If you know me well, you'll be aware that I can be like a Rottweiler when it comes to solving challenges. Now this has obvious benefits but there are some hidden traps that can easily sabotage my progress unless I'm being self-aware.

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I don't know if it's a "man thing" or just personality (probably a mixture of both), but sometimes the old stubborn, stiff-faced focus can dominate my energy when I'm trying to overcome something.

Let me share with you a story that happened yesterday and show you something that happened in me which was new, and I trust something that you can potentially learn from in your business (and life) – especially if you're prone to becoming stubbornly defiant in the face of challenges.

So here's the story:

I was working on a coding challenge (one of my hats is in web development), and I tried my normal approach of changing something, then a different thing, then another different thing, one step at a time, to see if I could fix the problem.

Well, after 6 hours of on & off trying this approach, nothing worked.

I was frustrated, and angry with myself for having been so stubborn.

And then I sat back, and took the top down view that should've occurred five hours earlier.

I asked myself a question:

"Is there another way I can look at this problem that will help me to move things forward?"

A simple question.

I went downstairs (I work from home), had a cup if tea.

I stopped.

Only for 5 minutes.

And then the new approach came.

And it worked.

5 minutes to save 5 hours.

That's all it took.

There's a book with this phrase as its title (and I haven't read it yet):

Questions Are the Answers.

Quick side story: I met a guy a couple of years back at a bar in Las Vegas (and we were both totally sober by the way: I'm tee-total & he drank water) whose company is a competitor of Facebook, and he told me that he attributed his success to "ASQ's": he just Asks Short Questions. Lots of them.

We stayed up 'til 4:30am in the morning, chatting, getting to know one another. All because he asked short questions.

Back to the main story:

So, what did I learn yesterday?

1) Don't be stubborn (ha!! – requires practice to break old habits & develop new & better ones)

2) If you are working on a problem or challenge, don't spend more than an hour on it. Some would say, and I'm working towards this: "If you can't see the solution to a problem after 15 minutes of solid effort, stop and begin to ask questions".

Sometimes the solution that emerge will involve others becoming involved in some way. Other times you will see a new strategy that was hitherto hidden.

3) Allow yourself time to stop, change your physical location. Talk to someone. Exercise. Just do something different.

If it's a small challenge, the solution might emerge that quickly.

At least, that's what happened yesterday.

Mountain Climbing

Just after supper last night, I exhaled an enormous breath of exhilaration, turned to my wife and said:

"I feel like I've just climbed a mountain: it was hard work, but now I'm at the summit and the view is amazing."

Just one peak among the myriad we should all be aiming to climb.

So, if you're still shaking off the "stubborn man" mentality, I encourage you to begin a different mental process.

It will be challenging, and hard work (any change is). But the sense of reward will be significant, and will effect everything.

Start asking yourself questions. Give yourself time to look down on your challenges, and you will see change.

It's exciting and rewarding.

Podcast of this post

 

The video is *really* quiet, so turn up your speakers to full 🙂

Dan Ariely's book Predictably Irrational is a superb dive into the psychology behind why people make the buying decisions that they do, and I thoroughly enjoyed reading it at the beginning of 2011.

What is more interesting is that I inadvertently attracted his attention – he wrote a comment on my Mad Web Scientist – which is pretty cool in my books.

So what if you intentionally used this strategy? It might just work, particularly if you did a whole string of short videos detailing your thoughts on a particular author's work.

Now, have a think why that might be useful attention to get, and write your thoughts below, in the comments section.

A bientot!

Dez.

I was going to keep quiet about this. But I'm spilling the beans about mobile marketing instead.

The reason? Well, just as social media (Facebook & Twitter mostly) has become mainstream, so too will mobile marketing within a very short space of time.

You might already be using it for your business. If so, just say "Pah!" and move along to more important things now.

If you're not yet using mobile marketing – which can include QR codes – then I reckon your business will be missing out big time, not too far in the future from now.

Oh, by the way, if you're still not using Twitter & Facebook (AND YouTube in my opinion), then you should also stop reading now. Get on the phone and give me a call, and I'll show you how you can create a simple Facebook fanpage for free.

