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New York Times best-selling authors Chris Brogan and Julien Smith recently launched their latest book, The Impact Equation, and kindly mentioned me as someone who has built up a large following of passionate (and attractive) readers. They also compared me to Seth Godin, showing how people who write totally different types of content can still grow a respectable audience in the same niche.
It’s no secret that I’m a huge fan of Seth. Though his posts are usually very short, more often than not they contain ideas you can apply to your business immediately. In this post I’m going one step further by taking Seth’s short, motivating style and opening up my Evernote account for you all to see.
In other words, you’re about to hit with a wave of ideas, images and random pieces of knowledge which I’ve collected up over the last few years.
Though not all of these items will be relevant to your business (like the Celebrity Gossip picture), I have no doubt you’ll see something here which inspires you to take action. And that’s what ViperChill stands for…
That’s it. In terms of donations from emails with that subject line, he was able to raise millions of dollars over the course of his campaign. In fact, out of the $690m that he raised altogether, the majority of funds were raised online.
“It quickly became clear that a casual tone was usually most effective. “The subject lines that worked best were things you might see in your in-box from other people,” Fallsgraff says. “ ‘Hey’ was probably the best one we had over the duration.” Another blockbuster in June simply read, “I will be outspent.” According to testing data shared with Bloomberg Businessweek, that outperformed 17 other variants and raised more than $2.6 million.”
It may seem like common sense, but simple things are often the easiest to overlook.
“It’s actually surprising how many people don’t follow this simple guideline of courtesy. I often get long tedious emails from people explaining to me in great detail how I can help them, how great it would be for them if I would work on their project with it, or endorse it, etc. But they fail to consider my context – why should I care, and even if I do care, why should I act on this rather than any of a thousand other things.” – Jimmy Wales
“Consider how Intuit’s wildly popular Quicken program got its start. It all spread from a single campaign that contained a basic message: order the product and pay nothing. If you aren’t productive within eight minutes of opening the box, tear up the invoice.
Of course, most users were not only balancing their checkbooks within eight minutes but also discovering that they couldn’t live without this software. The result: 70% global market share in personal-financial-management software with minimal expenses for traditional marketing or selling. Plus an installed base to drive pricier sales of ancillary products such as checks and upgrades.”
“Mattus invented the Danish sounding ‘Häagen-Dazs’ as a tribute to Denmark’s exemplary treatment of its Jews during the Second World War, and included an outline map of Denmark on early labels. The name is not Danish, which has neither an umlaut nor a digraph zs, and it has no meaning. Mattus thought that Denmark was known for its dairy products and had a positive image in the U.S.
His daughter Doris Hurley reported in the PBS documentary An Ice Cream Show that her father sat at the kitchen table for hours saying nonsensical words until he came up with a combination he liked. The reason he chose this method was so that the name would be unique and original.”
Though we like to think of some rising internet properties as overnight successes, it’s rarely the case.
“In 2010, three months after Pinterest launched, the site had only 3,000 users. But some of them were active users, and those people loved the site — and both of those categories included Silbermann himself.
“Instead of changing the product, I thought maybe I could just find people like me,” he said.
So Pinterest started to have meet-ups at local boutiques, and to take fun pictures of people who attended them, and to engage with bloggers to do invitation campaigns like “Pin It Forward,” where bloggers got more invites to the site by spreading the world.”
“About 40 percent of game-related searches occur in the six months leading up to a launch as individuals evaluate what to buy. Video game related searches increased by 20 percent on desktops and laptops, and they increased 168 percent on tablets and smartphones over the last year during this period. About 28 percent of searches occurred in the 30 days after launch, and 32 percent of searches occurred after that.
During the pre-launch period, players are most interested in official content from publishers. They search for release dates, trailers, artwork, and demo versions of the game. For marketers, this means that the pre-launch window is a key time when they can influence gamers’ purchase decisions.”
She’s engaged, married and single. Impressive…
If you don’t believe in split-testing, or products that do it for you *cough* then maybe this will change your mind.
“The first infomercial was an absolute dud. One of our primary measures of success is media cost, and when it started, we paid the equivalent of $250 per order. That’s a tough way to make a business when you’re selling a $120 product.
2005 was our roughest year. The hot gadgets that year were weight-loss belts–you put them on and jiggle your way to fitness. They were difficult to sell against, because we always have been selling hard work. Our revenue sank to $83 million from over $100 million the year before.
We kept testing and changing the P90X infomercial. We’d do a focus group and find out people didn’t understand what equipment they’d need, so we’d add that. Or we’d add a new, better testimonial from a customer. We started adding people’s homemade YouTube videos. We got the cost from $250 to $225. Then $190.
Still, I literally was in shouting matches with marketing people here: “Can we please stop trying to make this work?” they’d say. But it wasn’t blind faith. It was just that we kept seeing progress in every test we’d do.
