their loyalty to your tribe can become completely disproportional to the merits of what you have to offer. (cough Apple cough cough).

Tribes Aren’t Indestructible
They can be wrecked by cluelessness, carelessness, shifting priorities. Back in the day, there was a rich collection of tribes on GE’s online forum (GEnie). Gardeners, romance writers, gamers, Forth geeks–you name it, there was a GEnie RoundTable for it. Then one day, GE decided to sell its weirdo little project to a company that couldn’t handle it. Chains were yanked, prices skyrocketed, and eventually GEnie was killed off by a failure to patch it up for Y2K. Bye-bye tribes.

Those of us who were there can tell you that the tribes didn’t die because they weren’t real. They died because tribes are fragile, and (assuming you’re not an Inuit on an ice floe trying to survive the winter) we have other options.

As powerful as community can be, it hurts to be on the outside looking in. Inclusion feels safe and natural. We find our little monkey place in the community, and that feels right. Exclusion feels dangerous and wrong. There is no hatred like the hatred of the monkey who feels she’s been shut out.

If you build a community for any reason, you owe it to them to figure out how you will keep the infrastucture going. And you owe it to yourself to figure out–early–who you’ll bring in and who you will keep out. There are many excellent reasons to put up some boundaries (ever been in an AOL chat room?), but you also have to realize it’s going to be acutely painful to someone.

While I’ve been monkeying around with my blogger pal tribe, I hope I haven’t done so to the exclusion of the community that’s grown up around this blog. I’ve just been on vacation one tribe over.

They’re nice folks, thank you all for indulging my postcards. The weather was beautiful, wish you’d been there.

SOBCon Update: Saturday

By Sonia Simone

My head is so overstuffed with ideas that I couldn’t possibly write them all down, but here are some selected scribbles from today’s workshops. I’ve got notes for about five years of blog posts.

Brian Clark:

  • A lot of the keys to good blogging are the keys to good business. What used to work won’t be tolerated any more.
  • Thinking of ourselves as entrepreneurs, not as bloggers.
  • Your revenue model should be: "Yes, please."
  • Attention by itself is not the game. It’s a critical part of the game, but once you have attention, there is more work to be done.
  • You have to know what you want to say, even if you end up hiring someone to help you say it.
  • Build as much authority as you can on one "hub" domain, with satellite pages or additional sites around it for side projects, promotion, etc.

Chris Garrett:

  • If you don’t work out what you want to get out of it, you’ll get the wrong things out of it.
  • A really good question can be better than a really good statement.
  • Create an editorial calendar for the blog. [I didn't get why this was cool until he showed us what that would look like. Figuring out how often to do linkbait, when & how guest posts fit in, etc.]
  • Flagship content is an ambassador for what you do.

David Bullock: (supergenius who I didn’t know before I came here):

  • "I do blogging wrong.  I just do stuff that works for my business."
  • No money will move before the conversation line is in place.
  • What kind of systems do you have in place to pay attention & act on what you learn?
  • How does your story match the story of the marketplace? If the conversations don’t mesh, you get no action.
  • The good stuff is you. Your uniqueness and your experience. Essentially, it’s your thinking people will pay for–the doing can be outsourced, the thinking is yours alone.
  • You will find the language of your market in the testimonials of your clients.
  • The Internet is links and pages. That’s all it is.

Chris Brogan:

  • The big secret is that businesses are full of people.
  • Build stories humans want to tell.
  • Give your ideas handles.
  • Make it useful.
  • Hack–make things your own.
  • Do more than you talk.

Liz Strauss:

  • Come up with something they want (not something they need).
  • Create your message with head, heart and meaning.
  • Blog your experience.
  • Leave room for your community. Don’t wrap everything up so damned neatly.

Wendy Piersall:

  • Everyone is doing business stuff and heart stuff at the same time.
  • It’s not pretty getting outside of your comfort zone.
  • We need a BS filter for the stuff in our own head.
  • Create micro "success for today" goals.
  • There is no more time. Give me more you.

Oh, and a P.S., I met the brilliant Cliff Atkinson, who created Beyond Bullet Points. BBP is required reading not just for creating PowerPoint that isnt awful, but for sharpening and clarifying your thinking so you can create a message that actually conveys something. Very hard to do, but it’s work that has a huge payoff.

SOBCon Update: Friday night

By Sonia Simone

OK, as promised, entirely unfiltered notes:

I wouldn’t have thought Chris Garrett would be so darned sweet. Brogan, sure. But ChrisG–gigantic sweetheart.

There are women here! A lot of ‘em! It warms my heart to see women at geeky conferences.

It’s not your brand. When you put your brand out for social media to play with, it becomes their (our) brand, and you can’t have it back again.

Best line of the night, bar none, by Christine Kane (who is awesome): Copyblogger would rename "Hey Jude" to "12 Irrefutable Reasons Jude Should Listen to Me."

The Digital Cultural Evangelist for Edelman was there. I wanted to talk with her, then got sidetracked. Damn.

When most people figure out that the great New Social Media is just conversations & relationships, those of us who get a little mileage out of being Those Who Get It are sort of screwed. But we keep putting it out there, keep evangelizing, even though we’re sowing the seeds of our own irrelevance.

More Christine Kane: "A great dream, and a history of playing small . . . Right out of nowhere, you open your heart and that changes everything."