So, then, what's all the fuss about QR codes?

Well, about 6 months back, I was passing an Estate Agents (or Real Estate 'shop', if you're not from the UK & reading this!).

And it had a QR code attached to the shop window.

So why would a place advertising Real Estate do that then?

Well, if you have a smartphone (and in N America approx. 29% or so people now have one1), you are – at least at the present time – 72% likely to respond to the presence of a QR code in a newspaper, shop window, or some other form of advertising, according to a recent QR usage survey2.

So what does that mean for you, if you run a business?

Obviously, a big opportunity.

With smart phones rapidly becoming the norm within the next few years, you are at a big advantage if you can position your business at the head of the game.

And I haven't even begun to talk about ways to combine QR codes, SMS short codes and email marketing into a seamless sales funnel yet.

And how about combining all THAT with your Facebook Fan Page, Twitter feed and YouTube channel?

You have got those, right?

 

If not, maybe we should have a conversation, (or Tweet or text!).

I'll be detailing more ideas that you can steal from this site soon, so stay tuned!

Lastly, if you want to make one of those pretty patterns above, visit the QR Code Generator page now.

 

References

1. http://blog.nielsen.com/nielsenwire/online_mobile/us-smartphone-battle-heats-up/

2. http://mghus.com/qr-code-survey-results

YouTube’s First EVER Video: Me at the Zoo

Jawed Karim’s impressive geek skills also include being the main coder for Paypal’s real-time anti-fraud protection algorithms, so he’s a prety clever guy 🙂 & he now runs Youniversity Ventures.

So what was it that has made Jared SO incredibly successful? Well, you might think that’s a bit of a daft question, as we all already KNOW that the answers is "YouTube!".

But that’s the power of hindsight. Prior to 2005, YouTube didn’t exist.

And then Jared had a killer idea, which led to what he calls a killer application:

 

 (this is taken from his October 2006 presentation here: http://www.youtube.com/user/jawed#p/u/3/nssfmTo7SZg )

Now, I would dare to go a little step further with this definition, and with my marketing hat on, say this:

A Killer Product or Service is one which is so desirable in its benefits to the end-user, that

it becomes the de facto tool or system that everybody leaps on without any hesitation,

because its real and perceived value is so obvious to all. 

Now, I’ve been riding the Web Waves for a couple of years now, and prior to that I was involved in some pretty geeky projects, so I reckon I know when I can spot such a killer application.

Last week, I came across one, after chatting to a new friend on Facebook. I was looking for a smarter alternative to Goto Webinars, that leveraged video as a core part of the offering, but also at an affordable price.

Well, rather than going into lots of details here (because this is about YouTube after all), I want you to find out yourself, by watching the video below.

If you are involved in any kind of marketing, and you recognise how leveraging video is key to being able to connect with clients and prospects,  then sign up to get instant access to the free 22 minute presentation.

 

 

Picture this: you’re cooking some food, listening to your favourite music radio station, when suddenly your serene (or maybe excited!) state of mind is interrupted by the jingle of your latest pet-hate and cheesy ad from some local company trying to corner the competitive carpet market. 

How do you feel now? 

Annoyed. Angry, even. 

Or, if you’re the take-action type, you’ll re-tune somewhere else until the yukky ads have gone away. 

That is, unless the new radio station is also mid-way through it’s 5-15 minute session of disruptive, annoying and irrelevant ads. 

Someday someone is going to create some kind of software which automatically scans for new radio stations when the ads appear. 

But that will probably be made illegal. 

Or, we’ll have the increasingly familiar scenario of a premium version of your favourite TV channel or radio station which is ad-free. 

Now that presents an interesting question: 

If people are willing to pay money to have ad-free content, why hasn’t the penny dropped for business owners? 

In other words: 

Why do businesses still pay for disruptive, non-targetted and annoying ads with a conversion ratio of no better than 0.1%?? 

That’s an aweful lot of money going into someone else’s bank account… 

Maybe one reason is that businesses think that they have to demonstate that they’re a big player now, by splashing out $20k+ on some magazine or radio ads, so that people start thinking they’re worth listening to. 

But that’s a dangerous game to play in an uncertain economy. 

