The Truth about Content

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The truth about content is that good content can turn any business around. Content is your gateway to connecting with customers. You get to intelligently imprint your values into their psyche in an non invasive way. In this day and age of information systems, generating and delivering content has never been easier. But for content to be effective it has to have some qualities.

Good content engages the mind of a consumer

The best way about this is by using our irrational response. The less a chance one has to think about a message, the quicker the communication. People often try too hard to come up with phrases that have a hidden message when they should be working to come up with messages that have a straight emotional or psychological trigger. The average customer does not have the time to dig into some strange messages from a strange billboard in order to dish out his money for some strange product. So shout it out.Image

Good content is three dimensional

Three dimensional in this case means visual, audio and text. If you are going to launch a marketing campaign, you need to be seen, heard and understood. Some businesses make the mistake of simply lining out their services on a brochure that’s been muddied with bad graphics and expect the customer’s trust in their products to soar immediately. Some have the ugliest websites that make a clear statement of poor character. In business, most customers believe what you see is what you get. You might get away with being two dimensional but adding an actual voice will suddenly transform the business into an actual human being and not just pictures of them. People relate to human businesses better.

Good content is frequent content

I call it the be in their face strategy. A seemingly hard to interpret message can become very easy once it is repeated over and over again. Consistent exposure of a certain kind of content can inevitably alter a person’s consciousness about the message behind it. It forces one to think about the message and take it into consideration. Unless the person has a serious aversion to what is being advertised they should easily start to affirm the statements made by the content for themselves. This in turn means getting them on your side once the offer is put on the table.

Good content has personality

So now your business has a human face. But is it ugly? Is it nerdy? Is it immature? The decision to make your content wear a specific personality is crucial to humanizing your business. The last thing you want to do is create the impression of  confused brand after finally reeling in your audiences attention. If its funny, stick to funny. If its inspiring stick to inspiring. If its serious, stick to serious and so on.. American apparel got their brand off with the sexy image. It worked. A personality can be anything. It can be a job description or a music genre. You cant lack something unique to go with.

 

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Communication and management

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You need two skills in business.

Communication skills and management skills.

Communication is what sells your product

You have to be on everyone’s ears, eyes and noses. Keeping in touch with your clients helps you form more than just a clientbase but a relationship too. Communication helps you define that relationship. You want to be their friends but you want them to be your loyal customers. Its crucial to make that boundary.

Communication also calls for innovation. Its an art. One does not simply say 499/= for a set of headphones. One can also give a free cd from some artiste you are in pertnership with. You can pack it up in some really trendy package while you are at it. Be creative with it. Its an image thing not a ‘sell and move on’ thing. You are looking to make your business viral by selling an image and not just a product.

Imagine you have product A. It a drycleaning business. All you need is to break even with all the expenses you took up when starting it. Getting clients from the neighbourhood alone will not help that. You have a dozen other hoods around and they don’t really have access to a good drycleaning store.Sounds like an extra market to me.

What a typical drycleaner would do is to put up a sign that reads Mr CleanPress Drycleaners above his shop. That will get you all the clients from the neighbourhood. It will take you 1 year to break even with such a market. A more than typical drycleaner would put up the sign and put other small signages around the other hoods. This will get you your own neighbourhood’s market and a few clients from the other neighbourhoods. This will help you break even in 8 months. An even better drycleaner would add some buzz and put some jisty graphics onto the signages so that he can pull everyone’s attention. On top of that he can give a 3 month offer where everyone gets a funny t-shirt for free for signing up into monthly premium membership. You break even in 4 months. After that you will be literally rolling in dough.

Communication is also about listening. Put two or three attendants at the door of the shop once a week to take queries and suggestions from each customer. Even a note can suffice. But do not write suggestions or comments at the top of the note. Ask two vital questions that will actually help the business. Did the cashier attend to you well? What products do you want to see introduced?

Communication and management

Then comes the management needs

I always say, you need to ship in order to stay in business. Management is about keeping your head above things – knowing exactly whats going on.

It’s the science in the business. This involves promptly delivering, improving your product, keeping operational policies in check, checking your finances and careful expansion. You do not need to be creative with this. You simply need to observe, note and conclude. You are basically the scientist analyzing a system that is in progress. A notebook is very useful when managing your business. It keeps track of everything that has been assessed so far. You can use ledger and minutes but if they are only going to complicate your life then toss them in the bin.

