Tuesday, May 31, 2005

The Best Job in the World

"How many you want? I didn't ask you what you're eating, I asked you how many you want. You don't want no 'one'. You want a touch. You ain't ready for a 'one'."

That's Gene Porter, the owner/proprietor of Dixie's Barbecue in Bellevue, and the man with the best job in the world.

Today I went to Dixie's for lunch with the guys from 3Sharp. As far as I can tell, Porter's job is to walk around his place with a pot of supernuclear hot sauce (AKA "the Man") and talk to customers. You can't order this sauce on the side. You don't get the mean with the sauce on it. You get the sauce when he comes over and gives it to you. You can tell him how much you want (a "one", or a "smear", or a "two" for the daring), but as often as not, it's his assessment of your character, not your order, that determines what you get.

"You there. Where you from. South Africa! You kidding? You stick a pin in the map yet? You go stick a pin in the map, then I'll get you some sauce."

That's the job I want -- not cooking barbecue sauce per se, but that "doing my thing, and doing it well, and talking to people about it while I do it." What Porter does is in total contradiction of the fast food formula: it's inefficient, capricious, and irreproducible, but Dixie's Barbecue's got something you can't get anywhere else, something people will stand in line for.

That's what I want for my own work. I want to do what I love to do for people who appreciate it, and I'm hoping that's a recipe for success.

An update on the work: It's been a brickyard week. Getting a business off the ground is a real bear. I'd love to talk about all the cool stuff I'm writing (and I am writing some cool stuff), but right now the job is dominated by writing proposals, sending E-mails, and making phone calls. That's the grunt work of independence, and if anyone tells you you'll ever be free of it, they're not a buyer, they're a seller.

Friday, May 27, 2005

Ad Agency Chews its own Leg Off

I was SO not going to talk about the conflict between blogs and the advertising business ANY MORE. It's just not that interesting a topic. You either get blogs or you don't. Anybody's rant about a so-called war is irrelevant.

But sometimes someone pulls a gaffe that's too big to ignore. As reported on Dix&Eaton the blogosphere lit up over a supposed fake-blog play by a company named Panera. This generated a heap of bad publicity for the compnay. But as it turns out, the blog was not created by Panera. It was created by an add agency trying to capture Panera's business. Apparently the agency was anxious to impress Panera with how hip and "with it" they are.

Needless to say, they failed. Panera has since ordered the blog removed.

Thursday, May 26, 2005

Career Path

Wheels Within Wheels

Wednesday, May 25, 2005


Yesterday was what I call a recurring Monday - in other words, a very bad Tuesday.

There was one fun moment, though; hearing Seth Godin interviewed on Marketplace. Seth's blog is one of the feeds I read regularly, and hence I think of him as a sort of close acquaintance, even though we've never met. Hearing him on the radio was like running into a friend on the street. It's amazing what a great connection a blog can create.

Rock on, Seth!

Sunday, May 22, 2005

Marketing in 100 words or less

In his blog Fermentations, wine marketer Tom Wark tells us how to market a wine in 100 words or less.

Writing for lifestyle industries is an art. The language has to have a certain opulence that imparts a bit of the mystique of the product to the customer. You take the sunlit valley in France, the odor of the casks, that one perfect candlelit meal and put them all on a 3x5 index card. If you can do it, you're a star. Do it in 100 words, and your a superstar.

Wednesday, May 18, 2005

Service Offerings are Up

I've just posted the rest of my service offerings so that they are now part of the blog. They can also be found through the links area on the right.

Service Offering: Product Demos and Training

I assist you in creating product demos that convey the core technical details while also proving relevance to your customers' business by combining deep product knowledge with a precise, detail-oriented approach to writing.

  • Product Demonstrations

  • Self-led Training

  • Hands-on Labs

  • Virtual Demos and Training

Service Offering: Documentation Strategy

I seek creative, meaningful solutions to content creation challenges. I work with you to identify key documentation needs, to create solutions to those needs, and to plan for successful completion of deliverables.

  • Competitive Research

  • Subject Matter Expert Interviews

  • Content Triage

  • Strategic Planning

Monday, May 16, 2005

Service Offering: Technical and Marketing Writing

I actively engage new products and technologies so that I can provide accurate, insightful written materials. My goal with every project is to deliver professional, polished documentation in a timely manner.