So what’s the alternative to Interruptive Advertising?

The answer is on your lips I’ll bet: 

Social media. Viral video. Blogging, etc. 

Now, I’m going to focus on viral video. 

I’m not saying that the others aren’t important. Far from it. In fact, you might be getting this content through Facebook, Twitter, a blog post somewhere, or by the time it reaches you, it might even be a video or podcast. 

But if I had to pick between all the so-called Web 2.0 (or is it Web 3.0 by now 🙂 ) properties, I would choose video every time. 

Why so? 

The simple answer is this: out of all the different ways of communicating remotely, video is the only one which stands the best chance of really engaging the with viewer in a cross-sensory manner. 

The day someone invents real-time smell production out of your TV, computer or mobile phone screen is the day I’ll be proved wrong. 

Did you know that around 30% of all your brain function is given over to visual processing? 

That’s a huge amount. And I haven’t added in audio yet, either. 

So video, done in the right way, has the best chance of engaging the viewer with an experience that will produce a lasting and potentially very positive effect. 

Ok, you might be saying, everybody knows that already. It’s obvious. 

That’s why the title has the word VIRAL in it. 

Viral videos are, by definition, almost unstoppable. I say almost, because eventually, if you have a viral video, it might get overrun by someone else’s in the same niche. 

But I’m getting ahead of myself. 

What exactly do I mean by viral video?


As I’ve already said, viral videos are almost unstoppable, and they contain some, or all, of the following 7 features: 

7 key ingredients of Viral Videos

  • Compelling/Emotive 
  • Incredible/Unbelievable 
  • On the edge 
  • Funny 
  • Contemporary 
  • Disturbing 
  • Memorable 

..in essence, viral videos tell a story that is disruptive in nature. 

They put a new twist in the viewer’s mind by either exposing the shortcomings of their existing pre-suppositions about what should happen next. 

And in so doing, they become memorable, and compelling enough so that the viewer just *has* to pass it on to someone else… 

But, you might argue, if viral videos are disruptive, surely then they’re just the same as the annoyingly interruptive ads we all hate? 

Nope. Reason? 

The answer to why viral videos are not annoying, is this: the way they spread isn’t by broadcasting them one-to-many, like traditional advertising does. 

Instead, the content is shared in a many-to-many manner. 

That’s why, if your video is a good one, it will be unstoppable, because you’ve given up the right to control the distribution. 

Ok then, so if viral videos are so powerful, why don’t businesses use them all the time, instead of relying on traditional and expensive advertising methods. 

Well, the truth is, is that making a video go viral is not a guaranteed given. 

But…. 

It’s much,much easier to make a video go viral than it used to be. 

The main reason is that the internet is so much more interconnected today than it was 10 or even 5 years ago. 

Since YouTube, Facebook & Twitter came centre-stage as the de-facto trio of social media services, there has been an incredible explosion of new social networks, micro-blogging platforms, video sharing sites, and media distribution services that, in their totality, are completely revolutionizing the way we communicate, shop, make decisions and form relationships. 

This interconnectivity, whilst overwhelming and scary for some, presents the human race with the most amazing opportunity that’s ever been available in our entire history. 

But now I’m running ahead of myself. 

I’m looking at the role of viral video as a method of connecting businesses with potential customers. But of course, I’m happy to admit that this is only (and perhaps thankfully) a tiny segment of the whole picture as far as viral video is concerned. 

Let me finish this exploration by giving you my top strategies for creating viral video. 

(By the way, before I go any further. Let me make it clear that I’m not a viral video guru, just someone who is learning the craft and sharing my observations plus the experiences of others). 

 

Top Tips For Creating Viral Videos

– Research high volume trending topics and brainstorm how you might segue into a popular trending ‘meme’ 

– Use the same tags that other high-view videos have used 

– Brainstorm ideas for videos which combine factors such as humour, unexpected twists, and shocking juxtaposition of ideas 

– Use distribution tools such as Traffic Geyser to spread your video across many syndication sites 

– Combine eye-grabbing headlines with strong mid-point images (the mid-point of your video is the default image that YouTube and other syndication sites will display as the ‘still’ for the video) 

– Employ white-hat SEO techniques such as video RSS feed mashups, pinging and embedding your video on relevant high-traffic blogs, forums and article sites (some do allow video embedding). 