People often disregard the importance of controlling a business’s quality. Banks have suffered business because of this. The biggest complaint that any bank client normally has is the long queues they experience. Because of this a lot of banks have turned to internet banking. But imagine the frustration of taking an internet banking plan only to find out that it has some technical issues and you cannot finish your transactions in one day. That’s where management comes in. If you cant ship an extra item don’t even launch it. It beats sense to have more complaints about the firm’s products simply because a new product has been unleashed. Make it available and make it functional.

You also need to manage your staff. If you hire someone you will want to make them want to work and not need to work. This way they can even add hours without being told to which always translates to additional costs. People management calls for understanding and appreciation.

When these two tools are used hand in hand. You are bound to make a lot of organic growth in your start up in no time.

 

 

 

 

Spreading an Idea Through a Business

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The most successful businesses on the planet thrive on spreading ideas. They make a concept and morph it into reality by creating products that represent it. They say actions speak louder than words but products are a big package of action that can speak even louder when spread to wide markets. Think about every slogan you have ever heard of after a business title. For example CNN have this phrase they use – beyond borders. It exemplifies their dedication to getting hold of the news from every nook and cranny on the earth’s surface. It represents the idea that the world can be constantly updated with important happenings regardless of where they take place. American Apparel always rode on the idea that dressing should be a way to bring out the sexy in everyone. Safaricom have always had a vision to better lives even when they came up with the mobile money transfer system M-Pesa. Thus their slogan “The better option” says it all.

Companies turn ideas into businesses

The problem with a lot of people who start businesses and fail is that they start from the notion that the business is there to make them money. They start with the question which thing should they sell instead of which idea. That is the kind of thinking that triggers a series of self sabotaging thought processes. Think about it for a minute. Literally anything can make you money and lots of it at that. We are not really motivated to run good businesses because of  the money. Its very easy to make a shit product and sell it to a market segment that doesn’t know any better. This kind of attitude can easily make you a few buck but it will eventually send your customers away and in the end you will have little money coming into the business. And then the closure.

Alternatively, you could decide to make a better product but to do this you must gain interest in the product itself, how it works and how it meets people’s values. Inevitably, you find yourself drawn to having a better relationship with your product – one that is grounded on more than just pure commerciality. I always say that once a person takes interest in bettering something they become inevitable fond of that thing because it reflects who they are. The more focused you become at creating a better business and more value for people, the more passionate you are bound to become about the process.

As soon as your passion unfolds for your product, you will clearly possess a vivid picture of what message your business is sending to the world. A doll making company can send a message of love. So can a wedding cake maker. The business becomes an entity with organs, duties and character. It ceases to be a labour of focus but one of purpose. Once you know what purpose and passion you derive from the business, running it becomes a natural endeavor. The idea you are sending through your business comes first. The money comes later. Although the two are inter-related. More money can encourage building the idea further and building the idea further can spike profits up.

Ideas are seeds for business growth

One of the most popular ways that corporations all over the world fuel their profit growth strategies is by sensitizing everyone on the team about the idea being spread. Film production companies do this all the time. Ideas makes them profits. A bad movie idea is only a brewing recipe for massive losses. A Hollywood screenwriter once told me that once you write up a movie script and hand it over to some big time movie producer, you have essentially created a new company for the period in which the movie is going to be made and sold. The same thing applies to musicians.

Google have perfected this art and embodied it in the organizational culture of the firm.Working at Google feels a lot like working at home. Employees get to eat and play around at the office. This way the system becomes democratic. The organization thus works to serve the best interests of those who keep it alive everyday. The philosophy then spreads to the end product which is made with the consumer in mind. Google’s home page is the easiest search engine page to use in the world. It is also fast and relevant. It has everything a user would primarily ask for. Google offices similarly have everything an employee would ask for and with such an intimate relationship between creator and creation the firm has always been set for success each and every year.

So with business there are no two ways about it. You are either in or out. Don’t worry much about the money because that’s can only come from the consumer who wants a good idea in return for it – he wants a good story. What’s your story?

The Two Step Process of Art

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When Christopher Nolan came up with the idea of a remake for Batman, every0one was anticipating a flop. He proved them all by making an elegant blockbuster. What he made was a work of art. In art, what matter si your perspective of the universe. Everything else is sheer politics. The sexier your view, the more attractive your art becomes. It really doesn’t matter if the idea has been there before – there’s always room for version 2.0.

