Getting Attention vs. Getting Respect

March 25, 2009

respectMake an impression.  That is the goal.  Whether you are an entrepreneur, a small business owner, a company, or just a person at an event or party.  But how?

Be different. I have referenced Seth Godin a number of times when I talk about the need to stand out and be different.  But it is very true, and he says it the best (and most often).  No one will ever notice you if you are the same as everyone else.

But here is the catch, there is a difference between getting respect and just getting attention.

Getting attention can help you get in the door. It can make potential clients and customers aware of your existence.  It can start a conversation.  But it doesn’t necessarily lead to success.

The guy who trips over the carpet in the middle of a crowded party might get my attention.  The company that offers a free car to the winner of a contest might get my attention.  But neither of those means anything in the long run.

Getting respect, in a business sense, means having a brand that makes people take notice. In a personal sense, it means that people genuinely understand you, and appreciate your point of view.

Getting respect leads to success.  It means, not only did you get their attention, but you did it in a creative and fashionable way, and you were able to keep their attention after the initial wave of awareness died down.

Getting respect means long term clients, it means brand loyalty, it means word of mouth marketing and referrals, and it means a corporate culture that stands for something.

Next time you have something to say, or you’re in a position to start a conversation, go for respect.  Start with something unique, something creative, and something that stands out.  But be sure to follow up with something real, something of substance, something powerful and meaningful.  The business, or person, that does this, will pave the way for lasting success.

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Phish: Innovation in Music

March 11, 2009
I was in that crowd

I was in that crowd

The band Phish has returned to the music scene this past weekend.  After nearly five years off they have reunited (not sure if it’s a good thing or a bad thing that I was at their last show before the break), and they have made quite a splash around the web.

To someone like me, who likes the band and also pays attention to music blogs and the social web in general, it appears that the band is getting a lot of hype.  But the truth is, probably 90% of people in the country haven’t heard a word about Phish’s comeback, if they have ever even heard of Phish in the first place.  That’s because the band, in no way, has never really been considered a commercial success.

But there is a reason for that.  You might say, it’s on purpose.  The band has always been one that combines a wide variety of musical styles, carries out extended jams in the middle of and in between songs, and varies the songs they play, the order they play them, and the way that they play them from night to night.  They produce music that is a constant stream of innovation.  And that is not for everybody.

The thing is, unlike most bands today, they are not trying to make music for everybody.  If you asked them, they would probably tell you that they are not trying to make music for anybody…other than themselves that is.  And so they attract people like them, people with similar musical tastes.  And then, because they stay true to themselves and the style, they create a cult-like following among their fans.

Phish, along with other bands like them, could claim that they have some of the most loyal fans in the music industry.  They get consistent crowds of over 50,000 people traveling all over the country to see them.  People beg, borrow, and work for tickets to every single show possible.

So, why bother selling to the masses? If you are Phish, and you can continue to do what you love, make money off of it, and interact with “customers” who truly love and respect what you do, why bother doing anything differently?

Seth Godin will tell you Phish has created a Tribe.  And he is right.  Companies everywhere can look to Phish and copy their business model.  Here is a band that can sell out 3 nights of concerts in under 3 minutes, in the middle of a recession, after being away for 5 years, and when most people have never even heard of them.  Sounds like a pretty good model to follow to me.

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The 3 “S” Formula to Innovative Viral Marketing

November 10, 2008

Remember the days when just having a website was enough to make a name for yourself on the web. The companies that put information online were ahead of the game. No interaction, just text and images, just information and a phone number to call, and you win.

Bad news, those days are long gone. Too many companies don’t get that. They don’t understand what they are doing wrong. “We have a website, it works fine, why isn’t anybody coming to it?”

Nowadays, the market is so crowded when you get online, that you have to put in some real effort to get the attention that you are looking for. Every website is designed for a different reason, but one thing they all have in common is that they are hungry for traffic. How do you get that traffic?

The 3 S’s of viral marketing that I have come up with are very basic ideas that companies and talented individuals have been using to help develop their online brands. You have to Stand Out, Spread the Word, and Serve the Users.

  • Stand Out – These days, different is good. You have to be unique to get noticed. Seth Godin will tell you that if you aim to do everything, you’ll be nothing. Focus on the things you can do best, and do them to the n’th degree. Stick to one message, stick to one service, and make sure people see that.
  • Spread the Word – Viral marketing is all about the spreading of a message, or an idea. If you stand out, people will talk about you. Your job is to make the flow of the conversation easy. Blogs, forums, discussions, wiki’s…these are all ways that people will be talking about you. Interact with them, give users and “journalists” a voice. SEO and search marketing will always help. If you have something unique to say, people will hear it.
  • Serve your Users – You have to give the people what they want. Learn and understand why exactly they are coming to your site. If they come for the latest news in the tech world, give them more of that. Make it fun for them, and don’t waste their time with other things that you think are cool. Listen to them, help them, serve them 100% of the time. They will love you for that.

Kevin Pruett over at will agree that for websites to be “sticky” they have to be well done, serve a simple purpose, and stand out. Use the 3 S’s as a guide to start to reform your online habits. Traffic is not going to find you, go out and make things happen. In the online world, if you are sitting still, you are way behind.

From Crisis comes Opportunity

November 3, 2008

Productivity comes from innovation. Innovation comes from investment and change.

Those were the words from Seth Godin yesterday in his blog about the need for innovation right now to lead us out of the current recession. And it is a great point, one that gets lost in the noise.

Tomorrow is election day, and this election comes at a time when the country needs a great change. And even though the media will tell you over and over again how bad things are, we will work through them. Out of every crisis comes opportunity and development. We will put in place new systems to control the problems for the future, but we will also develop new ideas and new strategies that take us to the next level.

Innovation comes from an investment in something new. To invest in something new, a company may need to reevaluate what is important to their future growth. That may mean shifting investments from one area to the other. This is a strong, healthy process for our economy on the whole. A crisis like this forces companies, large and small, to turn the looking glass on themselves. For the first time in a long time they will have to make the tough decisions about what stays and what goes.

Economic booms are great, but they don’t encourage change. Who is going to lead us to the next boom?