Don't Just Communicate, Make Me Feel Something

Seeking a bit of respite in different environs after being cocooned in my office for four days, it was time to venture out to a new coffee shop/restaurant/barber shop I'd seen while trudging home from the subway.  As I sat down at my table, this little sign greeted me.

The advent of the remote worker has inundated coffee shops with neighborhood denizens, faces stuffed in screens. These blue-faced laptop dwellers limit the shop's chances for customers who help them pay the rent and maybe even bring a bit extra home for the fancy wine they like to drink at night. It takes a whole lotta cups of coffee + tea to make rent, especially where I live in New York. No wonder they zealously guard their over-priced retail shop against these space invaders.

As someone who finds white noise the best sort of writing environment, I'm guilty of littering coffee shops with my presence. There's a shop I used to frequent whose method of driving away low-paying, long-staying laptop users was to  remove all power outlets in the seating area. One day they were simply gone, their sparks of light never to be seen again on this side of the counter. We've all seen the signs in establishments that are signed by "management." If this company wanted to go the authority route, they might have placed signs that said: No laptops after 5pm, the Management. 

One Goal, Different Messages

All of these coffee shops had the same goal: to limit the number of low paying, low turnover customers in favor of higher paying, higher turnover ones. Now, which of these places do you think you'd feel most comfortable? The one that was playful + upfront, the slightly passive-aggressive place or the one that used authority + control to set the tone in their establishment? 

Your intent is revealed through your words + actions. The place with the playful sign may need to maximize their earning opportunities but they communicate it in a way that makes me feel like they actually care about me. 

What Are YOU Communicating? 

There are plenty of ways to show your personality and influence how your customers + prospects feel when they interact with you. Of course there's your 140, the land that practically inserts humor into your tweets with lol cats and animated gifs. But there are plenty more.

Your 404 page. 

Landing page. 

Your newsletter signup. 

Your CTAs. 

Your email sign-off. 

Take a peek at these communication outlets. Ask yourself: Do they communicate rigidity? Do they sound drier than a tax document? How do they make you feel? Do they make you feel anything?

Most people walk around zombie-like, stumbling through the day. Wake them up. Make them pay attention. If you make them feel something they're going to remember you much longer. Now that you have your answers, don't you think it's time to get editing?

Five Things Marketers Need to Stop Doing This Very Minute

I’m not typically prone to rants but sometimes it just comes flying out of you and you find yourself on that digital soapbox. This is one of those times.

I’m a born and bred marketer. But you knew that. What you may not know is that I have a love-hate relationship with marketing. I love what marketing can do for a product or service. Nothing makes me happier than when these guys get to help make organizations communicate better through their workshops. There’s a thrill when someone’s life becomes easier, more convenient or even just a little bit happier because of something I helped promote.


As with any field there’s a dark side. We’re not even going to talk about spam or black hat SEO because those things deserve to banished to marketing hell and never to be used again. Instead, let’s talk about less controversial but still offensive marketing tactics that need to stop now. 

1. Taking 10 days to remove me from your subscriber list

Why: Why, why, why do this? In today’s era of immediate removal, this makes you seem old, out of touch and incompetent. Even worse? The skeptical among us (and our numbers are high) think you’re just trying to squeeze out more sales even though we’ve made lack of interest known. 

2. Making me log into an account to remove myself from your list

Why: While this all-in-one system might be easy for you it’s much harder on your customer. Never a good thing. People who may temporarily wanted a break will remember what a pain this was and never resubscribe again. 

3. Link bait headlines

Why: Just look at the recent backlash again Upworthy and Buzzfeed. There’s also this downworthy plugin by Snipe that’s designed to decipher the spin. Enough of the "Mind blowing weird tricks and secrets you can learn from dead people" headlines.

4. Pop-ups asking me to subscribe now!

Why: Pop-ups work but users (including me) hate them. While they work their shelf life may be limited and you need to take care when placing them on your site.  And the sentiment is growing. Pop ups on smartphones are especially frustrating. You're reading an article when the screen goes gray and either you click to some site selling insurance or you have no way to remove the pop up so you have to abandon the page.

Pop-ups work but be aware, their shelf life may be limited and new tools are coming out to overcome these digital nuisances. Pop-ups may even harm your overall brand. 

5. Focusing on vanity metrics

Why: Vanity metrics do not always equate to what drives revenue. A while back I went to a blogging conference. Some of the bloggers boasted 100,000 twitter followers but when I dug deeper these folks were barely making ends meet. While I may have a tenth of their #’s I have something more important: consistent clients and money in the bank. 

As the internet grows to 1.82 billion indexed pages …and counting, the signal to noise ratio is tough to combat. You can almost understand why marketers employ these dirty tricks. The downside is that everyone has caught on so users are getting inundated which means a backlash is looming.  I believe in marketing and even the more controversial cousin, growth hacking but hate how it gets bastardized. Don’t be one of those people.

C'mon, admit it. Using these strategies makes you feel kinda dirty sometimes doesn't it?

What to Do Instead

Be authentic. 

Focus on what’s really important. 

Do good work, which naturally attracts people.

 /end rant