Why a Prospect You Want Chooses Your Competitor

You had trouble sleeping again last night.
Up until the time you got into bed, you were looking at their Twitter feed, their Facebook page, and their website.
It’s your competitor.
You’re completely preoccupied with everything they do … and for a seemingly good reason. Their customer base seems to keep growing and they keep expanding their offerings, while you’re just trying to keep your head above water.
You constantly ask yourself:
“What will it take for my business to be viewed like theirs?”
While it’s natural for that question to arise in your mind, it may stifle your progress if you’re thinking in terms of duplicating their marketing efforts.
Prospects don’t want to see a carbon copy of another business and you don’t want to obsess about competitors anymore, so I’m going to show you how you can immediately become energized about and sharply focused on your own marketing ideas instead.
The heavy lifting content marketing can do for you
Brian’s recent post about how to build trust and Sonia’s post about how to stop being boring are two sides of the same content marketing strategy coin.
The benefits of creating not boring content are essentially everything you wish to achieve with content marketing.
It allows you to build an audience of interested prospects who trust you to solve their problems.
They trust you because they know your personality. They know your sense of humor. They know your favorite analogies. Your word-choice preferences. What irritates you. What warms your heart.
They want to hear from you.

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Cookies To Humans: Implications Of Identity Systems On Incentives!

A story where data is the hero, followed by two mind-challenging business-shifting ideas.
At a previous employer customer service on the phone was a huge part of the operation. Qualitative surveys were giving the company a read that customers were unhappy with the service being provided. As bad customer service is a massive long-term cost – and short-term pain –, it was decided that the company would undertake a serious re-training effort for all the customer service reps and with that problems would get solved faster. To ensure customer delight was delivered in a timely manner, it was also decided that Average Call Time (ACT) would now be The success metric. It would even be tied to a customer service rep’s compensation creating an overlap between their personal success and the company’s success.
What do you think happened?
There is such a thing as employees that don’t really give a frek about their job or company, they just come to work. You’ll be surprised how small that number is. (Likewise, the number of employees that go well above the call of duty, look to constantly push personal and company boundaries is also quite small.) Most employees work diligently to deliver against set expectations.
Reflecting that, in our story, most customer service reps, re-trained, took the phone calls with the goal of driving down Average Call Time. They worked as quick as they could to resolve issues. But, pretty quickly customers with painful problems became a personally painful problem for an individual customer service rep. They hurt ACT, and comp. Solution? If the rep felt the call was going too long, self-preservation kicked in and they would hang up on the customer. Another

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The Persuasive Power of Analogy

An elderly man storms into his doctor’s office, steaming mad.
“Doc, my new 22-year-old wife is expecting a baby. You performed my vasectomy 30 years ago, and I’m very upset right now.”
“Let me respond to that by telling you a story,” the doctor calmly replies.
“A hunter once accidentally left the house with an umbrella instead of his rifle. Out of nowhere, a bear surprised him in the woods … so the hunter grabbed the umbrella, fired, and killed the bear.”
“Impossible,” the old man snaps back. “Someone else must have shot that bear.”
“And there you have it,” the doctor says.
Persuasion comes from understanding
At the heart of things, persuasion is about your audience understanding what you’re communicating. Understanding leads to acceptance when the argument is sound, well-targeted, and the conclusion seems unavoidable.
When it comes to creating effective understanding, analogies are hard to beat. Most of their persuasive power comes from the audience arriving at the intended understanding on their own.
The doctor could have simply said that the old man’s wife had to be cheating on him. But the analogy allowed the cranky patient to come to that conclusion on his own, which is much more persuasive.
Let’s take a second to make sure we’re all on the same page with analogies. It first helps to distinguish them from their close cousins, metaphor and simile.
A metaphor is a figure of speech that uses one thing to mean another and makes a comparison between the two. A simile compares two

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3 Content Marketing Mysteries Solved

OK, confession time — when I was a kid, I was a complete Nancy Drew junkie. “Sleuth” sounded like just about the best way ever to spend one’s time. (Of course, that’s before I knew what a Chief Content Officer was …)
This week, rather than figuring out Irene Adler’s cell phone password or who stole the missing emeralds, we’re working on “Why isn’t this content working? and “How can I get a whole lot better at what I do?”
On Monday, Brian gave us three rhetorical tools that can help build trust with your audience — then asks if you should consider putting all of them aside for another option. And on the podcast, I snagged the very nice Bryce Bladon from Clients from Hell to get his ideas on how to stay out of some less-than-heavenly situations.
On Tuesday, Kelly Exeter found a couple of critical elements missing from a lot of content — hooks and big ideas. Now, you and I both know that the reason we often lack a hook and a big idea is that … good hooks and ideas are really hard to come up with. Luckily, Kelly has some actual specific advice that can help.
Brian also has a nice interview on Unemployable with Emily Thompson of Indie Shopography and the Being Boss project. She shares one of those great, twisty-turny stories that show you how varied the entrepreneurial path can sometimes be.
And on Wednesday, Robert Bruce channeled the greatest consulting

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Sherlock Holmes and Mastery of the Craft of Writing

Sherlock Holmes was the greatest Consulting Detective in the world.
Though merely a fiction — written over a century ago by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle — his methods of logical deduction are without equal.
Holmes’s mastery of his craft brought him to the fog-cloaked London doorsteps of the most powerful people of his time.
Correction: he was so good, those clients came to him.
They ran, desperate, to his Baker Street rooms, begging for his help, willing to pay any amount of money for his services.
What can Sherlock Holmes teach us about the craft of writing?
Everything.
I’ll let you find the wealth of anecdote, advice, and adventure in Conan Doyle’s stories for yourself, but here’s a short list on Holmesian mastery to get you started …
Make a decision
When you watch or listen to an interview with a brilliant and successful writer, something happens deep down in your gut.
Some part of you thinks something like, “Ah yes, listen to her. Her fate was sealed from birth. Some are chosen to create brilliant work, and the rest of us are screwed.”
What you conveniently dismiss from such interviews — if they’re included at all — are the stories of the hours, days, weeks, months, and years of silent practice that the writer has put in.
Somewhere, back there, a decision was made.
On a particular day, at a particular hour, that writer had said, “This is the thing I will dedicate my working life to.”
Sometimes — as in Holmes’s case — there are obvious

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Two Vital Elements that Might Be Missing from Your Content (and Precisely Where to Add Them)

It’s taken you more than 10 hours to write a blog post.
You’ve researched the topic to the nth degree. You’ve edited it to within an inch of its life.
Now it’s time to get it out into the world!
You excitedly press Publish, and … even days later … crickets.
Heartbreaking, right?
We all like to think that the amount of effort we invest in creating a piece of content directly correlates to how deeply it resonates with readers. But, experience has repeatedly shown this is not the case.
So, what’s the deciding factor if it’s not effort?
Luck? Timing? Skill?
Yes, the factors above do play a part. But, more often than not, it comes down to these two elements:

If your content doesn’t hook readers in the first few sentences, it doesn’t matter how good the rest of it is, you’ve lost them.
If you don’t clearly communicate your idea, readers may lose interest after your introduction because they don’t have an incentive to keep reading.

So, how do we write both a strong hook and a strong idea? That’s what I’m going to break down for you today.
What’s a hook?
A hook is a narrative technique that operates exactly as it sounds.
It’s information so interesting that it hooks the reader’s attention, and they feel compelled to see what comes next. So, they keep reading.
The hook works in tandem with the headline; the headline delivers the reader to the first lines of an article, and then the hook in those

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