Monthly Archives: January 2007

Schedules, Scalability, and Screaming

Sorry I haven’t been blogging much lately. Very exciting stuff going on, and time has been at a premium.

But I’m back now, eager to bother you with all sorts of fresh wonders and scary advice.

I’m reorganizing my entire life here… plus traveling hither and yon to seminars in such far-flung joints as San Diego, Chicago, Melbourne and San Francisco. I’ve squeezed as much action and adventure into the last three weeks than I managed to experience all last year combined.

Operation MoneySuck is in full tilt boogie mode, finally. My old pal Stan has signed on as partner, and his first order of biz was to drag me — kicking and screaming — into the world of schedules, scalability, and outsourcing. He’s a long-time operations expert, who just hit a wall working with house-hold-name corporations in Silicon Valley and Europe… and succumbed, after several years of cajoling on my part, to the lure of the entrepreneurial universe.

My loyal and much-overworked assistant, Diane, is breathing a deep sigh of relief, too. We accomplished amazing things as a two-person office, but my lack of operations savvy put an automatic crimp in every project’s potential.

That was then.

Suddenly, my personal workload has dwindled to almost obscenely-logical proportions, with not a whiff of being overwhelmed. Every hour I log now has trackable consequences that mean less work down the road, and more money coming in.

It’s just friggin’ amazing what a little planning can do.

Stan and I drove back together from the copywriting seminar in SF I just held with my buddies Harlan Kilstein and David Garfinkel, talking biz the entire trip… and spent Tuesday filling up flip-charts and mapping out the conquest of the Western world.

Kickin’ ass and takin’ names… that’s what it’s all about, here in the wonderful world of entrepreneurial capitalism.

I’ll be harping more on all this as things continue to pan out. Online entrepreneurs and small business owners have needed a good dose of operations voodoo for a long time… but we’re slow to realize it. Many of us came to the Wild West Web from the coporate world, and resist implementing anything that smacks of the stick-up-your-butt formalism that dominates nine-to-five office life.

But, as Stan has proven to me, basic planning can still allow for being a lean and mean machine… especially with the wonders of outsourcing. Which, coincidentally, is now a million times easier to do with the global reach of the Web.

And I’ve been thinking about that — about adopting the best parts of well-planned Cubicle City type corporations, while nurturing the sleek and fast jungle animal style of good old kitchen-table entrepreneurism.

It’s how I’ve survived so long in my career, in fact. I’ve never been locked into any particular way of doing things, and I never have a dog in any fight — I’m open to what works.

This came up at both seminars. In San Francisco, an attendee was just incredulous that people “still” read long copy online. “That’s all changed, hasn’t it?” she asked, innocently.

With the brouhaha of Web 2.0 still roiling the blog-0-sphere, she can be excused for her doubts. And the fact is, if I woke up tomorrow and realized the universe had changed in such a way that a decent sales pitch no longer required persuasion, proof, credibility, believable offers, and all the other classic ingredients… and we could now create sales with just a smidgen of copy here and there, like dabs of gray ink in the colorful wonder of an over-designed Web page… well, I’d be the first one writing short copy that day.

I don’t write long copy because I like long copy.

I write long copy… because that’s what works.

You start at the beginning of your sales message… cover the points your prospect needs to hear in order to make a decision… urge him toward the right decision (buy your stuff)… and close with panache.

When you can do that in a few terse sentences, or in a single brief whiz-bang video, let me know. I’ll be right on your heels with my next pitch.

After almost three decades in the front-line trenches of business — slogging through the fog and chaos of multiple technological upheavals — I’m not holding my breath, though.

Still, the nature of business requires flexibility.

And, curiously, this is NOT an age-related thing.

At both seminars, I encountered wizened old farts who were cleaning up online, totally hip to every cutting-edge burp and tweak of the Technology Beast… and I met bright young business would-be-wizards who couldn’t ossify and wall themselves up in a cave fast enough.

And vice versa, of course.

The guys, young and old, who were making it work were flexible jaguars, alert and eager to learn. The ones wandering off into the desert — young and old — were dogmatic dinosaurs, unable to change even when the case for change couldn’t be more obvious.

Two quick examples: (1) I met several too-young-to-be-considering-suicide online biz owners who were, indeed, considering some form of suicide… because the Google Slap of last summer ruined their only business plan. Without the easy traffic of unchallenged Adwords, they became depressed and sleepy and unable to adjust.

Get a grip.

(2) I also recently critiqued a direct mail letter that looked like it’d been written in the early 1970′s, fossilized, and put somewhere safe from every single change that’s happened to advertising since Jobs and Woz wandered bleary-eyed from their garage-lab, giddy with success.

I didn’t even bother getting into the copy — instead, I gave the mailer a focused little pep talk about what had transpired since the digital explosion.

The basic rule is simple and eloquent: Things change.

And most folks resist change. Yes, that super-tight polyester disco-era leisure suit in the back of your closet may yet come back into vogue… but nearly every aspect of successful advertising has moved along at a brisk clip.

The days of easy traffic online are now as quaint as the days when having a toll-free 800 number was an exotic luxury. Ancient history.

The good news: It’s actually fun to stay hip and wired into the cutting edge.

There never was a rule dictating that the adventure and excitement had to stop in your life after a certain expiration date.

The key is simply to stay loose and alert, like a jaguar. The action is still hot and heavy at the front lines, as it always has been and always shall be.

And if you need a little help finding your way through the fog and chaos of the rear ranks… well, that’s what guys like me are for.

We live in exciting times. I understand the urge to go hide under the covers… but I also know the thrill of going mano-a-mano with the great Technology Beast, and winning.

Grrr.

Stay frosty…

John Carlton
www.marketingrebel.com

P.S. Whole new killer piece of copy at the above site, too. Check it out, if you’re not scared of new stuff…

The Ego Echo Chamber

Well, happy new year to y’all.

Are we having fun yet?

I was kinda hoping my first blog post of this brand-spankin’ new year would be a positive one, full of good tidings and all that.

But I waited too long. One week into aught-seven, and the fur is flying already.

So my first post is on… Continue Reading


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