007’s Secrets to Building an Amazing Franchise

How can you develop a franchise worthy of the kind of memorability and staying power that James Bond has enjoyed for 46 years? Many of those stories have become classics and continue to generate interest and profits for the franchise. That’s because the series is anchored on some very strong characteristics that we all identify with.

The Bond movies contain all the elements of a good story: the good guy, the bad guys, protocol, honor, transgressions, the rescue(s), the romance(s). Yes, many possibilities, and all quite imaginative, some less credible than others, but certainly made believable for the purposes of our hero saving the day.

What draws us to 007 is the action, the fantasy and the sense of belief, all rolled into one long story parsed out in episodes that have kept us interested over time. A lot is going on behind the scenes to make it work. You can apply those principles to your blog, too.


Always deliver on expectations. This means deliver on the greater story plot of your blog. If you positioned the blog as a resource for copywriters, each individual post will address a piece of that promise. Just like Bond always delivered to his audience, make sure that you can tie the frames in your story with a neat bow. For example series of posts can become a subplot in your overall treatment of the subject matter. If you announce it, follow through.

Be effective while you are efficient. Establish a set of goals to achieve and design a clear path or process to get there. Bond always accomplished his missions because he stayed focused on what he wants and sets out to do. And he does that in under two hours.

Mix it up, be resourceful. While you can achieve the best results by staying anchored to your topic, there are many variations on the core you can pursue. Bond always used a vehicle, a car, and it came with ever different features. In one of my recent posts I talked about using other tools like video and audio to present the information in different ways.

Be worldly. Where does the situation you are presenting fits in your readers’ context?It’s a good idea to research your topics so you can see who has written about them and support your statements with data and facts. Commander Bond excels in situational awareness, having knowledge of the context and what is at stake. He is often selected for his expertise.

Don’t forget to seduce. The overall impression of your blog is what keep readers coming back and wins you subscribers. Seduction is about giving something of value, and sometimes giving just enough to keep readers coming back for more. Bond has presence, wit, intelligence, and knows what he wants. He is extremely good at growing on you over time. You should, too.


Yes, Bond gets a lot of help from Q, the nerdy scientist who provides him with highly souped up vehicles and high tech tools. We’d like to think that in the real world of competence-based competition, the true champion is Q. The tools still remain a behind the scenes support. What matters out in the social media world is still your brand, the effect it creates in people’s mind.

Remember, you want to make sure the effect is shaken, not stirred.

7 Ideas to Make Blogging Your Creative Habit

Content is the best part of blogging — good material provides a platform for action and even a few bonus insights to the reader. For the writer, the height comes from the pleasure of turning a great concept, composing a good sentence, sometimes earning something in addition to reputation. Trading hard earned knowledge to have it.

How do you face that empty screen, the blank digital canvas that stares back at you? Day in, day out looking to come up with post ideas. You power up the computer, open your program, look at the white space and what do you see? I would like to suggest that what you see is possibility. Make creativity a habit. Choreographer Twyla Tharp has made a career of it. You can, too.

Forget your “but’s”, “maybe’s”, and all the other defeatist thoughts — it doesn’t take extraordinary talent to be creative. It takes discipline. Set daily routines for yourself, and transform what you thought was just a stroke of genius, the spark of a rare moment into a habit — your creative habit.

It takes work, and it takes commitment. When you decide to blog for money it takes healthier doses of both — do a reality check with Darren Rowse and ProBlogger. The good news is that it is possible for you, too. If you are willing to loosen up a little.

To be creative, you need to know how to prepare to be creative. It’s about much more than quality of presentation, it’s about being able to bridge between what you see in your mind and what you present to the world — skill is how you build that bridge. And you build your skill with practice.

Immerse yourself completely in what you are doing. No multitasking, no background music, no distractions from what is in your mind. All of those activities are mere crutches that delay your moment of truth — when you start typing and the words flow onto the page. Listen to what your mind is saying.

