As part of my quest to get nominated for world’s worst professor, last month I actually coached a group of students through a procedure I call “Business Stalking.” This is where you have a target (someone you want to speak with/stalk), determine where they are going to be speaking, and then you rush the stage afterwards. Since this time I’ve received many emails, specifically referring to “business stalking” which was probably five minutes of a two hour talk. And I realized, really, really clearly: It’s about packaging.
Below I list my top 5 observations about effectively packaging content based on:
- Doing it.
- Years of consulting and teaching to people who are/can be very picky (big organizations, 18 year-olds).
- My background as an award-winning curriculum developer…oh…wait…okay…they are telling me the scrawled crayon star from my kids does not constitute a real “award.” Dang.
Other sources of inspiration from this post are: Writing for Maria Shriver’s site, advice from amazing mentors, the - The Four Hour Work Week, uber-talented designerDonald Bullach who recently – kid you not – did our high school reunion memory book in what is EASILY the coolest high school reunion memory book EVER.
What is this, where I am, who are you? If this is your first time here, this is the insider’s blog for The Hot Mommas Project. We are a women’s leadership project housed at the George Washington University School of Business in DC and have an audacious goal of becoming a million dollar venture/organization…while being led by a mom working part time. Our big thing right now is the Hot Mommas Project Case Study competition. Click here to nominate someone. Click here for about page.
The Top 5 of Packaging Content
1. Credibility. And you are….and you’re with? The Law of Superlatives. Right out of the gate you’ve got to answer the question, “Why should someone listen to me?” Superlatives create credibility. In this new economy crowded with messages and free agents, it is critical to make sure you are REMEMBERED. And, no, it should not be for your criminal record. Here is an example: The Hot Mommas Project (aside from being named “The Hot Mommas Project”) is “The world’s largest library of teachable role models for women and girls.” What’s the superlative one can associate with you? In what area are you the best, fastest, biggest, etc.? Another angle is to crunch some numbers for the wow factor. How many clients have you successfully placed? How many thousands of dollars worth of media impressions have you generated for your client? When I ran a consulting firm full of the original “Hot Mommas” consultants, I advertised our 94 perent success rate in helping clients plan their annual goals in one day. The bottom line is: If you’re not special, make a placeholder and go out and find something that makes you special. Yes, you can actually do that. Specific sections of Tim Ferriss’s Four Hour Work Week are very helpful on this topic.
For the ladies – special note: Superlatives may, at times, resemble bragging which can be a tricky one for women. There is a good deal of research indicating women are not always strong self-marketers. (I teach about this in my class. Yes, it’s true and yes, it’s a big deal.) So put on your big girl undies, move through the list below, and get pep talks from advisors and friends where you need them. Guys, you too (except the big girl undies part…not that there’s anything wrong with that).
2. Story – ”Here to There.” Make the superlative even more impressive by pairing it with your story. Robert Tuchman is a great example of this. His book agent contacts me, tells me about the $70 million dollar sports marketing company his client built, and wants to know will I review Robert’s new book Young Guns? It’s a “go” for me when I hear: 1) Robert was 25 when he started the company and 2) His first office was a one-bedroom apartment. The “here to there” quality is great on a story like Robert’s. His PR person clearly understands this. What is your “here to there” story? What constraints were you under when you built the company, product, etc.? It adds to the story, and people like stories. For instance, I built the Hot Mommas Project case library in seven months while working part-time. I am still not sure anyone actually cares about this fact, but, the idea of it is inherently appealing. America loves underdogs. America loves people who triumph in the face of adversity.
3. Organization – Make Little Bundles. We love little bundles. Not just because it is such a cute little word combo, we love it for two real reasons that will make your life easier:
a. If you have too much information – making little bundles helps you scale the informational K2 so to speak.
b. If you have very little information – making little bundles helps package what you DO have.
Examples: The Hot Mommas Project right now is SWIMMING in data. It’s too much. We have surveys, cases, more surveys. So what to do? I devise a three hour class on mentoring. I lay out the class plan, and what will be covered in each class. Next, I structure each class with intro, wrap up, lecture, and interactive exercises in each one hour module. Last, I run it by someone who gives me feedback, and helps me make it better. Then I get with a free conference call service and market it (see #4).
