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Recessions, Tribes, Connections and Finance

What do recessions, tribes, connections and finance have in common?

Learn about the power of connections and how you can build a business upon the foundation of modern day Internet tribes.

Check out this manifesto, published by ChangeThis.

http://www.changethis.com/55.04.CustomerTribes

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The Truth about Word of Mouth Marketing

Word of mouth marketing or sneezing (i.e. Seth Godin) is more than simply spreading the word.  It’s more than a chain of people sharing information.

The best word of mouth marketing comes about when your product is so remarkable that those people experience it become excited.  That excitement is then regenerated in the people they tell and on down the line.

Excitement in the recipient of the information is the key to keeping the message alive.

For example, look at the Toyota Prius.  It isn’t just a Hybrid car – it’s a truly remarkable product.  People who own a Prius become excited when they talk about their car.  That excitement is then generated in whomever they talk to.

Simple, isn’t it?  The more challenging part is creating something so remarkable that generates excitement in those who learn about it.

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There is no Law of Small Numbers

Are you a fan of statistics?  Obviously, they’re a great tool of science and awesome at capturing data about the masses.

However, they can’t tell you much about me as an individual because there is no law of small numbers.  Has anyone ever tried to discourage you from starting your own business because only ___% of small buinesses succeed?  I’ve heard those words often.  It’s true statistics can be used to determine probabilities of the masses - but don’t fall into the trap of taking those numbers personally.  

Statistics don’t tell us if my business ideas are 100 times better than those of the sample.  Another statistical example I find amusing goes like this: 

Anti Gunner:  Statistics show that owning guns increases the chance of being involved in a shooting accident.

Pro Gunner:  Statistics also show that gun owners are better able to defend themselves should the need arise.

Anti Gunner:  But the chance of being involved in an accidental shooting is greater than that of being a victim of violent crime.

The problem with Anti Gunners thoughts here are that they don’t take into account anything about Pro Gunner - other than that he/she owns a gun.  Nor are statistics able to say whether or not Pro Gunner will be that 1 out of ____ crime victim.

In summary, it’s all about the stakes not the odds…

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The Value of Treating People Kindly

Although it would be impossible to measure the value of kindness – it’s easy to see of feel the effects of the opposite.

I’m not much of a Karma person, but I do know how I like to be treated – with respect and kindness.  In turn, I do my best to treat others with respect and kindness.   There are many communities on the web where respect and kindness are rare.  Personally, I avoid those places.

While not easily measured – we can be certain of the presence of value.  For example, I find myself to be more productive and less distracted when I’m treating others with respect/kindness and being treated the same.  Productivity and focus equals value.  Imagine the added value an organization or community could have if kindness and respect were the norm – rather than the exception?  I would suggest the financial return would be tremendous in an environment such as this. 

What’s confusing is why so many people refuse to encourage an environment of respect and kindness?  Perhaps it’s ignorance?  Then again, maybe it’s simply a lack of desire.  Once you understand the value in this kind of behavior – you begin to view a rude and disrespectful environment as a type of immature overhead – sucking profits off your bottom line.

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Why I’m Pissed About the High Cost of Oil

With a single barrel of crude oil selling for nearly $150 – our politicians continue to do nothing.  While it’s quite popular to bash George W. for this problem – he’s not anymore at fault than all the other politicians who’ve had a vote the past 20 years.

Why are oil prices this high today?  No, it’s not the Iraq War.  It’s basic economics – the daily world demand for oil is a little more than the world can produce in a single day.  Prices have no choice but to continue to rise until an economic equilibrium is reached.  So, why am I pissed?

In 1994, I was a college senior – studying for an undergraduate degree in Business Administration – specializing in Finance.  The Dow was making record highs each week as it was in streaking ever higher in the 4000 range.  Yep, that’s right, record highs in the 4000’s.  The economy was only beginning to take off and we should have seen it coming.  Economic growth requires a lot of fuel.  Yes, the lack of vision by democrats & republicans alike are costing ordinary citizens like you and I $100’s of dollars per day and it will get worse before it gets better.

Politicians need to be held accountable.  Perhaps they could start by answering these questions:

 Why are we NOT drilling for oil in those places where we KNOW oil exists?

Why wasn’t the government offering MAJOR incentives for electric/hybrid automobile development back in the 1980’s? 

 Why do we have restrictions on where we can drill for oil?  I’m all for saving the whales – but not if it requires killing the people!

Why do politicians continue to block the path to new oil refineries?

I realize that not everyone has the same idea about the best technological path to pursue in the future- however, why limit ourselves to only one path?  From my perspective, we need action in all of these areas.  We need more oil production SO drill everywhere we know there will be oil!  Increase the incentives for people to purchase hybrid vehicles.  Increase incentives for companies who develop critical technologies to further fuel efficient vehicles.

Why am I pissed about the high cost of oil?  Because the politicians who have been running the U.S. for the past 20 years have allowed other countries to get a firm hold on our balls and squeeze.  Maybe you like that kind of thing but I don’t!