Discover what is the one tool that feeds your creativity. Then find a way to make it portable. For a writer it may be a pen and a pad of paper to be able to jot notes. I type my posts, but I like to jot down notes anywhere I am to capture moments of inspiration.

Reveal yourself. In other words, learn to understand your patterns, sources of inspiration, what makes your writing work. The real secret of creativity is to go back and remember. Use your memories to rediscover new ways to talk about topics.

Start a creative box with your notes, images, and all the sensory information you need to store your ideas for when you’re ready to retrieve them to tell a story. We tend to do that in rapid fire format, it doesn’t have to be that way. Sometimes a topic becomes much better with the passing of time. The box is your preparation.

Improvise and see what happens. I wrote some of my best posts on the spur of the moment. Let your inhibitions go and just write. Want to know my secret? When I start feeling the tingling in my belly, the thought of being a little scared, I am certain I’m on to something. Trust your gut, it’s an excellent guide. If you never dare write it, you’ll never know.

Build a bridge to the next day. Never completely finish everything you have on your plate. You may notice that your moment of peak energy is just after you have written a killer post. Start another one, begin outlining the idea before you leave it for the next day. You will be glad you did, as it will be provide a launching pad for generating more material when you start working the following day. it’s a jump start. I try to work at least two days ahead of myself so I have time to edit, tighten, research, insert that inspiring phrase.

Find your very own validation squad. This is a group of people that does not have an agenda and you know will be candid with you. Seek their counsel, test drive ideas with them. Sometimes all we need is for our idea to be heard to tackle it.

Confidence is a trait that can be earned and needs to be refreshed constantly. Make blogging your creative habit and your will uncover limitless opportunities to generate content and have fun with it.

Is Blogging Changing? Five Things you Should do in 2008 to Keep Pace.

Let me come clean with you, I don’t do many of these things. I don’t do them at my blog, but I have executed multimedia marketing programs, and they work. They work because multimedia helps a site stand out and it helps the reader, your customer, have a more complete experience with your content.

Different people respond to and interact with different stimuli — that’s why it’s a good idea to consider having visuals, words, audio, and video interspersed. Given the lower cost of entry, and that the average person now has more computing power than they will probably be able to exploit fully, it has become easier to be a multimedia production studio in house, on your blog.

The five things you should do to keep pace in 2008 are:

Videoblog. With the advent of services like Seesmic, Hictu, Ustream and VlogCentral where you can upload straight from webcams — and virtually all new computers equipped with cameras and editing tools like iMovie and FinalCut Profor Macs and Movie Maker for Windows, v/blogging is finally ready for the masses. How will you execute — like Twitter, but with pictures? Or a more structured approach?

Moblog. Say what you will about iPhone: its competitors are clearly scrambling to catch up, particularly with iPhone’s web interface. We’re not just talking about producing mobile-friendly content (though there are some great plugins for this) — now you can actually blog on the go with Utterz. It’s very promising: cellphone as blogging platform. See Mashable’s review.

Start a group blog. No need to do new writing — there are a new generation of aggregating plugins for things like WordPress which can help you start your very own LifeRemix. Find like-minded bloggers and build a new theme site, automatically reposting from your home site. Develop your own targeted portal — see for example the one Steve Woodruff developed for a group of us at Pageflakes; Conversation Agent is under the social media tab. This is particularly useful to niche and influence bloggers.

Diversify. Start a newsletter, the audience is very different from those who come to blogs, and you can recycle your evergreen material. In September, Lorelle wrote a series of posts here on converting from newsletter to blog. You could do the reverse. Use an ethical rich email provider. Or start a “new” blog by adding a new content section in a sub-domain. Why not add a digital photography section, or something else related, but capable of standing on its own?