In 2007, our 22nd version of the infomercial clicked. It just took off. Eventually we would get the media cost, net-net, down to under $50 per new customer.”
“Deanna Jump is a 43-year-old kindergarten teacher who earns less than $30,000 a year. But this year, she says she has made $1 million. Yes, really.
How? TeachersPayTeachers.com (TPT), the online marketplace that allows teachers to sell lesson plans to other teachers. Jump became the first teacher on the site to earn more than $1 million on the site by using selling her lesson plans focused on teaching kindergarteners.
“Teaching is a hobby for me now,” Jump says. “I’ve made way more on TeacherPayTeachers, obviously. I don’t need to teach anymore, but teaching is my passion. I cannot imagine not teaching.”
I think the most valuable lesson here is not the idea they had, but how quickly they were able to execute.
“But the Special K campaign may be the first example of real-life human interaction using the pay-with-a-tweet concept. Dan Glover, creative director of Mischief PR, said, “We believe that physical and social are one and the same. When we had the idea it felt very simple, and we did a lot of checking to be sure it was a world first. We jumped on that and made it happen — it was eight weeks from idea to execution.”
Sarah Case, brand manager for Special K, said in a statement, “The value of positive endorsements on social-media sites is beyond compare, so we’re excited to be the first company to literally use social currency instead of financial currency to launch this new product in our bespoke Special K shop.”
I can’t tell if the spelling mistake was intentional. That and the person who received this was later fired.
This was an internal email which leaked (possibly intentionally) from the Gawker CEO Nick Denton to his staff.
“But… this week has been too exceptional to go without mention. And it’s not like this year’s been free of challenges; we should be able to recognize the good times too.
On Tuesday, on a single day, we booked $2m in revenue. I remember when that figure — even for a full year of sales — seemed unattainable.
Kate Middleton, iPhone and our excellent coverage of those and other stories drew 39.1m readers in the last month. 22.6m of them from our main market, the US. That’s a record.”
“I believe heavily in a content based integrated marketing strategy. Content based for me means content in the form of thought leadership, whether it’s white papers or assessments. It’s based on really strong content that’s thought provoking.
When I say integrated, it means they’re not only integrated across channels like social media, print, or banners, but also with the sales process. Creating content for the sake of content doesn’t make sense if it’s not supportive of the sales process.” – CMO, Alan See
“While at Dartmouth, Geisel was caught drinking gin with nine friends in his room. As a result, Dean Craven Laycock insisted that he resign from all extracurricular activities, including the college humor magazine. To continue work on the Jack-O-Lantern without the administration’s knowledge, Geisel began signing his work with the pen name “Seuss”. His first work signed as “Dr. Seuss” appeared after he graduated, six months into his work for The Judge, where his weekly feature Birdsies and Beasties appeared.”
I still find it hard to call the Huffington Post a blog, but I thought it was interesting to see just how many people are involved in their global content publishing.
“HuffPo employs 486 people, including a social team of seven, a community team of six plus 30 moderators and more than 300 in editorial, and manages 30,000 unpaid bloggers (10,000 of which have posted in the last 90 days).”
“The vast majority of blogging is about pageviews. Being first is important, but just as important is the mere illusion of being first. You do that by rewriting stories without proper attribution (meaning, again, little or no links back — or burying the links back). It’s a dipshit move — and sadly, a tech blogosphere staple.” – MG Seigler of TechCrunch and CrunchFund
“Our readers have five minutes,” Blodget said. “They want to get the full impression. Rather than get 3,000 words, you can now see all these beautiful pictures and understand what’s going on in five minutes. It turns out that that’s a perfect application for this medium.”
On aggregation, Blodget noted, “The other thing that’s important, on the aggregation side, is we now are in a world where millions of sources of information are a click away. Lots of traditional publications still have the view that that information should not be used, even though everyone knows it and is being talked about on Twitter. Our view is, of course we’re going to take advantage of that. It’s a link away. People are talking about it already; let’s add value to it.”
“The billionaire investor said that editors should focus on making the papers “indispensable” to local communities. “Our future depends on remaining the primary source of information in certain subjects of great importance to our readers,” Mr Buffett wrote.
“Technological change has caused us to lose primacy in various key areas, including national news, national sports, stock quotations and employment opportunities. So be it. Our job is to reign supreme in matters of local importance.”
“If companies were not able to compete with free, Microsoft would have been crushed by Linux, Oracle by MySQL, and the dot-com boom would have wiped out half of the world’s brick and mortar economy. Cable TV or satellite radio wouldn’t exist. And, yes, while services like Napster offered consumers the ability to download free music, Apple came along years later with iTunes and charged a fee per download. Today, Apple is the most valuable technology company in the world.
