Category Archives: Instant Global Impact

Infoproduct Taxonomy

After you’ve targeted a specific niche (or lifestyle) and looked at why they go online and why we buy, and fashioned your content into net peppered with keywords and concepts in multiple media formats to bring them to our subscribe button to get them on our list. and plugged them into the almighty product funnel – what the hell do you sell them?

After illustrating the product funnel several weeks ago I wanted to find a cogent way to describe infoproducts. I used to think infoproducts were just cranking out crappy MP3 files and selling them as downloads. Or making a godawful ebook that only worked as a Windows executable. I gradually started to understand more why infoproducts are a fantastic strategy for running an blog-based internet business. And here’s a taxonomy that maps out four types of infoproduct:

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Constant, Consistent Cultivation

And we’re back! Last year I’d started a series of essays outlining a framework for understanding internet marketing called Instant Global Impact. The process is laid out along the three ‘clicks’ of the sales process: (here’s the original essay)

This week I want to talk about being a tease:

After you’ve targeted a specific niche (or lifestyle) and looked at why they go online and why we buy, and fashioned your content into net peppered with keywords and concepts in multiple media formats to bring them to one improtant in we finally get them to that all important button:

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The Keyword Cloud (or How to Read Minds)

Last week we talked about how your content is like a net. You cast it out into the internet muck and search engines help you nab the right meaty prospects. This week I want to introduce a concept I call the keyword cloud and how to use it to come up with post titles, product names and other bits of netting that can reel in prospects and customers. Veterans of my Keywords Essentials class will experience some deja vu. Veterans of my Keywords Essentials class will experience some deja vu.

Take a five second consideration of all of the internet searches you have done in the last week. If you are a Google user go to http://www.google.com/history/ so see a complete history of all of your searches (and to seriously freak yourself out). Click on Trends and you’ll see other stats. I’ve searched for 15,553 things in the past year:

Each one of these searches says a little bit about me. A little bit about who I am, what I’m looking for, what I might purchase, what worries me, what excites me, what captivates me… You can read my mind to find out exactly what I’m thinking about at any given time. Search histories have even been used in courts for murder trials (i.e. ‘undetectable poinsons’, or ‘neck snap break’).

Now what if we could direct this process to our future customers?

Nobody Knows Who You Are

To best understand this approach to keywords and search engine strategy, it is important to keep in mind that most people have no idea who you are. They may have problems that you can solve or a burning need for your services, but they have no idea that you are an expert in such things. So when faced with that big search box what do they type in?

People Search for What They Know Already

We muddle through this life, don’t we? Often we don’t know exactly how to articulate what we are looking for so we’ll get as close to what we want as possible using language and concepts we already know.

Since your prospects don’t know who you are, they are doing the same thing. They don’t know that you are an expert in dog grooming but they are looking for the best dog shampoo. They don’t know that you are a relationships expert but they are looking for how to sharing child custody with a jerk (shout out to Heidi!). They search using words and terms and concepts that they already know.

What Orbits Your Niche?

Out of all of the possible things I could type into a search engine to find you – assuming I don’t know your name or business – which ones would be orbiting you and your niche? I might type in a book title or a famous celebrity that has talked about the issues I’m facing – issues that you can help solve. I search for what I already know that is close to what I’m looking for, what I’m trying to solve or what I’m trying to do. I call this the keyword cloud:

Sunburst diagram with the word topic in the middle, radiating outward: mistakes, recipes, reviews, warnings, processes, skeptics, leaders, pioneers, celebrities, associations, events, summaries, journalists, concepts, guides, troubleshooting, methodologies, products, books, tv/movies, magazines, artists, outcasts and locations.

At the center is your topic or niche or focus, around it are all the peripheral things orbiting your topic – the books, people, places, events, etc. that are connected to the topic – and to you.

Here’s some sample tactics:

  1. Blog the top books in your niche. Write reviews. Interview the author. Interview experts. Interview skeptics. Create a study guide.
  2. Blog the top associations in your niche. Write up their upcoming events. Their most visible experts (or outcasts). Blog from the events. Post pictures of the events. Write up the events you’ll be attending – interview the presenters after, before or during the event. Write up a guide to the city where the conference is held. Write about the challenge the association or industry is facing.

