Monday, June 14, 2010

I Used To Love Starbucks, Will This Bring Me Back?

It's all over the net today, Starbucks is partnering with Yahoo and others to bring free Wi-Fi to all of their stores, along with some free content that would normally be paid content, such as NY Times, USA Today, Wall Street Journal and more! 

So the question remains, does the offer of free Internet (without the normal limit of 2 hours and the requirement of being an AT&T customer to continue to use it for free) really entice the public to come back in and spend some time in the store?

I'm skeptical.  But let me start from the beginning.

I used to be more than regular Starbucks customer, I was a fan!.  I used to visit often and found it exciting to find a new location. I enjoyed the atmosphere and the customer service.  And then things changed.  The customer service dropped off, turnaround at the stores I visited was so high that I never had that "welcome back" feeling.  I started to notice all the force fed advertising of things that I didn't really care about; such as an inventory of travel mugs and coffee related accessories that could choke a horse. Then they added what Starbucks thought I would like in music. Most of the times the artists were not artists that I disliked, but I certainly was not going to pay the overpriced cost for the CD's they offered.  It started to feel cold and definitely was not as inviting as it once was...

I started going elsewhere and finding better service, more selection and better customer service.

OK - so back to the free internet.  Will this win back my business?  In short - No.

My visits were never longer than it took the counter line to dissipate.  I never saw the value that others did in sitting around and taking in the atmosphere, reading, or socializing - even though I've never thought of the Starbucks store layouts that I've been in as conducive to sharing a conversation with a new found friend.  The vision of the "quiet coffee house, where one could work or focus their energy as they relax" really never formed for me.  Most of the time I was in the store I was feeling caught awkwardly between the aging hipsters and the young and loud crowd.  It just was not my scene.

I do wish Starbucks good wishes though, there is still a part of me that enjoyed the phenomenon while it was on the way up and got caught up in it, and some of those memories are very good.

Sunday, June 13, 2010

Content Is Still King, But There Is Much More To The Hand.

"Content Is King!"

There is just no debating this fact.  If you create content, whether it be illustration, animation, games, music, photos, writing, basically anything that can be consumed, then you have something you can benefit from financially.

The trick is finding the market for your item and making sure that you are using all methods available to you to sell your work. Let's think of it as a very good poker hand.

Content is King.  According to this post Distribution is the Queen, and I absolutely agree!

Your goal should be to produce an income stream that will need little maintenance and allow you to focus on creating more content to sell.

Many people, myself included, focus on creating new and innovative ways to market their material.  For example, I've recently started taking many more photographs and thought that it might be nice to sell some of them.  Let's take a look at the "old me" method versus the "new me" method.

The Old Me
My past methods would have included getting business cards, designing a website to sell my photos, working on SEO (Search Engine Optimization) to make sure that my portfolio could be found and in all likelihood I'd spend so much time doing this that I'd stop taking photos.  The chance that this site would even see the light of day would be small and I'd be constantly maintaining it and trying to make it better.

The New Me
Focus on the content.  Check for delivery channels that allow you to get your photos out in front of a large audience with as little effort as possible.  For example, I read a great article on how to sell stock photography and I'll use almost all of these methods to let me enter the market with very little effort.  Once there, I will look to continue focusing on the content and delivering what the market is requesting.

The difference between having a great idea and benefiting from that idea is execution.  Most people won't follow through with their idea because there is effort involved.

This is why my goal for this year is figuring out the quickest way to market my content whether it be written word, design, music, photos or anything else I have created.

Back to the poker hand - now that we've got a Queen and King, I'd focus on the Jack.  Your networking capabilities are your Jack.  Use all the methods available to you to advertise and market yourself and your content.  Social Media environments will lend a hand, but there is still benefit to actually meeting with like minded individuals and sharing your inspiration and the fruits of your labor.  Check for local user groups, or online groups, get involved, ask questions, make time for personal interaction local events.

The "10" in your hand is your skill / knowledge.  It's the base of your hand, the foundation.  Whenever you have time, look for opportunities to build this element with training.  This doesn't always have to cost a lot of money.  Look for low cost opportunities at local libraries or community colleges.

Now we come to the Ace.  To quote a George Strait song;

You've got to have an ace in the hole
A little secret that nobody knows

Your secret is your passion for creating this content.  Your drive and your determiniation... in short perseverance.  The difference between you and the others is your Ace.

Some may not see all content as an "invention", but it is created in a very similar format and starts from the source which is an idea.

None of my inventions came by accident. I see a worthwhile need to be met and I make trial after trial until it comes. What it boils down to is one per cent inspiration and ninety-nine per cent perspiration. ~ Thomas Edison

So we have the full hand;

  • Ace: The drive and determination needed to set yourself apart from the rest
  • King: High Quality Content
  • Queen: Distribution Channels for your Content
  • Jack: Your network / the methods you use to get the word out about your Content
  • Ten: Your talent, skills and knowledge

To end the post I'll just say that this hand is a very good hand, even if the cards are of mixed suits.

This hand becomes unbeatable if it is all of the same suit (for example, all hearts - pun intended!).

I would classify this as your Brand.  I'll save the talk about branding for another post later this month.

Over the next week I'll have several posts covering some of my favorite sites for sharing content that you've created.

Until next time, stay creative!

Saturday, June 12, 2010

Got Game?

Do you have what it takes to attract and keep the interest of a member of the opposite sex?  I've been doing a bunch of reading lately, starting with books like "Introvert Power" and then moving on to Carl Jung and Sigmund Freud, focusing on understanding the conscious and unconcious mind.  Moving from there into NLP and learning about programming, the power of words and re-framing.  Working on affirmations and positivity, and an optimistic view on the future and my life goals.... and then I stumbled across this book.

This book has had a great impact on opening up an extensive list of other books I'd now like to read to open up my mind and learn a bit about mastering social interactions.

I'll post a review when I've completed it and comments when I stumble across ideas that are profound.

Let the games begin...