Is The Long Tail Approach Right For You

Back in 2004, the Long Tail Theory was first published. It basically says that the internet has put an interesting twist on the Pareto Principle by making it much easier to service the 80% of the products that are not the top revenue earners for a company and that many companies like Amazon, Netflix, etc. have made a wonderful business out of them.

Having the hard to get stuff is what separated them from their brick and mortar cousins and helped grow their subscription rates…and most importantly, if the products are digital, the inventory is virtually free (just another song or movie taking up space on a hard drive somewhere, but not physically collecting dust). This last point is the most important…the Long tail is interesting, but it is also very challenging for physical products as holding inventory poses all kinds of challenges, but in the digital arena, it barely moves the needle in terms of cost to service.

In a long tail business it is more costly to bother evaluating whether something is a hit or not, so instead the best plan is just releasing all of it and letting the consumers sort them out, even letting the consumers vote them up or down to give them some say so in winners and losers. The long tail is really long due to unlimited selection, so there is a lot to be made all along that last part of the tail. Worth noting, trying to provide a niche service and just servicing the hot items or just the dogs has mostly been a recipe for disaster, but those that have serviced it all (Amazon, Netflix, iTunes, etc.) have done amazingly well…pick a niche but cover everything in that niche (although not sure Amazon is a niche business any more).

One big thing that has changed is the idea of a big ‘launch’, with press releases, and a big unveiling. It’s not as important anymore. Instead, plan on the gradual build that turns into a tidal wave. The fact is, the curve of money spent (big hump, then it tails off) is precisely backwards to what you actually want anyway…so roll with it, launch, build, build, build, success.

Is your business made for servicing the long tail? How can you take advantage? Or, maybe you still live in the physical world…Pareto still holds pretty true here…just know where you sit and plan accordingly.

Under Promise, Over Deliver

How many times have you been over-promised and under-delivered…it happens daily, so if you really want to create separation, be the exception!

Getting that first order is hard, you want to make sure that you give them a reason to come back for that second order as well. Even if your business sells big one and done items like a pool or a house, you still need those referrals. Maybe a follow up with a 10% discount as a thank you? Maybe a discount for a referral? Maybe give them a coupon to hand out to friends who need your services (winner for both of them!).

Make it impossible not to refer you because you more than did what you promised!

How To Create Separation…Build Your People Up

This was a really well written article from Carrier Management I found from the insurance industry on the need for creating separation from competition and how to go about it…the focus should be on building your people up!

I love the point he makes about not just telling an individual what procedures to perform, but to help them understand their role and their value to the company. His explanation of the CSR’s position and role in the company (in the last section titled…”Oh, I’m just a…”) as the customer’s first line of contact is fantastic…”Oh, so you’re about the most important person in the agency.”…well said!

B-to-B Blog Post Ideas

There are tons of posts on blog ideas for makeup, food, travel, gardening, lifestyle, books, etc, but how about B-to-B. I’m running 2 blogs and have only been doing this a little over a year, so I’m still learning, but here are some B-to-B blog ideas that seem to work well:

  • Help customers get the most from whatever you are promoting…that’s adding value! How-to’s, videos, step-by-step, webinars, complimentary products that work well with yours, etc. These are really good for B-to-B…either do some of the above yourself or help direct people to good content you know is already out there.
  • Current Trends: latch on to what’s hot. Sometimes pushing B-to-B is hard, associate yourself with something trending to make it more fun…Comic Con, a hot App, new Star Wars movie, etc. No idea what’s hot, just look on the left hand page of the Twitter home page for hot trends for the day and jump in
  • Similar to the above, use Annual or Weekly Events and relate them to your product or service: Elvis’ Birthday, St. Patty’s, #TacoTuesdays, etc…it’s endless. Sometimes it helps to map it out. It’s then easy to jump into the social media hype over that topic when that day hits…build out your content so you are ready ahead of time and then hit up social media when everybody’s eyes are watching your topic
  • Show how you failed: everybody wants to know they aren’t the only ones with struggles…these can be huge hits, even bigger than victories as showing someone what not to do is hugely helpful! Sometimes people also just like to hear somebody else is a bigger failure than they are… #FAILURE
  • Mentioned it above but review or mention complimentary and/or non-competitive products: reciprocal help for both of you to grow traffic…reach out and see if they will return the favor. All B-to-B marketers need help to get traffic, reach out and find a friend.

