Tag Archives: blogging

Department Of First-World Problems

clivelab

Thursday, 10:37pm
San Francisco, CA
If you want it, here it is, come and get it…” (Badfinger)

Howdy…

Quick post today — I’m hosting my awesome Platinum Mastermind early tomorrow, and have a little prep work left to do.

However, I thought you might enjoy sampling the kind of posts I’m getting global recognition for… on Facebook. So I ripped a recent one from the site, and put it here for your delight and consumption.

Social media confuses most marketers — many refuse to even engage with Twitter or Facebook (or any of the myriad other options online to share silly secrets and post photos you’ll regret later). But I was an early adopter, and eagerly so — I had one of the very first marketing blogs (which you’re enjoying here), one of the first biz-oriented podcasts on iTunes (and if you haven’t listened to the latest free podcasts I’ve been hosting, go to the Psych Insights For Modern Marketers site now and indulge: www.pi4mm.com)…

… and I’ve been breaking every “rule” on Facebook ever since it hit the mainstream. I use FB to have fun, sometimes… but also to share insight, advice, lessons and some of the more obscure (and funny) war stories I’ve gathered in my 30 year career. (I currently have 5,000 “friends” — the limit — plus another couple of thousand “followers”… and I expect them all to show up at my wake and cause trouble. I’ve made them promise, in fact.)

To get the full flavor of what’s up — including the very long comment threads that you are invited to join — you’ll need to pop over to my Facebook page (www.facebook.com/john.carlton).

However, here’s a nice little taste:

Dept. Of First World Problems: Wow. Does ANY big biz in the country have even semi-decent customer service anymore? Is there a seminar somewhere national chains attend to learn how to frustrate customers online or on the phone?

Macy’s furniture store. Simple question with no possible answer to be found on their website, or in their byzantine robot phone maze… and no way to reach a living rep. PLUS, they want me to key in my social security number — not the last four digits, mind you, but the whole thing.

Eventually, I did reach a live person… who promptly disconnected me. Scared off by my question (which was “where do you recommend I go to get a chair purchased at your store repaired?” — admittedly, a VERY scary question).

Yeah, yeah, I know what you cynical dudes are gonna say — there’s no privacy left, we should all have such easy problems…

And let me shut you up right now: I post about biz and marketing here most of the time. (Well, when I’m not having fun, anyway.) Somewhere along the line, in the rush to automate and fire human beings, much has been lost. A decade ago, I left Gateway (where I’d bought multiple PCs) when their customer service collapsed, and went to Dell for several years… until they very publicly decided to cut back on their customer service.

Sent me into the loving arms of Apple… where, sure, you occasionally get some snark, but they do rock when it comes to support.

Business owners and entrepreneurs pay me a buttload of cash for consultations… and frequently, their most urgent problems involve some mysterious desertion by customers. Which often leads to the kind of super-simple solutions they do NOT wanna hear: Hire more people who know how to deal with people.

The DIY ethic is great — I did it myself for many years, loved it. However, just hiring a part-time assistant revolutionized my productivity… AND made customers fall in love with the biz. Diane (who’s been with me for 13 years now) handles complaints personally, adds a very friendly touch to every communication she has with people, and — very important — knows how to solve nearly every problem that comes across her desk. Including saying “I don’t know — let me find out and get right back to you”, which can transform a potentially angry situation into a good experience for the customer. (The other great line she’s used: “That sounds like a genuine problem, and let’s see how we can make it right for you.”)

No amount of advanced technology will ever replace the power of good human interaction in your biz. The natural impulse of failing businesses often is to get stingier, drift into more unethical behavior (like lying to prospects), and make the customer experience a nightmare of inaction and avoidance. The smiles are phony, the info is deceptive, and the pretense of being a “full service” store becomes a total sham.

We have a once-favorite pizza joint nearby sinking fast. A small dose of competition sent them into a death spiral… and every decision they make seems like it was scripted by that “How To Fail With Customers” seminar that Macy’s sends its staff to. Flat sodas, mushy undercooked food, lost orders, dirty silverware.

There is a time in certain business’s lives where the end is hovering. At that point, it might just be best to fold up the tent and move on. Limping along with an attitude and commitment level guaranteed to fail isn’t an answer — it’s denial masquerading as “trying”.

