Each and Recently

The old marketing model emphasized “reach and frequency.”

Try to expose your message to as many as possible, as often as possible. A certain percentage will respond.

It’s a numbers game. And, it de-personalizes your audience. They’re a target. A demographic. Occupiers of a business funnel.

Been there. Done that.

Instead, let’s think in terms of “each and recently.” There is a growing pool of people who rely on you for information, connections, and services. They become customers, friends, collaborators, and, in a wonderful way, the most effective sales force you could possibly have.

Touch each of them. Make sure, as their names come to mind, that you’ve somehow touched them recently. And don’t worry a whole lot about the reach and frequency numbers game.

They’ll do that for you.

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The World’s First Management Consultant

Moses had a problem.

He had just led hundreds of thousands of the descendants of Israel out of Egypt, and was on a journey to a new land, a homeland promised generations ago to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob (Israel).

And they were pecking him to death.

Moses was the leader. And everyone came to him with their problems, their disputes, their needs. Everyone. That sounds like a prescription for maximum-strength Prozac.

Fortunately, a man named Jethro came along (would you listen to a consultant named Jethro?). Jethro was Moses’ father-in-law, but more than that, he was a wise and sensible fellow. A giver of good advice. A leadership and management consultant.

You can read about the entire encounter here in Exodus 18, and I’d urge you to do so for background (it’s fascinating). But in short, Jethro noticed that Moses was absolutely wearing himself down to shreds by sitting in judgment over the entire nation, dispensing instruction and settling difficulties. Morning, noon, and night – “Moses, what about Aaron’s son’s hair length?” “Moses, he took one of my sheep!” “Moses, what should be the dowry for a one-eyed wife?” And perhaps, “How do I change the settings on my Facebook page, to block those pesky Egyptians?”

No wonder Jethro said, as he watched this exhausting parade, “What you are doing is not good. You and these people who come to you will only wear yourselves out. The work is too heavy for you, you cannot handle it alone.”

So, you’ll see as you read the passage, that Jethro gave Moses very wise advice about creating an inner circle of trusted people, delegating responsibility, and focusing on the big stuff. He saved Moses’ bac…well, lamb chops, and had a significant impact on the life of the nation for many years to come.

Jethro also provided, for us, three tremendous lessons in management.

    1. Don’t delude yourself into thinking that you can do it all alone (v. 18). You may be competent, but you’re not omnipresent, all-wise, and all-powerful. God alone has those attributes – and in human communities, since no one person can do it all, you are dependent on collaboration, outsourcing, and great talent selection.
    2. If you’re meant to lead, don’t get lost in the weeds (v. 19). Stick with the highest tasks and responsibilities. That’s where you’re a lot more indispensable.
    3. Choose the best. Look for people of character (v. 21). Trustworthy folks who can be counted on in the “inner circle.”

Many things can only be accomplished via larger communal efforts, in business and in every other endeavor. But only by structuring things so that the right people are on the bus, and in the right seats on the bus, can it all work well.

Jethro’s advice was free to Moses, and is free to you. It’s also just as timely as it was thousands of years ago. What can you learn from the world’s first management consultant?

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Pick a Steve

I’ve been at this digital social networking thing for 3 1/2 years or so now, and it’s been a great (and educational) journey!

But there is one question that keeps pecking away at my forehead, and maybe you can help me with it. In fact, ONLY you can help me with it, because it has to do with you.

Which Steve Woodruff do you want to follow?

Let me explain. While I don’t consider myself to be schizophrenic (yet – but there are still kids in the nest here!), I do possess a few different “personas” on-line. There’s the pharma guy (with a dedicated pharma blog, Impactiviti); there’s the general marketing/branding/social media fellow (Stickyfigure blog), and then there’s the more personal stuff on Steve’s Leaves. Every one of those blogs is its own info-stream.

All of these personas and infostreams meet on Twitter – plus photos, banter, occasional spoofs, and whatever else comes to mind. Twitter is the 360-degree view, and that’s where I have the nagging question.

Do you prefer to subscribe to a person on Twitter (holistically), or a topical info-stream? Are you looking for information (primarily), developing personal/professionals connections (primarily) – or is it a solid mix of the two?

In my case, a number of my followers are from the pharma world – what is your reaction when I start tweeting on general brands or social media ROI? Or if you originally linked up with me due to an interest in branding, is the string of tweets when I’m at a pharma conference useful or just noisy? I’m sure I’m not the only “social networker” wondering about this – and I want to make sure that I’m providing value that YOU want, in a way that works best.

One idea: would there be value in setting up different Twitter accounts that would emphasize different facets/info-streams (one for pharma, one for photos, etc.) or do you just prefer to subscribe to @swoodruff and take the punishment of the full spectrum? I can see benefits and drawbacks to either approach. Is subscribing to a choice of info-streams for/from the same person a good idea or just a pain? What say you?

