Woody Allen was right

Woody Allen used to say 90% of success in business was just showing up.

He’s right. Now more than ever.

In the social web, showing up is 90%. The other 10% is knowing what to do when you show up.

It doesn’t mean tweeting about your latest product or service or why someone should do business with you.

It means listening and engaging.

It means reacting quickly to negativity.

It means being generous. To a fault.

It means being transparent and building trust.

It means being a Connector.

It means being there before the sale.

It means being consistent and reliable.

Showing up isn’t hard but it’s critical. It means more than it ever has.

Crocodiles and free pizza

“With every drink order, you get a free pizza.”

It sounds crazy. Or at least backwards.

But that’s the deal at Crocodile Lounge in the Gramercy / East Village neighborhood of New York City. With every single drink order, you get a ticket for a free pizza. All the time.

It’s not just a story, it’s a story that spreads. Friends tell friends. Friends bring friends.

They tweet about it.

They Yelp about it.

They blog about it. A lot. Photo credit by Smack Factor.

They check in on Foursquare.
.

Crocodile Lounge isn’t even active in social media themselves. They gave their fans a story that is easy to explain and fun to tell and the fans are carrying the message in person and online.

People are incredulous when you tell them about the free pizza per drink deal. “That’s impossible?! How do they make any money?”.

This only helps the story to spread, of course.

For you spreadsheet and ROI jockeys (I used to be one) here is my take on the short version of how it works (I’ll guess conservatively on the #’s):

Costs
The two guys who make pizzas all night probably make $10 / hour plus tips. Call it 10 hours per day * $10 / hour * two guys = $200.
Dough is cheap. The raw materials to make all the pizzas in a night probably costs about $200.

So, being conservative, the incremental cost of Crocodile offering free pizza is $400 per night.

Revenue
A tap beer is about $5.
Cost to the bar = less than $1.

So at a profit of $4 per beer, once the free pizza gimmick brings in an incremental 100 drinks per night, it’s now making money, at a very high profit margin.

Plus all the word of mouth, social mentions and positive press.

Once you do the math, it’s no longer crazy. It’s not backwards. It’s brilliant.

[NB: They also have two skee ball lanes in back. Here’s the throwdown. I can beat any of my readers in skee ball. If I lose, I’ll buy you a pizza.]

What crazy and backwards idea can think up for your business? What story can you give your fans to tell?

Inspiration, not information

At every presentation, the level of understanding of the subject matter by the audience varies widely.

If you’re giving a presentation on social media, some people are well educated and understand it’s place in business (and it’s not always the people live-tweeting your thoughts). There are others who know a little but are less familiar than the first group. Still others may know little to nothing.

The audience’s knowledge and experience lies along a wide spectrum.

So what is a good presenter to do? How do you make sure that the experts aren’t bored and the others aren’t left behind?

Use inspiration, not information.

Use the information to illustrate a key point or concept. Tell a story. Take them to a place.

Sir Ken Robinson presented to a room full of TED folks who knew (in varying degrees) that our current education system is sub-optimal.

Steve Jobs presents to hundreds of thousands of people, in person and online, who have literally been predicting and prototyping what he’s going to tell them.

Don’t give information. Give inspiration.

Then, you’ll have the whole room.

Flowtown knows what you’re wearing

OK, they may not know what you’re wearing but there is a good chance they know your customers better than you do.

Flowtown uses emails from your customer database, (you do have an email database for your customers, right?) and can tell you interesting and valuable information about those customers.

I recently met the founders of Flowtown online. They are wicked smart guys with a product that is immediately useful to almost any business.

Below is my interview with Ethan Bloch.

Who are you and what do you do?
I’m Ethan Bloch and I’m the Co-founder and CEO of Flowtown.

Why should companies use Flowtown?
Because social media is hard and Flowtown turns social data in dollars.

How much does Flowtown know about someone from their email address?
Name, Age Group, Gender, Occupation, Location, Influence and almost every Social network they’re on.

