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Archives for October 2007

Risky Business: Crafting Your Break-out Moment

Tom Cruise, Risky Business

There’s an anecdote I love that says “Poor people are crazy. Rich people are eccentric”. And that leads us into a chicken and egg question …

Are celebrities wild and crazy because they’re rich and famous, or are they rich and famous because they’re wild and crazy?

It’s pretty easy to argue that one feeds the other, but I have to go with the latter because getting attention is marketing 101. It’s the first job that every brand, or rather, that brand’s packaging has to do.

The Risky Business Strategy

Tom Cruise’s career is a great case study. There are lots of people who have amassed huge fortunes and achieved great fame. But his case is very special because we can pinpoint exactly the one thing he did that started it all.

The year was 1983. The movie was Risky Business. And the one single (and risky) scene that took a relatively unknown actor and launched him into a superstar was Tom Cruise dancing in his underwear to Bob Seger’s Old Time Rock and Roll. Pretty easy to read that scene in a script and think you’re going to look like a total fool if you do it.

But that’s the point. It’s just another version of “feel the fear and do it anyway”. You have to own it with unflinching confidence. And he’s been capitalizing on that first big success ever since and rolling it into bigger and bigger successes.

The next time you’re brainstorming on how to create your own break-out moment or a launching point for something, make sure it’s a little scary. There has to be a risk. And sure, maybe you just think Tom Cruise is crazy.

Eccentric maybe. Crazy … not a chance.

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Blog Action Day 2007: The Environment

Small blue planet

We live on a small blue planet. It’s an island. A reef. A forest and a beach. And it’s the only … the only one we have.

We are many. Some days, too many. And even though it sometimes seems the world is not enough, we have to remember …

That’s not our choice. It has to be.

Take care of it.

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“Look Before You Leap” Test Marketing

Taking the Leap

There’s something to be said for coming up with a great idea and just jumping in to it. In fact, there’s a lot to be said about it and I can sum it up in 3 words … just do it. Entrepreneurs are about taking risks. Sometimes it works out and sometimes it doesn’t. But there is no reward without the risk.

At the same time, you have to be ready and willing to just cut a bad idea loose no matter how much time and money you’ve pumped into it. The key is to get back on the horse immediately and move on to your next idea without missing a beat.

Risk Flipping

The biggest risk in any entrepreneurial venture is that you don’t know whether you can sell it until after you build it, roll it out, and start marketing it. Then it either flies or flops.

But if you could be certain of at least some measure of success, would you be more willing to take more of a risk? Would you invest more in the idea? Well sure, why not.

And that’s where test marketing comes in. And the beauty of the internet is that you can test-market anything relatively cheaply. And more importantly, you can test-market an idea BEFORE you invest anything else in it. And if you do it right, it can cost you almost nothing.

Free (or almost free) CPC Test Marketing

The idea is really simple. Create a simple landing page based around an idea you have. Throw some Google ads up on the page … make sure they’re prominent, high on the page, and blend in well. These will help you get your advertising dollars back and minimize the cost of your testing.

Now start advertising and promoting your page using AdWords or whatever. This is basic arbitrage and you probably won’t make much if any money on it. But I’ve found it’s a great way to test-market an idea for … well, pretty much free.

This kind of test-marketing lets you see how well people respond to your idea by:

  • The amount of traffic you can get with your advertising. This comes from a combination of the keywords you choose to target your advertising, how compelling your ads are, and how big a market there is for your idea.
  • The type of ads that are shown on your page that people are compelled to click on. Because Google AdSense is contextual and shows ads related to your page text, this is a very powerful measure of how well you can match your landing page text (related to your idea) to writing compelling ads that draw in people who are interested in your idea.

Put 10 or 20 of your ideas to the test. When you find one that gets a great response across the board, that’s the one you start developing. That’s the one you want to take a risk on.

You might find that your big kick-butt idea won’t fly but your so-so idea is actually a huge winner. Only test marketing can tell you for sure.

Now jump.

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