The best entrepreneurs often fail at certain projects. I always caution biz owners to be clear on their goals, and constantly question their assumptions about where they are, and where they’re going. Success can be fleeting, and fad-fueled success (like Candy Crush and Pet Rocks) can be flukes never to be repeated.

It’s a process, without guarantees, that cries out for reality checks. However, the lessons you take from your losses and your wins are what will give your NEXT project a better chance.

The fundamentals, like customer service, get ignored too often. Don’t be short-sighted about your biz.

Okay, I gotta call Macy’s back… or maybe search for furniture repair joints (cuz I maybe learned my lesson about Macy’s “commitment to excellence”…).

Next: Can’t wait to call AT&T later, and enjoy their robotic idiocy, too…

I was gonna post some of the action in the comments, but there over 38 of them (at last count)… so just hop over and see what mayhem went on there yourself.

As you can see, I’m not abusing the opportunity to reach folks so easily on social media. There is method to my madness, and my “reach” to new audiences (and ability to refresh my marketing lists) has exploded. (My Twitter account is up around 17,000 followers, too.)

This style of social media — avoiding what everyone else does, and just laying out good, funny, interesting rants that get passed around by your “friends” — isn’t being taught by any guru out there. I have no interest in creating a “product” about it, either — if you want to see how I do it, just follow me… and try some of the techniques yourself.

Hey, I’m inviting you to join in. I’m maxed out on “friends” (the maroons at Facebook limit non-fanpage accounts to 5,000), but you can “follow” just as easily, and get most of the same privileges. It’s www.facebook.com/john.carlton.

C’mon in, the water’s fine…

Stay frosty,

John

P.S. One last thing. I almost forgot — be sure to sign up on this blog, in the upper right hand corner… to get your bitchin’ new “Grizzled Pro Report”…

… which just happens to be a collection of my BEST Facebook posts over the past few years. All in one dazzling digital presentation.

You also will be notified when new blog posts appear. So, you know, you aren’t left out in the cold, while lesser colleagues are enjoying all the fun over here.

Sign up now, while you’re thinking about it. Use your best, every-day email address. Your report will be zoomed to you over the Internets immediately…

Steve, We Hardly Knew Ya…

Wednesday, 11:56pm
Reno, NV
Indeed your dancing days are done…” (Irish folk song)

Howdy.

I hope you’re doing well, and seizing the day.  As we all should, every day we’re alive.

Sometimes, for me, the best way to appreciate life is to, occasionally, also appreciate death. For all the sound and fury and chaos surrounding us on the Big Earthly Stage… for all the urgency of accomplishment and all the troubles of cobbling together a modern lifestyle…

… sometimes you just gotta stop and take a deep breath.

And know that, at some point, there will be one last breath like that… and then no more.

All of us sharing space on the planet have been granted a ticket to ride, and none of us know how long the ride will last.  Or how it ends.

Or, for that matter, what’s going to happen one second from now, let alone tomorrow or next month or next year.

And yet, life goes on.  And goes on well for some of us, and progresses haltingly for others. But it goes on.

For Steve Jobs, the dancing days are done.  I did not suspect his leaving us would affect me this profoundly, but it has.  I never met him.  And yet, our lives are intertwined.  I’m writing this on an iMac, using the friendly interface he championed (and forced the “who cares about fonts” geek-dominated virtual world to adopt), while my iPhone sits nearby (buzzing with incoming texts).

There will be plenty written about Jobs and his effect on how we live today.  I’ve already read a dozen articles online… and even the iHaters have to admit the world has shifted significantly with Steve gone.

For me, he was the Uber-Entrepreneur.  Dropped out of college because his energy and ideas bristled at the shackles of staid academia.  Aimlessly sought out ways to engage with life on a more grand scale, correctly sensing that the world was about toContinue Reading

Have a seat… I’ll be back in a bit…

Wednesday, 9:05pm
Baltimore, MD
She’d drag me through the streets of Baltimore…” (Gram Parsons)

Howdy.

Quick note to let you know I’m still kickin’.

I’m just taking a little time off here to split the home-dive… meet up with some biz pals in Maryland (including Rich Schefren, Bill Glazer, and Perry Marshall)… and ponder the wonders of life.  (Okay, and maybe catch an Orioles game).