Really? Wow. Do you know what I’m wearing right now?
I think you’d prefer I didn’t say ;)

So this would allow companies to do more targeted campaigns. For instance, if only 10,000 of their 100,000 members are twitter users, they could do a focused campaign, right?
Totally, way more focused. For example if you’re not on Twitter it would be annoying to get an email saying ‘Hi Clay, we’re building out our presence on Twitter…” you’d be like “I’m not on there, why are you sending me this?” On the flip side we’ve found that if you know someone is on a network and you mention that in your email, the performance of that campaign skyrockets.

Is Flowtown a replacement for traditional email systems like Flowtown, AWeber or MailChimp?
In the case of mainstream email service providers, I don’t think Flowtown is a replacement but rather an enhancement. For example we’ve built an integration with MailChimp where any MailChimp user can come to Flowtown and in 3 clicks dump a ton of demographic and social graphic information back into their MailChimp list and then use MailChimp’s segmentation feature to get more relevant with their subscribers.

You guys are adding interesting new features to Flowtown pretty quickly. Tell us about some of them.
We just launched an influence calculation (powered by Klout), where now when you import a contact list we’ll show you your top 50 influencers, which you can use to do 1-on-1 outreach i.e. we’re showing you the 20% that will drive 80% of the results, in respect to getting noticed and building buzz.

In fact everything we do at Flowtown is ran through this ‘Pareto Lens’ – early on, internally, Dan and I would speak of Flowtown as the 80/20 marketing filter for business.

Tell me about your partner, Dan Martell. How did you guys meet?
He’s a Rockstar – we wouldn’t be anywhere close to where we are today without Dan.

We actually met on Twitter back in September 2008. Did an IRL meetup, discovered we’re both passionate about marketing and moving the needle for business and the rest is history…

Tell us what your typical day at Flowtown is like.
I wake up around 6:30 and immediately touch base with David (VP of Engineering), he’s on EST so by the time I get up I’m already playing catchup.

(I jumpstart my day by using a strategy from Leo at Zen Habits: http://zenhabits.net/2007/02/jumpstart-your-day-night-before-evening/)

I’ll do a brief skim of all the new email that’s came in make sure there’s no bombs going off and then then I’ll work on 1-2 of the most important tasks I have scheduled for the day, for the next 3 hours, usually product, sales or biz dev focused, this could include new product mocks, coding, emails, phone calls, brainstorming and white boarding.

After those 3-hours are up I start going into a more ad-hoc mode, where I’m answering email/tweets, talking to customers, closing new customers, working with David on new features, bouncing around the bay for meetings, testing new features, breaking things and syncing up with Dan.

Later in the day/evening is when I go to the 30,000+ foot view of life, this includes research, reading (going through my Instapaper) and planning.

What did you do before you started Flowtown?
Right before I started Flowtown I was producing/hosting a video show called WSYK? (What Should You Know?) which was syndicated by Revision3. And I was a marketer full time at Cake Financial, a start-up that was recently sold to E-Trade.

Where do you hope Flowtown will be in 3 years?
Flowtown will be responsible for raising the bar on customer experience/service, by helping all businesses care for their customers like Zappos cares for theirs.

What’s the plan then?
Not sure if I’ll be ready, but I want to help fill the massive void in education. I hated school growing up and think there’s a lot we can do to improve the experience for children everywhere.

You’re from Baltimore. Please tell me you’ve seen the Wire or we’re ending this interview right now.

“You come at the king you best not miss.”

I love The Wire. My favorite character is Omar and if you don’t know why just watch this.

Thanks, Ethan.

If you want to try Flowtown yourself, enter your email address here.

8 Reasons Why Conan Should Go Direct

There is an important lesson in this whole Conan vs. Leno debacle.

No matter how famous you are or how many fans you have, if you work for a huge corporation, they own you.

NBC wanted to put Conan’s show at 12:05am. Technically, that’s not even The Tonight Show. It’s The Tomorrow Show.