Note: Another good way to create little bundles is to Q&A with yourself. For instance, I might ask myself “Self, why is mentoring important?” Then, depending on how things are going, I might ask myself, “Why is mentoring particularly important for women?” Then, if I am feeling very bold, I might ask myself, ‘So, why should I care?” And so on and so forth. In general, this type of approach is helpful not just for media training, but for devising REAL PowerPoint presentations. I especially advise this approach to presentation creation if you’re a “Rambler.”
4. Market. You may be in charge of marketing. Even if you’re not, your CMO and Director of Marketing and their brother and sister and dog were probably just laid off, so it’s good to know how to market. I break this section into “Guerilla Marketing” and “Walking Upright.”
Guerilla Marketing. Here is an example of how I approached Guerilla Marketing Hot Mommas Project content this summer. Once you’ve got your little bundles, it’s time to market them. Boy, that sounds really bad.
Guerilla Marketing Case study: Hot Mommas Project Summer Teleseminars
Courses tested: Women’s Entrepreneurial Leadership I and II, Virtual Mentoring, and “Getting to 5: How to Quantitatively Raise Your Work Life Balance Score.” Two of these generated the most interest…which do you think they were?
Guerilla Marketing Steps (post-content development): Here is the brain dump – Titling, title testing (on Twitter and site based on adjix.com clicks), post on site, blogs, Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, email it to the Hot Mommas Project database, print a schedule on the back of my business cards, and post a big decal on my car [Gotcha : -) I would never put a decal on my car, only my husband deserves that type of humiliation for leaving the seat up and other atrocities]. I also posted on Teleseminar Nation, but got nothing from that.
Did you know – the SEO bonus factor? EventBrite was recommended to me by digital media firm iStrategyLabs. EventBrite has a double benefit of good SEO, so The Hot Mommas Project will be using that for event registration going forward. Press releases on 1888PressRelease.com - of which I’ve spoken in previous posts – also provide traffic. It crashed our site last year, in fact.
This process worked. So, if I wanted to “rinse repeat” and do more of it, I could. In transitioning to “Walking Upright,” I have:
Plans to research Alex Mandossian who I’ve heard is the teleseminar guru.
Begun to seek out event planners to see “how it would work” for a larger Hot Mommas Project event which – to be honest – I have zero desire to plan but everyone seems to want one.
Made a list of all the Guerilla Steps so my virtual assistant in India (not kidding) can help me with it.
Walking Upright. Critically important is to have an eye on the big prize. Who goes BIG with content? How did that happen? Do you have any connection to them or people who know that model? I know from personal experiences with major business speakers that even THEY don’t always know the best model and are continually figuring it out. I’ll hear one famous speaker say “I need to get on Twitter and Facebook more” and hear another one say, “The book company is not doing a great job of making sure critical masses are at my speaking engagements” or “My PR company is not getting me the coverage I need.” So, just realize that even Goliaths struggle with it too. I am looking at the three models below in developing my “walking upright” marketing strategy.
5. Economics. This is where the walking upright crowd has it. For the economics to work with content, you must seriously have your act together. I certainly did NOT when I first started writing Hot Mommas Project cases. When we started winning awards people said, “Are you going to sell the cases like at Harvard Business School?” I tried that approach for about – ummm – 6 weeks and “threw it on the ground!”
Currently, I see three realistic economic models for expert content:
A. Publishing and Entertainment. This is what my mentor Amy Millman calls the Martha Stewart “Omnimedia Model.” It’s the job of people in publishing and entertainment to know: a. What people want and b. To give it to them. They push content out there to as many people as possible, and then sell advertising around the promise of reaching that customer base. Martha Stewart started with a magazine and worked up and out from there to the huge company Omnimedia. Magazine, show, product. What started as content has become a movement.
B. Conferences. If you’ve ever seen a top-notch event planner in action, it’s quite a sight to behold. Business events and conferences typically get sponsors to cover the costs, and sell tickets to make a profit. Of course, it could go up or down in either direction with the sponsorship and ticket fees, but this is a good rule of thumb. Event planner calendars typically go out three or more years in advance. You’ve got to get up early in the morning if you’re going to run your own event. My personal preference is to let someone else run the event, and come in as a speaker. Look up the conferences and events in your area, contact them about speaking or being on a panel. In SXSW you can propose your own panel! In the massively walking upright category of conferences is HSM’s World Business Forum at which I was a featured blogger this past year. I am doing due diligence, behind my computer, and expect to be out from behind that computer speaking and making people less scared of women and our brains (us included!).
