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:
Don’t Repeat Yourself
A software framework is a complete view or opinion on how to develop an application. Popular frameworks like Java or Ruby on Rails or Microsoft’s .NET framework provide a complete set of rules, practices, conventions and formalities that make getting results faster. Upstart frameworks like Django, Cake and TurboGears contain similar conventions and shortcuts. The overall philosophy is:
“Most of what you want to do will probably work THIS way so let’s go ahead and make it pre-defined and easier to do”
This is often called the mantra of Don’t Repeat Yourself: programming is an evolution with continuous improvement. Nobody should have to write the same code twice.
You aren’t starting from scratch each time. You have a set of scaffolding to work from. A framework, scaffolding, a skeleton, a blueprint, a worldview, whatever you want to call it… it is someone saying ‘Here’s what we usually do when we face challenge XYZ – you’ll probably have similar needs.’
Kabuki and Placebos
This is similar to when a client or customer calls you and you know exactly how to solve their problems after they speak the first sentence. Sure, maybe 5% of the time you have to wait for the second sentence and you think: ‘Oh wait, they’ll need to zig instead of zag.’ Most doctors and therapists can correctly diagnose patients within a few minutes of listening to them. The rest is just kabuki and placebos.
This principle is ignored in businesses everyday when someone thinks that what they are doing has never ever been done by any other company in the history of the world so the rules of logic or business or common sense simply don’t apply. There’s a reason why conventions are conventional: they usually work. And if they don’t work they can help you understand what you might try next.
One Ring to Rule Them All
I’ve been rolling a framework around in my head for a while. A model that combined my views on internet business into one big tuna noodle casserole. I’m compelled to make it all fit into one Grand Unified Theory like they do in physics. Maybe I’m trying to force a square peg into a round hole (whole?) but I think it is a worthy mental exercise and perhaps others can learn from it. Part of this stuff is for a course and book I’m developing right now.
Finally, I stumbled across this essay by Jaisen Mathai called ‘Why everyone should write a framework and never use it’ where he posits that every good programmer worth their salt should write their own framework to better understand the underlying language, conventions and functionality of their own projects:
[W]riting a framework is one of the best exercises you can do as a web developer. So regardless if you plan on using the framework you write is irrelevant though I suggest you do because ironing out the fine details will make you a better programmer. “The best way to understand anything is to take it apart and reassemble it. In this case we won’t be taking something apart but we’ll be assembling it. First off we’ll need to redefine what a framework is. From Wikipedia a framework is “a defined support structure in which another software project can be organized and developed”.
This is kinda pushing me over the edge. Part of me says keep all of this private and work on it privately so nobody can steal it which is completely opposite what I’d tell a client and there’s probably a wealth of insight that exposing the process of creating my framework. And most likely the fundamentals of what I’ll be exploring have been collated and examined by others elsewhere. But as we’ve said before, there are tons of people saying the same thing you are – but the fact that it is coming from you – focused and filtered – is your competitive difference.
‘Instant Global Impact’ is a slogan I’ve batted around for several years now. It is a spin off the chapter from Blogwild titled ‘Instant Global Self-Expression’ and I swap in impact for self-expression since businesses are less concerned with their employees being self-expressed and more in touch with having the fastest and strongest impact possible.
So I’m going to call this the Instant Global Impact Framework for now. I’m sure once it catches on it’ll be called the IGI Framework or just Wibbelism. Kinda like when a few actresses I’d directed went on to use my creativity coaching skills in their own productions saying ‘we’re using the Wibbels methods’. Move over Jim Jones!
Let’s Start with Three Buttons
Let’s jump in:
Usually we take the perspective of the business owner and start with logistics and other un-glamous stuff like forming a corporate entity or registering a tradedmark or other ‘grunt-work.’ Or we start the dreaded Well what’s your passion? exploration (where you have to talk softly with a sibilant lisp). Then after we’ve gone through some more boring documentation we get to the fun part – taking the point of view of your customers. But let’s start there. Start with the point of view of your customers and the structure/system they go through to become a part of your life.
Let’s work backwards: A customer clicks on the BUY button on your website. They give you money, you give them a product. How did they get to that point? Customers buy when they like you, when they trust you and when they’re ready (I think that comes from Michael). How did you build that trust and be first on the list when they decided they had an itch you’d be able to scratch? Somehow, they got on a mailing list or newsletter or feed subscription. Somewhere along the line, they clicked to SUBSCRIBE to some sort of vehicle where they got to know you over time. And what brought them to that subscription form or other type of opt-in? They were looking for content or expertise about a certain topic or problem. They may have clicked a button to SEARCH using their favorite search engine. It could also be seeing you on TV or hearing you on the radio or getting a referal from a friend – this is a bit more abstact then a search button but I think it still helps to express how content or search results gets people to find you and then consider joining your network or newsletter or community.
Let’s take it forwards: A customer is researching a problem or passion, they SEARCH their favorite repository of information (like a search engine or social network or their own personal ‘flesh/blood’ network). They find compelling content that points to some sort of opt-in or contact capture or subscription form which they fill out and click SUBSCRIBE. Then you start ‘dating’ this prospect and gradually they get to know you and either you build trust and credibility or you fall of their radar. Then, when they need what you have they click BUY.
Ha – it is kinda like a three-act play! The marketing tactics and creme filling is what happens before and after these three different buttons get clicked.
Sure, someone might just come to your site and buy from you immediately. They don’t have to go through all these steps. Or they may never buy and just lurk forever. Right now I feel like the SEARCH button is the most abstract l
These three buttons are of course a gross generalization of the overall process – someone might not actually SEARCH for you. They might enter your URL into their browser or click from an article you wrote or some other way that makes you pop up in their real or metaphorical seach results. There’s a lot of caveats to throw under the bus, but it helps to chop things up into three parts from being completely unknown to a potential customer, orbiting their lives to finally being needed and being able to provide them products and services.
So that’s the top-level 30,000 foot view of the framework I’m working on. Next week I’ll go a bit further with what happens before your customer clicks SEARCH.
Like I said, this is intellectual property for my next book/course so I’d love to get your feedback or suggestions or parallels you see in the work of other (smarter) people. Questions, suggestions, corrections, opinions, additions? Let’s hug it out…