Sunday, August 17, 2008

"Life is not measured by the number of breaths we take, but by the moments that take our breath away." Maya Angelou

"Life is what happens to you while you're busy making other plans." John Lennon

"Never judge a book by its movie." J.W. Eagan

Today's image: Untitled by Mr. Bones. Beautiful. Thanks for sharing.

Beautiful weekend here in Wisconsin.

BFF Fred Winston has been shooting and uploading some remarkable images and is pairing them with quotations. Great stuff, take a look here. Kudos, Fred.

VOTE: The 2009 SXSW Panel Picker is live here.

Choice: Marketing maven and branding ace Tom Asacker shares writing from the new Phil Fragasso book [Marketing for Rainmakers: 52 Rules of Engagement to Attract and Retain Customers for Life - Amazon info]. Tom promises this to be the first in a series...

"As counterintuitive as it sounds, the surest way to lose customers is to give them too many choices. People are inundated with decision-making responsibilities. Think about your own life. Every single day you’re faced with literally hundreds of personal and professional decisions. Take a walk through your local grocery store and if your choice of cereals, shampoos, sodas, detergents, and breads don’t approach a thousand different options then you’re living in the wrong neighborhood."

Read Tom's entire post here. Thanks for sharing, Tom. Well done! [Hint: All the smart kids have Tom in their reader, highly recommended]

Tom's post reminded me of some long ago discussions. Involved in the turnaround of a major market radio property I complained to friends about the over-crowded competition in the format and the number of stations targeting the same demo.

One of my friends, working in packaged goods (breakfast foods, dry cereal) suggested she would gladly trade places with me. "Having five or ten direct competitors is nothing, try breaking through the clutter when you're up against hundreds of competitors."

Another friend, a writer of business books, agreed, telling me "Compared to the cereal isle in a grocery or the business section of a book store you have very little competition."

Sometime later a friend working at Coke USA said to me "It's not important that they are drinking Coke, what's actually important is why they are not drinking Pepsi."

In that moment my attitude changed forever.

It's like the first time de Bono reached you or when you first grok Mozart, Bronowski, Stanislavski, Tony Schwartz, Locke, Rosser Reeves, Picasso, Ogilvy, Hume, Dusenberry, Drucker, Bucky Fuller, Miro, Isaac Stern or Kasparov.

We achieved great success in that turnaround just mentioned, from last on the ranker to the top, worst to first. The lesson was to change the perspective, the pov, from the small cluster of direct competitors to all possible choices.

We moved from focusing on the numerator to changing the denominator. We stopped thinking about market share and started thinking about market creation.

From the smaller format and demo battles to the much larger share of media behavior and attention war. The result was we gave up getting better and became obsessed with getting different, dramatically different.

Here's a trade secret - once we allowed the users to define us the competition was half-won.

Create contrast.
Differentiate or die.
Get into the behavior - give them reasons
Increase preference - give them reasons to come back

"Be so good they can't ignore you."
Steve Martin

Cartoon by Steve Benson. Outstanding, Steve! Thanks for sharing.

Now reading: The Black Hole War: My Battle with Stephen Hawking to Make the World Safe for Quantum Mechanics - Leonard Susskind. Brilliant! Damn good read. [Amazon info] My sense is Brian Greene and Lisa Randall are better writers, however, Lenny makes his case with a solid and very interesting presentation. Some math included.

Bonus: Phil Hall, radio programming ace and fellow former Okie, tells it like it is...

"It’s time for radio to step-up. We have to focus on the right things again. Listeners take care of advertisers who take care of revenue who take care of shareholders."

Read his entire post here. Bravos, Phil. Well said, as ever.

Thinking out loud
: Not certain the POTUS candidates have yet addressed, in depth, telecom, net neutrality, spectrum and other critical communications issues. Emailed both campaigns after reviewing their sites today. Expecting nothing more than an intern or other unpaid staffer to respond. FAIL.

Congrats & cheers: Jeff Jarvis, the buzz machine his own self, scores the gold this morning with Howie on Reliable, to wit:

"Forget for a moment the financial allocation. The journalistic allocation, we over-cover politics and under-cover government. We under-cover life and what really matters to people. We think that politics is life, and it's not."

Bravos, Jeff! You done good. CNN transcript here. Jeff's take here.

My thanks to Michelle Oshen for the tip via FF on the above Cecil Beaton image.

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