Monthly Archives: January 2014

Turn Turn Turn

I woke up to the sad news that Pete Seeger has passed. He was a giant of American music, influencing and inspiring many music greats. In the case of Bruce Springsteen, that influence was so great The Boss recorded an album of songs Seeger made popular. It seems appropriate that this TunesDay, we look at one of Pete’s most popular songs. Here is the version most of us know:

For Turn Turn Turn, Seeger often said all he did was write some music and six words (actually, one word repeated) since the lyric is from the Book Of Ecclesiastes.  That sort of humility (and humor) extended into his sense of community.  You never went to a Pete Seeger show unless you were prepared to sing, and I can’t remember ever not knowing many of his instantly familiar songs – If I Had A Hammer, Where Have All The Flowers Gone and many others.  While The Byrds made today’s song a hit, many others recorded it as well.  I think that’s so in part because of the music and mostly because of the message which is one of those universal truths that apply to business as well as to our non-business lives.

There is a time to every purpose; everything has a season but that time will come and go.   That’s the song distilled down and it’s something we often overlook in business.  If you don’t actively embrace change, you probably have very little chance to do well.  It’s not particularly difficult to look around and see those industries with outdated business models and those which have sprung up to fill the voids left by those businesses not moving forward.  The music business itself is still struggling to turn, as is any content business that clings to the old ways and sues their customers.

Change isn’t something to be feared in business.  New markets emerge, new product categories are developed.  It’s something that, as the song points out, is GOING to happen.  Change is the catalyst that moves business forward.  We can choose to embrace it or to resist it.  Your call.

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Small Guys, Big Voices

I spent part of the weekend getting caught up on everything going on across the various social networks to which I belong.

Facebook logo Español: Logotipo de Facebook Fr...

(Photo credit: Wikipedia)

It’s an impossible task, by the way.  It’s really the epitome of living in the moment because one can’t ever really get “caught up” – a post from a week ago is so…last week, I guess.  In any event, it got me thinking about how social media keeps changing and how what I tell clients about optimizing their use of that channel needs to change as well.

Sometimes I think the Internet should be called “The Great Equalizer,” since it puts the small guys on an even footing with the big guys.  It may seem to you as if every company/brand/retailer you know is on Facebook and you’re right: 92% of them use it.  The majority of them are on YouTube, Twitter, LinkedIn, and publish some sort of blog.  Unlike regular advertising, a bigger budget doesn’t assure you of bigger visibility.  If as a smaller business you’re going to be good at social media and conduct what some term “social commerce” it’s pretty obvious that you can’t outspend the big guys in your category.  You need to outsmart them with great content, and make wise choices about where to devote resources, both human and financial.

I’ll admit to have hardly ever clicked on an ad on a social site.  I do, however, read posts from brands all the time and once in a while I’ll click-through those to find something that’s piqued my interest.  I’ve even bought something as a result.  I’m not alone.  According to Internet Retailer 2014 Social Media 500, which ranks online merchants on the percentage of site traffic they receive from social networks:

  • Monthly referral traffic to e-commerce sites from Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest and YouTube increased 42% in 2013 to 51.5 million monthly unique visitors from 36.3 million.
  • Social commerce sales retailers raked in, that is, revenue derived from those visitors, jumped nearly 63% to $2.69 billion from $1.65 billion.
  • Spending on social ads by 40 retailers that supplied data increased 400% from 2012 to 2013.

It’s the small guys driving those numbers.  The challenge for them – and maybe for you – is to overcome the clutter in every user’s social landscape. That clutter in not the only issue. The fact that only a tiny fraction of what you post appears in your fans’ news feeds means that you must get the user to seek you out and to do so often enough that the algorithms see you as a close enough “friend” to put your news in those “top news” feeds.  You up to the task?

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Can You Feel It?

It’s Foodie Friday and today I was inspired by something I saw last night on The Taste.

Healthy Berries are Good Food for Health

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Yes, I do watch a lot of competitive cooking shows but I find it to be a great way to learn about technique and also how to think about blending flavors, textures, and foods into great dishes.   The guest judge was Roy Choi and he was giving one team a master class on making street food (of which he is a master!).  While serving them the food, he asked the contestants a lot of questions about how what they were eating made them feel.  Not how did it taste – how did it make them feel.

That resonated with me on a number of levels.  Maybe you’ve had the experience of eating something and having had a flood of memories hit you.  I certainly get that when I cook one of my grandmother’s recipes.  I’ve also had it happen sometimes when I eat a dish in one place that I’ve had in another and I am taken back to the place in which I first had it.  Food that makes you feel something is a great goal, one we can apply to our businesses too.

Part of many great brands’ success is that they make you feel something.  It can be nostalgia about our childhoods (Coke, Kraft, Campbell’s Soup) or being a part of a bigger cause (Apple, Prius), or maybe just safe and loved.  That emotional involvement, how we make people feel, is what helps differentiate great brands and great service businesses.  It’s not how the business “tastes” as much as it is how it feels.

Think about “cold” brands.  I’ve been to hotels where the place was clean and the service good but I’d have given up some efficiency for a little warmth.  I don’t think “warm and fuzzy” is for every business but I think every business does need to think about how their customers feel after interacting with them.  Those aren’t the kind of check box answers one gets on most surveys if the questions are even asked.  You need to dig deeper, maybe even become your own customer.  If you can’t feel anything, they probably can’t either, or at least not anything you’d want them to repeat. You with me?

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