Archive for June, 2009

Metcalfe’s Law Revisited, Or Take a Node to Lunch Day

June 18, 2009

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Take your best node to lunch today.

Metcalfe’s Law states that “the value of a network  is proportional to the square of the number of nodes.” Every 10 nodes added increases the value a hundredfold. Big isn’t just better, it’s better-squared. The law applies to a network of compatible communication devices (fax machines, cell phones). Does it apply to people in your personal network?

There’s been a bit written on Metcalfe’s Law in a Web 2.0 world here and here. If you want to get mathy, follow those links. But here’s my take:

  • Metcalfe’s Law: V = n², where V is the value of the network and n is the number of nodes (compatible communication devices)
  • Metcalfe’s Law Revisited For Getting Stuff Done in a Web 2.0 World: V = (n*e)². e is engagement of the users

Think about this for your personal network. It’s not hard to amass crowds of Twitter followers or LinkedIn connections. But the more you go for volume, the less committed the average member is. Which is fine, parts of life are a volume game and the n in the equation is important.

But in a Web 2.0 world, the e is equally important. Who are the most engaged nodes in your network? Don’t treat them like nodes. Treat them like the valued and committed collaborators that they are. Take your best node to lunch today.

Photo by Noah Sussman

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New Coat of Paint

June 15, 2009

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It struck me this morning how faded some retail businesses look right now. On a drive through South Austin I passed a Hollywood Video. The bright blue had faded beyond pastel. Like all the other businesses in the strip mall. Like the other strip malls I passed. They all blended together. Is this how we feel as a business community? Faded, battered and weathered?

In a down economy, improvements can wait. It makes financial sense.

But whoever bucks that trend will stand out. If I had a store in that strip mall right now I’d give it a fresh coat of paint. Bright and cheery. Everyone who drove past would notice my store and know that I don’t plan on closing my doors anytime soon. At the cost of a new coat of paint. There’s your ROI.

You make impressions on customers, prospects and bystanders every day. What message are you sending? Are you telling them that you’re white-knuckling it through the recession, hoping to be lifted by a rising tide before you hit the rocks? Or are you telling them that you’re optimistic and in it for the long haul?

You probably don’t run a Hollywood Video in a strip mall. But you’re in some kind of business. Tell me – what’s your version of a new coat of paint?

Photo by Mess of Pottage

The Hardest Kind of More

June 1, 2009

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Marketers and Bruce Dickenson both love ‘More’.

Mostly we focus on more feeds & speeds. Sometimes we promote more deeds. We don’t spend nearly enough time where it really matters – on meeting more needs.

Incremental More is more feeds and faster speeds. It’s a Toyota Prius going from 46 MPG in 2009 to 50 MPG in 2010. That’s a big deal in Engineering, but “gas mileage just got a little better” won’t get people talking. To grab attention you need to translate those feeds and speeds into First, Best or Most. Otherwise you’re like Gene Frenkel, loudly banging a More that no one cares about.

Different More is new deeds. The Prius in 2001 wasn’t positioned as improved mileage, but as a whole new way of achieving that gain. Done right, it gets people talking. But Different More can fall flat. Consumer electronics manufacturers have tried to position Blu-Ray as Different More, but outside of the home theater crowd it’s been received as Incremental More. In fact, it looks lame compared to the Different More of streaming and downloading.

More Fitting is the hardest kind of more because it’s about needs. Feeds, speeds and deeds are all within your control. Needs belong to the customer. More buttons and options are clear signs that you don’t know how to do More Fitting.  Subtract features (like the first iPod shuffle did)  just as a tailor subtracts fabric in the right places to create a suit fitted to the needs of the customer.

More Fitting is hard to trump. Would you trade a well-tailored suit that fits your needs (and body type) perfectly for an off-the-rack suit with Incremental More thread count or Different More styling? I wouldn’t.

What could you subtract from your product positioning that would result in More Fitting and higher customer loyalty? How are you connecting with your customers today so you know their needs?

photo by flick