The Dark Knight

The Dark Knight is the new title for Batman movies

There are two parts to making a work of art. There is the draft and there is the final edit. Each is just as important as the other.

The draft is where your artistic genius shines through. A draft is an open space to let your mind gravitate and become unhinged from whatever this world expects of you. At this level, you have an ahaa! moment that transforms into a remarkable idea. That idea could be a painting, a sketch, a novel, a movie, a sculpture, a music album or generally just some brand. Your duty at the draft stage is to freely doodle your idea to map out your perspective of things. Your emotions could guide them. Or it could even be an observation of something interesting that turns into an artistic interpretation. If you open your mind to the possibilities, your artistic self can produce amazing things in the name of art. So it is very important that you do not inhibit it. The draft stage is the only chance to let inspiration run free and take control. The task of saying what works and what doesn’t comes in the second stage – The edit.

At the editing stage, you finally succumb to a sober mind. It is with this sober mind that you look back at what madness you have spilled forth and ask yourself “Do I like it?” If you do then it is quite possible that a thousand other people will too. If you don’t then there is no need to worry. At this editing stage you can also find bouts of inspiration to further improve the draft. A statement here and there can be substituted by a metaphor in your new film script. You can easily add colours to a painting and more tracks to a song. Editing provides a chance to feed off the inspiration blooming from your own work. And you don’t have to just edit once. The more times you go over your piece the more gaps for improvement you will see.

Success programming

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When I started this blog I swore never to write about how to be successful. We have enough of such blogs out there and frankly there’s nothing new about the subject anymore. Success is a broad term but in actuarial science, we usually say that a success is any positive result from a trial of an event. It could be tossing a coin and hoping a head comes through or it could be asking for a hand in marriage. The probability of success increases with the number of trials. This is because there are more ways of failing with additional trials and if each row of failures is considered a “success at failing” then it should also get harder to successfully fail for so many times in a row. This leaves us with a chance at actual success. Technically, the term for this is the exponential distribution. The text book example is the number of times a phone has to ring in order for someone to pick it up. The number of times it rings relates to the probability of someone picking up the phone. Analyzing exponential distributions is very good ground for experimental research. You could assess how many follows you make before a follow back is received on twitter, how many invites to a page are given before someone actually follows, how many times a phone rings before it is picked up, how many times you call someone before he picks your call… etc.

So with my little memory of basic programming I decided to take this concept and ride with it. What if you could program your chances at success with anything through a logic program. With the correct code your only obligation would be to follow it strictly. You just have the task on deciding how to stay focused on maintaining progress.

For instance, you want to get a job.

We are all familiar with the usual success program:

Success program 1

But what if the response is not really positive? You could adjust it further,

Success program 2

Ok, so now assuming that as a sensible guy, a positive response only counts for you if they say they want to take you through an interview. But what if you still don’t get hired after the interview well?

Success program 3

This way you have a foolproof policy to keep you job hunting until you actually get the job you are looking for.

But these statements are pretty simple. You probably want to shorten the time you take to job hunt. So you decide to also network even as you try to send cold call applications. Now…

Success program 4

The idea of connecting with the employee is so that you can have an inside scoop of what your chances of landing a job there really are.

This might all seem very mechanical and robotic at first. As you continue to fine tune your success program, you realize that it becomes really human like. It starts to sound like the kind of decisions a normal person would make in his mind when pursuing something. The only difference is that with humans, a lot of consistency and uniformity will be lacking. You will only network when you can and you will only send applications when things look tough but stall a little as soon as your first interview comes through.

The success program impersonalizes your efforts so that you only need to think of the creative aspects of making the solution and not how to go about the already made solution. Once you zero in on how to stay focused on the already designed solution you should be on a one track path to the goal. It fine tunes your decisions to provide accurate and trackable results. You don’t have to code it, you just have to have it clearly outlined it in your mind. To believe in it completely, it has to make complete sense. No portion of it should stick out without an explicable set of instructions.

Blogging is business on steroids

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I remember reading a book on marketing that had the statement “Business is life on steroids”. It was the truest statement I had heard in a long time.

In business, objectives are clear. Stakes are high. Resources are scarce and opportunities are there for the open minded. The main goal of any business is usually to make profit. You make a product, have it in the market, give it some competitive advantage by promoting it and then you can make sales. When the cycle repeats itself successfully you will have some growth in the business. At the beginning of it all, you and your partners will have a meeting and decide what the goal of the firm is. Its pretty obvious what the goal is (to make profit) but you want something beyond that. It’s a backward way of approaching things because inevitably, the other non-commercial goal often takes a back seat when it is deemed to be “unprofitable”.