Conan is so frustrated, he just put the show up for sale on Craigslist.

Sure, Conan could make $40 million over at Fox and probably kill in the ratings but you can bet someday, some rube network exec would move his time slot in favor of The Sarah Palin Variety Hour. Then Conan would completely lose his marbles and he would spend the rest of his days walking around Central Park mumbling like Rain Man…

“……should have had the 11:30 slot…..18 pigeons, definitely 18 pigeons……I’m an excellent comedian…….23 times funnier than Jay Leno……definitely deserved the 11:30 slot…….”

Here are 8 reasons Conan should go direct.

1) Full creative control over his own content

Now he writes a lot of his own stuff but imagine if he wasn’t censored at all. Look out.

2) Not working for Jeff Zucker

3) Not working for anyone

4) Online video worked well for Gary V. and the Monty Python guys.

5) Never having to worry about ratings again
Let Leno have the “ratings” on NBC. His demographic is not Conan’s anyway, so why try to fight for it. It’s sort of like Newhart and Family Guy jockeying for position.

6) Any format, any device
Conan’s demographic consumes content differently. He could make videos of any length that his audience could consume and stream anywhere. iPhones, iPods, Droids, iSlates, other tablets. Design the content to be snackable and sharable and we will snack and we will share.

7) Watching a show at its original time slot is obsolete
I’ve seen plenty of clips of Saturday Night Live in the last few years, but never on Saturday night. My social network does the filtering and the best and funniest clips bubble to me on twitter and Facebook.

8 ) Your own channel means your own audience and unlimited bandwidth
You don’t see Chris Brogan and Seth Godin arguing over timeslots, do you?

It’s your world, Conan. Step out from behind the network execs and own it.

Director of Phone

How absurd would it be to hire a “Director of Phone”?

Imagine proposing a job requisition for an “Email Manager” position?

Where would you go to hire a “Czar of FAX”?

Yet companies are hiring “social media managers” and “social media directors” to lead the “social media team”.

In a couple years, these titles will seem just as absurd as those above.

Social media needs to and will become (for those who get it right) integrated with all other functions and part of the fabric of the organization, just like phone, FAX and email did.

(The huge difference is that social media is the first of these kind tools that allows you to listen first.)

It won’t be a skill and it won’t be a department.

Thinking outside the (Four)square

Today I was at the Consumer Electronics Show helping Altec Lansing (a Tribes Win client) setup their booth. In between unpacking and displaying product and setting up the booth’s wifi, I was tweeting on my iPhone and decided to check in on Foursquare.

(Tip: If you ever need to setup wifi at a conference, I highly recommend Trade Show Internet – it all came in a nice little box and setup was a snap. Great service.)

If you don’t know about Foursquare, it’s a location based social network and game. Mashable did a great overview post on it here. The potential for Foursqaure is huge and just this week, they went global.

While I was setting up the booth amidst the thousands of others, the marketing portion of my mind (the rest is just Wire episodes) started thinking of fun ways to encourage people to stop by the Altec Lansing booth.

The progression of my thought process was as follows:

1) CES is filled with early adopter tech geeks like myself.

2) Many of these tech geeks will be using their geeky smartphones and many will be checking in on Foursquare.

3) People like to win things.

So I setup a “special” on Foursquare. Businesses can setup almost any special they can think of for Foursqaure users. For instance, they can setup a special where the mayor (the person who has checked in the most times at a given venue) gets a free drink, like in the example below.

So I setup a Foursquare special where anyone who comes by the Altec Lansing CES booth and checks in gets entered in a drawing to win the Mix boom box. If you haven’t seen or heard this thing, it’s the quickest bass-booming way to punch your ticket to cool-kid status, especially for us tech & gadget geeks.

So now when anyone checks in anywhere near our Altec Lansing booth at CES, Foursquare will notify them of the “special” we have and they can stop by to enter and win a Mix.

Is this the intended use of Foursquare? Not exactly.

