Who’s On First? The Disappearing Niche!

This one is going to be short and sweet.

I offer to you a challenge:

Consider your unique advantage and think, real hard, HOW unique is it? Do you even have a unique advantage or are you focusing on a niche to stay competitive or stand out?

You hear lots of talk about niche marketing and how it’s the “only” way to be competitive in a world of look-alike businesses and copycats. Well, I think niches are a load of crap. Focusing on them can kill your business in the long run.

Here’s why niches are full of suck… Continue reading

The Video Game Industry: Economy Of Gaming And The State Of Video Games

Recently I posted my long-delayed “Economy Of Gaming” article on Duel Pass Online (DPO), citing the driving forces behind video game pricing and subscription fees. The key take-aways were as follows:

  • Video games cost money to make and maintain, so someone has to foot the bill somehow.
  • There are plenty of cheap online gaming options out there.
  • Free online games are not always what they’re cracked up to be.
  • Paid video games are better than free video games usually.
  • You get what you pay for.
  • Gaming companies need to put the gamer at the center of everything.

I’d like to revisit PlayNoEvil’s article on the negative impact of used games and piracy on the video game industry. The author of the articles on PlayNoEvil.com makes some very valid points. He discusses how it’s easier to see how profits shift with the growing popularity of used video games, whereas piracy is mostly a non-issue.

If you do a little digging, you can see that large corporations waste quite a bit of resources with their anti-piracy and copyright efforts, along with virtually pointless interrupt marketing. You’d think it would make more sense to just re-invest that money in research and development. Building innovative video games with incentives for early adopters and long-term supporters seems like a smarter investment of the billions of dollars thrown away with silly business.

Any self-respecting gamer will invest money on their gaming lifestyle and favorite video games, especially if they have strong online components. They want to keep their favorite video game franchises alive so it only makes sense. Surprisingly, even though online gaming has kept many video game companies alive, some fans wish there were video games with only single-player modes. I understand the need for story-driven video games but the money makers and trends point to a better way… Continue reading

The Thirty-Second Window And How Snappy, Interesting Content WINS!

I just read an article by Max Miroff about Triond and it really put things into perspective because it was short and sweet. It reminded me that I should be more concise at times myself. What I also learned is that Triond.com offers significant residual or passive income to writers at any level. There are a ton of publishing and article submission sites but this particular one seems worth exploring.

Triond.com is unique but how?

Triond.com is unique but how?

After my most recent brainstorming session with JulioFromNY of the Mundane Chatter Podcast, I’ve been reminded that, these days, being interesting alone is not enough. Concise content will often trump more detailed content, regardless of how unique or well produced or written it is. If the subject matter is hot or trending, it’ll get attention. This is where Triond comes into play.

I see Triond as a place for writers to provide snappy teasers and mini-documents based on their existing content library. In doing so, you build up your brand and presence, while earning a little gas or play money on the side, at least for starters. Some say it’s possible to earn massive residual income on Triond (say, around $3200 a month) but, to do so, you have to research subjects and employ thorough SEO/SMO (which I try to do with all my published content, regardless of the medium or platform). I say temper your expectations – there are NO get rich quick solutions (just scams pretending to be shortcuts) out there! Continue reading

The Last Job Seeker Guide You’ll Ever Need (Sorta)

Recession. It’s the dirty word that everyone is throwing out these days.  Companies are using it as a cop-out for questionable business ethics and employee treatment.   Anything goes wrong, let’s blame the recession.  The truth is that the recession was years in the making.  I’d say that the signs were obvious as early as 1999, when it seemed like everyone was going back to school or at least changing their profession.  Most folks foolishly felt they could jump on the real estate, IT, and other trends to take advantage of what seemed like “guaranteed money”.  The only difference now is that people stopped fooling themselves and realized one thing: this job market SUCKS.

If Dubbya says were not in a recession, then it must be true!

If Dubbya says we're not in a recession, then it must be true!

