What Dave Winer’s “Natural-Born Blogger” Criteria Have To Do With Entrepreneurs

Proto-blogger and godfather of RSS Dave Winer on his Scripting News Blog writes this week in “Natural-born blogger”:

We get into the subjectives of what makes natural-born blogger [NBB]. Here are some of the ideas.

1. An natural-born blogger doesn’t wait for permission.

2. A NBB explains things, even when they don’t understand. An NBB is often proved wrong, to which the NBB shrugs his or her shoulders and says something like [“So what”].

3. NBBs go first. If there’s an NBB around you don’t have to wait for a volunteer.

4. NBBs err on the side of saying too much. If you find yourself wishing someone would just [shut up already] you’re very likely looking at an NBB.

Note: Small edits for colorful language… :)

At first sight, it would appear that these points, while well taken, apply only to blogging. And almost in a too-obvious fashion at that.

Unless you have concerned yourself with all manner of business building and entrepreneurship mindset issues, like I tend to do, and take a second look.

Then it becomes clear to you that these are among the most important guide posts for all entrepreneurial activity, and by extension for success in life in a more general sense:

1. Successful people don’t wait for permission

They don’t wait for someone to appoint them to something important (which almost never happens anyway). They give themselves permission to go ahead, they self-appoint.

If you’re uncomfortable with that idea, then you have just identified an important mindset block that is very likely massively holding you back in your business building efforts or aspirations.

I guarantee that almost no one will ever appoint you the expert of your market niche, you have to give yourself permission to be that expert. Of course, you have to make sure you can back it up, else a self-proclamation will ring hollow over time. But the initial catalyst lies within you alone.

2. Successful people shrug off failure

Successful people shrug off failure as if it means nothing, because… well… it doesn’t. All you ever get is a result, all subsequent meaning of that result exists almost entirely in your head.

Any misstep means only that you must be getting closer to your goal than you were before (when you didn’t take any action at all). And of course hopefully you learned something in the process.

The only thing that truly IS tragic is not failure, but being caught in paralysis due to fear of failure. It keeps you suspended in an infinite “possibility loop”, never wanting to find out the truth by either getting proof-of-concept, or not, and moving on to the next concept. It’s a form of addiction to and idea or ideas we have come to hold dear.

Best to find out this week, this month if that idea is only robbing you of precious psychic and other energy…

3. Successful people are ahead of the curve

In branding/positioning there is the well-proven concept of “first mover advantage”, which tends to bestow disproportionate rewards on those that “show up early to the party”.

While the inventor doesn’t always get financial rewards, the Category Leader, the person or business that can install themselves as first for that category in the minds of the consumer (to be taken in the broadest possible sense of a marketplace here), almost always does.

Hence we get Microsoft being more or less unassailable in the business and consumer desktop computing space, while Apple became nearly as dominant in new categories that it either early and decisively jumped on (the iPod), or more or less created (the iPhone).

Anyone else piling into those categories is fighting an uphill, near impossible battle.

And all of this applies to your small business, or solopreneurship as well: Be first, or at least VERY early in something. Ideally by creating a whole new category, which is otherwise known as innovating.

4. Successful People Move The Freeline

While Dave Winer does not explicitly state it here, the idea of erring on the side of saying too much implies the principle I like to call “Moving the Freeline”:

You have to say AS MUCH AS POSSIBLE about what you are trying to get across to people, which means that you have to, in a sense, give your best ideas away!

You can’t hide them behind a Pay-Wall (and even $1 may be too much for people to begin to listen to what you have to say, what you have to offer).

You can’t operate in a way that says: “Once you pay, I’ll tell you something useful or important”.

You can’t drop mere hints about what you have to offer, you have to give away A LOT of the real thing.

Most marketing copy gets this wrong when it merely focuses on trying to persuade, rather than just showing a lot of the goods.

You have to give every possible reason for the other party to do business with you by telling them (nearly) everything you know that could apply to them, free of the irrational fear of being ripped off or plagiarized somehow.

Only then do you have a real chance.

And in order to be able to do this, you have to apply a mindset that most successful people have, what Eben Pagan would call “feeling wealthy right now”.

You see, unless you get to that point of feeling abundant in your ideas right now, you will hold yourself back from getting the business you deserve, because the other party cannot ascertain whether a transaction would be worth their risk.

Does Moving The Freeline Make You Nervous?

In case this kind of openness makes you nervous, you can calm yourself by understanding a few key truths:

The fear that someone wants to rip off your ideas is nearly always an illusion, usually you have the exact opposite problem, that of getting ANYONE to give a dear about you, your business, and your ideas.

Also, the so-called “Curse Of Knowledge” has you systematically underestimate how far you are leaving the non-expert audience behind as an expert in a given arena (see Heath & Heath, Made To Stick).

