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.

What Romance Novels Can Teach You About Copywriting

By Sonia Simone

The latest Copyblogger post! It’s been getting some very nice comments, which always makes me feel warm & fuzzy.


How to Build Stronger Customer Relationships

By Sonia Simone

For those who don’t read Copyblogger, I have another post there this week on using conversation to create more remarkable connections with customers. Come by and say hi!

What Do You Really Do?

By Sonia Simone

yoyogi-girls-3 by ehnmark

Ittybiz is one of my two or three favorite blogs, and one of the few I read religiously every day. She helps small businesses with their marketing, and she has an amazing ability to cut through people’s self delusion and help them figure out what they really do.

Naomi gave us five questions to answer–privately for ourselves, and publicly for our customers. So far I’ve resisted the "meme" phenomenon (IMO not the right word for it, but I can’t think of a better one, damn it), but I liked these questions a lot, and answering them did help me see some things more clearly.

If you have any kind of regular connection with customers–a blog, a Squidoo lens, a newsletter–you might consider answering these questions to get to the heart of what you do.

(If you blog these or put them on the Web in some way, let me know with a trackback or a comment and I’ll post a link so we can all swing by and get to know you better.)

What’s your game? What do you do?
I’m a shrink for businesses–both big businesses and small ones. I help them build better relationships with their customers by creating better communication.

Why do you do it? Do you love it, or do you just have one of those creepy knacks?
I love it and I have one of those creepy knacks. Somewhere along the line I got good at seeing through to what folks were really good at, and helping them put that into words.

Who are your customers? What kind of people would need or want what you offer?
Folks who hate marketing but don’t want their business to die.

What’s your marketing USP? Why should I buy from you instead of the other losers?
The kind of marketing I do doesn’t require you to choose between your soul and the success of your business. You can have both–in fact, that’s where you find the greatest successes. I can help you with that.

What’s next for you? What’s the big plan?
I’m putting together some products that will help people learn effective, ethical marketing for themselves. Straight info–no sleazy, unethical tricks and no feel-good fluff. My motivation for this has been my notable lack of success in working 48-hour days to keep up with all of the people I want to help.

Flickr Creative Commons image by ehnmark

50 Things Your Customers Wish You Knew

50 things your customers wish you knew

Some items on this list might seem cynical, but they’re not. The fact is, it doesn’t matter what kind of customers you have. I don’t care if your customers are kidney donors or Zen masters or million-dollar contributors to your nonprofit organization. Each one of us has some less-than-loveable characteristics that tend to come to the forefront when we’re in the role of customer.

If you knew, really knew, these 50 things about your customers, and acted accordingly, you’d gain their trust and even their love. After all, who doesn’t want to be loved despite all our flaws and embarrassing insecurities? The better you understand both the noble and not-so-noble secrets in your customers’ consciousness, the better you can serve them.

Here are 50 things your customers wish you knew: about them, about how they see you, and about your relationship.