Will our “venue” even exist past Sunday? Nope.

Is it a way for us to meet and connect with more people at the show and have some fun? Definitely.

Sometimes you have to think outside the (four) square.

(I also tweeted that if you stop by, play RockBand and beat Angel’s score, you can win a Stage Gig. If you’re at CES, come by and say hi.)

Asking why

When phones were first introduced into workplaces, there was widespread resistance by management.

“Why should everyone have a phone? They’ll just call home.”

When FAX machines were introduced, there was a great deal of skepticism.

“Why do we need a FAX machine? We’ll never use it.”

When email became available for enterprise organizations, it was not quickly adopted.

“Why would anyone need their own email account? They’ll just email their friends.”

We’re seeing the same thing with social media. Some companies are embracing the new channels and opportunities and learning how to use them to improve their business.

Many are still stuck asking why.

Sink your ships

This post is inspired by a presentation I attended last summer by Mitch Joel, a brilliant marketer who has a wonderful blog over at Six Pixels of Separation.

Mitch told the story of legendary explorer Captain Hernando Cortés. In July 1519, Cortés and a small army left the Spanish held island of Cuba and set out on one of the greatest conquests in the history of the world.

In order to eliminate escape by some of his men still loyal to the Governor of Cuba, Cortés “scuttled” or intentionally sank his ships. Some historical accounts incorrectly claim Cortés burned the ships. The method of destruction doesn’t really matter – the point is, there was no going back.

This time of year, a lot of us are making New Year’s resolutions and trying to stick to them.

Think of Cortés and his choice to sink his ships. How can you “sink your ships” to make sure you stick to your goals?

If one of your goals is to eat better, throw away all the food in the house that doesn’t fit the healthier eating plan. (People eat what they have on hand, so healthy eating at home really happens at the grocery store.)

Are you trying to spend less or get out of debt? Cut up all your credit cards and only pay cash for discretionary purchases.

Do you want to watch less television and workout more? Sell your TV.

Do you want to travel more but find it hard to plan or take vacation at the last minute? Plan and book your vacations now and tell your friends and family. It’s unlikely you’ll cancel.

Do you want to start exploring social media for your company but don’t have the money? Cancel any ineffective traditional advertising and re-allocate the budget to finding someone to help you explore these new channels.

What are your goals? What ships you can sink?

You need a David

David makes passengers laugh.

David makes passengers applaud.

David makes passengers safer.

David gives people a story to tell their friends.

David makes it fun for his colleagues to come to work.

David loves his job.

David makes more people fly Southwest Airlines.

David’s video has almost 2.5 million views on YouTube but even without the internet, the story spreads. Social media just helps it spread faster and further.

Your organization needs more people like David.

Do you know how to look for Davids?

Do you know how to hire Davids?

Here’s a secret…

We all have more David in us than we think, it’s just buried beneath years of “you can’t” and “you shouldn’t”.

Does your company culture enable and encourage people like David to be…….like David?

David

A smarter Clay

Check out this excellent TED @State talk from the smartest Clay I know.

The most important changes Clay highlights:

“The media that is good at creating conversation is no good at creating groups. The media that is good at creating groups is no good at creating conversation.”

“The internet is the first medium in history that has native support for groups and conversations at the same time.”

“As all media gets digitized, the internet becomes the mode of carriage for all other media.”

“Members of the former audience can now be producers instead of consumers. The same equipment lets you consume and produce.”

And my favorite quote from the entire video:

“The moment we’re living through, the moment our historical generation is living through, is the largest increase in expressive capability in human history.”

The boldness of that statement is overshadowed only by its accuracy.

You don’t control your brand

United Airlines screwed up bad.

In the spring of 2008, Dave Carrol flew United Airlines to a gig with his band, Sons of Maxwell. His expensive Taylor guitar ended up broken at the hand of United employees and the airline.

At that point, they had two options:

Option A – Seize the defect
Cost: $3000 and a nice follow up phone call or email.
Impact: Create a positive story and a customer evangelist.

