Thursday, April 19, 2012

LINKEDIN WILL OUTLAST FACEBOOK... Here's why!

Facebook's latest $1 billion acquisition smacks of a desperation that LinkedIn consistently manages to avoid.

With all due respect to Facebook, paying $1 billion for Instagram smacks of desperation. It’s as if CEO Mark Zuckerberg is terrified of becoming irrelevant and is willing to spend insane amounts of money in order for Facebook remain on the forefront of cool. That’s a hopeless quest, though. Facebook may be many things, but it’s not cool any longer. It lost that imprimatur back when it allowed corporate pages (yes, even yours) and advertising.

Where is the LOVE?

More importantly, nobody seems to love Facebook any more. People seem mostly to tolerate it, because it’s convenient. And that’s why Facebook remains vulnerable. Consumer-oriented social networking sites are like television networks: People will switch when there’s something better on another channel.

With its awkward design, 1990s-style layouts, weird privacy policies, and intrusive advertising, Facebook is vulnerable to the next best thing. Frankly, I think it’s just one online conversion program away from losing its customer base and becoming the next MySpace.

That’s not true of LinkedIn, though. LinkedIn is all about business and people’s resumes. Because its scope is limited to fundamentally dull information, LinkedIn is simply not vulnerable to something “cooler.”

Sure, somebody could launch a site similar to LinkedIn. (And I’m sure plenty of people have.) But why would the customer base bother to change? Nobody on LinkedIn cares about being cool. LinkedIn’s beauty is that it’s dull but functional–like email and the telephone. That’s why I believe that LinkedIn will keep growing, becoming increasingly valuable and relevant–while Facebook will eventually be replaced by “cooler” technologies that appeal to a fundamentally fickle base of consumers.

Niche vs. mass branding

What does this have to do with sales and marketing? Everything. Facebook is a perfect example of a company trying to be all things to all people, while LinkedIn is a perfect example of a company that focused on a niche. As a result, LinkedIn is building a loyal customer base, while Facebook is involved in an expensive and probably pointless quest to remain relevant.

Customers don’t want you to be everything and anything to them. They want you to do one thing really well–reliably, predictably, and hassle-free. Anything else, and you’re at risk of being replaced. If you’re committed to sales and marketing success, sign up for the free Sales Source newsletter for column weekly updates.




 

Friday, April 13, 2012

THE ULTIMATE GUIDE TO WRITING BETTER THAN YOU NORMALLY DO

WRITE EVERY DAY


Writing is a muscle. Smaller than a hamstring and slightly bigger than a bicep, and it needs to be exercised to get stronger. Think of your words as reps, your paragraphs as sets, your pages as daily workouts. Think of your laptop as a machine like the one at the gym where you open and close your inner thighs in front of everyone, exposing both your insecurities and your genitals. Because that is what writing is all about.

DON’T PROCRASTINATE


Procrastination is an alluring siren taunting you to Google the country where Balki from Perfect Strangers was from, and to arrange sticky notes on your dog in the shape of hilarious dog shorts. A wicked temptress beckoning you to watch your children, and take showers. Well, it’s time to look procrastination in the eye and tell that seafaring wench, “Sorry not today, today I write.”

FIGHT THROUGH WRITER’S BLOCK


The blank white page. El Diablo Blanco. El Pollo Loco. Whatever you choose to call it, staring into the abyss in search of an idea can be terrifying. But ask yourself this; was Picasso intimidated by the blank canvas? Was Mozart intimidated by the blank sheet music? Was Edison intimidated by the blank lightbulb? If you’re still blocked up, ask yourself more questions, like; Why did I quit my job at TJ Maxx to write full-time? Can/should I eat this entire box of Apple Jacks? Is The Price is Right on at 10 or 11?

LEARN FROM THE MASTERS


Mark Twain once said, “Show, don’t tell.” This is an incredibly important lesson for writers to remember; never get such a giant head that you feel entitled to throw around obscure phrases like “Show, don’t tell.” Thanks for nothing, Mr. Cryptic.

 

FIND YOUR MUSE


Finding a really good muse these days isn’t easy, so plan on going through quite a few before landing on a winner. Beware of muses who promise unrealistic timelines for your projects or who wear wizard clothes. When honing in on a promising new muse, also be on the lookout for other writers attempting to swoop in and muse-block you. Just be patient in your search, because the right muse/human relationship can last a lifetime.

HONE YOUR CRAFT


There are two things more difficult than writing. The first is editing, the second is expert level Sudoku where there’s literally two goddamned squares filled in. While editing is a grueling process, if you really work hard at it, in the end you may find that your piece has fewer words than it did before. Which, is great. Perhaps George Bernard Shaw said it best when upon sending a letter to a close friend, he wrote, “I’m sorry this letter is so long, I didn’t have time to make it shorter.” No quote better illustrates the point that writers are very busy.

 

ASK FOR FEEDBACK


It’s so easy to hide in your little bubble, typing your little words with your little fingers on your little laptop from the comfort of your tiny chair in your miniature little house. I’m taking this tone to illustrate the importance of developing a thick skin. Remember, the only kind of criticism that doesn’t make you a better writer is dishonest criticism. That, and someone telling you that you have weird shoulders.

 

READ, READ, READ


It’s no secret that great writers are great readers, and that if you can’t read, your writing will often suffer. Similarly, if you can read but have to move your lips to get through the longer words, you’ll still be a pretty bad writer. Also, if you pronounce “espresso” like “expresso.”

 

STUDY THE RULES, THEN BREAK THEM


Part of finding your own voice as a writer is finding your own grammar. Don’t spend your career lost in a sea of copycats when you can establish your own set of rules. If everyone’s putting periods at the end of their sentences, put yours in the middle of words. Will it be incredibly difficult to read? Yes it will. Will it set you on the path to becoming a literary pioneer? Tough to say, but you’re kind of out of options at this point.

 

KEEP IT TOGETHER


A writer’s brain is full of little gifts, like a piñata at a birthday party. It’s also full of demons, like a piñata at a birthday party in a mental hospital. The truth is, it’s demons that keep a tortured writer’s spirit alive, not Tootsie Rolls. Sure they’ll give you a tiny burst of energy, but they won’t do squat for your writing. So treat your demons with the respect they deserve, and with enough prescriptions to keep you wearing pants.


Special thanks to Colin Nissan