(full disclosure – I enjoy seeing people 360-degrees on Twitter. I can find info in a thousand places – I like the mixture of info, links, personality, creative ideas, pix, banter, shared parental angst, etc. But that’s me. I want your thoughts!)

See also: The Social Media Isolation Chamber

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Connected Dots in My Opportunity Network

Today, I’m in Orange County, California, at a small, focused workshop on the use of social media in business.

NetworkThere’s a story behind this, which has everything to do with encouraging you to create your own opportunity network.

Here’s the tale…

At some point in the distant past (maybe 1.5-2 years ago? don’t remember exactly), I came across Kirsten Wright in the blogosphere. I liked how she was writing, and I sensed something that I try to stay attuned to – young, budding entrepreneurs who use social networking and “get it.”

We commented on each others’ blogs and tweeted regularly, and in fact, I had Kirsten design a custom Twitter background for me as she was contemplating starting her own adventure as a freelance designer. But we were a continent apart and, unlike many with whom I’ve connected on these networks, our paths never crossed in real life, even as we continued to share professional perspectives sprinkled with small talk.

In the meantime, a group of us in North Jersey began to meet semi-regularly for lunch, and on one occasion Scott Bradley, a young marketing entrepreneur recently out of Boston College, joined us. Unfortunately (for us), he soon moved back to the Orange County area; since I knew Kirsten was there, I made sure they got connected.

Fast forward some months: Kirsten and Scott get to know one another, and decide to plan and put on a local workshop on using social media for business. I thought it would be so cool to find some excuse to be there, but opportunities to get to California for business had been quite scarce for a while. However, I got a call from someone who’d connected with me on Twitter because of a mutual involvement in pharma; she’d had a panelist for a conference drop out, and would I be interested in helping present at the Public Relations Society of America conference in San Diego in November??

San Diego – yeah, anytime. I’m in. Then I find out the Kirsten and Scott had to put off their workshop in Orange County (only 1.5 hours from San Diego) and re-schedule it for….the day after the PRSA conference ended. How perfect is that?!

And now, I’m learning some stuff from them, about WordPress and Facebook and SEO. I may actually need some of their consulting services in the future. Meanwhile, they continue to build their opportunity network(s) here as their entrepreneurial ventures grow.

And what will the future hold? I can’t look into a crystal ball and predict specifics, but I’m entirely confident that new opportunities for everyone in this room will continue to open up.

Is this a great time to be alive or what?

(Image credit)

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David Armano Wins Nobel Prize for “Really Cool Drawings”

(why not celebrate our third birthday with a fresh social media spoof?)

Today, it was announced that globally-recognized artist and hat-wearing aficionado David Armano has been awarded a Nobel Prize for his work in creating “some of the coolest graphics on the planet.”

Full CircleAccording to Hans Blimsted, Swedish Nobel judge of Peace and Social Media Stuff, Armano’s work, while somewhat confusing to the average mind, is full of soft, pastel-y colors and will certainly, over time, contribute to world peace and to the entire re-architecting of business processes across the world.

“Take his use of circles within circles,” said Blimsted, in announcing the award to a hushed audience of twelve Swedish professional curlers, joined in a live stream by countless bloggers and Twitterati around the globe. “Just gazing at those round shapes reminds us that the world is one, we all are one, and by moving toward a social business design in new collaboratories, we can calibrate a new ecosystem of holistic frameworks. Umm…folks, I just read the notes – you make sense of it.

“Plus, he does dots and gently curved arrows. That means peace in any language. Well, most. Actually – what do all those little arrows mean anyway?”

dachis_ecoShocked bloggers reacted with a mix of exuberant exultation and petty jealousy. “I couldn’t be happier for David!” declared Cathleen Rittereiser, just before unlocking the “local” badge on Foursquare. “Of all the circular-thinkers I follow, David has always been the most well-rounded! And if the President can get one for sounding cool, David should get one for looking cool.” On the other hand, Dear Leader of PlaidNation Darry Ohrt sniffed, “The guy doesn’t know colors at all. Pastels-pshaw! When has he ever done anything in plaid? Amateur!”

Rumors that Barack Obama had actually declined his Nobel Prize in favor of Armano were quashed when the President strode out of the White House wearing a cowboy hat and proclaiming that he was at least as cool as Chicago’s Austin’s favorite designer. “Armano didn’t deliver the Olympics for us, but with his circles and my teleprompter, we’re going to run rings around those pesky petty tyrants around the world. Now that’s some hope and change, baby!”

Mr Armano could not be reached for 140 characters of comment, as he was encased in his studio creating the next-generation 550-circle graphic of intergalactic business interoperability.