The jury is still out on Twitter. Perhaps it’s a great tool. Perhaps it’s a time vacuum, destroying the chance that comments could be made on your site. Instead, people who talk to you there, may never come back to comment on your blog. They are already with you in their minds. But if you’re not exploring it, you should do so, and vow to put the Twitter down and step away from it, just like you did with your CrackBerry, every so often.

Blogging is changing, and for the better. It is adapting to the types of personalities of many diverse people and cultures. Try these five things out, that’s the best way to see if they work for you and your style.

Top 10 Ways to Market Your Blog in 2008

As the year draws to a close, it is good to take stock of how far you’ve come with your blog. We all like to think about improvements to implement in the New Year. Rather than offering a list of to dos, I prefer to consider ways to be a marketer that highlight your accomplishments all year around. With that in mind, people notice you when you:

1. Write something fresh, unique, and useful in a human voice — this is as true of your business web site as it is of your blog. You ask time and attention of your readers and visitors, make sure they are both well spent on learning about topics and opinions they cannot find anywhere else. As more companies and businesses start considering blogs as tools to begin online conversations, it is important to remember that along with information that readers find valuable, voice plays a large role in stickiness. Make it personal and human — it is on both counts.

2. Become a trusted source of news and informed opinions — there has been a lot of discussion around the definition and meaning of expert. Personally, I prefer to become a trusted advisor, and so should you. The Internet is a great place to find information on every conceivable thing. You can run searches on virtually any topic and find dozens and dozens of entries. This is good, yet it can also overwhelm. When you act as an informed and reliable source, your experience and expertise also come through.

3. Are a good member of the community — highlight the great content that other people create, become active on other blogs and sites with comments, guest posts, interviews and volunteering advice off line. Blogging can be a solitary activity, especially when you aim to create original content. Get out there and help others and you will find more inspiration to bring what you know to the surface.

4. Show that you can be trusted and that you care — every contract that lasts is based upon trust and care. All it needs is a hand shake and a nod. If you think back at the people you most admire and respect, they are probably the ones you never doubted for a moment. Not everything is up for grabs, relationships are complex. Some things are not blog material, don’t think they should be just because you are there when they happen. Ask permission first, and provide a sanctuary where a face to face encounter is off limits. We are human after all, not everything is and should be for public consumption.

5. Put the work in — the best way to succeed is to be in it for the long term. Why would you expect time and attention from others if you haven’t put them in yourself? People often ask me how I landed a guest blogger gig at FastCompany.com, for example. I started developing off line conversations with the magazine readers seven years ago and offered free monthly events with thought leaders, CEOs and prominent businesses to a group that has grown to include more than 500 members.

6. Get the word out — this may seem a bit simplistic, yet I am surprised at how many people overlook the step. Register your blog or site URL with the search engines. Google, Yahoo, and DMOZ.org. Use a description that captures your niche market and topic — the more specific, the better in helping you stand out. If you are judicious and have asked permission first, it is good to spread the news to friends and colleagues. Remember that while it may be promotion that gets the word out, it is solid and useful content that keeps people coming back for more.

7. Listen to your customers — yes, you may think about them as readers, yet the people who happen upon your site are customers. Learn from them by engaging in the conversation when they comment. A good way to do this is user surveys. Cheap, too. Those are perfect opportunities to listen and adapt to your customers needs and wants. Granted, they visit because you already provide what is appealing and interesting to them. Yet the best way to develop relationships is to listen to what others draw from your content.

8. Think creatively — while it’s good to be a reliable and steady source of a consistent type of content, every so often it’s also great to shake things up a little. Using a different perspective, inviting a guest blogger, or recalibrating your brand (and focus) are all signs that you are putting the effort and care in what you offer.

9. Project the right image — make sure your layout, sidebars and links are all aligned with the purpose and meaning you are trying to convey with your content. Design means business, not only colors, lines and photographs. Choose the appropriate illustrations and shots, those that complement and complete your message.

10. Remain grateful and thankful for the connections you make — each comment, each email and message is a gift, take them as such. Never, ever take your customers for granted. Take the time to acknowledge people and find new ways to be of service to them.

