“You can check out anytime you like, but you can never leave…” (Eagles, “Hotel California”)
Today, let’s explore a little-discussed part of running a biz…
… using a couple of enlightening (and very brief) anecdotes from my recent (and continuing) “Adventures With Hotels”.
Let’s call this lesson: The Faded Lady and the Trump.
With all due apologies to Disney’s classic dog-romance movie, of course.
See if you can spot how the following short story applies to YOUR business…
Each of the last two weekends found me in different cities, staying in hotels I booked online, sight-unseen.
In Sin City, it was the splendiferous Trump International Hotel Las Vegas.
In San Francisco, the once-famous, now-infamous Cathedral Hill Hotel.
Now, the Trump joint was built with luxury in mind. Shiny, tall, imposing building with huge well-apportioned rooms and super-modern equipment like elevators and art.
As a “product”, the building was great. (Though it seems idiotic not to have any gambling on the premises, as a wanna-be “player” in the Las Vegas scene. I heard that Trump got skunked on getting his gambling license, but that’s not the spin the staff offered. “We just didn’t want gambling here,” is what they said, unconvincingly.)
Great price for the rooms, too. (Most likely because of the lack of casino amenities and dearth of unit sales, which turned it from condo to hotel.)
I have complaints about the joint… but not because of the room, the rate, or the basic delivery of stuff like air conditioning, clean water, nice beds, etc. (In fact, their pillow-top beds are amazing to sleep in. Like being cuddled by angels.)
Now, back in SF, it was a completely different situation.
We hosted a gathering of writers, affiliates, and other mucky-mucks at the Cathedral Hill Hotel because we wanted to treat everyone to an evening with the world-renown “Beer Chef“, who puts on fabulous dinners there once a month. (You can read more about Bruce Paton’s unique meals at www.beer-chef.com. )
You want the “Beer Chef”, you deal with Cathedral Hill. (And yes, we very much wanted his magic. He creates these shockingly-tasty gourmet meals there, with each course matched by a local micro-brew beer instead of boring old wine. It’ll knock your socks off, even if you aren’t well-versed in pilsners, ales and lagers.)
We also started the day off with an afternoon-long brainstorm session in the hotel’s main meeting room. (I’m sure you caught some of the updates on Twitter from the luminaries and stars in attendance.)
… none of us had ever stayed at the hotel.
And while it has a storied past (well-chronicled in San Francisco lore), it has, alas, fallen on hard times.
Culminating in being bought out a short time ago and scheduled for the wrecking ball.
We made the most of it. The stories and jokes we all shared about our rooms and experiences in the hotel are howlingly funny…
… but still, as a “product”, there’s no getting around the fact that the building was in serious disrepair.
Sort of like a once-beautiful lady who has fallen on hard times, and ended up sacked-out in a filthy alley, soused with cheap booze and a reputation heading south at light speed.
The price was actually a red flag: You cannot stay in the city, in a decent room, for anywhere near the rate Cathedral Hill was asking.
Kind of like seeing an ad for a luxury Caribbean Cruise in the paper for five bucks. It sort of sets off your early-warning alarm. (Five bucks and your kidney, maybe.)
So… while no one got robbed, or found a dead hooker in their room… Continue reading
“Facts are stupid things.” (Ronald Reagan, ’88 GOP convention)
Well, that was fun.
Over 650 comments on that last quiz so far (with a bullet). Some really good responses, too.
Also some really out-there ones, which always makes for giddy reading.
The main thing, of course, is that so many folks put on their Thinking Caps and went for it. As I’ve said before: You win just by trying with this kind of brain stumper.
… we have a winner. I’ll let you know who it was in a minute.
First, let’s relieve the tension and reveal the answer already.
Or at least head in that direction. It’s probably worth noting that only a tiny handful of the comments were on the right path.
The question was vague, on purpose. This is high-end street-level psychology…
… and one of the main features of this kind of advanced salesmanship is that it is NOT easily understood by most people.
In fact, you’ve likely encountered the answer to this quiz before in your life… but because it didn’t “fit” with your intuition and belief about “how things work”, it didn’t stick.
Most of what classic salesmen know about people runs counter to what the majority calls “common sense”.
This is startling to rookie marketers. Confusing. Disorienting. Challenges long-held beliefs about the nobility of human endeavor and the lofty inclinations of the human brain.
Thus, we saw long sub-threads in the comments that ignored the entire concept of a “glitch” in people’s thinking…
… and instead dove into all kinds of elaborate explanations of how a successful sales pitch might smoothly proceed with dignity and logic.
It’s good to have these discussions, if you desire to get anywhere in marketing.
I, too, had trouble getting into the minds of my prospects at first.
This is why I jumped on every opportunity that arose, early in my career, to hang out and grill every “street wise” marketer I ran into.
Cuz those guys knew how to SELL.
No theory. Just experience (and the bank accounts to prove it).
This group included:
… Jay Abraham and Gary Halbert (both of whom had door-to-door selling experience where, if they didn’t make the sale, they didn’t eat that day)…Continue reading
“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”)
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…
For anyone paying attention to what the entrepreneurs actually making money online are doing…Continue reading
“… and in the early mornin’ fog, I looked into those Mystic Eyes…” (Van Morrison, with Them, “Mystic Eyes”)
Had a little extended email exchange with our old pal Shawn Casey today.
See, he’s about to turn the Big Five-Oh… and I offered him the same gift that Gary Halbert offered me when I turned 50: An open invitation to hear about all the horrific shit he has to look forward to as his body slams full-force into official middle age.
Halbert used to absolutely delight in detailing for me some of the more evil indignities of waving bye-bye to youth.