  1. I don’t need you to be perfect, but I do need to know I can rely on you.
  2. Telling me what you don’t know makes me trust you.
  3. It means a lot when you take the time to thank me for my business or a referral.
  4. You don’t need to do all that much to be a superhero. Just do exactly what you say you will do.
  5. A friendly voice on the other side of the phone means more than you can imagine.
  6. Your employees treat me about as well as you treat them.
  7. I don’t mind spending the money, as long as I feel I’m getting real value.
  8. My life is really stressful. If you can reduce that stress, you become immensely valuable to me.
  9. I want to tell you what would make this relationship better for me. Why don’t you ever ask me?
  10. I don’t understand a lot of the messages you send me. Can you make them clearer?
  11. My life is very complicated. If you make it easy for me to just buy a simple all-in-one package that I can use without learning anything, I’ll take it and be grateful. (I’ll even pay a premium for it.)
  12. I want to trust you, but it’s hard for me to trust anyone.
  13. Once you’ve won my trust and loyalty, the truth is you can screw up once in awhile and I will forgive you. If I don’t think you’re taking me for granted, that is.
  14. When I refer my friends and you give them exceptional service, that makes me look and feel smart. I love that.
  15. I spend an awful lot of time being scared to death.
  16. The wealthier I get, the more I like free stuff.
  17. A lot of the time, I secretly feel like a lost little kid. I don’t admit it, but I want to be taken care of.
  18. I’m lousy at admitting I was wrong, but I respect you when you do it.
  19. I like to get little goodies no one else is getting.
  20. I don’t understand how to use your Web site, but I can’t admit that because it would make me feel dumb.
  21. There’s no worse feeling than feeling like I was suckered into trusting you. If I’m screaming at you or one of your employees, that feeling is probably behind it somewhere.
  22. Our relationship isn’t equal and it never will be.
  23. I get crazy jealous if I think you love another customer more than you love me.
  24. I don’t have any interest in your excuses. In fact, I usually don’t notice them at all, and if I do, they annoy me.
  25. I find myself endlessly fascinating.
  26. I hate salespeople, but I really like to buy things.
  27. I only like to communicate over the phone/Web/mail and I hate when you try to make me communicate with you over the mail/phone/Web.
  28. I want to buy your product, but I need you to help me justify it to myself.
  29. There’s something in my life I’m afraid of losing. If you can make me feel like you’ve protected it for me, my gratitude will be intense and eternal.
  30. I’ll give you anything you ask if you can help me not feel silly.
  31. I want you to do the hard work for me. Even better if I can get all the credit.
  32. I’d rather do it the convoluted hard way than learn something new.
  33. I’d love to know something about your product that I could use to brag at a dinner party.
  34. I have the attention span of a goldfish. Go too long without contacting me and I’ll simply forget you exist.
  35. Money is no object when it comes to my obsessions.
  36. What you think you’re good at is not what you’re good at. Ask me, and I’ll tell you what you do better than anyone else.
  37. I like it when I feel like you’re talking just to me.
  38. It infuriates me when you answer the phone while I’m talking with you face-to-face.
  39. Embarrassment scares me more than death.
  40. I’m lazier than I would ever admit.
  41. I’m more selfish than I would ever admit.
  42. I’m more vain than I would ever admit.
  43. I’m more insecure than I would ever admit.
  44. Despite all that, I secretly think I’m a better person than most people. Help me believe that and we’ll be fast friends.
  45. I believe I deserve much more than I’m getting.
  46. I want to tell you everything you need to know in order to sell to me, but I’m lazy. Make it easy enough and I will. (Especially if you flatter me a little.)
  47. I don’t know what I want most of the time. You need to figure it out for me.
  48. I mostly daydream about making life better for myself, but I’ll take action to keep from losing what’s mine.
  49. I believe that most of what’s wrong in my life is someone else’s fault. Let me keep that cozy illusion and I’ll believe anything you say.
  50. It really is all about me.

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Flickr Creative Commons image by clairity

Five Good Eggs

Good People Day 2008

Blogger Gary Vaynerchuk has dubbed April 3 as good people day around the blogosphere, so I thought I’d point you to five very good eggs whose blogs are characterized by generosity of spirit and great advice. Some of them are very successful and some less well-known, but I think you will get a lot out of reading any or all of these folks.

These are in no particular order other than boy-girl-boy-girl. For every good egg I mentioned here, of course there are a dozen more, but it just so happens that the cool istock photo I found had five!

  1. Naomi Dunford at Ittybiz . Naomi & I have been pals ever since she wandered over here, said hi to Seth in the comments (he said hi back), sent a donation to Smiletrain, and then toddled off to start a blog that trounced the pants off mine. Ittybiz is snarky and funny and honest and has a ton of great advice. Ittybiz is Naomi, in other words.
  2. Chris Brogan at chrisbrogan.com. Chris is the guy to read if you want to understand how community and the online world come together, what that means, what it can look like, and why we should care. He’s been so consistently friendly, open, and generous with his time, in addition to putting out a ton of great content and holding down a significant day job, that he makes me feel like a gigantic slacker.
  3. Colleen Wainright, aka the communicatrix. Colleen is very funny and very smart and writes a damned good newsletter. Plus she is both sharp and kind, which is my favorite combination. She writes about marketing and writing and acting and not being a jerk and other good stuff. You would like her.
  4. Maki (what’s Maki’s last name, anyway?) over at DoshDosh thinks about everything too much. Then he writes it all up in intelligent, thoughtful posts and we get to benefit from it. The guy works insanely hard and seems to be motivated by a desire to help everyone in the universe get stuff the way he does. He’s often the first to Sphinn or Digg a post, and he’s a great example of the good you can do when you put others first.
  5. Caroline Middlebrook at caroline-middlebrook.com is probably the most honest make-money-online blogger in the history of the Internet. She’ll tell you all about the stuff she’s tried that failed miserably. She’ll tell you about her relationship that fell apart. If there’s a link on her site that makes money, she makes a point of letting you know how that works. Her blog is a little like that Penn & Teller magic trick where they cut Teller in half, but they use a clear acrylic box–you get to see exactly what makes it all work. And there’s no way I could make a "good egg" post without mentioning Caro. I don’t really know her, but I admire her a lot and am always glad to see what she’s doing.

