Archive for April, 2010

In praise of poopy blogs

I was rolling around on the floor with some of my young nieces and nephews and somehow the word “poop” entered the conversation.  Every time I said it, the kiddos would burst into hysterical fits of laughter.

Soon I was trying variations. Loud poop, soft poop, high poop, low poop.  There was Dr. Seuss-style poop. Ploopity-loopity-poop.

I would hold my breath, act like I was ready to burst, and then explode with poop … figuratively of course.

The kids were laughing so hard that soon the adults had tears running down their faces too.  It was one of the moments of contagious joy.

How I wish I could just bottle that up and share it with all of you.  So I thought I would start with this.


Did you smile?  Heck.  I smiled just typing it!  So there.  It’s a start.

Where is all this leading?  Nowhere. But of course if you read this blog you’re accustomed to that. I just thought it was time to plow new ground.  First major blogger to use “poopy” in a headline.  A true milestone in social media history. Eat my dust, Brogan.

Sometimes it’s challenging to provide meaningful content on {grow} and have fun too.  I’ll often look back at a week of posts and think, “It’s time to lighten up man. That was some serious shit.”  Or … serious poop. Either way.

So thanks for hanging with me on a not-so-serious, offbeat post. Now, I double-dare you to re-tweet it.  People will think you’re crazy but this might be your only chance to legitimately use “poopy” in a tweet. That is my gift to you.   Share the love.  Spread the poop.

Illustration: My nephew Owen!

Can your website pass the 20 second test?

Twenty seconds.

That’s about the amount of time you have to grab a visitor’s attention on your website. To keep them there, you better have something great to say and it better be quick!  There are four messages you need to deliver in those precious moments that will determine whether somebody is a sales lead or a passerby:

1) Graphic impact. Everything you do (and don’t do!) communicates about your brand. So before they read a single word, the graphic impact of your site is already going to leave a big impression. How does the look and feel of your site contribute to the story of your brand? Is it buttoned up? Is it bold? Is it inviting?

2) The big deal. So the graphic impact has held their attention long enough for them to begin to read.  Way to go! The first thing you need to say to your visitor, powerfully and succinctly, is “I am different.”  Why should the reader go to the next sentence?  Tell them!   Are you the biggest, boldest, newest, safest, most innovative, best value, most experienced, wisest, or the most colorful?  What are you, and why should they spend their time here rather than going back to play Farmville?

3) The unmet needs. Now let’s get very specific.  Next you need to tell them how you serve them uniquely. What needs do you meet?  This is different than explaining what you “sell.”  Customers don’t buy what you sell. They buy what they need and want. Explain what problems you solve for them. For example, every caterer delivers delicious food. But what customers really WANT is a worry-free, memorable occasion that won’t break the bank.

4) What next? OK, you have their attention ever so briefly. Now give them a reason to stay on your site to learn more.  This is commonly known as the call to action. Ask them to call, respond, or register. Offer them a free white paper, menu, trial offer, consultation, podcast, eBook.  Ask them to view your portfolio, blog, testimonies, case studies. Create another touch point between you and this sales lead. Don’t let them go quite yet!

And really, that’s it. There’s not much more you can do in 20 seconds to give yourself a shot at creating a sales lead out of a visitor. I’m sure you have your own ideas, too. Please leave a comment with your own ideas, problems and questions!

What lessons from your first boss do you still use today?

This has been a week of reminiscing for me.  I had a business opportunity come up that gave me a good excuse to talk to many industry old-timers, including several of my former bosses.  I started thinking about my first corporate job as a public relations specialist and how much I soaked in from the talented professionals all around me.

Part of my first job was to summarize important industry, business and customer news and have it typed in a standard format for worldwide distribution by 8 a.m.  Back then, that meant being in the office by 6 a.m., actually reading things called industry publications and business journals on something called “paper.”  And cut and paste literally meant cut and paste. But I still loved it. And I loved all those smart folks I looked up to.

I thought it would be fun to see what advice you gleaned from from your first boss that still rings true today. Here is some of mine:

  • Enthusiasm matters.  Approach jobs that you dislike with enthusiasm and somehow they seem a little more tolerable. And, when you’re enthusiastic, you get noticed.
  • Hustle.  Make it happen. Find a way to win. Overcome.
  • The customer is not always right, but they are always the customer.
  • Good writing matters.
  • You can’t always be popular, but you can always be fair.
  • A leader who is impatient is driven.  A new employee who is impatient is annoying.
  • When in doubt, wear the tie.
  • When you are at a company party, you’re still at the company … not a party.
  • The keys to power in an organization are usually held by the administrative assistant.

What about you?  What words of wisdom do you carry with you from your first boss?  Please share in the comments below!

My Twitter Ah-Ha Moment

What did it take for you to “get” Twitter?

I was certainly in that vast number of people who resisted it.  The first tweet I ever received was “It’s 4 a.m.” … confirming that Twitter was indeed the stupidest thing I’d ever seen.

But then I had my ah-ha moment. I was bored at the computer one night and saw a trending topic for #NewFluName.  Mildly curious, I clicked to see what was happening.

Remember when the pork industry was having a fit about the swine flu?  It thought the name was hurting meat sales and asked the public to call it something else.  So hundreds of people on Twitter from around the world were coming up with HILARIOUS new names. Like …

  • The Aporkalypse
  • Porky’s Revenge
  • This little piggy went to the bathroom
  • Hog Flashes
  • Porkenstein
  • The Other White Flu
  • Mad Sow Disease
  • Hamageddon
  • … and my favorite, “Hamthrax”

Yes, it broke the monotony of my evening. But something more important happened. I realized that I was witnessing a real-time, global brain-storming session.  And it dawned on me that at no other time in the history of mankind could that kind of conversation take place.  It was an awesome moment, an inspiring moment.  I was finally starting to “get” Twitter.

Over the next several weeks I witnessed Twitter serve as a powerful news source during the revolutionary activity in Iran.  I made my first meaningful business connections.  And I began to realize that Twitter was probably the most interesting and compelling educational tool I had ever seen.

But when you come right down to it, I owe it all to Hamthrax.

I think everybody probably needs to have that ah-ha moment to get them over the top.  What was yours?  Did it happen in a flash or did it sneak up on you?

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