Let’s just say your days of indulging in a bar brawl, and sleeping it off so you can do it again the next night, too…
… are over.
(Bonus insight: However, you can still have fun minus the dangerous stunts and life-threatening bravado that used to cap a good night out. Who’d a thought?)
I’m still laughing from that exchange with Shawn.
In truth, if you’re healthy, it ain’t all that big a deal sliding into your fifties. If you’ve spent the last four decades thrashing yourself, then yeah, you may be looking at getting your ticket punched early.
But if you listen to your body, keep the stress under control, get some freakin’ exercise once in a while, and avoid chunking out like Jaba The Hut…
… well, it’s actually kinda nice being a grizzled, older ape.
The real pleasures of life are just as intense… and you’ve pretty much identified which ones you want to focus on. (I spent my youth sampling almost every forbidden fruit in the feast… which I felt was my duty as a buddng writer. Many of those experiences were just downright awful, and yet they’d looked so good from a distance…)
And — even if you dinked around a lot for the bulk of your youth (as I did) (and, boy, was I good at dinking around) — you can’t help but have gathered a ton of experience.
And whatever mangled philosophy of life that got you this far must have something going for it… or you wouldn’t have made it.
Now, the reason I’m writing this post…Continue reading
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”)
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
“Let’s just say I was testing the bounds of reality…” (Jim Morrison of The Doors)
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.
… 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
“Look Dave, I can see you’re really upset about this. I honestly think you ought to sit down calmly, take a stress pill, and think things over.“ (HAL to astronaut Dave in “2001”)
Okay, let’s do a quickie quiz, what d’ya say?
It’s Saturday evening, after all… and I just got my ass whupped by Michele at Scrabble (her first win, ever, in 10 years of trying) (and I don’t expect to ever hear the last of it anytime soon).
(What’s the time limit on doing the “Ass Whup” dance, mocking your partner, anyway?)
So, to keep my mind off the misery of such a wrenching loss (she accidentally used all 7 letters in her third turn, and that bonus 50 points is what beat me), I’m hiding in my office.
I’ve got maybe 10 minutes before I have to come out and face more taunting and jublilation.
Thus, a quick blog post. (“Get out of here! I gotta work…”)
I’m giving a prize away, of course.
Let’s se… how about a fresh copy of “Kick-Ass Copywriting Secrets of a Marketing Rebel” to the first right answer.
I’ve got a nice new one burning a hole on the shelf across from my desk. It’s got your name on it, Mr/Ms Winner. I’ll sign it, and have Diane ship it out asap.
Okay. Here’s the quiz:
The most common question I get from entrepreneurs who are stuck on some part of their marketing…Continue reading
“I yam what I yam.” (Popeye, avoiding introspection.)
Are your routines helping you… or slowly murdering you?
As with most of life, it’s complicated.
And you’re gonna have to spend more than your normal 38 seconds cogitating on this issue if you’re ever gonna make peace with your natural inclination to habitualize your ass into oblivion.
(Side note: During my excellent interview with StomperNet founder Andy Jenkins yesterday, he revealed the startling statistic that most of us now live in 38-second segments. This, apparently, has been discovered by guys in white coats with clipboards. The Web has installed a permanent ADD virtual chip in our brains, limiting attention spans to that of a gnat.)
(This is good info for marketers to have, especially when deciding how to position copy, testimonials, video, graphics and other elements on a website for maximum attention-grabbing. But it’s damned depressing when any conversation requires deeper thought… and you must construct your position with constant virtual shiny objects to hold the interest of otherwise bright people.)
(I just lost half my audience with that aside, didn’t I. Sorry.)
Ah… where was I?
Oh, yeah. Habits and routines.
The omega and alpha of trying to live well.
Routine has both saved my life… and backed me into corners that threaten to ruin me.
So it’s good to stop and examine your routines (and your habits) every so often. Not just glance at ’em, and pat ’em on the head. But really dig into them…Continue reading
“It was never part of our plans not to play well… it just happened that way.” (Ron Barassi, Hall O’ Fame footballer & Carlton coach)
In about 10 days, my biz partner Stan will morph into Road Dog Stan, and we’ll both be off to the Land Down Unda.
Three weekends, three cities, three seminars to speak at.
We fly into Sydney… will drive up to Melbourne (where my old pal Ed Dale has previously shown me the amazing hospitality Oz residents offer)…
… then fly up to Brisbane (“Brzbin” to locals, I hear).
I’m kinda freaked just listing it all out. Fortunately, Stan and I have left our womenfolk behind many times before to go trudging off like Victorian explorers… into the dense, scary jungles of Seminar Land.
Armed only with laptops, Powerpoint, iPhones, wireless cards, Kindles, iPods, Dopp kits and a wad of clothes stuffed into carry-ons.
I’m telling you, it’s almost barbaric, the way we have to live by our wits in luxury hotels and biz class jets.
I really empathize with Livingstone and Stanley. (Or was that Stanley and Oliver?)
We will be one step above subsistence on the Maslow scale.
So hey…Continue reading
“You’ll lose 20 pounds while you sleep!” (Go-straight-to-jail diet-ad lingo that nevertheless pops up every couple of years)
You know what?
I haven’t pissed anybody off in a while. So let’s see if we can’t rile up the mob a little bit, cause a little unrest in the ranks.
The best way to do this, of course, is to lift the blinders most people wear 24/7… and force them to face some uncomfortable truth or another.
Pop some bubbles. Expose the myths.
Oh, people HATE it when you harsh their zombie mellow… and snatch away their cuddly delusions.
Some may thank you later for the wake-up call. But most will snarl and bite, and rush back to the warm embrace of the dream they’ve languished in their entire life.
To be a great marketer, Continue reading