The elements in the keyword cloud above are just a small list of the taxonomy you can use.

Go to your local bookstore and go to the section that matches your niche. Stare at the bookcase and notice what words, ideas and authors pop out at you. Grab a magazine your niche subscribes to – what words pop out on that?

Content is a Net

So we’ve talked about niches, lifestyles, why we buy, why we go online and the three buttons. But what motivates us to actually go online in pursuit of more control over our lives?

The Four Types of Internet Marketing

Last week we talked about Why We Go Online which revolved around Entertainment (changing your emotional state), Utility (how-to’s, news and reviews) and Community (sharing). This is all part of all the ‘stuff’ that happens before someone clicks the Search button or goes looking for solutions to their urgent problems or celebrations of their deepest passions. After they view search results, a customer comes into your orbit and you convince them to become a part of your prospect pool.

There are dozens of formats and channels available to you as an internet marketer. The point of all of these channels is to direct someone into your subscription list – to get them to join your list so you can begin to cultivate those contacts into becoming customers.

Just like search engines. Your marketing and content is like a giant net you hold in your teeth and you throw it out into the muck hoping to grab the right critters.

But first we have to talk about shrimping.

Meaty Treats in the Nasty Muck

When I was a kid our yearly vacation was a week at Pawley’s Island, South Carolina a slightly shabby island of private homes. They only rented to families and we would join a couple other families for a week of reading, eating, sand and sun. One of the dads worked at the Ford plant in Louisville and would snag some truck tire innertubes for us to sit in as we bobbed along in the ocean (we lashed them all together with rope). My dad would also go shrimping with a big cast net. It was a big circular plastic net with weights on the outside ring and a rope in the middle. You fling the net out into the marsh and it opens up into a disc shape. Then the weights drag it down into the water and mud to get the shrimp (you had to grip part of it with your teeth and hope you timed the throw correctly and not lose an incisor). Then, as you pull the net out it closes around your catch, bringing a dozen or so shrimp for dinner.

The tastiest shrimp can be found in the nastiest muck.

As an internet marketer, your content is your net. The murky water and muck is the internet with all the people in the world searching for whatever is motivating them to go online. Tossing your net is your attempt to grab the right shrimp – the right meaty nuggets that might become your prospects.

Your blog posts, articles, postcards, radio interviews, brochures – all of this content is optimized to build your list of prospects.

For now, take the whole search engine optimization piece out of the puzzle. I’m focusing on the tactics we use to get people in front of (and hopefully clicking) your Subscribe button.

Your tactics can be graphed along two axes:

  1. Our horizontal (x) axis is mode: Is this content strategy online or offline?
  2. Our vertical (y) axis is cost: How much does this content cost to deploy? Is it free or is there a fee involved?

Here’s our matrix (mixing it up – no Venn this week):

Before you continue reading just take 10 seconds to come up with at least one content strategy you already use in each of these four areas:

  1. What is one free, online tactic you use in your internet marketing?
  2. What is one free, offline tactic you use in your internet marketing?
  3. What is one paid, online tactic you use in your internet marketing?
  4. What is one paid, offline tactic you use in your internet marketing?

Now let’s take in some detail:

Free, Online Marketing Tactics

Our first quadrant (quadrant #1 for you Covey freaks) is free, online marketing tactics.

This is probably where you’ll spend the most time experimenting. Online tactics are usually easier to get started, quicker to measure and quicker to discontinue. Here’s several of them:

  • Email signature
  • Discussion forum signature
  • Blog posts
  • Email newsletter
  • RSS feed
  • Podcast
  • Blog directories
  • Podcast directories
  • RSS directories
  • Article directories
  • Social bookmarking sites
  • Social networking sites
  • Newsletter ad exchange
  • Comments on other blogs
  • Viral video
  • Local-focused sites and directories
  • Search-engine friendly HTML
  • Webcast seminars
  • Instant messaging and Skype profiles
  • Viral PDFs
  • Contest sponsorship
  • Blog carnivals
  • Organic search traffic
  • Link exchange
  • Group blogging project
  • Guest posting on other blogs
  • Joint-venture referrals

Free, Offline Marketing Tactics

Sometimes you’ll actually leave the house and use offline tactics – but there’s still some free ones:

  • Speaking engagements
  • Newspaper article
  • Column in newspaper or magazine
  • Networking events
  • TV appearance
  • Radio appearance
  • Organizing or volunteering at events
  • Teleseminars

Paid, Online Marketing Tactics

Third, we have free, offline marketing tactics.