Too often, we look to the latest social media tool or viral marketing technique to grow our blogs. In the end, however, nothing matters unless you are hitting the basics. Blogging still comes down to authenticity, consistency, and interaction with your readers. If you are looking to expand your reach in 2008, this should be your first New Year’s resolution.

Tap into the Power of Tupperware Parties to Market Your Blog

The holiday season is upon us and parties abound. Whether the event is a small gathering or a large affair, people are in the mood to chat, see and be seen and generally predisposed to being marketed to. When done with a soft touch, marketing at a party is the best kind of soft sell.

You probably heard about or participated in a Tupperware party in your neighborhood at some point — this is the quintessential American compliance setting, according to psychologist Robert Cialdini in his popular book “The Psychology of Influence”. The dynamics of a Tupperware party in fact make use of many methods of influence. Let’s take a look:

Reciprocity — the event’s kick off includes many games at which participants win small prizes. If you don’t win a prize, you get to pick from a grab bag. Transfer this to marketing your blog and you have the idea of giving before the buying begins. There are many ways to give value up front in form of eBooks, papers, tips, links and resources that your readers will find useful.

Commitment — each participant is invited to share about uses and benefits of the Tupperware he already owns. Inserting smart inquiries in your well crafted posts allows your readers to describe how helpful your material has been to them so that others can see it. These are what marketers call testimonials. You’ve seen them probably as quotes extolling the virtues of a product or service complete with name, title and company of the satisfied customer.

Social proof — once the buying begins, each purchase goes to reinforce the act of buying for others. We like to have what people similar to us have; it must be good if others are buying. The hardest action is always the first one, the one that kicks off things — think about auctions too. Once someone indicates they like something, others come forward. It’s the same for a shop, a restaurant or a cafe’ — you like to see people in there having a good time. Number of commenters and number of readers make a positive impression and provide social proof for your blog.

Yet by far the most powerful dynamic you can tap into is the liking rule. In Tupperware parties you have a person who acts as the demonstrator. As entertaining and persuasive as that person is, the actual selling is done by the host — she is your neighbor, someone you know and like. The arrangement has her get a cut of the evening’s sales — and everyone knows that.

It works even when customers are totally aware of the pressure they are subjected to because of the liking and friendship. These numbers date back to the early nineties, but you may be astounded to learn that these parties generated sales in excess of $2.5 million per day at that time.

What are the factors that cause a person to like another person? How can you put the liking rule to work for you?

Attractiveness — this of course applies to people. In blogging it applies to layout and design. Social scientists call it the “halo effect”. A halo effect occurs when one positive characteristic of a person dominates the way that person is viewed by others. A professionally looking design and layout can introduce an overall positive impression of the site. According to research, visitors will automatically assign favorable traits like intelligence, honesty, and kindness to attractive individuals. to be sure, we make those judgments without being aware that we do.

Similarity — we like people who are similar to us. Whether we talk about opinions, personality traits, background, or life-style. You may have noticed it at parties, groups of similarly thinking individuals hang together. They do so also online. One of the groups with the highest level of affinity I have seen so far is bloggers who write about social media. It may be because the topic attracts gregarious people or perhaps it is the nature of the subject that makes people that way. Marketers are also quite expansive with each other.

Compliments — do I need to say more? Have you said “I like you” to anyone lately? it really works because we are suckers for flattery. Well, it needs to sound genuine, but in general we want to believe praise and like those who provide it.

Contact and cooperation — we are more favorable towards the things we have contact with. One of the reasons why making comments on other blogs and interacting with people on Twitter, for example, works is because we become accustomed to seeing their avatar and reading their style and they ours. As for cooperation, think about guest posts, agreeing to moderate someone’s discussion or publicizing their work.

