Thursday, May 27, 2010

Polar Extremes

As a parallel entrepreneur—which term I may as well claim to have invented (patent pending)—I’ve always pursued things that interested me. As a second-generation broadcaster, radio, of course, is—well, I was going to say my #1 interest, but in the unlikely event my first and only wife stumbles across this essay, I’d better say #2. After that love, manifested in our newsletter, my two biggest passions represent where we’ve been, and where we’re going.

In the Where We’ve Been Department, there is my card-and-gift business (, which uses the quaint delivery system known as the U.S. Postal Service. How innovative is that?

As antediluvian as it seems, sending a heartfelt thank-you or greeting card is today unique and memorable, simply because so few people do it. (Just ask the red-ink-drenched U.S. Postal Service how few.) Virtually every sales consultant talks about sending cards and notes to commemorate sales calls and contract anniversaries, not to mention more prosaic events like birthdays and holidays, to set yourself apart. I salute those who take the time to put ink to paper and keep a storehouse of stamps. For the rest of us, there’s an online-based system that automates the process from composition to fulfillment, for about a quarter of the cost.

My other love—the Where We’re Going part—is my web-development business (, in which we spend whatever time we’re not actually building sites to stay current with emerging technologies, so we’ll be ready to roll them out when our small and medium markets actually adopt them. It requires a combination of art and science to know just when to introduce a feature. (I wish there were an app for that.)

Here’s a useful takeaway for you: Right now everybody is talking about texting, Twittering and Facebooking, but nobody is talking about mobile web sites. As important as social-networking may be—and don’t believe the huge numbers in some recently-published research, by the way—it presumes an underlying ability to drive people to your website on the same platform they’re using for the other stuff. You’ve just reached them on their cell phones, and now you expect them to stop what they’re doing and find a computer for the payoff? I don’t think so. We need to stop playing radio’s favorite game, Buy the Hype, and instead play a game we can win—Listen to My Market.

All this Internet stuff is enough to make my head explode. I think I’ll take a break and send a card or two. Even though I’ll do it online, the basic process hasn’t changed in 200 years. . .and I don’t need any research to tell me how many people in my market have mailing addresses.

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