Note: For you perfectionists – Remember that even the pros experiment and test. Think “pilot” on TV, think “test market.” Don’t let doing things perfectly dissuade you from making progress. Even the big boys dip their toe in the water first.
3. Screwing everything up is the “Freemium” Model – Read more about that here in a previous post. My friend in content management says, “Something for free, the rest for a fee.” This is pretty much the Freemium model.
What is the difference between a cheesy salesman and you? Credibility. Use your brain and know your stuff.Learn and practice. Bring others into it at every step. As Hot Mommas Project case author Yana Berlin says, “A leader is nothing without her followers.” Are your points resonating?
The focus factor. Oh, yeah, BTW – I’m supposed to be writing a book right now. Yes. So, here is another rule of content development: FOCUS PEOPLE! I’m hoping to produce a little mini bundle like this, taking inspiration from Rohit Bhargava.
Related links: Must-reads. Word on the street is this will change your thinking about the relevance of your voice.
Groundswell (Blog) – Winning in a World Transformed By Social Technology
33 Million People in the Room - How to Create, Influence, and Run a Successful Business with Social Networking
Want to let someone know you believe in them? Sponsor a case writer with your nomination. Every $25 allows a case to be permanently archived on our educational site. Mention your nominees name and email in the PayPal note.
#24b Techniques for Learning to Improve Your Business – Building a Million Dollar Business Part Time
Chris Anderson addressed the concept of the changing – and sometimes confusing – new models of business in this new economy. His new book Free discusses the finer points of a “Freemium” economy. It’s where things are heading, and we better get on board.
About Chris: One of the most knowledgeable, articulate voices at the center of the new economy. In addition to serving as the managing editor of WIRED, he is an entrepreneur and the author of two New York Times best sellers. Below are my primary takeaways from his talk.
Takeaway #1. Doing something niche and focused in the global marketplace is a completely viable proposition. Anderson elaborated on some examples that allow businesses to find their customer, in a niche, wherever they are in the world. For example, Italian designers; The fashion industry is dominated by small designers with global impact. Anderson also spoke about the ability to go online, find a manufacturer to make your product in China, and order 100, or 10,000, or 1,000,000 of that product. Niche…the small guy…agility. The market is heading in a direction wherein the little guy will likely learn to scale up before the big guys learn to scale down.
- Define yourself and your customer.
- Find your customer, and let them find you.
Takeaway # 2. The power of free. Lower the barriers and allow the customers to dip in, then charge them. In 20th century terms it’s called “cross subsidy.” Jello was an unsuccessful company until undertaking a specific promotional campaign. Approximately five million free recipe books were printed and given out to households, door-to-door. Jello then, in turn, went to stores and said, ”You’re about to get a flood of people asking for this product.” Jello had created a situation in which the book was useless without the ingredient. They created an enticing, and free, promotion which compelled a purchase.
Takeaway #3 – If you have a digital arm to your business, Freemium is the way to go. Giveaway one thing, and create a lifetime demand for something else. Anderson says the Freemium model is about giving away 90% of your product, and charging for 10%. Customers are able to experience the product, and then have the choice to upgrade (note: you need to develop a second product for which you charge). Customers who continue with the free product continue on in their role as a pooled audience which has value (e.g., advertising value). The customers who convert to paid, Anderson notes, are the “best customers.” They are familiar with the product, they upgrade based on knowledge, and there is very low churn. The old model is to seduce the consumer into buying the product, and then hope that they like it. We’re forced to distort and over-sell the product to entice them to buy it. Their only chance to experience the product is to buy it. They feel like a sucker afterwards if they don’t like it.
1. Create a free, enticing offering allowing consumers to experience the product.
2. Create a paid, second product (this is the challenge – What is the second product you’re offering?)
For more on Chris Anderson, please see this blog post from Steven Fisher.