  • Whitepapers

  • Case Studies

  • Technical Case Studies

  • Product Datasheets

  • Developer Documentation

Mobile Device

Now with Trackbacks

You may have noticed that I added trackbacks to this blog, thanks to Haloscan. I'm sorry I waited so long to do it. Blogger does not support native trackbacks, which is something of a problem. The lack of trackbacks alone is enough to mark Blogger as not being a professional blogging platform, in my opinion.

Sunday, May 15, 2005

A Whole New Mind

I just got a short note from Daniel Pink, the author of the book A Whole New Mind, who saw my post A Whole New Marketing. He says we should all go buy his book at Amazon or maybe at The Elliot Bay Book Company (if you're a Seattlite).

I like the way that Dan spotted my post within 24 hours. I'm seeing more and more authors, consultants, writers, hobbyists, and creative people of all types using blogs to spot conversations and influencers (see how I just covertly painted myself as an influencer?)

And Dan also has a blog. My only complaint is that I didn't find his Web site when I wrote my original post, even though I Googled for it.

Anyway, I'm definitely going to buy his book. I hope it's good. It would be a shame to go through all that and then not like the book.

Saturday, May 14, 2005

Turning the Customer Ecosystem Inside Out?

I'm hardly out of my first cup of coffee, and I run into this over at Evelyn Rodriguez's Crossroads Dispatches Blog:

Try putting your customers and your ecosystem's conversations at the center of the hub -- rather than your company's. Even if it's simply a conceptual idea, it'll radically change the focus of your conversation.

That's more or less what I was fumbling towards in yesterday's post. Why not get your customer blogging? Sound crazy? Go over to Susan Getgood's Marketing Roadmaps Blog to see someone who's already putting this into practice.

I'm going to start talking to my clients about this as well. Evelyn just got added to my feeds.

Friday, May 13, 2005

A Whole New Marketing

I was listening to KUOW on the way back across the 520 bridge the other day. They were talking about a book called A Whole New Mind.

The author said that the people who flourish in the coming years will be those who find a creative, impossible to duplicate approach that can't be outsourced or done by a computer. "Yeah," I thought, "that sounds about right."

When I first started doing marketing writing around Microsoft, it was all about features.

Then we figured out that nobody was really that excited about feature lists, so we started selling solutions.

That was pretty compelling, but after a while people started asking more questions about cost, so we started talking more and more about value.

So what comes after value?

The fist step is "what is the product?", the second is "OK, but what does it do?", the third is "what good is that to me?". The next step is a product that people can believe in. It's about a process that's so customer-centric they feel as though they built the product themselves.

Incidentally, I just exchanged phone calls (after a five year gap) with aguy who helped me break out of my feature-centric shell in terms of writing about products (when I was just a wee little technical writer freshly escaped from grad school). We chatted a bit about marketing at the big corporation where he works and how it's changed since we were working together. Sure enough, the topic of blogs came up. There's something inherently interesting about blogs. It only takes a glance for people to know that this is something useful.

The Testimonial

Monday, May 09, 2005

Hugh says : "corporate blogging works"

Just a quick notice that Hugh has a great discussion on his blog about why corporate blogging works. I've had hundreds of conversations with product managers where they've said their primary goal is to teach the customer how to think about the technology. That's exactly what Hugh talks about in his post.

Is blogging the only way to do this? The best way in every situation? No.

You're not going to stop writing press releases, whitepapers, training courses, or presentations. These conversations are still important.

What blogging does and does best is to prepare the ground and make it ready for every other kind of conversation you have with customers.

Now what if your customers think your product's lousy? That's a conversation for another day.

Service Offering: Executive and Small Business Blog Consultations

Why Blog?

  • A blog builds credibility. It shows that you are an authority in your field.

  • A blog builds recognition for your professional name.

  • Blogging is a great way to deliver information more quickly and easily and at a lower cost than a press release, newsletter, or mass mailing.

  • Blogging is responsive to existing and potential customers.

  • A blog can help you build a body of writing. Blog posts have a way of turning into articles, technical papers, and even books.

  • Blogging gives you a sense of personal achievement. Your blog is a way to share your knowledge and personal experience. It speaks to the world in your own voice.


  • Blogging Quick Start

    In one consultation I will give you an executive overview of blogging and RSS feeds. We'll talk about the decisions you need to make right at the start, and the things you'll learn and refine along the way. By the end of the consultation you will have your first blog, your first post, and an idea of where to go next.

