Adonis Diaries

Posts Tagged ‘Seth Godin

Drip, drip, drip

Who do you subscribe to?

And who subscribes to you?

Those simple questions determine what you know and what you learn. And they influence whether a business or a charity will succeed, and whether or not lives will be changed.

Newspapers are discovering that without subscribers, they can’t do their work.

Online voices that were seduced by the promise of a mass audience are coming back to the realization that the ability to deliver their message to people who want to get it is actually the core of their model.

Big hits are thrilling. Launch days, deadlines, the big win… That’s easy to sign up for as a creator or marketer. But subscriptions are what work.

Netflix, HBO, Amazon Prime… subscriptions. This blog wouldn’t exist without the people who trust me enough to read it every day.

Consider the case of charities. If they raise money from consumers, they get almost their entire budget in the last month of the year, or related to some sort of external event. And most people who donate never do so again. Out of sight, out of mind.

Who do you subscribe to?

Who subscribes to you?

Seven years ago, I dedicated my annual birthday post to raising money for charity:water. 665 generous readers like you ended up contributing more than $39,000. Enough water to impact the lives of 3,000 people. On their behalf, thank you.

Five years after that, we did it again, but this time I encouraged my readers (people like you) to donate their birthdays to charity:water. 204 of you raised more than $50,000 and saved even more lives. And again, thank you.

This year, I’m hoping 1,000 people will subscribe to charity:water today. A monthly drip, the best possible pun, drip, drip, drip in a way that not only becomes a habit but gives the organization a chance to plan, because thirst doesn’t have a season.

Every month becomes your birthday, because you’re giving a magical present, paying it forward.

I just subscribed for $4,000 a month. If more than 500 of you subscribe at any amount (even $6), I’ll double my monthly commitment.

Scott and his team made a film and built a site. You can skip the film if you’re busy, but don’t skip the box at the bottom of the page.

This is how we change the world.

Literally with a drip, drip, drip.

A shared and useful illusion

Ask a frog or a housefly or a dog to describe the world around us and they’ll give you the wrong answer.

The frog will talk about moving objects, the housefly will describe things repeated hundreds of times and the dog only sees in black and white.

Of course, our vision of the world is just as flawed, just as fake.

We can’t see the smells, as the dog does, nor can we visualize things on the edges of the spectrum. We make up a reality based on our particular way of seeing the world.

But, here’s the good part: That made-up reality is shared by many people around us, and it’s useful. We can use it to make predictions about what’s next, we can avoid bumping into people, we can appreciate a sunset.

If the illusion is working for you, stick with it.

Where we run into trouble is when the vision isn’t shared, when we assume others can and must see what we’re seeing, but they don’t.

And worse, when the vision isn’t actually useful, when our narrative of the world around us isn’t working, when it’s merely a fantasy, not a tool.

If the way you see the world isn’t helping you make the changes you seek to make, consider seeing the world differently.

In search of the minimum viable audience

Of course everyone wants to reach the maximum audience.

To be seen by millions, to maximize return on investment, to have a huge impact.

And so we fall all over ourselves to dumb it down, average it out, pleasing everyone and anyone.

You can see the problem.

When you seek to engage with everyone, you rarely delight anyone.

And if you’re not the irreplaceable, essential, one-of-a-kind changemaker, you never get a chance to engage with the market.

The solution is simple but counterintuitive: Stake out the smallest market you can imagine.

The smallest market that can sustain you, the smallest market you can adequately serve.

This goes against everything you learned in capitalism school, but in fact, it’s the simplest way to matter.

When you have your eyes firmly focused on the minimum viable audience, you will double down on all the changes you seek to make. Your quality, your story and your impact will all get better.

And then, ironically enough, the word will spread.

Focusing on the MVA is a key part of what we teach in The Marketing Seminar.  (Look for the purple circle).

It’s easy to talk about in the abstract, but difficult to put into practice.

Just about every brand you care about, just about every organization that matters to you–this is how they got there. By focusing on just a few and ignoring the non-believers, the uninvolved and the average.

The two fears of voluntary education

Voluntary education is different from compulsory, the kind we grew up with.

When you’re the victim/beneficiary of compulsory education, it happens to you. You have little choice.

Perhaps you choose to open your mind and do the work, but either way, here it is.

Now that we’re adults, though, we have choice. Endless choice. (Too big a claim)

Most people choose to learn as little as possible, while a few dive in and find more insight, wisdom and opportunity than they could ever expect.

Why do so many people hold back?

  1. “This might not work”The truth is that you don’t need a license, experience or skill to run a course online. You can post videos, write blog posts and generally just show up and announce you’re teaching something.As a result, there’s a lot of reason for the buyer to beware. The student who spends time and money on a course that doesn’t work feels stupid, even stupider than they did before they began. Hopes aren’t realized and the disappointment in being ripped off is real.

    The second reason is a bit more surprising…

  2. “This might work”This is real, it’s disappointing, and it’s also the biggest reason people hesitate. We hesitate precisely because the course might deliver what it promises. Because a new experience, a workshop, an event might show you something you can’t unsee. It might lead to forward motion, to new opportunities and to change.But change brings risk and risk brings fear. Those new horizons, those new opportunities, those new skills–they might not be as comfortable as what you’ve got going on right now.