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Prior StickyFigure spoofs

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Progressive Publishing

This idea’s been brewing for about 5 years, ever since I spilled out some proto-ideas on a train ride with a pharma training professional (who has urged me to “follow the light” on this one – thanks, Susan!)

We all see how the new on-line/social networking tools have radically changed publishing. Here’s where I think it COULD lead:

Context: The bits and pieces

We used to see published materials as somewhat static: a daily newspaper, a monthly magazine, a completed book. There were authors, there were bloggers, there were journalists, there were speakers (with some overlap among them). Media came to us in various formats and from various scattered sources. Often these publications had with a short shelf-life (expired relevance) or a long shelf-life with little ability to update (books with second or third editions).

Current: Multi-channel and Evolved communications

Now, with blogging (especially), we see that people can publish immediately, iteratively, collaboratively, and build an audience over time. Some authors are launching blogs in conjunction with books, or, increasingly, using their blog to build a platform and audience which makes publication of a traditional book more successful. We’re living in a transitional period where “fixed” published media is becoming “mixed” published media, and the mix is getting richer (printed words, blogs, micro-blogs, pictures, videos, etc.) Chris Brogan‘s blog, speaking engagements, and upcoming “Trust Agents” book is a prime example of this approach, as is Greg Verdino‘s upcoming book.

Ahead: Progressive Publishing and Personal Subscriptions?

SubYouWhere is this heading? Here’s what I think. We’ll no longer think of blogs and books and YouTube channels as distinct and discrete entities. Let’s say you have been writing on a specific topic on a blog for years and there is traction there. Your blog pre-builds your audience, which is enhanced by a YouTube channel with brief videos, Twitter blurbs, etc. Then you decide to write a book, but here’s the deal: for the ($22.95) price your customers not only get a copy of hard-back book, they have access to a private network where you progressively share new, updated, and enhanced content – the publication is now a progressive process. Yes, there is free stuff out there to continue to hook new customers, but people are no longer buying a fixed entity (this edition of this book) – they’re buying progressive thought over time. Including, perhaps, the thoughts of others in the community built around the publication.

Information is moving too rapidly to remain in fixed formats. That’s why I think progressive publishing is inevitable.

What does evolve into further? Personal Subscriptions. Let’s say I think Chris Brogan (or Ann Handley, or Valeria Maltoni, or David Meerman Scott, or…) is worthy of being “followed” as one of my inner circle of advisors. I now pay to subscribe to that person (not just buy their product), and with enough subscriptions, that person is now free to crank out, progressively, a ton of great content and advice in multiple formats to their own growing community. Keep up the good work, the subscriptions continue and grow. Falter, and people vote with their dollars annually. The music industry may very well head in this direction as well.

None of these concepts is particularly new or earth-shattering – a lot of this is happening in various ways already. It just seems to me that it’s moving inexorably toward a different publication model, one that is person-centric rather than product-centric, one that is progressive rather than fixed or staccato.

Your thoughts? Would you pay to “subscribe” to key thought leaders? What new models of publishing do you see developing?

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Taking Two Steps Back

2stepssmMany times over the years, I’ve taken one step back to look things over, re-evaluate, re-think, re-direct.

We all do that regularly, usually focusing on one or two things. Because we get in ruts, or find that something that was once working no longer seems to be effective. Maybe a tall or grande tweak is needed.

Of late, I’ve had a growing sense that it was time to take 2 steps back. Some venti-sized re-evaluation of lots of things.

The curse of being analytical and natively introspective. Oh, well…

I’ve been on my own as an entrepreneur for three years now, building a consulting business and getting increasingly immersed in social networking. I see these on-line approaches as a primary way to grow business opportunities in the future, for me, my clients, and others in my network.

But now it’s time to step back from it all and look at the whole landscape. How are the pieces fitting together? What is providing value on the blogs and on Twitter – what can be improved or re-directed? What is creating business, and what isn’t? What is helping me to grow better as a person – or, what is not?

eyechartBy and large, I think I’m on the right track, but sometimes, in the day-to-day rut, a clear vision gets blurred. Today, I have a long-overdue eye doctor appointment, a vision checkup. But this month will, hopefully, be a much larger “checkup” to try to sharpen the focus on more than just my physical sight!

Can you help? Actually, yes. One of the most valuable things I’ve ever done is connect up with so many of you, both on-line and (in many cases now) off-line. Some of you probably have a pretty darned good idea of where I’m adding value, and where perhaps I can be more effective. Feel free to give me your thoughts in the comments, or if you prefer, via e-mail (stevew at stickyfigure dot com). I’ve been around the block enough to know that I definitely don’t have all the answers, and that there is great wisdom in a broader community.

Yes, I’m still writing/working/networking during this process. But behind the scenes, I’m trying to get a better read on the eye chart. Any help you can provide is most appreciated!

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