Option B – Ignore it. Offer no compensation or explanation. Hope it goes away.
Cost: $0. Lots of time spent responding to repeated complaints.
Impact: 3.2 million views of a hilarious, viral video trashing United’s brand.

There are two lessons here.

1) Put the customer first, like Zappos, JetBlue and Disney.
2) When you make a mistake, it’s not the end of the world. But seize the opportunity. Rectify the mistake, quickly and generously.

You don’t control your brand, but if you take care of your customers, they’ll take care of your brand.

United_Breaks_Guitars

The Advertiser – Customer Break Up

Thanks to Chris Brogan’s post for linking to this video.

For anyone who still thinks huge advertising budgets and interrupting customers is effective, these excellent videos put it all in context.

The second, longer video, including the “CEO” and the “Creative Director” is below…

breakup-large

A Goode lesson

After seeing the success of the “Best job in the world” contest run by the tourism board of Queensland, Australia, which drew almost 35,000 applications and put the obscure state on the map, David Ready, Jr., of Murphy Goode winery decided to run a similar contest.

Like the Queensland campaign, the publicly stated objective was to find someone to act as their social media marketer, blogging and tweeting about the product and the experience.

We at the Murphy-Goode Winery got to thinking about the new age of communications and we figured it was a pretty good thing. So to get going, we’re looking for someone (maybe you) who really knows how to use Web 2.0 and Facebook and blogs and social media and YouTube and all sorts of good stuff like that — to tell the world about our wines and the place where we live: the Sonoma County Wine Country.

In exchange, we’re offering you a “Really Goode Job” — a six-month job paying $10,000 a month plus accommodations!

We want to hire a social media whiz (your title will be “Murphy-Goode Wine Country Lifestyle Correspondent”) who will report on the cool lifestyle of Sonoma County Wine Country and, of course, tell people what you’re learning about winemaking.

Full overview of the contest is here.

The real objective, of course, was the same as the Queensland contest, lots of free publicity and brand exposure, which is fine when executed correctly.

Murphy Goode had participants submit videos and then had viewers vote and rate the videos. The videos were re-posted on YouTube. Over the next few weeks, as viewers were able to vote for their favorite contestants, it drove a lot of traffic to Murphy-Goode’s website.

But the devil is in the details. This is where Murphy Goode tripped up.

The votes meant nothing. When the top vote getter by a large margin San Francisco’s Martin Sargent wasn’t chosen to be in the top 100, he tweeted about it. Then it was picked up by Digg founder Kevin Rose, who retweeted it. It made it to Digg and was seen by a few million people. Murphy Goode eventually apologized for the confusion on Facebook.

murphy-goode-poster

But wait, before you pour out all your bottles of Snake Eyes…

Murphy Goode didn’t break any of their stated rules. The contest never claimed the votes determined the winners but they weren’t as clear as they should have been that the votes were ‘just for fun’. Since we live, for better or worse, in an American Idol world, many assumed that the votes determined who would make the next round.

The lesson here is pretty simple. Be 100% transparent (and do it in large type). If voting is involved, make sure that the results of the voting are clearly understood and not in the fine print.

Like a few companies have and many companies will, Murphy Goode learned a lesson about the finer points of social media. That said, the huge “backlash” is overstated and misdirected.

This wasn’t a case of intentional deception, it was a case of naive omission. Overall, the net result will be positive.

(full disclosure: I enjoy shaking dice, so it’s hard to hate any producer that makes wines named “Liar’s Dice” and “Snake Eyes” that admittedly doesn’t take themselves too seriously.)

I applaud Murphy Goode for jumping in the pool, even if they splashed a little on entry.

OK Go (now do it)

A few years ago, Chicago power-pop band OK Go were rehearsing for a live show, which included videotaping a dance routine for their single, “A Million Ways”.

The clip accidentally leaked onto the web, and spread quickly, garnering millions of views and even homemade tributes to it.

