29 Jul

Letting your customers lead

The internal hallways of the Illinois Institute of Technology – McCormick Tribune Campus Center are designed around the natural flow of foot traffic by the students.  Before the building existed, Rem Koolhaas and his team observed the students as they crossed through an open field between the dorms and their classrooms.  The resultant layout and hallway sizes were based around how traffic naturally flowed.  Rem designed around the natural movements of his customers, the students.

This idea is very similar to a concept called  A/B testing in which two or more product ideas are presented and the product(s) that are the most popular go to market.  In discussing his bestselling book “The Four Hour Workweek”, author Tim Ferriss mentions that the title was not his first choice, but it tested out extremely well with readers so he went with it.  Steve Jobs was famously known for ignoring the requests of his fan base and focusing more on their past behaviors.  He believed the key was to observe their actions and not their words.

What products do you have that are looked at the most but purchased the least?  Are there things your customers do that conflict with what they say they do?  Instead of asking what a customer might want different, ask specifically what they would buy and how much they would pay.  Another common method with online entrepreneurs is to stage fake product listings at different selling points and then seeing how many people follow through to the sale page.

29 Jul

The Entrepreneur In the Arena

Best selling author Brene Brown often mentions this quote in her talks.  In a way, she wrote a book about it.  Besides being inspirational, it’s excellent marketing advice as well.  We often fail to realize in the endless pursuit of perfecting our product-company-image, that the real beauty is not in the perfection.  The real beauty of our entrepreneurial ventures is in the flaws.  Market the real story, flaws and all.  Keep it honest and authentic because “there is no effort without error and shortcoming“.

“It is not the critic who counts;  not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better.  The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood;  who strives valiantly;  who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds;  who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions;  who spends herself in a worthy cause;  who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat.

— Teddy Roosevelt

29 Jul

Done is the engine of more

Several years back, Bre Pettis and Kio Stark came up with something called the Done Manifesto.  It lays out 13 rules for a ‘more doing, less planning’ mindset.  We often use planning as means of procrastination.  If only I had my bullet points would line up correctly then I could get this list done and finally start working.  If only.

The 13th and most important declaration contains 5 powerful words, done is the engine of more.  You might also hear this stated differently “what 1 thing can you do now that will get you started towards your goal”.  The idea is that getting a little done creates a snowball effect.

In creative pursuits, we have a tendency to perfect.  Yes, the planning can be a problem.  But frequently, creatives come up with brilliant work.  Doing, doing, doing, doing.  But never done, it’s never good enough to call done.  Why?  My best guess is vulnerability  When you call it done, then your perfect glass house is open for rock throwing season.

I don’t have a perfect solution for this crisis.  But I do have a suggestion that I’ve seen work over and over.  Embrace it.  The key to good marketing is telling your story and the best stories have heroes with serious flaws who somehow find a way to get it done in spite of those flaws.  The beauty of their work is when you see past the flaws.  Yes, it’s not a perfect solution  My writing is sometimes patronizing and my grammar sucks.  If I didn’t use

It’s not a perfect solution but I’m hitting publish anyway.  My writing is sometimes patronizing and my grammar may suck but I have some really great ideas.  But If I didn’t use grammarly you would have swore I was a 5th grader.  But I’m calling it done.  Pushing Publish.  This is my story and if you don’t like it then leave.

The Cult of Done Manifesto can be found here.

Addition works by Bre Pettis can also be found here.