Elton John’s Guide to Business Success

images-90Elton John and Bernie Taupin wrote some bitchin’ songs. “Take Me to the Pilot”, “Tiny Dancer”, “Candle in the Wind”, “I Guess That’s Why They Call It The Blues”, “Sad Songs (Say So Much)”

All awesome, but I’m partial to Border Song. It’s moody. It’s dark. It’s soulful. It’s a great song. Except for that third verse. Which might be one of the worst things. Ever. And I don’t just mean in music.

If you’ve never heard Border Song, or haven’t heard it since it was new, I’ve included the video for your viewing pleasure. (And because Elton John’s hair makes my Salvidor Dali photos look fricking fashionable.) Give it a listen and then come back. I’ll wait.

Bad Lyrics = a Prime Business Lesson

The last verse is vague, trite and unimaginative, but what can it teach you about running your business? A lot. See, when Bernie and Elton wrote together, they did it separately. Bernie worked in one room. Elton in another. Bernie wrote lyrics. Elton wrote music. When they eventually put them together, something amazing (usually) came out.

When they wrote Border Song it was originally only two verses (the good ones). It was Elton that wanted the 3rd(shitty) verse and wrote the lyrics himself. The result? A good song that could have been great but, much like a bad blowjob, chokes right at the end. And all because Elton wanted to play on Bernie’s side of the creative fence.

Your Business and Your Business

Elton didn’t see that the lyrics were none of his business. If he could write great lyrics, he wouldn’t have needed a Bernie. So how often are you making this same mistake with your business? Ever started a site and tried to learn all of the coding and web design, when you should have just hired someone?

Are you a great writer, but get bogged down in graphic design? A copywriter trying to decipher your accounting every month? The problem is that, unless web design, graphic design or accounting are your business, they aren’t your business.

It’s what economists call “opportunity costs.” Time and effort spent on one thing, means that those resources can’t be spent on something else. Playing in the neighbor’s yard just brings all your work down in quality because it takes focus away from what will actually make you money.

Don’t get distracted and don’t play cheap. Remember to find your one thing and stick to it. Find what you’re great at and do it over and over again. Anything else is just a waste of your time.

5 Quick Tips for Not Sucking at Word of Mouth Marketing

I’ve been burned on that before. It’s not that I don’t know how or that I’m gun-shy. I’ve just found a better way (built a better reader trap, if you will). My way doesn’t involve spending money, it doesn’t require a graphic designer and there is zero risk.

It isn’t about building back links, or writing an article. It’s not about forum spamming or linkbaiting. It’s about making friends.

Word of Mouth (the marketing equivalent of Dumm-Dumm-Dummmmmm!)

When you read “Word of Mouth Marketing,” I know, like, half of you got the image of that on guy at every networking event who always tries to tell you about his new “opportunity” while shoving a business card in your hand.

It’s not about that. It’s about the purest form of viral marketing: being so good that people can’t help but talk about you. And there are some things you can do to tip the viral scales in your favor.

Don’t Write Sucky Content

So, I know I’m getting the obvious one out the way first, but this does deserve a spot on the list. If you’ve ever wondered why there is no great guide to viral marketing, it’s because there’s no good way to tell people how to not suck. If I could break down “be awesome” into 10 action steps I would. But I can’t (yet).

John Morrow over at Copyblogger has made a pretty good try at it though, so start there if you’re worried about it. But if you can’t guarantee not sucking, make sure what you’re creating is at least something that people want, are looking for and is good enough recommend to their friends. If the answer to any of those is no, it’s back to the drawing board.

Make Your Stuff Easy to Share

If your blog posts aren’t optimized for social media, you’ve fucked up big. But there is actually a bigger fuck up available to you: Email and Print buttons. There is still a large portion of the population that is just now getting a firm grasp on email (don’t even ask them what social media is).

Give them the option to share through email, (still the most widely used form of online communication) and give them the option to print out your work and take it with them. Not only are they going to physically hand printed hard copies to people who will be interested enough to visit your site later, but you give them access to your brilliance any time and any place they want.

Ask For the Share

The best way to get anything in life is still just to ask for it. Want blog comments? Ask for them. Want more Re-Tweets? Ask for them. Think of it as a call to action. Would you end a sales letter without asking the reader to buy your product?

Um. No. So why would you end an article that you would like to have shared without asking your readers to spread it far and wide? Make Friends to Spread Your Work

The myth of the lone nerd in his darkened basement making millions while he plays World of Warcraft and munches on Funions is just that, a myth (at least the making millions part). No successful person online got there by themselves.

Every A-lister you know and look up to got to where they are because they had a support group to help get them there. Support groups of online friends and partners will promote your work to their audiences and help point you toward opportunities you might be missing.

Approach every online contact with a sense of win-win (this is very different than tit-for-tat) and start making friends. Do this right and you can’t help but grow your traffic. If you’re not sure how to do this, Third Tribe is a great place to start.

Join The Conversation

There’s a difference between sharing a new post with your audience and blatant self-promotion. Don’t promote your own stuff. It’s disingenuous and, well, spammy. Your focus needs to be on promoting other people’s work. Show other people how awesome your online friend’s content is. Comment on blogs and forums.

Promote your support group and spread any other cool stuff you find online with anyone who might benefit from your find. That’s what the successful A-Listers do.

Find other cool things to share with your readers. It builds trust and great rapport, which brings them right back into your site and your content time and time again. Word of mouth marketing is all about letting your true awesomeness shine through.

It’s the one form of marketing that truly can’t be manipulated. To be successful, you have to have something that lives up to it’s promises and is truly worthy of mass attention and approval. It all goes back to point # 1: Above All, Don’t Suck.

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