And so the challenge. We choose not to learn because it’s either going to fail (embarrassing and expensive) or it’s going to work (frightening). We get ourselves stuck between a rock and a hard place of inaction.

The door is open to be heroic.

To go on the journey from a place of fear. Not to wait for the fear to go away before you begin, but instead to begin precisely because there is fear.

Those that have successfully come before us have figured out how to make this leap.

To feel (and embrace) these fears, not to deny them, and to dig in because and despite.

The biggest hesitation is the fear of an open door.

The biggest challenge is the question we ask ourselves: Then what will I do?

That’s why we’re so eager to tweak the little things. Because the little things give us a little more of the same thing that we’re already used to.

Are you organizing for growth?

by Seth Godin

Maybe it’s (finally) working. Maybe demand is up, opportunities keep presenting themselves and people want to work with you.

So why are you so stressed out?

It might be because different organizational choices lead to different paths for growth.

Consider a house painter. His business has always been okay, but thanks to his skill and a local building boom, jobs keep showing up.

The traditional method: He lays out the money for paint, he does the work, he sends a bill, and soon, he gets paid.

The good news is that as a freelancer, he’s super flexible and can withstand tough times.

But in this environment, all sorts of trouble hits.

First, there’s a cash flow issue. New jobs mean more need for paint and materials, but he has to lay out his own cash to pay for it. Second, new jobs mean more work, but he’s the best (and the cheapest) employee, so he ends up working way more hours. No cash, no time, no joy.

An alternative is for the painter to create a scalable system.

He could require a down payment on every job, an amount calculated to cover all of his cash costs.

Second, he could spend the time to build a pool of journeyman painters, a Rolodex of talent ready when he needs it. In this scenario, the painter becomes a foreman, not a painter any longer.

Or, consider one step beyond that, in which the painter hires several foremen, each responsible for his own Rolodex.

Now, the painter is a CEO, a salesperson, the architect of a brand, an organization and its growth. But that still involves a lot of risk as he scales.

The last structure I’ll point out is the idea that the painter could refine his system and instead of dealing with homeowners, he could find partners, and license them the system.

The system might include his brand name, his sales approach, a computerized, data-driven direct marketing program and most of all, a rule book that lets people who don’t have his initiative enter this business.

By charging every partner who joins an upfront fee (this is how franchises work) as well as a share of their income, he can grow from state to state, building a nationwide painting behemoth.

There’s no right answer.

Not everyone should run a national painting franchise business. The key insight is to feel the pain that an organizational choice leads to and fix that instead of merely chasing demand and embracing each opportunity (no matter how juicy) as it comes along.

The key things to focus on, I think, are:

Cash flow

Demand enhancement

Increasing the ability to keep your promises by investing in a pipeline of talent

And most of all, reminding yourself why you’re doing this in the first place.

 

Retribution

“He deserved it,” is usually the explanation we hear for behavior that strikes us as unproductive, inhumane or counter-productive.

The bully is always happy to point a finger at the person he hurt, to cast blame for his inexcusable actions.

Retribution is a habit, usually a learned one. It’s tit for tat, the instinct to punish.

That’s a very different posture than the one the productive professional takes.

She says, “I choose to take actions that are effective.”

She chooses a response designed to produce the outcome she seeks, actions that work.

We can react or respond, as my friend Zig used to say.

When we react to a medicine, that’s a bad thing. When we respond, it’s working.

When the world dumps something at our door, we can take the shortcut and allow ourselves to react.

We can point out that whatever we do is happening because the other side deserved it.

Tantrums are okay, in this analysis, because the other guy made us.

Or we can respond. With something that works.

With an approach we’re proud of, proud of even after the moment has passed.

It’s not easy, it’s often not fun, but it’s the professional’s choice.

All it takes is effort

Customer service used to be a great divide.

Well-off companies would heavily invest in taking care of customers, others would do the minimum (or a bit less).

Back then, organizations couldn’t possibly give you all the service you might dream of. They can’t all afford to answer the phone on one ring, it’s expensive to hire enough operators and train them.

And they certainly can’t dedicate an operator just to you, someone who would know your history and recognize your voice.

Today, though, when more and more of our engagements are digital, it doesn’t take an endless, ongoing budget to delight people.

All an organization needs to do is care enough (once) to design it properly.

To make a process that is easy to use, clearly labeled and well designed.

To build a phone system that doesn’t torture you and then delete everything you typed in.

To put care into every digital interaction, even if it’s easier to waste the user’s time.

[Insert story here of healthcare company, cable company or business that doesn’t care enough to do it right.

One where the committees made the process annoying. Or where the team didn’t cycle one more time.

Or where the urgency of the moment takes attention away from the long-term work of system design.

The thing is, if one company can do the tech right, then every organization with sufficient resources and motivation can do the tech right.]

The punchline is simple: In consumer relations and service, good tech is free.

It’s free because it pays for itself in lower overhead and great consumer satisfaction and loyalty.

But it requires someone to care enough to do it right.

Perhaps we need to change the recording to, “due to unusually lazy or frustrated design and systems staff (and their uninvolved management), we’re going to torture you every single time you interact with us. Thanks for your patience.”


adonis49

adonis49

adonis49

July 2017
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