So in 2006, they filmed a follow-up video, set to their clever and poppy ”Here It Goes Again.”

[you’ll need to click the link above, embedding has been disabled for this video]

The cost
– 10 days. 8 days of choreography, one day of setup and one afternoon of shooting. 14 takes. No editing.
– $2,000 to rent eight treadmills (they bought them from a used treadmill dealer and returned them a week later at a small loss)
– 10 days of buying dinner for lead singer Damian Kulash’s sister, who let the band shoot the video in her house in Orlando

The results
– Over 47 million views on YouTube, including over 1 million in the first 24 hours
– 188,481 ratings – averaging 5 stars
– dramatically increased album sales
– dramatically increased ticket sales and a bigger tour contract, (including concerts in Moscow, where their CD wasn’t even released, resulting in….
– better negotiation leverage with their record label

What do you think? Was it worth the cost?

This took a clever idea and ten days of practice. Before you buy another billboard, newspaper or magazine ad, consider what you could do cheaply that has a viral potential.

Treadmill Dancing

You’ve never had pizza

Punch Logo

I mean true, authentic Neapolitan-style pizza. You get a pass if you’ve been to Naples, or a handful of places here in the U.S. who do it right, but most people haven’t had the pleasure.

It’s not even fair to classify it as pizza. Putting it in the same phylum as Domino’s is like grouping Nobu sashimi with a McDonalds Filet-O-Fish. Worlds apart. Or as Samuel Jackson put it so eloquently in Pulp Fiction, “ain’t the same ballpark, ain’t the same league, ain’t even the same _______ sport.”

Pizza

You already know this if you’ve ever tasted one. The crust is bubbly and lightly charred, chewy on the outside and thin and soft on the inside, the liquid from the world’s finest San Marzano tomatoes soaking through. The simple construction is fired in an 800 degree woodfired brick oven for somewhere between 120 and 180 seconds, timed perfectly by a trained pizzaioli, using methods set in law by the Italian government to preserve pizza for generations unborn.

Many claim authenticity, but there are only a handful of places in the United States where you can get such a pizza. Punch Pizza in St. Paul, Minnesota is such a place.

I remember when I lived in the Twin Cities from 1996 – 2004, the original Punch location in the Highland Park area of St. Paul was knows as a perfect first date spot – casual, friendly and the best pizza anywhere.

A few years ago, when passing through to shoot a film, Meryl Streep called it the “best pizza” she’s ever had. This from a good Jersey girl who has spent plenty of time in Italy.

Since they opened in 1996, Punch has had lots of buzz and a following of passionate fans. Until recently, however those fans didn’t have a way to connect and communicate. By implementing a cohesive social media campaign, Punch connected their fans and created a thriving tribe.

Punch uses Facebook, Twitter, Flickr and their own blog to truly engage and connect with their tribe.

On Facebook, fans discuss everything from where Punch is opening their next restaurant to their first time (discovering Punch) to how Punch pizza can be part of a healthy diet.

PunchFacebook

On Twitter, Punch really engages with their customers. A quick scan of their twitter stream shows way more @replies than broadcast tweets, a great measure of engagement. When they do tweet, it’s often pointing fans to…

flickr, where they post coupons for the many promotions they do: free pizza, free beer with the purchase of a pizza, free buffalo mozzarella upgrade. Traditional thinking in the restaurant industry says giving away that much free product would kill the already lean profits. Punch figured out the truth. Ideas that spread, win, and ideas spread a lot faster through interesting promotions that get people talking.

Next year, Punch is opening a store in Stadium Village, near the University of Minnesota campus. A year ahead of time, they are using promotions to give away free pizzas to students with a college ID, effectively seeding their tribe at the University and guaranteeing a huge opening and a thriving location.

Brilliant.

[thanks to Eric – updated to reflect that Punch is really a St. Paul establishment, since the initial location is in the Highland Park area of St. Paul – the full list of Punch locations can be found here.]