  • The Blog Roadmap

    In addition to the quick start, I will provide coaching and guidance for the first month of your blog and beyond. I will talk to you about what makes an exceptional blog, and show you how to promote your blog. You will also receive support and technical services such as design, registering your blog with top registries, and enhancing searchability.

  • Free Consultation

    I also offer full service blogging solutions crafted to the particular needs and goals of your business.

Saturday, May 07, 2005

Where's the RSS Feed?

When I'm not working, I'm a huge science fiction fan. There are some great professional quality weblogs out there for people who enjoy science fiction. My question is: why don't they have RSS feeds?

The End of the Universe doesn't seem to have one. Aeon Speculative Fiction is making great use of eBooks and online publishing, but they don't have a feed I can find (even though they are powered by blogger power blogger.) At least The Crowsnest and Locus have one.

Are the science fiction fans lagging behind on the technology front?

Corrected! It turns out that The Website at the End of the Universe does have an RSS feed at http://www.theendoftheuniverse.ca/backend.php along with the requisite orange XML icon. Sorry, I guess that's what I get for blogging on an empty stomach.

Update! Aeon is also considering getting an RSS feed, according to Briget, one of the editors. I just downloaded the latest issue of Aeon, and it already looks like it's going to be a pleasure to read.

Thursday, May 05, 2005

The Red Couch: If I were doing a Target blog...

Robert Scoble thinks "The Red Couch: If I were doing a Target blog..." Anyone thinking of starting a corporate blog should read this post. It's an essential step 1 to blogging.

Here's the background: Scoble recently had lunch with Target. He then opened up the question on his blog: what do you have to say to Target about blogging? Some of the answers are pretty interesting (yes, mine's in there too).

Honestly, I don't know what Target's blogging needs are. I don't know their business and I don't konw their culture. I've got some initial ideas, but I'd have to sit down with them and get to know them before I could offer anything substantive.

How you blog is a function of your corporate culture, your strengths, you needs - a whole gamut of things. What I do know is that Target's already got the best running start in the world. I hope they go somewhere amazing.

Wednesday, May 04, 2005

Blogs, Self Promotion, and the Pope

I don't know if Rogers Cadenhead meant it as an exercise in self promotion when he successful picked the domain name for the next pope, but if he didn't, I'd like to give him the prize for making good use of a unique opportunity.

Promoting a blog is one of the things I help my clients learn. Starting a blog is a piece of cake. Promoting it takes some creativity and effort.

Now I wouldn't necessarily advise domain speculation as a blog promotion strategy, but what Rogers did deserves some notice. Note that Rogers could have sold BenedictXVI.com for a tidy sum (as did the the owner of benedict16.com).

Instead he handled the situation with grace, donating the site to a worthy charity.

I'm pretty sure that Rogers didn't have self promotion in mind when he picked up Benedict XVI (you can read his statement on the topic here), but it had the effect of directing a huge number of new readers to his well-presented, well-written weblog. I know that I found it that way, and it's still on my RSS feed.

Was Rogers wrong to use the domain in this way? Has his treatment of the matter been too irreverent? I sure don't think so.

Besides, I have to respect a guy who says he gets "geeked out" on the papal election process.

The Ox and the Fly

Today, Seth Godin says: "Ego is the biggest reason that corporate blogging may be an oxymoron." I don't buy it. I think Ego actually drives good blogging, and here's why:

There's a fable that tells of an ox walking across a field. A flea landed on the ox's ear. "So," said the flea, "where are we heading next?"

Bloggers with healthy egos identify themselves with what their company does best. They want the world to see that their work is relevant and interesting, and the reflects well upon their company.

Microsoft has always excelled at harnessing the power of ego. Take a look at Microsoft's blogs. Here we've got dozens and dozens of people who spend their time telling the world about all the cool stuff Microsoft is working on. I think that's a big part of why Microsoft's credibility has been steadily rising of late.

Tuesday, May 03, 2005

Dumbest Moments in Business

I finally got around to glancing at Business 2.0's Dumbest Moments in Business for last year. The Kryptonite lock furor made spot #1. For those who didn't follow this story, a video appeared on the Web showing how to pop a Kryptonite bike lock with a Bic pen top. Bloggers picked up the story, and Krytonite's slow and lackluster response ended up hurting them bad. The Kryptolock story has since become the proverbial morality tale about the power of blogging and why companies need to start blogging (for example in , Hughtrain).

Sunday, May 01, 2005

Device Doodles