I’ve got several blog posts almost ready for publication, so I’ll continue with my prodigious outpouring of voodoo and shinola (in equal parts) when I get back to Nevada.

Meantime, why don’t you slip into the archives over in the right-hand column (right there, see ‘em, inches from your right hand), and dig into some of the stored posts.  I’ve been laboring over this damn blog for years… and the joint is awash in treasure for writers, marketers, and bohemians of all stripes.

All free.

Also, I see all new comments when I’m doing admin stuff here, so if you care to leave a note on an older post, I’ll likely see it.  The most popular articles here still generate some nice outrage and fresh insight from new readers.

The comment section is half the fun of this blog.

Anyway, I’ll be back next week.  There’s beer in the fridge if you want some…

Stay frosty,

John

 

 

Intelligent, Educated Savvy

Wednesday, 11:56am
New York, New York
Truckin’, like the Doo Dah man…” (Grateful Dead)

Howdy…

Sorry for the little vacation here from the blog.  I’ve been hunkered down in “launch mode”, on the road, and ministering to various biz projects…

… all of which have messed with my “sit down and write, dammit” time.

I’m actually handwriting the first part of this post in a hotel room, just before heading to La Guardia to fly home after a week in the Big Apple.  (Those of you following me on Facebook may have seen pics of the dispicable weather display we braved to watch the Jets b-slap the Vikings on Monday Night Football.  We spent 4 solid days in meetings, while the city basked in perfect Fall splendor… and the one time we ventured outside, thunder and lightning and a deluge of biblical size dumped on our sorry asses.)

(Still, it was worth the drenching.  Great story to tell whenever anyone needs one-upping on weather disasters…)

By the time you read this, I’ll be back in exciting Reno, catching my breath.

I am one bone-tired road dog, I’ll tell you what.

And I can’t wait to be sitting back at my cluttered desk, writing.  Dammit.

So…

… quick post here, just to get the blood moving again.

I was thinking about this subject while reading up on the gossip whirling around the online entrepreneurial community.  It’s starting to jive with the blistering political attacks dominating the mainstream news cycles…

… and it’s scary.

The details of the gossip don’t really matter.  Rumors come, rumors go… same as political movements and all other fads and moments of temporary insanity.

But there is an overriding theme here that will never go away:  Continue Reading

More Free Goodies Than You Probably Deserve…

CB107701

Sunday, 7:57pm
Reno, NV
It’s alive!” (Baron Von Frankenstein, kickstarting the Monster)

Howdy…

We’ve just fired up the Simple Writing System blog (www.simplewritingsystem.com/blog)…

… which means a stunning (and unprecedented) pile of free tools, tactics, advice and insight can be yours…

… just for the grabbing.

This is an all-out assault on reason and logic.  We’re just GIVING AWAY stuff that — not too long ago — would have cost you a pretty penny just to get a quick glimpse of.

We’ve created a beast here, and it’s name is FREE.

Here’s just a small taste of what’s piling up over there (that you’re missing out on if you haven’t signed in):

  • A free swipe file of “home run” ads I’ve written (which few folks outside the target markets have ever seen)… can be in your tool kit tonight.  This swipe file, alone, is causing hearts to skip a beat among marketers and freelance writers who love to rip juicy headlines and sales angles from proven ads.  (Removes any guesswork on who/what to rip.)
  • A short (but frightenly powerful) series of special reports channeling the best “how to make the sale” secrets I’ve ever used.  (I used to keep this stuff classified, only bringing it out during high-paid consultations… and here we are giving it away.)
  • The actual video (torn directly from the masters hidden in Frank’s inner sanctum) of my “How to persuade, influence and sell the shit out of anything… using the simplest stories you can create” presentation at Mass Control.

What?  You didn’t see that presentation?

It’s marketing theater at its finest… Continue Reading

Quiz #7. Hot New Prize, Too…

exlim-6-09-108

Thursday, 10:11pm
Reno, NV
“Ain’t it hard when you discover that he wasn’t really where it’s at… after he took from you everything he could steal?” (Bob Dylan, “Like A Rollin’ Stone”)

Howdy…

This is gonna be good.

And a whole lot tougher than any previous quiz I’ve given.

I’ll explain the prize in just a sec.

First, the set-up for the question:

I find it shocking that so many wanna-be-rich marketers out there still think the question of “short copy vs. long copy” is unsettled online.