Conditioning and association — being connected and associated with good news or good things influences how people feel about you. Spending time with the right group of writers and thinkers will elevate your skills and influence your decisions and learning positively. Think also about a popular topic. If you can time it right, you may be quite opportunistic and ride the wave with the movers and shakers of the blogosphere by writing about it and publicizing it in the appropriate venues. You will then be seen as associating your smarts with theirs.

One word of caution, do not exploit these techniques. They need to be tempered by authenticity and candor or else they will stop working and turn on you, just like a medicine taken one time too many. The best way to influence others is to maintain a gentle hold on the influence you exercise on yourself.

You Are Your Own Brand Navigator

I don’t mean the big sports utility vehicle, although this is as big if not bigger than that — and it guzzles effort. Your brand is what you have in you. Strong brands are not the product of construct and fabrication — they are discerned, drawn out, then communicated to the world.

The first step in identifying your brand foundations is a journey of discovery at the heart of what you’re about. Who you are, what you do, your philosophy of life and how you behave in relationships. There is another important component to branding — and that is differentiation. So while your brand needs to express what lies inside you, it is also important that it holds into account what is around you.

Take for example the circle of your colleagues, other people who write about similar topics to yours, and the greater context of online publishing. What makes yours different? Are your posts branded with your unique style? Let’s see if you recognize these bloggers from their writing (you will need to comment to get the key, which I will insert at the end of the day).

Let’s take a look:

I love blogging. Its a fantastic online publishing medium that has an almost-zero barrier to entry. That is to say you can be up and blogging, literally, within 5 minutes. There are pre-fab blogging platforms today that are robust and give you many tools that even a few years ago, required some paying for, and even then, weren’t free. Not so today.

Today, the beauty is that anyone can be a publisher.

The downside? Its that anyone can become a publisher.

I’m making it really easy for you. What about this one?

I realized that I blogged best when I served my muse, my instincts for good blog content. Not the wishes of someone else telling me what I should blog about. Not my wishes to please my readers, blogging about something that I’m forcing myself to blog about. I blog best when I blog to support my spirit, not undermine it.

One last shot at identifying a blogger:

What does your audience need to know, enjoy reading about, collect and bookmark? Can your categories be benefit-led? Do you have the space for longer, more descriptive category names or does your template restrict you to single words? Is there a potential to get some search engine keyword fairy dust sprinkled over your category list? After all your sidebar links appear on every page of your blog ….

I chose these paragraphs because they illustrate how important branding is. Yes, the beauty is that everyone can blog so you can get started quickly and easily. The opportunity cost is if you overlook differentiation. As the second blogger states, you need to serve your muse, not be a copy of someone else, or write about things that feel unnatural to you.

Brand you should come through from everything on the screen — how you arrange the layout, if you allow comments, what content buckets you build on the side. These are all clues to your readers and contribute to forming a picture in their mind. Remember that they hold one piece of the picture in theirs so be the host you’d want them to experience.

This is the third side to the brand triangle — your readers and people who do business with you contribute to the perception of you in the marketplace. You will need to make sure that all of the experiences they have with you are the most meaningful and relevant to them. Whatever that means with respect to how you develop brand you.

Every respectable brand manager spends some time doing research. Once you have devised an overall message (your elevator speech) and business design, it is advisable to test it in the field. The good news is that you can do that on a small budget through your blog. Ask your readers, and observe what your readers do through tracking traffic patterns as well as their comments and links.

You should be able to distill a fine tuned strategy and direction from all the information gathered in these processes. Being yourself has never been easier — there is always room for tuning up, opportunity to stir in the right direction, and a need for plenty of energy. Be your own brand navigator and you are in the driver seat.

8 Easy Marketing Tips to Increase Your Blog’s Audience

I’m the worst at taking my own advice, I insist on thinking that original and well written content matters. Even when it is quite clear that the string of comments I generate by skillfully repurposing generic content is much longer. I keep being fixated on the crazy idea that providing value up front, putting it in the hands of my readers, will keep them coming back for more. I don’t know where I got that notion that spending hours leaving thoughtful comments on other blogs about the writer and their topic — vs. about how good *I* am — would get me any traffic at all.