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The Value of Your Vote

How often have you heard the phrase “my vote probably won’t count anyway”?  It’s unfortunate that we sometimes feel this way – however – nothing could be further from the truth.  Do you remember the Florida recount?  If not, I’m sure you heard of it.  If there’s one thing the Florida recount should have taught every voter in the U.S. is that his/her vote does count. 

I’ve often wondered why so few people vote but yet everyone finds a voice to complain about their elected officials.  Since we’ve already established your vote does count – why wouldn’t you choose to exercise this precious freedom?  After all, the political system is designed to begin with the vote of the people.

If you would like to learn more about the voting process, I would highly recommend you take a look at this voting guide – written by my friend Giovana.  It’s one of the most comprehensive, independently written voting guides I’ve seen in a while.  What makes this guide so special?  I couldn’t find much bias in it and that is unusual. 

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Google Knol – No Threat to Squidoo

The recent announcement of Google’s new project – Google Knol – prompted this post from Seth Godin.  Having been a Squidoo Lensmaster for about a year now – I see no reason to believe Google Knol will negatively affect Squidoo.

Although Knol and Squidoo have similar business models – the motives behind the creation of content for them aren’t the same.

For example, anyone familiar with Squidoo understands that a quality lens is the key to building traffic and a successful lens.   In this case, quality equals usefulness, remarkable or something worth saying twice.  If you’re familiar with Seth Godin – you understand this type of usefulness has nothing to do with “appealing to the masses” and everything to do with world views of individuals in “small groups”.

The announcement of Google Knol suggests that a quality Knol will be dependent on a number of “Google defined” factors – which could be thought of as “an appeal to the masses”.  For example, a quality Knol about holsters might need to include content about gun holsters (i.e. ankle holsters, shoulder holsters, hip holsters, etc.), cell phone holsters, flashlight holsters, etc.

You can see the difference?  The goal of someone generating content for a quality Google Knol is to be “blessed” by Google with organic traffic (think about the Adsense potential).  Whereas, a Squidoo lensmaster isn’t concerned with organic Google traffic – she’s focusing on what’s remarkable and worth saying twice.  If she creates that – traffic will come.

In this way, Squidoo will always have an advantage over Google Knol.   Google needs “the masses” – Squidoo doesn’t want them – not in that way.   

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The Financial Value of Information

Thinking about the financial value of information is sometimes confusing.  Years of information analysis have led me to one conclusion.  That is, information (alone) is worthless.   Analyzing and learning from information is equally useless unless you take the next step.

Synthesizing information into useful knowledge upon which alternative courses of action and actionable decisions can be implemented cannot be easily valued and it’s rarely mentioned. 

Before purchasing another “how to” book or reading another blog post about “how to do this or that” – you might want to read Web Analytics: An Hour a Day  by Avinash Kaushik.  Not only is this a great book about Web Analytics – it can also serve as a model helping you learn to synthesize information into knowledge and discipline yourself to implement that knowledge to achieve a desired goal (i.e. higher conversion rates, better SEO, etc.)

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Seth’s Meatball Mondae and The Long Tail - An Opportunity of Choice

Thinking about The Long Tail and Seth Godin in Meatball Mondae: week 9 reminds me of the importance of “little things that make a big difference”.

More choices now than ever before - will the number of choices double, triple or more in 3 to 5 years?  What does it mean to you, your blog or business?  Will you have 2 to 3 times the competition?  Is your Brand strong enough to do nothing (make no changes)?  Are you “choice proof”?

In The Tipping Point, Malcolm Gladwell illustrates the tremendous importance of “little things that make a big difference”.  Does your business model strategically incorporate these little things – Brand independent little things?  Failing to pay attention to these could be the difference between adapting and overcoming vs. being overcome by choices. 

Three Little Things:

*  Think of your web traffic as an opportunity for building relationships and trust – rather than a sales opportunity. 

*  Treat each one of your customers as a potential maven, persuader or connector.  These people (the sneezers) are the viral life blood of your business – you don’t need them spreading anything but joy, love and sunshine about you.

*  Quality customer relationships yield greater trust and authority.  With more choices available, consumers will increasingly seek this trust and authority (i.e. they’ll be looking for relationships to help them make choices - when their friends can’t help - they’ll have you).  Make certain you have a permission marketing program in place.  Your potential customers are increasingly seeking quality relationships – make them easy to find.

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Sexiest Blog Ever Awards

Does your blog have what it takes to win the Sexiest Blog Ever award for the month?  If you think so – proceed to http://www.sexiest.blog.ever.com – leave a blurb and enter your blog for a chance to be the Sexiest Blog Ever.

Each month, we’ll take a look at the blogs entered and choose one we feel is the Sexiest Blog Ever for that month.  If you win, your blog will be featured on http://www.sexiest.blog.ever.com for a month.  Think of all the free publicity, traffic and links you’ll receive. 

What does it take for a blog to be the Sexiest Blog Ever?  The criteria changes every month – the blog will be chosen in a subjective manner – in other words – we’ll choose based on our mood at the time.   

The Sexiest Blog Ever will be chosen on the 15th of each month so be sure to visit the site around that time – you might be the winner!

Good Luck!

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