I’m still working at getting better at all of the above.

No matter what, focus on the quality of your content. Also, what do you want, just lots of traffic, specific customer traffic, or just to ramble? All are fine, but be relevant to the audience you are going after..

Help a brother out…What are your favorites?

Here are some other links with some great ideas as well:

 Five Post Ideas for Your Business Blogby Krista Stevens (@wordpress)

60 Blog Post Ideas For Entrepreneurs, Marketers, And Businesses (@bloggingwizard, @elnacain)

 

What’s Your Superpower?

Comic Con 2018 has come and gone and the masks must come off. What’s left…just you and your Superpower…what is it? Do you even know…if you don’t, ask others, they can tell you.

Maybe your super power is that you are extremely patient or cool under pressure, maybe you are super curious or a great listener, maybe you are super persistent or out hustle everybody else. Maybe you are a great idea person or visionary, maybe you are a great mathematician or extremely mechanically inclined, or maybe you are a great speaker or writer. How about any of these: Tenacious, Problem Solver, Hyper-Focused, or Extreme Attention to Detail. What is it that comes super easy to you and you could do all day because you just love it? Don’t box yourself in to just what you’ve been doing for the last 2, 5, or 10 years…how did you get there anyway?

I love this older post from John Jantsch at Duct Tape Marketing on the same subject where he says “you may have to dig deep to reacquaint yourself with your superpower. You may have masked it because you think it’s not very business oriented. You may have to go back to when you thought anything was possible, back to when you played like a kid.”

Being bigger and stronger than everybody else doesn’t always work either…think David vs. Goliath or the sharp tree spears in Braveheart that they waited for the last minute to pull out on the advancing cavalry. That’s also why there is a draw play in football…suck the super aggressive defenders in and then run right through the middle as they outrun the pocket. Sometimes you need to restrain that superpower a bit or maybe your super power is to be clever enough to outflank your overwhelmingly strong opponent with one of the above maneuvers.

Find your superpower and bring it to work with you in every aspect of your day. Get out there and do the unexpected. Also, remember, the key to success isn’t just applying this superpower to your work, but also not focusing on the shiny new things that are not your superpower. Is there somebody else working with you that has these powers that you lack?

Focusing on your superpower is how you create separation between you and the rest of the pack. So, go ahead and take off that mask you’ve been hiding behind and go be you with all your unique superpowers!

Pareto Principle or the 80/20 Rule

If there is one law that I apply over and over, all day long, to whatever I possibly can in my life, personal or business, it is the genius of Italian economist Vilfredo Pareto and his brilliant 80/20 rule or Pareto Principle which simply states that 80% of the effects come from 20% of the causes.

The basic idea here can be seen everywhere:

  • 80% of your sales probably come from 20% of your products
  • 80% of your revenues probably come from 20% of your clients…20% of your clients probably also give you 80% of your headaches and probably not the same 20% that drives revenue
  • 80% of the wealth is held by 20% of the population
  • You probably wear 20% of your clothes 80% of the time
  • 700 common words make up 2/3 of everyday conversations
  • Who are the 20% of your acquaintances that make you the 80% most crazy

You get the idea. Sometimes it can be way more extreme than 80/20 and you need the right balance. Having 1 customer that drives 95% of your business may feel easy, but not when they disappear…look at all the companies that have supplied Apple in the past that they have laid to waste when they changed suppliers.

Think about how you apply this to your day, every day…

  • Focus on what to improve: Break your problems down and focus on the items that particularly move the dial…layer on resources to really make an impact. 80% of your effort on the 20% that really get things moving
  • Focus on what to remove: Look at the 5% of things that are not working in your business or your life…there is always 5% that can be cleaned up and may make you 20% more efficient or 90% happier!
  • It’s not 1 to 1: realize that to improve by 50% doesn’t necessarily mean a 50% bigger effort, maybe a 5 to 10% increase in methodology can easily turn into a 50% return…talk about creating separation from your competition in a hurry

…some things you cannot change that easily, but just identifying your strengths & weaknesses will help you better cope. Try channeling Mr. Pareto more often and 80/20 your way to more success, freedom, and happiness!