Want to chat more about Viral Video and how to use it in your business? Come and join me on the Viral Video Marketing Facebook group now.

 

 

If you’re a social media news watcher, you will know about the recent Yahoo Twitter Partnership. In essense, here’s what’s happening – either right now, or very soon:

    * People will be able to access their personal Twitter feeds across Yahoo!’s many products and properties, including the homepage, Yahoo! Mail, Yahoo! Sports, and others, letting them check in more easily on what’s happening with the people and things they care about while on Yahoo!.
    *

      People will be able to update their Twitter status and share content from Yahoo! in their Twitter stream, so they can easily share their Yahoo! experiences with their friends and followers on Twitter.
    *

      Yahoo! Search and Yahoo! media properties like News, Finance, Entertainment, and Sports will include real-time public Twitter updates across a variety of topics. Yahoo! Search users will immediately see real-time Twitter results today; go to Yahoo! and try it out.

The Yahoo press release goes on to say that the partnership:

"…lets people bring together and unify their activity from their many social experiences across the Web. Because of these connections, anyone with a Yahoo! ID can update multiple social networks simultaneously and stay in touch with the people and information that matter most at every moment of the day."

In other words, what you might already do with Posterous, PixelPipe, Ping.fm or many of the other communication mashup tools, as a Yahoo user, you can now do under the Yahoo umbrella instead.

The REAL purpose behind this partnership, however is revealed here:

"…This will drive deeper user engagement, and create new and compelling opportunities for developers, advertisers, and publishers."

In other words, Yahoo is developing an integrated and demographically targeted advertising platform, which uses Twitter as part of the Social Media mix. If you’re thinking that this is beginning to sound a bit like FaceBook, then you’re right.

No doubt Yahoo wants a slice of the revenue from the advertising cake which FaceBook currently dominates, and ultimately it would want to position itself at the top of the pile in terms of the go-to place for this kind of close integration between companies and clients.

The major challenge for Yahoo will be to be roll this out across the complete "socialosphere" to the extent that their services become sufficiently embedded that they eventually become the natural place for businesses to gravitate towards.

Yahoo is under no illusions that FaceBook and other big players present it with a challenge, but the partnership with Twitter is but one of many integrations Yahoo seeks to play its part in the communication revolution that is now in full swing.
 

If you’ve been hanging around the IT world for a while, you might know that at one point (and maybe they still do), Microsoft adopted the policy of "embrace and extend".

Translation: take what others are doing, and make it waaaay better.

Often this involves buying companies (and I’m not going to "Microsoft bash" in this post by the way) and working with their existing teams to rapidly move a research project forward to its commercial phase.

Market place dominance becomes possible in an increasing number of meshed niches once a company establishes its brand (think of how many products Amazon now sells compared to 10 years ago).

Is embrace and extend good news for the consumer?

It all depends (of course).

Ubiquity is probably the elixir of life that a company will chase, either to its ultimate ruin, or its universal success, depending on the wisdom and tenacity of its leaders. Becoming a household name on the lips and in the minds of billions of people is a rare accolade only achieved by a few hundred worldwide brands.

In a sense, positioning your company to be some kind of service or infrastructural  backbone almost guarantees your immortality.

I say almost because of course, the environment which sustains brand  dominance is ever-changing, and successful companies ignore the ever-shifting sands of their surroundings at their peril.

So what about Google? Has it drank from this elixir, never to die?

Nobody knows that – but the evidence looks in their favor. Today when Google announced Google Broadband the world almost forgot that just 24 hours ago, we were told about Google Buzz. So, that’s two major innovations within a day.

Talk about ‘stacking’.

I freely admit that the actual rollout of gigabit home broadband is ‘only’ for a pilot group of a maximum of 500,000 North Americans, but nevertheless, Google is clearly straining (perhaps "steam rolling" is more apt) its way into becoming as well known as Coca Cola.

Think about this: less than ten years ago, the small startup had a cool idea about a new way to do to search.