Now that I got your attention, I can take the tongue off my cheek where it was firmly planted, and share with you eight easy tips to market your blog so that people can find the goodness you provide.

1. Seek out yourself — choose and attract the audience that is most like you. Unless you are one of those people who can adapt instantly to any other kind of person, you will find more comfortable building rapport and conversations with people who are like you. They will find it easy to identify with your material, enjoy reading it, and spread it to others. This also means being able to “see” yourself in others — find the common ground and the basis for a relationship by seeking out the other instead of pushing yourself upon them. You’ve heard the expression like-minded, this is where it comes in.

2. Use speed to your advantage — the tortoise’s win was a fluke. Do it intelligently and in a way that contributes to your brand. You must be constantly alert to opportunities to make a contribution that is timely. If you’re alert to what topics and news are changing or coming and sense their imminence, you can capitalize on them. One minute too late and you are left alone at what was a busy intersection just a little while ago. Sometimes this is luck, most of the time it’s the ability to be prepared to talk about something at the right time. Do your research and be poised to pounce.

3. Tell people how good you are — be a master of clarity. Communicating clearly is the essence of creating the impression of competence, skill, and mastery. Great branding and marketing is the simplest articulation of what is at the core of a company’s offering. Your ability to explain what you blog about, rather than actually reading what you write, is what most influences another’s impression of your skill. The expert is the person who most clearly communicates their expertise. Communication is not a skill, it is THE skill.

4. Be incomplete — know how to or who but don’t let those deter you from allowing your readers to complete your thoughts. Yes, one of the hallmarks of extraordinary experience is completeness. Yet, having all the answers may deprive your readers from their role or a role in your blog. You cannot be an expert at everything, even with diligent research, yet if you’re diligent at developing relationships, your readers will know when to jump in and help you out.

5. Be grateful — use the magic words: thank you. Don’t move to the next post before demonstrating true appreciation for your readers. Wait a moment, is this a marketing technique? Yes, indeed it is. One of the most powerful introductions in lead generation for existing customers is the acknowledgment and appreciation of their business. There are other ways to show your gratitude — reach out by email to inquire how someone is doing, welcome new visitors who leave a comment to your site (to this day, I am still amazed at how few do it, despite the advice), address people by name.

6. Radiate passion about what you do — technique barely matters, I can give you an easy formula for marketing your blog. There are techniques and processes that you can put in place to plot a course and assess ways to increase readership steadily and mathematically. No breakthroughs will come from those. Express a commitment to better and you will attract what you radiate — these will allow you to leapfrog.

7. Make your readers feel important — it is their most basic need and the truest form of connection. You know it yourself, you love to hang out with someone who cares about you and places you ahead of themselves. Contribute to their success, give them the red carpet treatment, make it about them… it is.

8. Inspire — the emotional connection is above and beyond experience. It’s about standing for something meaningful that touches your readers on an emotional level. Find out what interests and inspires your readers and provide motivation and encouragement. Use your influence to make things happen for them.

If I took my own advice, I would also be very honest with you and tell you that what really made me a better writer and marketer has been practice and involvement. Putting skin in the game is what makes me a strong brand, different from anyone else.

Now is Gone: Market Your Blog as a Company Would

If you have a blog or are thinking about starting one, you sit on the hottest piece of social media marketing mix you could ever imagine – take advantage of it. How can you make your blog work as a resume and business builder? What can you do to use the full potential at your fingertips?

Do as a company would do to grow its business – market it. In this post, I am taking the advice Geoff Livingston gives companies on social media in his upcoming book Now is Gone (see companion blog with case studies) and using it for you. Traditional businesses and corporate America may not do social media very well — many do know how to do marketing that works.

