The Truth About “Going Viral”

Real experts in online marketing rarely use the phrase “going viral,” because it has no agreed-upon definition. Instead, they talk about “Discovery Content” and “Community Content.”

To understand Discovery Content, just look at anything posted by BuzzFeed or any of the other organizations whose principal income is generated by the companies who sponsor their clickbait.1

But not all Discovery Content is shallow and vacuous.

Stories That Sell Products and Services

The door to immediate action is easily kicked open by the steel-toed boot of urgency.

If you want people to take immediate action, you’re going to need a credible shortage.
A shortage of product. “Only 11 remain!”
A shortage of time. “Sale ends Saturday at 6PM!”
A shortage of capacity. “Only 128 seats are available!”
Some kind of shortage.

Radio versus Pay-Per-Click

You hear a lot of talk these days about how no one listens to the radio anymore.

Interestingly, the people who make these claims offer no evidence beyond the fact that commercial free music can be obtained through online streaming. This reminds me of that famous malaprop by Yogi Berra, “No one goes there anymore. It’s too crowded.”

A List of Possibly Important Thoughts

I’m in a strange mood. I hope you’ll forgive me.

I’ve been contemplating things unsaid. Deeds undone. Symphonies unfinished.

The reality of mortality has shown up as a hole in the light, a silhouette on the horizon. And its whispering voice has led me to compile a list of unfiltered thoughts that seem to me, remarkable. Thoughts that should not be lost.

Michael Jordan and You

Michael Jordan wasn’t a perfectionist; he was an improvisationist. That’s why he was hard to stop.

A perfectionist knows exactly what he’s going to do. He plans his work and works his plan. The only problem is that because he knows, the defender knows, too.

It’s easy to anticipate what a perfectionist is going to do. He’s predictable.

But no one knew what Michael was going to do, because he didn’t know himself.

Quit Branding. Start Bonding.

Ask a businessperson or a marketing professional, “What is branding?”

Go ahead. Go do it. I’ll wait…

Did they mention the importance of a having a logo? Did they talk about the consistent use of a chosen group of “brand” colors and a particular font and layout and look and feel? Have you done what they told you? Congratulations! You now have a visual style guide.

And so does every other business on earth.

A Girl, Up in the Air, In Africa

People read books for the strangest of reasons.

I recently read a book about a female aviator in Africa in the 1930s.

I have no interest in aviation. I have no interest in Africa.

But it was a great book.

I began reading it after I stumbled onto something Ernest Hemingway wrote in a 1942 letter to his friend, Maxwell Perkins.

Business Personality Disorder

Business Personality Disorder (BPD) is characterized by at least two distinct identities or dissociated personality states that show up in a company’s behavior.

BPD emerges when unrelated teams work independently in the areas of (1.) Advertising (2.) Web Presence (3.) Sales Training.

If a person encounters your ads, then visits your website, then comes to your place of business, will they feel they have encountered a single personality three times, or three personalities once?

Swordfish Thoughts

Four words have echoed in my head for several days.
“Not everyone. Not always.”

Why do such thoughts leap
sparkling like swordfish
from the dark waters
of the mind?

I can’t be sure, but I suspect my heart is responding to all those authoritative voices making silly statements about “the customer” with misguided certainty. They whisper to us from websites, blogs and business books.

Script for Star Deck Tour

Hi, everyone! My name is _____________________.
Because Wizard Academy appreciates your generous donation to help keep Chapel Dulcinea open, free and beautiful, I’m going to take you on a 4-minute walk to Wizard’s Tower, where we’ll enter the underground art gallery, then go straight up to the Star Deck where I’ll tell you a 2-minute story, then you’ll have 15 more minutes to take photos and enjoy the view from nearly 1,000 feet above downtown Austin. Follow me, please.

Radio’s Happy, 5-second Future

I’m experimenting with radio in a way that, for me, is new and different.

Many of those who understand what I’m doing won’t agree with the fundamental premise of my experiment. But that’s not what worries me.

I’m concerned about those who will agree and then attempt it – and fail. I believe they’ll fail because they won’t do it right.

The Smeller’s the Feller

If you don’t understand the title of today’s memo, just ask a 12 year-old boy. (If you didn’t grow up in the South, your 12 year-olds may be more familiar with “He who smelt it, dealt it.”)

With a title like “The Smeller’s the Feller,” does it surprise you that today’s memo is about a tried-and-true management tool?

The Familiar Face of Failure

Some lessons we never learn.

For me, the familiar face of failure hangs like a Royal Portrait above the grand staircase of my social behavior.

Lest my meaning be obscured by that flowery metaphor, I am simply stating for the record – before God, the world and you – that my greatest recurring mistake is that I often disappoint my friends.