Blogging is business on steroids. Putting up a blog for your business is a very inexpensive way of communicating the other goal of your business. It is something that the corporate world is lowly taking interest in globally. You have the firm’s site which serves as an online advertising and communication portal and then you have a blog page in it that is supposed to be a daily diary from the firm. The truth is that maintaining the blog is much harder than maintaining the site itself.

A blog is a memoir of your non-materialistic goals. When you start one you have a mission in mind to introduce some idea, philosophy or general perspective that you will share with others. The idea is to share. Not to sell – well at least  not in the commercial sense of the word. So how do you share something freely and use it to buy people’s attention? That’s the tough part.

If you have a firm that deals with kids toys, the non commercial objective could be to help kids grow in a happy environment that allows them to learn quickly. It is your blog’s job to express this objective in as many ways possible. This way it keeps you responsible and in line your objectives. Its easy to sell toys without meeting this very objective. Once the money cashes in, anything goes. Even violent video games will go on promos. A blog can stop this.

When a hobbyist or professional blogger chooses to blog, he probably doesn’t have some firm he wants to link to the blog yet. Because of this blogging can be a much harder task for him than running a business. Sure, it easier to sit and write than to be up and down chasing deals, shipments and clients. But the thoughts that have to go into a blog are much harder to assemble than those that go into selling a product. With blogging

  • Your product is your blog posts
  • Your market is your readers
  • Your marketing channels are search engines and other sites
  • Your revenue is traffic
  • Your profit is your comments (and hopefully later on real money)

So its much tougher to handle a blog. The only difference is that your product quality is on constant surveillance. Your market is extremely volatile to the content’s standards. One poorly done post can cost you a big chunk of your traffic. When your passion for the topic waivers, it shows.

Again, with a business, you only need to sell the same product or small set of products over and over again. With a blog, a new products are created every single time you blog. The more products you make the more your traffic. Because of this, creativity is demanded in three ways. With most businesses, creativity is one dimensional.

Why skill is more important than capital

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You know the famous saying from the Bible that says “Give a man a fish and you feed him for a day. But teach him how to fish and you feed him for a lifetime.” It doesn’t get more profound than that. We have all been brainwashed into thinking that our education system is out to teach us how to fish. The truth is it that it has taught how to beg for fish. Every single employee out there is playing into the begging game by subscribing to some standardized form of remuneration. Beggars are constantly afraid of sleeping hungry. We all think that beggars are people who demand something for nothing. But just like every shopkeeper and every hot shot lawyer out there, there is a trade to begging. If a beggar begs you, there is definitely a reason why you might end up helping him out. Its a trade off for our soul’s purity and their daily bread. We get to walk off feeling a lot better about our selves thinking that we aren’t that rottenly selfish after all. They on the other hand get to eat for a day. That’s the trade in begging. Some beggars perfect the art and find out how to beg better but at the end of the day they will still be just that – beggars.

The same case applies to employment. A price tag is put on your specialized skill and not really your time. Time is invaluable. It is the one resource you cannot recycle, the one resource that you cannot use sustainably. You will provide skill in return for a certain wage but you will never have time to stop asking. Sure your employee could use your skill but he is much more comfortable using you time. So every employer out there is feeding off someone else’s time and making a kiling out of it.

Skill vs capital

As an employee you choose to give up your time so that you can be relieved off the need to use your mind in the true potential of all its facets. We pay with our time to avoid thinking. How so? Well, if you were to start your own firm to do exactly what you are employed to do, it’s quite obvious that you would be required to think a lot more creatively and proactively than you do when you are employed. But then you will end up with a lot of free time once the thinking gets you to come up with structures and business mechanisms that don’t need you doing everything. This way you end up with all your time in hand.

The biggest misconception however is that money is the real issue when it comes to starting your own thing. I can assure you that it is not. Money is simply a form of red tape to filter out who can make it big and who will end up a loser. With a certain amount of money you can end up with a failure of a business or a huge success. Our education system teaches us to be ready to join the job market and wait on a steady supply of fish whose long term future is not completely guaranteed. But what if it taught us how to make that fish for ourselves or in other words how to start enterprises that provided others with fish instead. That’s the real skill right there. Without it you remain forever a beggar. CV in one hand and servitude in the other.