Geoff has taken the time to adapt his advice on social media and blogging so it fits within the practices and processes of businesses. Here, we’ll take a look at what you can borrow from business practices that sell to market your blog.

Start with the underlying attitude – it’s worth repeating it even to me
(from the introduction by Brian Solis)

Listening is marketing
Participation is marketing
Media is marketing
Conversations are marketing

When you talk about how making comments on other blogs and opening up comments on yours are good ideas to get more traffic, you are practicing marketing – listening, participating, having conversations – in a medium that is perfect for it in its simplicity.

Are you New Media Ready?

You may have seen a meme circulating called media snacking – it stated from a provocative question Forrester’s Jeremiah Owyang asks – Do we respect media snackers? Snackers are folks who consume small bits of information, data or entertainment when, where, and how they want. Are you using several components of the new social media mix effectively? Do an audit:

1. Post on blog, check
2. Twitter to my followers about topic with link, check
3. Conversation with my friends on Facebook after posting link, check

You get the idea. Remember that in traditional marketing, all of the components of a program work in concert, that’s why they call it a campaign. To be new media ready you also need to understand – really internalize – that to be successful you need to commit time and resources to this, and embrace transparency in full.

What Tool is Best for Your?

The answer may not be just a blog. The fist thing you need to find out is where your target audience is – where are your buyers? Where do people hire your skill set? Then build value for them. For example, if you are graduating and looking for your first job in brand strategy, build a blog where you create brand strategy for the companies you’d like to work at. Link to their sites and campaigns offering additional thoughts for consideration in your posts – in other words, be the person you’d like to become. In one sentence, build value for the community of people you’d want to attract.

How do you Promote it?

Use community relations programs – participate, create tag-based blogosphere buzz, engage with social networks, do a blogger outreach, become a thought leader in your field of expertise on Twitter.

If it makes sense for your business, engage in traditional media relations as well. Trackbacks also work on blogs at BusinessWeek and other online publications – they will be most effective when they are targeted to the content of the post, just like with other blogs by your peers. Remember that traditional media is also learning how to blog, so anything you can share with them and help them out will make them come back for more.

Think Liquid

This is the best chapter in a book that is extremely useful even for someone like me who has done plenty of marketing and has experienced social media first hand. The reality is you could be doing a lot of these things already, yet feel that you are not succeeding. We have increasingly diverse and changing marketing environments, the blogosphere and many social networks are reaching saturation points, etc.

All of these realities have always been true for businesses as well. Yet, there are marketing plans that elevate companies’ products and services to great brands. The secret is in finding the right marketing mix for your content and execute it with discipline, flexibility, honesty, and intelligence.

Become Famous, Start a Blog – 3 Things You can do Today to Make Social Media Work for You

Jim Long opened his session with the members of the Direct Marketing Association at their day long event in Washington DC with the statement that he was just a cameramen. Mind you, the man behind the lens of some pretty well known TV anchors from NBC News. Yet, in the traditional hierarchy of GE’s media conglomerate, well down on the food chain, as he shared with us at the session.

In the blogosphere and on Twitter however, he is a hero. Followed by many, envied by a few, and for all the good reasons –- a new media maven he is. Thanks to his entrepreneurial spirit and formidable skills with a camera, he is now potentially sitting on the future of media –- and people like him, a lot. We tend to buy from people we like, that is extremely good news for Jim.

The other good news is that Jim has talent and a skill that is becoming increasingly a hot commodity online – he can shoot a very good video. He’s found a way to monetize his efforts with The Crafty Nation, one of the many portals he is planning in the future. If you wish to learn more about that venture, come over to my blog after reading this.

Blogging and launching online businesses successfully require the ability to tell a story and a keen eye for what will work for viewers. Jim knows quite a bit about capturing eyeballs from his day job. If you follow him on Twitter, you will see that he understands the value of feet on the ground. That is what social media and self-publishing are all about. There is also another ingredient needed, one we talk about in the close of this post.