Those are my nominations of the day for five good eggs! Who are your favorite good eggs around the Web? Let us know in the comments.

Happy Trustworthiness and Respect Day!

Alternatives to April Fool's Day

I was driving to work this morning and laughed to see a car speeding along with a Starbucks cup on the roof. It took me about 30 seconds to remember that today is the worst day of the year for gullible people (like me): April Fool’s Day.

If I’d thought about this in advance, I would have officially decreed this Trustworthiness and Respect day for my readers, customers and community. (And it would have been the perfect day to write the next in my relationship marketing series–Don’t Lie. You can look forward to that one soon in any event.)

Today is a great day to stand out for being reliable
Send a signal that you’re trustworthy by commiting to a reliable publishing schedule for your content. (My self grade: D-, especially for my beloved newsletter readers. I will get you something good soon!)

Show your selflessness by deciding to only do what you’re incredibly good at, and to refer out business that’s not in line with your greatest strengths. (I’ll give myself an A for that one.)

Honor your commitments, keep your promises, and make yourself an oasis of trustworthiness in an April Fool’s world.

April Fool’s Day hasn’t ever been a favorite of mine–I’m much too easy to trick! But I do enjoy a laugh, and genuinely clever tricks earn a tip of my hat.

If you see a truly inspired prank, let us know in the comments. And you might visit Godin’s Squidoo lens and add a link to the "plexo." My favorite this year was Darren Rowse’s fiendishly believable "Pay per Tweet" post on Problogger.

That one caught me, but just for a second. Darren is such a trustworthy, genuine guy that I knew there had to be a catch. Would your customers, readers and community say the same about you?

Flickr Creative Commons image by Chris Breeze

Are We There Yet?


Have you ever signed up for an interesting-looking freebie online, only to regret it within 48 hours as you were deluged with offers to buy whatever stuff that particular individual was selling?

You know the kind I mean. They make their first pitch, ok cool, fair enough.

Then they follow it up. "Mr. Fancypants, did you get my last email?!?!?!" Three or four times a day you’ll get some version of "Did you buy it yet? How about now? Now? Now? Now?"

If you bring this up with the guys who employ this particular tactic, they invariably give you a withering look and tell you, "I do it because it works." And I’m sure, on some level, it does. They’ve done enough testing to know that the 19th message probably squeezes out an additional 1/16th of 1 percent. For some business models, that’s enough to "work"–at least on paper.

However, if you keep talking, you’ll find out that your pest-based marketer hasn’t tested a real alternative–the gradual development of a thoughtful, trust-based relationship. The marketer hasn’t tested talking to customers like they were friends whose opinions he valued. The marketer hasn’t tested a sequence that delivers genuine value over time, and not just a one-shot freebie special report or video. The marketer typically has no sense of the lifetime value of any customer other than the 1 percent who, for whatever reason, will buy anything this guy offers if they get hit up often enough.

(I’m not saying that some repetition doesn’t have a place. Messages, especially email, slip through the cracks. And almost all of us procrastinate. A few well-timed nudges are a good idea. But apply the road trip test. If you were ten and in the back seat of your dad’s car, how tempted would he be to pull over and refuse to drive any farther until you quit whining?)

Are you creating true fans?
Like everyone else in the metaverse, I really like what Kevin Kelly had to say about 1,000 true fans. That’s the approach I’ve been advocating in this blog, in the work I do with customers, in my day job, and in the super secret marketing project I work on in what I laughingly call my "free time." It’s the approach I try to take as a parent and a friend.

It’s not about limiting your community to some arbitrary number, whether it’s 1,000 or 10,000 or 100,000. It’s about showing yourself to be trustworthy. It’s about delivering exceptional value and an exceptional relationship in a way that feels personal and respectful. It’s about turning "share of customer" metrics into human loyalty and advocacy and passion.

As people get more and more weary of the clutter and noise, it’s going to get harder to squeeze out those last few fractions of a percentage point with 10 or 20 more pieces of spam. Most people won’t even unsubscribe, they just send you directly to their junk folder.

If you’re running a permission campaign, allow me to make a suggestion. Spend less time on ways to bleed that last percentage point dry, and more time what you can do to create a meaningful relationship with the other 99%.

Flickr Creative Commons image by makelessnoise