In the end, the best product wins. Focus on building a truly great product and offer it to your customers with great service to back it up. People have proven time and time again that they’ll choose (and pay for) a better product over a free one, whether a yo-yo upgrade or a digital Jefferson Airplane album.”
I’ve implemented something similar into my own products and services, and often get overly-positive feedback.
“Your CD has been gently taken from our CD Baby shelves with sterilized contamination-free gloves and placed onto a satin pillow. A team of 50 employees inspected your CD and polished it to make sure it was in the best possible condition before mailing.
Our packing specialist from Japan lit a candle and a hush fell over the crowd as he put your CD into the finest gold-lined box that money can buy. We all had a wonderful celebration afterwards and the whole party marched down the street to the post office where the entire town of Portland waved “Bon Voyage!” to your package, on its way to you, in our private CD Baby jet on this day, Friday, June 6th.
I hope you had a wonderful time shopping at CD Baby. We sure did. Your picture is on our wall as “Customer of the Year”. We’re all exhausted but can’t wait for you to come back to CDBABY.COM!!”
I received an ALL-CAPS-LOCK email about a year ago from a reader. I asked them why they were shouting at me, and received this interesting reply:
“Thank you very much! I apologize for the “shouting.” Our office protocol is to have all personal communication in all caps so that we can see at a glance what it is, to distinguish it from business and legal documents, and know that it can be deleted, and thereby reduce the possibility of deleting a document.”
I’ll confess that I’ve never read a Danielle Steel novel, but there are plenty of her books lying around my house back in England (my Mom’s a huge fan!). I loved this interview on how she stays productive and manages to write so much.
“Late at night, I review what I got done and what I didn’t. I don’t like leaving work unfinished, and try to get it all done each day. I’m willing to stay up very late and sacrifice sleep to do it, I feel better when I finish what I needed to do. But I’ve also gotten better about letting go at some point. Some days you just cant do it all!!! But I try!!
I don’t always feel ‘confident’, in fact a lot of times I don’t. I’m a worrier by nature. But I try to keep centered.”
I did say that my Evernote account has been collecting data for a few years, and this is definitely something I saved a long time ago. You can even tell from the look of Google. That being said, it’s still interesting to look at how valuable the top few results are compared to the rest, even if you’re on the first page.
This was well before the Groupon Stock started to fall, and it’s an interesting look at what their founder thought at the time of their entry on the stock exchange.
“Our marketing — at least the customer acquisition marketing that we remove from ACSOI — is designed to add people to our own long-term marketing channel — our daily email list. Once we have a customer’s email, we can continually market to them at no additional cost. Compare this to Johnson and Johnson, McDonald’s, or most other companies. If I’m a Johnson, and I’m trying to sell you a box of Band Aids, I have to keep spending money on commercials and magazine ads and stuff to remind you about how sweet Band Aids are, even after you’ve bought your first box.
With Groupon, we just spend money one time to get you on our email list, and then every day we email you a reminder of the sweetness of our metaphorical Band Aid. There is no cost of reacquisition — that’s unusual (and we created ACSOI to point that out). If Johnson wanted to follow the Groupon strategy, he would have to start a free daily newspaper about bandages and then run Band Aid ads in it every day.”
“Perhaps the most ludicrous of the many ludicrous claims here is the notion that once they have e-mail addresses, they can just market to you forever and ever. Deal quality is declining so rapidly that many people are ignoring their e-mails. Eventually, they get auto-sorted into the spam folder or unsubscribed.”
I saved this from a Reddit comment a very long time ago. Since it’s Reddit, it may or may not be true, but they have the business card to back it up. That, and Reddit Karma can’t be converted into cash, so there are few reasons to lie.
“I met both Carl Page and Larry Page at a party hosted by a Stanford friend of mine in 1998. Carl gave me his card for eGroups and said “we’re hiring”. Larry gave me his card for Google—a flimsy bit of paper obviously printed by bubble jet—and said “we’re hiring”.
I said, “Nah, who needs another search engine?” and went to graduate school. I still have the card.”
Since he’s a hit over on Reddit, their community helped his comedy show to reach all corners of the web. During his AMA (Ask Me Anything) on the site after his film went viral, he interestingly had this to say.
“From the moment it went online and I saw the result of every decision I made. The last question the web guys asked me before we posted was if I wanted the mail list button defaulted to “opt in” or “opt out” and I said start it at opt out. It’s such a tiny thing but I keep hearing about it from people. So so interesting to watch this grow.”
In his words, the best way to be missed when you’re gone is..
“to stand for something when you’re here. Works for people, works for brands.”
As for what ViperChill stands for. Well, I already answered that before the green picture in the introduction. If you like this deviation from the typical ViperChill post then please let me know. I could happily do more of them, but that depends on you…