The potential for building a successful business is enormous. Especially on the basis of redirected talent and keen observation of the dynamics of this new conversation with the marketplace. It’s a way to go direct with your offering, name, venture, and capture a slice of the business. How did Jim do that?

1. Jim started a blog declaring his intention – Verge New Media, the intersection of old and new media. Then, because he spends a lot of time on the road, he integrated that with a Twitter account, which allows him to post shorter, impromptu messages about what he’s doing. At the writing of this post, he has 1,125 people following him. We follow him because he posts about stuff you don’t see in the news. That’s the intersection and the allure. What skill could you leverage today to set your blog apart while borrowing the credibility built around that skill? What’s your business secret sauce? Find a way to put it out there.

2. Jim’s business cards say – powerful content for the empowered consumer. Slightly more targeted than his blog, which he started in May 2007. Go ahead and Google his name, it comes up second. Want to know why? He’s managed to get attention by stating he was not going to talk about what operational security allows the NBC travel pool to know before a trip. By showing he’s an empowered employee and a judicious one, he is providing excellent examples of how to deliver powerful content. How can you be a living example of what you’d like people to buy?

3. He delivers great personal experiences. Take a look at his video of the sausage factory of old media TV news coverage (second to last, scrolling down). The narrative is pure Jim – he’s soft spoken, lively, and has a great sense of timing and humor. For another example of his skill check out his entry for the Network2 contest on Blip.tv. I bet you’ll never watch the news the same way now that’s you’ve seen it from behind the camera. And that is the third point exactly. Can you find a way to be accessible and professional at the same time — likeable and valued?

Jim’s advice if your plan is to make a business of social media:

– First plan your business; write a business plan.
– Surround yourself with a board of advisers.
– Incorporate yourself and
– Be serious about it; make the commitment.

What other suggestions would you share with fellow social media mavens on launching a successful online business?

Is It Autumn for Your Blog, Too?

Sweeping them up,
Then not sweeping them up –
The falling leaves.


Everybody loves autumn: the smells, the crispness, and the end of summer’s heat. People complain about winter and summer, but nobody seems to mind the coming of fall.

And there’s a lesson in that for bloggers. What is it people enjoy so much about autumn? How could these things apply to the way we manage our blogs?

I’ve raked up a few ideas for your consideration. Like a basketful of colorful leaves, perhaps one or two might stir your imagination:

People love autumn’s bluster. While you needn’t become like one of those loudmouth radio talk show hosts, when is the last time you showed a little bluster on your site? By this, I mean opinion. As bloggers, it’s our natural inclination to be liked, and for our writing to be appreciated. This sometimes leads to writing what we think our leaders want to hear. When is the last time you wrote something you really wanted to say?

Autumn is a time of harvest. Lorelle has done a wonderful job pointing out the importance of our archives. What better time than fall to bring out a few of the year’s best posts? It’s a great way to pick up some old conversations, or start a few new ones. You might consider writing a new introduction or branding it as a “Best Of” in some way. Check the original article’s comments. Is there anything great from a regular reader? Drop them a note and see if they’d like to make a fresh comment. If it’s been a while, you can resubmit the article to your favorite social bookmarking sites under its new file name.

Autumn is a season of change. With all the vacations, holidays, and outdoor activities of summer, it’s easy to let your blog coast a bit. Fall is an excellent time to freshen up. Add some color in the form of fresh graphics or perhaps even a new template. Prune your blogroll. Plant a few sidebar perennials. Most readers couldn’t care less what sort of software or back-end changes you make to your site, but they certainly notice when you spruce things up in the layout and design. This sort of change communicates an active site — and that translates to more active readers.

Now it’s your turn. What other attributes of autumn might be applied to a website? There are upcoming holidays, get-togethers with friends, a chill in the air … well, you take it from here. Best idea in comments wins a freshly brewed cup of warm cider the next time you’re in Philadelphia …