I can tell you this: For the top guys — the ones sloughing off the vast majority of the moolah being made by entrepreneurs on the Web — it’s settled.

Whether you’re primarily using video, or email, or websites, or social media…

… the Main Big Damn Rule for getting people to part with their hard-earned money in trade for what you offer hasn’t changed since the first caveman traded up to a new cave with a view for a slab of mastodon meat:

The more you tell…

… the more you sell.

Hey — I love a good argument.  Don’t get me wrong.

And I’m always open to hearing someone out on this subject.

I realize that — for many people unsullied by actual experience in the biz world — it’s just plain tempting to believe that the rules of the universe have suddenly changed.

And you no longer have to be so… vulgar… to make a sale anymore.

Because, you know… the Web has changed everything.  Social networking has somehow mysteriously short-circuited the old skepticism, doubt, and fear of getting “taken” that has marred the smooth exchange of money in the past.

Now, hey, we’re all buddies on Twitter and Facebook!

Mi casa es su casa.

How much do you need?  Here, take my wallet…

Naw.

For anyone paying attention to what the entrepreneurs actually making money online are doing…Continue Reading

The Art Of Bombing

improv

Thursday, 11:49am
Tampa Bay, FL
“What kind of music do you play here, Bob?” “Oh, we got both kinds. Country and western.” (Bob, the bar owner, and Jake Blues in “The Blues Brothers”)

Howdy…

Each year around July 4th, I like to post something on the blog about the First Amendment to the Constitution.

The part about free speech remains a protection that Americans enjoy (most of the time)… while much of the rest of the world refuses to even consider the concept.

Even otherwise enlightened joints like Europe have an itchy relationship with free speech.

Hell, we couldn’t get such a protection passed here in the States now.  If it hadn’t been wedged into the Constitution by Jefferson in the Bill of Rights 240 years ago, it would still be an unrealized pipe dream of writers and deep thinkers everywhere.

Make no mistake:  Your freedom to write blogs without government interference… as well as your right to use words like “fuck” to your heart’s content while making your point… is protected (mostly).

And this freedom is what fueled America’s dominance in stand up comedy.

Hey, don’t scoff.  Satire, ridicule, and funny stuff very much qualifies as deep thinking.

In fact, it’s how public opinion gets changed the fastest.

And this freedom has been denied to almost every human who has walked the planet in our history.

So don’t take it lightly.  Your ancestors would have killed for such a seemingly obvious privilege (and both did kill to get it, and die defending it).

The Man don’t like free speech.

Bugs him.  Irritates his sense of authority and moral dominance.

Well, fuck The Man.

For every writer who was or will be jailed for writing the truth (as he or she sees it)…Continue Reading

The Wisdom of Crowds

exlim-6-09-010

Monday, 12:10pm
Reno, NV
“Let’s just say I was testing the bounds of reality…” (Jim Morrison of The Doors)

Howdy…

We have a winner!

Actually, the winning answer to last Friday’s quiz crashed the gates within ten minutes of the post going live.

But it was good to let the test string out, anyway… because the hard-core thinking and pure cogitation going on was excellent mental exercise.

In fact…

… there was so much fresh thinking in the over 200 responses (as of right now — they’re still trickling in)…

… that I feel compelled to bestow THREE prizes.

One, for the first right answer.  And two more for honorable mentions — one for Best Exhibit Of Pure Kick-Ass Attitude… and another for Cracking Me Up with real wit and cleverness.

I’ll reveal the winners in a moment.

First, though… let’s unravel what we’ve all learned here from this little brain teaser.

Revelation #1: James Surowiecki, in his book “The Wisdom of Crowds”, pointed out how often polls and crowd sampling is dead-on correct.Continue Reading

New Digs. Same Landlord.

Thoirsday, 9:43pm Reno, NV “Ask not for whom the dog barks. It barks for thee.” (Motto on our doormat.)

Howdy.

And welcome to the new blog.

I’ve pretty much just moved in.

And, as you can see, we hauled every scrap of crap from the OLD blog over here, and dumped it willy-nilly all over the joint. Coming up on five freaking years of archives over there on the lower right.

You could get lost in that Basement Of Wonders.

Be careful… should you muster the courage to go rummaging. (I dare ya.)

Jeez. I must be one of the longest-tenured bloggers in Continue Reading


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