Even if they wanted to, almost no one would be in a position to replicate your deeper ideas from scratch, without incurring a very significant learning curve.

Of course, if they REALLY wanted to (which is a big if), they could catch up eventually. Which is where the “show up early” principle comes in.

But in the interim, you can, as a consultant say, tell a prospective business EVERYTHING you might do for them in great detail. And it still would be much more likely that they would hire you to work with them, rather than trying to turn around and execute all of these details themselves, cold, from scratch.

To finish up with an example, a prolific tech blogger like Robert Scoble is constantly giving his best ideas away. And certainly a lot of people would say that he can err on the side of saying too much. But that is also how he creates massive value up front, and keeps people engaged with his idea process.

Money and profit become side-effects of his massively “Moving The Freeline” in this way day in and day out. Do thou likewise…

5 Marketing Tricks Courtesy Of Those Annoying Video Professor Commercials

There is almost no way that you haven’t seen them. Those mildly annoying commercials featuring the "Video Professor", touting his "educational" wares (they are on seemingly most TV channels dozens of times a day).

And while he’s been around for years, lately his ad, centering on a "How to Sell on eBay" course CD that he wants to send you, for FREE no less, has been particularly obnoxious, I mean, persistent…

So what could you possibly have to gain from taking a closer look at it?

Actually, a number of extremely valuable marketing tactics:

1) To start with, the mere fact that the guy has been around for as long as he has, and that his latest offering has been running for something like 9 months straight in a down economy, should tell you something: It should tell you that the ad is profitable. No one can afford to run a paid TV ad for long if the math doesn’t add up.

Lesson: Study ads (in any medium) that repeat unchanged week after week, month after month, year after year. They must be getting "it" right (product, offer, sales copy, etc.).

2) Now point 1) is doubly important because he is, as we already said, giving the eBay course away for free (plus "a small shipping & handling"). He is "Moving The Freeline" as StomperNet’s Brad Fallon would call it. Which must mean that the ad is effective by way of THE BACKEND sales, just as he actually states in the ad:

Enough people take him up on the free offer, and then later buy additional courses from him ("you’ll be SO satisfied, that you’ll come back for all your computer learning needs…"), that the ads are then profitable.

This is called "Lifetime Value of Customer". As long as it is higher than the cost of the TV advertisements (or your medium of choice) plus product, fulfillment, and overhead costs, you can make a profit. Bingo.

Lesson: "Move The Freeline" on the front end offer to get many more prospects into your sales funnel, then focus on the backend for your profit. It is MUCH easier to sell to an existing customer (even if all they have ever paid you is a "small shipping & handling"), than to convince someone from scratch.

3) The Video Professor’s forthright explanation for why he can afford to give the "lesson on eBay" away is the perfect execution of a so-called "reason why". You have to give people a good reason why you would either discount or give something away, lest they become suspicious, of either your motives, or of the quality of the product, etc.

His simple, colloquial "backend profits" explanation satisfies the viewer’s need for a reason why. And it’s actually quite elegant this way, though other reasons might have worked as well to some degree.

Lesson: ALWAYS give a "reason why". ANY reason is better than no reason. It’s simply how our brains are wired.

(In experiments, researchers have found that even a circular formulation such as "I need to make a copy because I need to make a copy" got better response/compliance from test subjects asked to let someone skip ahead of them in a copier line, than when there was no "reason why" clause in the request at all!)

4) Given that the eBay course is free…

Continue reading “5 Marketing Tricks Courtesy Of Those Annoying Video Professor Commercials”

StomperNet Relaunch Is Causing A Ripple On Alexa

Just wanted to alert you to this tid-bit I found yesterday, to draw attention to the impact that a well orchestrated product launch with heavy-duty, high-quality "Moving The Freeline" elements can have:

When I went over to Alexa.com yesterday to do a query re: Microsoft vs. Yahoo social "attempts" traffic (unfortunately Alexa doesn’t segment out sub-domains, so I actually couldn’t find anything separate/useful for 360.yahoo.com and spaces.live.com), the default query that was shown was a bit of a surprise:

Turns out that apparently StomperNets current launch created a % move in the daily reach for May second only to Proflowers.com, which of course had that spike tied to Mother’s Day. Not bad for an Internet Marketing niche membership/coaching business.

Bottom line is, "Moving The Freeline" and giving away high-quality content in your marketing  activities works, and can work extremely well if you do it right. StomperNet’s success should give pause to the current ground-swell of "free/freemium" nay-sayers that like to claim it can’t be done.

I’d say they just don’t like competing on the basis of superior quality. Best of luck to Brad Fallon and Andy Jenkins for their (re)launch, not like they need it. But hey, "the servers could melt" on launch day… :)