Just like the free online tactics, the paid ones allow you to deploy and measure quickly and usually test out in small batches with less cost outlay:

  • Pay-per-click (AdWords)
  • Social network ads (Facebook ads)
  • Ads on other blogs
  • Ads on other sites
  • Placement in another’s ezine
  • Affiliate/referral program
  • Paid placement on a site
  • Paid link exchange
  • Blog sponsorship
  • Press release
  • Podcast sponsorship
  • RSS advertising

Paid, Offline Marketing Tactics

Finally, we have fee-based, paid offline marketing tactics.

I feel these are the more ‘thoughtful’ tactics to use when you’ve road-tested the other tactics and have the resources to go all out.

  • Postcards
  • Radio ad
  • Television ad
  • Infommercial
  • Print newsletter
  • Magazine ad
  • Newspaper ad
  • Pay-to-play speaking engagement
  • Sales staff
  • Business cards
  • Professional associations
  • Events and seminars
  • Telemarketing

I’m not sure if I’m explaining this very well – it is a bit half-baked right now so I need your help articulating it.

What I’m trying to express is that all the content you put out in the world – whether it is offline or online, in person or in print or on the radio – all of this content ideally is focused on bringing more prospects into your orbit. The right prospects. Not a shotgun of crap traffic. All of these prospects are being targeted to your Subscribe button. After that is the courtship where we begin to cultivate and acclimate them to our expertise, products and services so when they have a problem we can solve, they come to us first to solve it – that’s the Buy button.

Another way to think of this is an ever-flowing stream of searches and requests and queries like a cool mountain creek. Can you divert the right amount of flow your way and channel it correctly?

What am I missing? Tell me right now:

Why We Go Online

So we’ve talked about niches, lifestyles, why we buy, and the three buttons. But what motivates us to actually go online in pursuit of more control over our lives?

Why We Go Online

Back when I unveiled my megalomaniac vision to create a framework for internet marketing called Instant Global Impact, I outlined the model as the customer’s path along three ‘clicks’ or buttons.

Last week we started with what happens before someone clicks Search by looking at Why We Buy things. Now let’s see why they we go online.

Release the Kraken Venn!

A three-part Venn diagram with overlapping circles labeled Entertainment, Utility and Community.

Entertainment aka ‘Boobies and Farts’

This one is easy. How much of our web surfing is about entertainment? Whether it is a fake sports drink commercial or the Gwen Verdon/Fosse hip hop remix of a Fosse routine on Ed Sullivan (later remixed to Beyone’s new song which was dance-synced and then remixed again) or watching Ron and I react to the notorious Two Girls One Cup, so much of our daily info-intake is about entertainment.

Detail of the diagram labeled Entertainment with bullets Diversions, Distractions, Confirmation, Aggravation.

I’m including a broad category of things in ‘entertainment’:

  • Diversions – Anything that makes you forget the pain of your sad little life.
  • Distractions – Anything that provides an easy-reach to not deal with what is in front of you.
  • Confirmation – Anything that reminds you are a beautiful and unique snowflake.
  • Aggravation – Reading news or views that make you mad or get you jacked up (find this a great pick-me-up in the afternoons). Some of us are driven by dis-satisfaction.

What is key here is the urge to change or reinforce your emotional state. To feel something different, to feel something, anything. Conversely – it can be the exact opposite: entertainment to numb us or distract us from what is going on around us. Pretty much the entire programming of the E! Channel.

Utility aka ‘What’s that rash?’

Detail of the Venn diagram labeled Utility with bullets How-To, Recipes, Reviews, Information.

Another aspect to our daily online usage is utility. “The answer may surprise you!” “Are you at risk?” “Are your children safe?” Fearmongering is an old tradition in marketing (and politics). A lot of our surfing can be connected to online research. How to do something, recipes for success, reviews of what works or what to buy (or what not to) and other information. Our burning need to diagnose that burning sensation. Or how to tame the world around us. Or the people around us. Looks for headlines like ‘7 Steps to…’ or ’10 common mistakes…’ The vein of ‘control’ runs through this.