As one of my colleagues put it, the gravy days of sales and business in general are behind us.  It used to be that all you needed was a good idea or a product that was in a market had high demand.  Customers would come to you and the only issue was making sure you got through to them before all the other sneezers (thank you Seth Godin, Mr. Purple Cow) in your market contaminated them with their preferred solutions and brands.  Retail stores had to staff up heavily and, even so, they barely could handle traffic.  There were only a few providers in every sector so everyone got a big piece of the pie.  Not so anymore.

Nowadays, the competitive landscape is congested and companies are cutting corners.  Training is not as extensive, quality of service has gone down the poop chute, staffing is minimal at best, and customers are far less interested in what you have to say.  Everyone has heard the ‘ol marketing song-and-dance and they’ve learned to tune it out.  This is a boon for the customers because companies will negotiate more but it is a bane for job seekers, especially those that have dreams to find the perfect job and career track.

Continue reading

Marketing No-No’s: How to Scare Away Customers in Five Minutes or Less

With Summer coming to an end soon, I’ve decided to take some R&R and bring some long over-due projects to an end. This year has been quite interesting but one thing never changes: every month or so, I run into at least one over-zealous sales person. Few things turn off customers more than empty words, cliche statements, and typical sales talk yet even the best companies are plagued by individuals that I feel have a sort of diarrhea of the mouth, to put it bluntly.

Oh no - it's the scary sales guy!!

The bad thing about these sales people is that they bring a lot of heat to the rest of us, the few that know better than to use tired scripts and strong-arm tactics. It is something that has hurt the IT field, retail, and many other industries. Today, I want to hone in on the MLM/Direct Sales/Network Marketing industry because these types of business now account for more than half of the businesses in the United States (believe it or not). With these companies growing rapidly, everyone will be exposed, which can spell out good things or bad things, depending on what side you’re on and what sort of training the involved parties may have.

I’ll be clear about this for anyone that may have not read my other articles on the Network Marketing business: these types of franchises work but, like in any occupation, there’s good, bad, and plenty of ugly! If you ask me, many of the MLM folks I have encountered also seem to train with the same few people. Their scripts and systems vary a bit but you can always spot these folks from a mile away. They dress the same, use the same corny jokes, draw the same diagrams, and try to hard to exude positive energy, result-driven performance, and things that they think will attract customers and team members alike. These folks couldn’t be more wrong. Anyone that listens to these folks and has been exposed to a similar business would believe these MLM folks all read the handbook on how to scare away customers as quickly as possible by the way they overwhelm you with robotic sales speech!

Continue reading

Bad Recruiters, Identity Theft, and What To Do About It

Job hunters throughout the United States have cited that their biggest sore point in the job hunt is dealing with inept recruiters. Who can blame them? Recruiters typically repost the job ads that the hiring companies post on their corporate sites then only do the bare minimum to screen and prepare candidates. It has been my personal experience in recent

years that, if a recruiter does more than give you a vague description of the job and ask you to tailor your resume to include certain buzzwords, you have yourself a keeper. The general approach seems to be this: collect as many close fits as possible, herd them together, sell the hype, and hope that the candidates can do the rest of the work for you.

The reality is that recruiters are suffering along with job seekers. Job market saturation is arguably the byproduct of overseas outsourcing, widespread “right-sizing”, 1990’s dot-com collapses, and, of course, 9/11. Our economy has taken a hard hit and, as more and more fresh college graduates enter the workforce, it is not getting any easier, even for the most seasoned veterans in their fields. Recruiters are dealing with easily three or four times the workload that was expected in the “golden age” of the mid-90’s. There is also far more competition from other staffing and recruiting firms. The Recruiting Animal blog cites that the typical recruiter handles anywhere from 26-30 projects at a time on average, which is definitely more than recruiters experienced even 5 years ago. It’s no wonder recruiters are spending less time preparing and qualifying their candidates!

Continue reading

Business Lessons from the Entertainment Industry

As I watched Comedy Central yesterday and multitasked as I am often known to do, I noticed that they have strategically combined shows that will appeal to different groups. Essentially, every other scheduled program appeals to a specific kind of viewer. Of course, there is overlap but that’s just the gravy on top of there simple yet brilliant recipe.

