Fishing With The Tides

If your intention is to catch fish, there is no point in going fishing when the tide is wrong. I like to fish for saltwater, striped bass in Rhode Island. For the type of fishing that I do, the tide matters. You might not always catch a keeper when the tide is right, but going fishing against the tide will guarantee that you won’t. There are times in my own life when I have chosen to fish with the tide and when I have chosen to go against it.

The transitional stages of our lives are much like tides. I suspect that science and psychology have not yet identified all of the stages that exist in humanity, and that they probably fluctuate from person to person. However, some very common transitional stages are tidal. I read a news report based on a recent survey that concluded that older people are less unhappy than younger people because they have fewer outside stresses such as: money, children at home, and interpersonal work relationships. I believe older people are also more familiar with the tides, and may bring acceptance to events more frequently. Of course, this is my own general observation.

Whatever your intention is, the more you can align yourself with the tides, the easier it becomes to achieve the results you want. It is entirely possible to create a life for yourself in which you do what you want to do instead of what you have to do as long as you remember that doing what you want to do is not the same as Doing whatever you want.

The New Normal

There is obviously a very large and growing problem with unemployment in the United States right now and by most estimates it will be at least a year before we see the percentage of unemployed (which is nearing 10%) decrease. This is a signal of a major shift in not only the economy, but in the way we will define “work” and “jobs” for a long time to come.

What is happening in America is not new. It has happened before, but we rarely spot the trend when we are in it. Instead, we look back at a period of time, and label it once it is passed. I think missed a few labels along the way in the past era which has run for the last 30-40 years.

No one denies that we transitioned from Agrarian to Industrial, and from Industrial to Service-based economies, but a lot of people would not agree with me that we then moved from Service to Debt-based.

I have two arguments to make the point about moving away from a service-based economy. I define the Debt-based economy as the residual income earned by financial institutions and others that derived from interest payments, late fees, overdraft charges and any additional monetary costs associated with financial transactions that did not involve cash only. The current economic conditions stemmed from “complicated financial instruments developed by Wall Street” and a fire sale on money (low interest rates and lax vetting of borrower credentials). This signaled the reliance of the banking and financial institutions on “bad debt”, and we all know what happened. Its been all over the news for the last 4 or 5 years.

The second element that indicates a shift from Service-based economy is that most companies quite literally do not provide “service” at all. When I use the term “service”, what I am really meaning is “customer service”. There was a time when we only discussed service when it was delivered poorly. That soon became the exception as it continued to worsen. Those of us in technology relate specifically to technical support as a benchmark of customer support, but you could find examples in almost every customer-facing aspect of a business: ignorant sales people, lying marketers, misleading advertising, rude customer service employees. These are the “people skilled” jobs that were being filled by “non-people skilled individuals” or the individuals were hamstrung by “corporate policy”. In either case, service was not delivered effectively and it truly seemed to be of no concern to the organizations that provided the services.

So, what is the next transition? The Debt-based economy has clearly collapsed of its own weight, and has become a short-lived trend that will dissipate without disappearing completely. But at the forefront of the next trend is the increasing need for people to reacquaint themselves with the concept of helping others. We are not going back to farming, or industry, or the “old-time religion”. These are part of a different time and place. The new normal is a Niche economy; mass customization. We will still need transportation, housing, food, entertainment, medical attention, light, heat, and communications, but these are commodities in our new economy. The aggregate of the niches associated with these core industries will drive the economic growth of the 21st century. In short, innovation will once again be the hallmark of economic development in the United States and, consequently, the world.

You Don’t Have to Throw Away Everything You Know About Marketing

There has been so much talk and publicity surrounding social networking and Internet marketing that it is easy to feel “out of touch” with what’s going on out there in cyberspace. The truth is: If you know how to market using the traditional methods such as print ads and direct mail, you are most of the way toward being able to use the tools provided by technology today. The most important adage still applies: Know your target audience.

One of the greatest values presented by the growing dominance of Internet marketing is in its ability to help you to create hyper-targeted marketing campaigns. Through the use of tools such as email auto-responders and opt-ins, you can build an incredibly focused list that is yours to market to at any time. The auto-responder allows you to automate a campaign that can run for days and months.  If you don’t know your target market, it won’t matter if you can’t use an auto-responder or an opt-in. They’re useless in a “spray and pray” approach to marketing.  Fortunately, they aren’t as costly as a snail mail campaign gone bad.

There is no “trick” to Internet marketing. If you bombard potential leads with garbage, that’s exactly where your electronic marketing material will end up. To be successful it is absolutely vital that you lead with value. If you can provide useful information to people, they will most definitely be more receptive to what you have to offer in terms of service, or product or business opportunity. This is where the social networking component fits into the picture. It is tied to another well-known adage in business: Build relationships with your clients. The social networking sites that are hot right now include Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube. These sites allow you to present an image of yourself or business to people all over the world. You do need to be aware of the tools and how they are used by others. If you’re not careful, you will quickly find your Twitter account loaded with spammer turds. Some people feel the need to cut right to the pitch, not unlike those at a live networking event that walk up to you and hand you a card before they’ve listened to whether or not you’d be a qualified lead or even asked you for your name.  They’re working a “numbers game”. And that’s OK for them, but I’m personally not interested in doing business with people like that. I remember hearing that Warren Buffet has 3 questions he asks before he goes into a business deal:  Do I like them? Do I respect them? Do I trust them? Seems pretty reasonable to me, and I think Warren Buffet knows something about business.

So before you start worrying about how you can use social networking and Internet marketing to drive business, start thinking about what your ideal client looks like. If you stick to some of the time-tested marketing strategies, you will have no problem learning the tactics involved with using technology to gain new leads and clients.