Community aka ‘Me too!’

I used to stop right above with just Entertainment and Utility. But I’ve gradually added Community to the mix.

Detail of Venn diagram labeled Community with bullets Sharing, Discussions, Informed and Caring.

If there is one thing the internet teaches us, it is:

There’s always a bigger freak than you.

Whether it is news anchors or shoes or strobe light photography, there is always someone out there who is just a bit more nuts about something than you are. This is the lesson of fetish. Communities spring up around practices and obsessions: furries and fan fic, etc.

Community can have a very loose definition. Sure it includes straightforward forums where you have to login and there’s rules and a whole set of norms to learn but it is also as loose as blog comments or Facebook friending – and you gradually start to see the same people orbit the same topics or sites.

Communities re-affirm each individual and re-affirm the group identity as well. ‘I thought I was the only one!’ Think of sports fans or Harry Potter fans or – good God – the pro-ana crazies. To share and celebrate is a huge human impulse and the internet allows us to do this with utmost speed and access.

I tried to explain this to one of my cousins during Thanksgiving when she was talking about Facebook and all the stuff people use to trick out their profiles. I said ‘You like scrapbooking right?’ She answered, ‘Oh I love scrapbooking!’ And I said, ‘It is the same thing, just digital!’

What am I missing? How do you cultivate these three ideas in your blogging and online business? Tell me right now:

Common Passions, Urgent Problems

Yin-yang style diagram labeled Niche with 2 yin-yang teardrop sections: 1) Common passions, urgent problems and 2) Reachable, findable audiences.

A niche is made of two parts:

Half of a yin-yang labeled Common Passions, Urgent ProblemsPart 1: A group of people with a set of urgent problems or common passions. Not just everyday run-of-the-mill problems because people are more likely to click the Buy button when they know you are going to help them ease urgent discomfort. Half of a yin-yang labeled Reachable, FindableI keep ‘common passions’ in there because people who aren’t desperate for solutions might buy things that fit their super-active lifestyle revolving around Jeeps or home-schooling or body modification. Common passions are tied to possibility while urgent problems are tied to fear of a tragic future.

Part 2 : A niche is a group of people that is actually a group – a findable, reachable, ‘talk-to’-able group. They must be reachable either online or offline, through conferences or newsletters or magazines. If they don’t ‘hang out’ somewhere at sometime you don’t have a niche. You have a whole bunch of people that have a common problem but don’t identify or communicate together.

Why to Direct Your Efforts to a Niche

If we take our Time-Money-Sex Venn from last week and apply it to why you might use a niche in your marketing efforts we get:

A three-part Venn diagram of overlapping circles labeled Time, Money and SexTime: Focusing on a niche saves times because you are only talking to a small set of people. You have simplified your message and efforts and products to a specific group that will be more likely to vibrate with what you are saying. You don’t aim for speaking engagements at conferences everywhere – just the right places where these people hang out. You don’t read every online forum you can find, but the specific ones where your folks are likely to be commiserating and celebrating.

Money: Your marketing efforts are more affordable because you are constraining who you are are reaching. You are laser-focused instead of a shotgun splat. Because you make products and services for a specific group of people they are willing to pay more for information tailored especially for them.

Visibility: It is easier to build credibility with a smaller group of people than trying to break out into the mainstream too quickly. Small fish, big pond. This is how I built my profile as a blogging expert. I started off working with business and life coaches, helping them understand blogs and their impact to business. Since this community is relatively small and also connected by discussion forums and lists it was easier to build a brand as ‘the blog guy’ than trying to attack the greater market at large.

How to Send Andy into a Blind Rage

Few things drive me quicker to a Wibbels fit (video) than when I ask someone their niche and they give an answer that isn’t a niche but an entire demographic.

Here is a little scene using my favorite example. I’m talking to an entrepreneur who we’ll call Wit:

Andy: What kind of customers do you work with?

Wit: Women in transition.

Andy: So what kind of women?

Wit: Oh ya know, professional women.

Andy: Any certain industry?

Wit: No, everybody. Oh and moms.

Andy: What kind of transition?

Wit: A new job, a new child, kids going off to school, death of a parent, newly divorced.

Andy: Any specific one?