Entertainment is an industry that everyone wants to get into yet people in the business are not always seen as “professionals”. Part of this is because every other person becomes a stargazer at some point, deluded by dreams of fame and grandeur. People fail to see that there is hard work involved in this industry, regardless of what you do. Everyone think they have talent and perhaps they do but there’s a certain work ethic required that many people lack; heck, it’s definitely not my “bag”.

Consider the job of comedians. They get on stage with very little knowledge of what their audience will be like. They have an act which, for the most part, is planned out but, if they do not get the reaction they seek, they have to improvise. By doing this, they are creating a message tailored to their audience. This is what is at the core of marketing: creating a message that suits your audience.

Most comedians these days use an inside joke approach to things. They talk about everyday life but, if you can not relate to their take on everyday life, the joke may be hard to get. Cultural barriers are critical in the crafting of their comedic material. It may sound racist but, quite often, the jokes of black comedians and latin comedians alike may seem annoying to a non-minority yuppie, especially if they are sharing their experiences in the ghetto and said yuppies never even stepped foot in a ghetto.

I’ve always noticed that people that love political humor or more dry humor may not appreciate the over-the-top acts by folks like Cedric the Entertainer, Dave Chapelle, and Bernie Mac. The exception here is that Dave Chapelle makes his jokes a bit more generalized so many different folks appreciate it; meanwhile, the other black comedians tend to form cliques of sorts by only relaying messages that their fellows can relate to. There’s nothing wrong with this at all but, of course, it shows how different audiences will receive different messages.

Consider also how some folks love Seinfield but may detest the aforementioned comedians. The same seems to go the other way around unless you are open-minded and experienced enough to appreciate toilet humor, intellectual humor, political humor, and various types of “cultural-delimited” comedy. I appreciate all sorts of films, music, and humor myself. That being said, I personally find Seinfield type humor more entertaining because it speaks of everyday experiences that everyone may encounter, not just a specific group of people. Taking simple little situations and putting them into a hilarious context is brilliant whereas these culture-tailored messages are more about getting people to say “I HEAR THAT MAN!”

The anti-thesis of popular black and latin comedy is something like Jeff Foxworthy’s “blue collar” comedy. I don’t particularly find it funny, not because I don’t get the joke but I think they try too hard to make it funny sometimes. This is also what I don’t like about other over-the-top comedians. To me, comedy should be subtle, catching you by surprise; after all, comedy in it’s essence is tragedy plus timing. This inside joke stuff is also risque because some people may not get it. Hopefully, you can get some of that viral marketing going: a few people laugh and then the others follow, just to not feel left out of the fun.

The lessons here are simple: tailor your message to the audience you wish to attract, employ timing to your advantage, and don’t make your efforts too blatantly obvious because then they’ll seem insincere and scripted. In sales and marketing, the big training message is always “find the hot buttons then push them”. This may be true to an extent, regardless of whether you are using a PPF, SWARM, FORM, or FARM approach (or something similar), but there’s much more to it. It’s all about how you do it, not what you do. People are funny: give them what they want and they may be happy but, if you’re overdoing it, they feel smothered, exploited, or used. Nobody wants to be a puppet or guinea pig; people HATE to feel used. Sadly, as a consumer, we are often being strung along and used – that’s just the way the game is played, folks!

In comedy, you have to be careful about doing things that can be controversial. Some comedians have a “nothing is sacred” approach to things and they succeed. That is because they manage expectations effectively. People know what to expect from the comedians so they are not shocked, at least not in a bad way. In general, there are a few taboos of communication and I’d say that the two big ones are politics and religion, which often go hand-in-hand. How daring a comedian is in these areas can win them a niche audience. The strength in small is having fanatical focus and, thus, a more effective message to deliver. Small is often more loyal than the many because large groups are harder to manage and predict. If you understand your market well, you can know about the biases that tend to be prevalent and, thus, be more prepared to address them preemptively, before they can explode in your face.