Now even my 3 year old daughter knows the verb "to Google". And every internet marketer around the globe who uses the ubiquitous search engines knows the phrase "Google slap".

And we have the Google phone. And Google Mail. And Google video (aka YouTube). And now a Google Twitter/Facebook mashup that looks like it just might scratch in more places than Google Wave ever will.

And global(?) Google broadband soon…

And Google has its eyes on many other prizes that might well be within its grasp.

Truly embrace and extend.

Truly good for the world?

It all depends, as always, on the character of the leadership of the company. Are they motivated to make the world a better place? It certainly seems so. Google is treading its way to lead ("drag"?) red-necked dollar-driven, hard-nosed multi-nationals into a new era of social capitalism in a way that no-one thought possible – like a Moon-landing-4-minute-mile-water-into-wine extravaganza of "unliklihoods" all rolled into one.

On the other hand, how it all pans out depends, as always, on how Google copes with such universal acceptance. Will it remain able to hold to its open-handed philosophy of "do no evil" (as I alluded to in yesterday’s musings)?

Let’s hope so. Now is a good time to foster the entrepreneurial and innovative mindset like nobody’s business.

Or everybody’s business, perhaps.

Dez.

If you’ve just started up in internet marketing, you might feel an adrenaline rush when you stumble across Twitter, or Facebook.

The scenario goes something like this:

“Hmmm, I could send loads of links to my offers using Twitter or Facebook. Hmmm, if I get 10,000 followers on Twitter in 90 days (or maybe 30) using an automated Twitter marketing software tool, then if only 0.1% of them buy my stuff, I’ll make loads of $$$$$”.

OK, I admit, I’ve had that thought.

But after a while, when you connect with others who are doing the same thing…the result is just lots of un-read Tweets (or worse, being banned from Twitter or Facebook).

And nobody is really listening. To you. Or to each other.

That’s not good for anyone.

The whole point about social media is that it’s meant to be social..conversational.

Does that mean that you shouldn’t send out scheduled comments at all?

I’m not saying that. I am saying that you should interact with people. Get to know them. Talk to them via Facebook chat, or Skype, or even meet them in person if they live in the same town/city as you.

Don’t just machine gun out endless affiliate links or opportunities.

No-one’s listening.

OK?

For more information about the correct way to use social media, Google:

“Perry Belcher Social Media”.

Perry is funny, forthright, one of the biggest laughs I’ve bumped into on the internet & he’s genuine, loud, humble and not afraid to admit his mistakes.

Perry understands how social media should be used. And how it shouldn’t be used.

This is pretty big news: you can read the full article in the Search Engine Journal here:

Here are my comments (which you can view here: http://bit.ly/BslrW ) on whether or not there’ll be a similar marriage between Google & Twitter:

Interesting! I wonder if Twitter would allow themselves to be bought out by Google…Twitter is now a massive player in the social media/marketing world in its own right, and so far they’ve resisted requests from the Big G.

Case in point: since Twitter took off in early 2009, I hardly do any active PPC marketing. I’m not saying they’re mutually exclusive..after all, you can get traffic incredibly quickly using PPC with Google (or Bing/Yahoo for that matter).

What I’m trying to say is that Twitter offers an incredibly powerful platform for connecting people together on many levels…something that the Google team might well be very envious of. After all, Google’s primary business model up to now has been to ‘just’ provide information…and that’s only the tip of the iceberg in any social or business context.

This probably explains why Google is launching it’s own social media platform (Google Wave) immanently…

Dez Futak.
http://twitter.com/dezfutak

Summary

Image representing Google as depicted in Crunc...
Image via CrunchBase
  • Google Wave is like your own customizable mashup of several different communications technologies.
  • Think of it as a combination of:
    • wiki+Facebook+IM+Twitter+Flickr+Live Blogging
  • It will MASSIVELY speed up the way we can network with other people, create collaborative work and share our lives
  • Google Wave is open source, which means its development will be super-quick and new twists & turns to what it is & becomes will be up to all of us.
  • Set to be released sometime in Summer 2009.
  • If you’re involved in any kind of web presence for your business or social networking, and you don’t get involved, you’ll kick yourself.
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