Wit:
Not really. Whatever challenges women face so they can step more fully
into their [insert post-pagan Gaia-esque women who run with wolves from
Venus who are just not that in to you metaphor here].

Usually by this time my heart rate has quickened and I’m trying to do Dr. Glassman’s trigger exercise to keep from getting a little irrational.

Emotional Cripples with PDFs

Women in transition is half the planet.

  1. Women make up roughly half the human population of the planet.
  2. Everybody is in transition all the time. Stasis is an illusion and you’re just ignoring a Niagra.

So
basically when you say you create products and services for ‘women in
transition’ (or as I like to call them, WITs) you are really just
indecisive and haven’t done your homework and are probably pretty
surprised you haven’t had Oprah-magnitude success. You’re just an emotional cripple with PDFs.

Yes,
if you are running a business local to a city or county you have
constrained your pool of prospects considerably, but I’m talking more
in the realm of the internet where just because you can market to
everybody doesn’t mean you should. Let’s look at some real niches:

Passaportes Fotografias

Each morning on my walk to Six Apart down Folsom to 4th, I pass the Mexican consulate
and there are usually about 3 dozen men, women and children waiting in
line for the offices to open at 9. Just as you pass the building you
see a sign on the sidewalk that says ‘Pasaportes Fotografias’ (might be
vice versa).

There, a young guy has a white background
anchored to the outside wall of the building, a camera and tripod, a
small table with a clipboard and a little fence for crowd control.
Genius.

A defined audience and he is right there where they are to help them solve one very specific urgent problem.

I was going to take a picture but didn’t want him to think I was some kind of Minuteman.

Speaking of bigots:

Aryan Outfitters

Mother Jones
did a photo essay on a woman who specializes in creating the uniforms
and white robes for America’s sweethearts, the Ku Klux Klan.

Coming from five generations of Ku Klux Klan members, 58-year-old “Ms. Ruth” sews hoods and robes for Klan members seven days a week, blessing each one when it’s done.
A red satin outfit for an Exalted Cyclops, the head of a local chapter,
costs about $140. She uses the earnings to help care for her
40-year-old quadriplegic daughter, “Lilbit,” who was injured in a car
accident 10 years ago.

Sure it isn’t a
particularly pleasant niche – but the practical matter is racists need
someone to make their uniforms (you don’t think a man with the rank of
Exalted Cyclops is going to reduce himself to sewing do you?). Mrs.
Ruth has found a group with a common problem: they need uniforms for
their racist country club – a community unto itself. Even racists need a durable hem.

Common (though misplaced) passions, urgent problems (Oh dear what ever shall I wear to the cross-burning potluck?), reachable and findable.

And
if for some reason the Obama presidency suddenly makes trips to the KKK
Mart obsolete, Mrs. Ruth could flip to another niche that needs
constant uniform creation and maintenance and upgades: Girl Scouts.

Burqini

This is my favorite example of niche.

Hijab
is the Muslim code of dress recommended by the Qur’an. Depending on
your heritage, sect or family tradition, women (and men) adhere to
various levels of modesty. Many Muslim women see their choice to wear a
head-covering or other combinations of required garments as a
connection to their past, their God, their family and as a way of
re-claiming the burqa or hijab head-scarf for themselves.

But
what if you want to go swimming? Previously, the traditional clothing
sidelined many moms on the beach, unable to play in the water with
their kids. Even more far-fetched: what if you wanted to be a
lifeguard? On Cronulla Beach in Sydney, the first class of Muslim
lifeguards joined the rest of the team sporting a new swimsuit:

Among
them were a number of women wearing a newly designed head-to-toe
swimsuit, dubbed the burqini. The two-piece outfit – featuring
leggings, a loose top and a head covering – enables them to carry out their tasks while conforming to the Islamic dress code. Mecca Laa Laa, 20, one of the newly graduated lifeguards, said it would give Australian Muslim women the freedom to enjoy the beach while fulfilling their religious obligations.
“The point is to get women active in the water, to encourage them to
participate in sporting activities … and wearing the burqini allows
them to do that,” she said.

And the
Burqini has taken the world by storm as Muslim moms and girls reclaim
the ocean and the swimming pool as a place for them as well.

See
the niche? A findable, reachable group of people with a common passion
and an urgent problem! How much is marketing about finding the how we can have it both ways?

Going
to the site for the burqini there is a whole page of testimonials that
illustrate how the business owners are completely tapped into what
their customers want:

I went inside
the pool with two of my kids! It was such a nice feeling to be able to
actually be inside the water FULLY – not half of the body, or the feet,
only. Alhamdulillah! Didn’t have that chance for a long long long time.
The last time I had a full dip inside the water was during my primary
school years I think. I have nearly forgotten how it feels. And you know how I felt on that day, wearing aheda’s swimsuit? I felt FREEDOM! I can be in the water without any feeling of self-conscious[ness]. A real freedom for me. [emphasis mine]

Yes,
from my Roman Catholic upbringing in the United States this seems a bit
silly: playing games with scripture so you can do what you want but
still adhere to the rules (but we cherry-pick Leviticus to our own
ends, don’t we?). I get the same giggles watching an Orthodox Jewish
friend navigate Shabbat without touching electronic devices and
wondering why would God want to deny you the convenience of technology
(flipside: the focused meditation brings closer awareness to divinity,
etc). Inconvenience as meditation is present in so many of the world’s religions (and fish on Fridays is still no analog to hanging on a cross).

What are three urgent problems your niche is facing?
Be specific! Not just ‘they are sad’ but what specifically they might
want to do to change their lives (freedom, control, power, etc)?

What are three common passions that bring your niche together? Be specific! Not just ‘food folks and fun’ but gunning their Harleys and peeling off into the night.

What are three online hangouts for your niche? Forums, lists, blog comments, chat rooms.

What are three offline hangouts for your niche? Conferences, trade assocations, magazines, cruises, cafes.

What makes sense in this essay? What doesn’t? What am I missing? What typo is driving you batty? Tell me right now:

Time, Money, Sex (and Salvation)

Time (stopwatch), Money (bag of cash), Sex (stockinged leg in heels) and Salvation (child praying to heaven)

Last
week I walked through the frameworks in art and technology and
how they can be applied to just about any discipline – unveiling my own
framework in the process. We looked at The Three Buttons that divide up the sales cycle:
Search (prospect looks for answers and finds you), Subscribe (they
become a part of your network and you cultivate the relationship) and
Buy (they buy your products and services).

This week I want to look at attacking the ever-thorny issue of Why We Buy:

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The Three Buttons

While I was taking a break from the newsletter and blog, I’d done a lot of reconsideration of the massive hairwad that is internet marketing and doing business online.

When I was a young one, my family had gone to the symphony with my grandparents. During the intermission, my grandmother leaned over and asked me what instrument I liked most, who I wanted to be in symphony. I considered the strings, the woodwinds, the brass and the percussion and instead pointed at the conductor.

The Right to Tinker

Later on, when I was directing plays, I learned how much I enjoyed conducting things around me. My slogan was Directing isn’t telling people what to do but showing them where they can go. The same attraction came out with theatre theory courses (favorites: Brecht, Artaud and Peter Brook a close third). We were studying complete worldviews on how to make art (last week we’d looked at how lifestyle = worldview). If you’re an MBTI-fanatic, this would be my N side coming out – the iNtuitive preference that delights in seeing the past-present-future of a process from micro-to-macro levels (INFJ/paranoiac if you were wondering with Taurus sign and Soul Type 7).

I’m not a programmer by any stretch of the imagination. Mostly I just change a line of PHP code, reload it and see if it blows up. If it breaks, I change it back and refresh and then research some more. If it works, I try something else. I like to tinker. I think you learn about a topic by seeing it in action – in execution – in process.

And that is why I like looking at software frameworks:

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Everything is a Lifestyle

The word lifestyle always makes me cringe.

Partially because it is coded language used in the movement to block equality rights for gay men and women by right-wing fundamentalists. Lifestyles are a choice so every time you hear someone talk about the ‘gay lifestyle’ part of the meme is that same-sex attraction is not natural but a chosen set of behaviors and so should not be a framework for equality (i.e. Those dirty-dirty girls just need some churchin‘). Oh and coincidentally if you are for Prop 8 in California please immediately unsubscribe from this newsletter or feed.

I still maintain that people who are that obsessed with someone else’s genitals have some other issues to work through with their own.

Sigh.

Now that that’s out of the way I want to talk to lifestyles as a marketing concept:

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Recession, Depression and Self-Expression (I’m Freaked Out, Too)

If you think you can be recession-proof you’re an idiot and should immediately unsubscribe from this newsletter or feed. Months ago when the ‘credit crunch’ began there was a flurry of teleseminars and newsletters talking about how it wouldn’t affecting anything or anyone and we should all keep clapping until Tinkerbell comes back to life. Then when the commercial paper markets and credit default swap markets collapsed everyone seemed to wake up a bit more. The abundance mentality of always more, pay it off later, leverage it to the future generation has brought us a whiplash. Dark humor pervades the blogosphere with sites like brokers with hands on their faces. And to write it off as just bad vibes and buzz-kills is to be completely wreckless with your future success.

Highly recommended: National Public Radio’s This American Life did a show on the financial crisis that left me feeling much more informed about what is going on: The Giant Pool of Money (transcript). There’s a few parts in there that might make you dry heave. They had such a response from these two shows that they’ve started a free podcast specifically about educating the rest of us on the day-to-day events as they unfold: Planet Money Podcast. I also want to highly highly highly recommend you watch Elizabeth Warren’s analysis of economic trends of household spending and income in last several decades. If you do business with customers in the US you need to be aware of these trends and how they are affecting families. Also useful is WaPo’s analysis and if you need a laugh read about a visit to Robert Allen’s ‘No Money Down’ seminars.

My biggest concern for bloggers is that the recession-depression-downturn is going to cause a pull-back in online advertising spending. The marketing blogs are battling this argument out right now, some saying that overall ad-spending will decrease and others countering that print and TV will decline but online ad spends will stay strong since they are easier to deploy. But problogging has always hinged on compelling writing, an enthusiastic audience and advertisers willing to pay for access to that audience. This has always been a hitch with focusing directly on the ad-based type of blog income. If click-through rates go down or spending goes down there will be a flood of inventory and no one around to buy it. Some say that an economic downturn will bring more people to blogging as they focus on their next careers and invest in themselves or simply need a way to blow off steam.

But here in Silicon Valley there has been a rash of layoffs (Dell, eBay, TicketMaster, Yahoo, AdBrite, Heavy, Glam, Zillow, Mahalo, Rev3, Seesmic, Lulu, Gawker and the list goes on) as companies tighten their (seat)belts for a lean winter of discontent. This has brought back the old ‘blogging is dead’ meme that seems to be on a 9 month boomerang.

Blogging isn’t dead or dying – just different. When I’m doing a seminar, usually towards the end someone asks about the future of blogging and is it just a fad and I’ve always maintained that it will merge into greater trends. These trends include social media and consumer-generated content – stuff made by ‘real people’ (what we used to call ‘folk art’). The money to be made may be shifting but the trends of anytime, anywhere, always-on, always-archived instant global self-expression is here to stay.

And the tenuous political situation here in the US isn’t helping any either. I can’t stop watching the news, can you? Each day it is ‘oh look, there’s a bit more on the bottom of the barrel, scrape scrape!’ I feel like the world is holding it’s breath to see what happens. I told Ron if they back the trucks up while he’s flying back to divert to Canada and I’ll try and get through the Underground Railroad.

Time to Cultivate

So if sales are down, leads are disinterested and everyone is being a Negative Nancy or Debbie Downer what do you do? Start working on the Next Thing.

Now is the time to start developing your new intellectual property. I’ve had some ideas buzzing in my cortex for several months now and am going to start entertaining them on my blog and here in the newsletter. I need to refresh my courses and seminars and re-align them to the current landscape and get cooking on some new book deals. Focus less on the desperation of making the sale and more on the inspiration. Go back to what inspires you. I’ve missed my seminars and classes and educating people on how all this techie-stuff can improve their lives and businesses. I’m entranced by this stuff. What turns you on? You only have so much control of the chaos swirling around you – how can you batten down the hatches and still lay the groundwork for something new?

The best slogan for networking I’ve ever heard is, ‘Dig your well before you’re thirsty.’ Hopefully you’ve excavated a little bit but by building out your network and contacts now you’ll be priming the pump for when things pick up again. Things will get better. But when they will get better remains to be seen.

Your turn: How are you dealing with the election waiting game, the global financial meltdown and other signs of the End of Days? Leave a comment…