Let’s consider the concept of large and small demographics. When people are trying to go for the masses or mainstream groups, they are dealing with large demographics. The problem with big is that it can be intimidating. If you have a message that has a little something for everyone, you’re really not appealing to anyone in particular. As I always say around this time, appeal to the masses and your story will be less powerful, less believable, and less genuine. The same happens when you try to draw in a crowd of people that are loosely binded by one or two common interests. My particularly favorite example of this is how car makers are now trying to create entire product lines geared towards “youthful” people. I’m pretty sure if you ask people what that means, you’ll get all sorts of different answers. This then becomes an almost impossible marketing undertaking.

Small groups is where it’s at and any good entertainer knows this. Whether you are the comedian that is making references to things only certain types of people can appreciate or you’re a DJ creating sets that cater to those that appreciate certain genres, rhythms, and BPM counts, you are tailoring your message to a specific group. Though I said I do not like the culture-delimited humor sometimes, I can appreciate what the comedians are doing here. What some may construe as loud, obnoxious, or just offensive, those that can relate to it will “get it”.

These realizations are huge. People hate sales yet they fail to realize that, any time you are selling a message or yourself, you are doing sales. Once someone buys into the message you set forth, the sale has been made. The beauty of the marketing side of things is that, if you do a good job with the few, the few will tell the few that they know and those few will do the same until it snowballs into much larger numbers than you originally attended to appeal to. What’s even more beautiful here is how this game of telephone will allow people to grab the things that they like from the message and, if they is something they don’t like, they’ll just shoot the messenger, not the message.

Indeed, there are many things we can learn from entertainers and what I have mentioned is only the tip of the iceberg!

The Suit Does Not Make The Man/Woman

Straight from my page on Blogspot, home to more of my rantings and random blurbs…

Recently, I enjoyed a myriad of skeptical consumers that said that Wii’s would not be available until after the holiday season. I avidly disagreed and cited several reliable sources, including quotes from salespeople that could be trusted, which is something hard to do with your stereotypical salesperson, lawyer, or religious fanatic (sorry, it’s true). People huffed and scoffed at my liberal, idealistic ideas.

Fast forward just a few hours after the conversations tapered off and, lo and behold, people are coming out of major stores with what? Bags. What is in them? Nintendo Wii gaming consoles. Not only were there lots of Wii’s coming in today and still being put up on shelves in phases, but accessories were abundant. Sony really dropped the ball and I don’t care what S&M (sales and marketing, that is) goobledygook they throw at you, it was all part of some sad tactics. It failed miserably because now people are fiendin’ for the Wii more and more each day.

This just goes to show you that self-proclaimed experts, especially those that wear a suit or uniform, do not know it all. Just because you go to a gaming store and ask someone there about something does not mean that they will answer correctly or honestly. In fact, I’d say that these days incompetent people at the points of customer service are more common; they are the rule, not the exception.

There are a few reasons for this. Quite simply, people just don’t give a flying fart anymore. The passion and interest in someone’s area of expertise has taken a backseat to self-pity, apathy, and plain old indifference. Another problem is that people don’t know how to say “I really don’t know”. Last but not least, folks do not do their homework even though all you need to do is search the Internet and all the information is right there at your finger tips.

The uniformed retail experts are up there with paper-certified IT “professionals”. I scoff at them. Please don’t use someone else’s word as fact. Don’t be so naive. Because of the incessant insistence that there would be no Wii before Christmas, you all missed out on an abundance of systems today, BLACK FRIDAY. *shakes his head* Can I get a “pwnt” in the house? =oX

*** 10 Points, Yogi – 0 Points, Corporate America ***

UPDATE: Mind you, as much as I grow tired of stuffy suits and ties due to my bid in Corporate America (before I decided to fly solo), I do realize the importance of first impressions. Really, appearance is part of the complete marketing approach so you can’t forego formalities, even if you’d like to see a paradigm shift away from old money rules. It’s not just about looking good to feel good. You have to match your audience and show that you take them and your business seriously (a mechanic in an apron, for example, would likely throw scare you away, right?). The purpose of this article was to support the idea that looking the part is not good enough: you have to do your research and value your customers too!

For a good read on dressing to impress, check out JJ’s article on “Dressing To Be A Professional” at DogSpotOn.com – great read! She ruffles some feathers but really creates the urgency here.

Related Links: