Grocery stores & everyday influencers

“Aldi doesn’t pay Youngpeter for her content about her favorite brands at the store— Girl Scout cookies knockoffs and German chocolates. But she and other grocery store superfans with Facebook and Instagram accounts dedicated to the stores are powerful advocates for the companies.”

These are the grocery store influencers (CNN)

With grocery stores becoming the only open public venue during Covid-19 shutdowns, I can’t help but wonder if we’ll see a rise in this sort of content.

The unique benefits of virtual community events

“Virtual conferences can be quite powerful, and scale to many thousands of attendees that would be very difficult to gather in-person. And online meetups and roundtables give your members an opportunity to have intimate discussions from the comfort of their home. Are they the same? No. But they do have unique benefits.”

Examples for Event Organizers During the Coronavirus Outbreak (CMX)

On a related note, we’re hosting our first virtual meetup for WP Durham this evening.

Crowdsourcing resources for community organizers

“The goal of most meetups is for everyone to walk away learning one new concept, idea, idea, or person. The “Top 9” aims to help those who organize monthly meetups by freely sharing slides and materials. It’s an easy way to share relevant information and topics within a group without organizers and volunteers investing time to research and create the slides themselves.”

Top 9 (mycamp.rocks)

A cool initiative from David Bissett and his mycamp.rocks site for community organizers. While the focus is primarily on WordCamps and WordPress meetups, the resources are useful for all kinds of event-based community groups.

I’m seeing a lot of curated content floating around right now in light of CORVID-19, social distancing, remote work, and shelter-in-place lockdowns, et al.

Related:

Cheap inclusive tech

“The Estonian experience also demonstrates that high rates of basic technological penetration pay off better than cutting-edge technology only in the hands of a selected few. Cheap, common technology that is inclusively used by society as a whole brings much greater benefits than exclusive ones only accessible to upwardly mobile populations.

Estonia is running its country like a tech company (Quartz)

We know the upsides of connectivity during social isolation. But that’s a privilege for those who have access. What about those who can’t afford it? Or those who are under-served by the infrastructure in their area?

Related:

Recognize your blessings

Not recognizing your blessings feeds into the dark side of capitalism and meritocracy: the notion that success is a choice, and that those who haven’t achieved success are not unlucky, but unworthy. This leads to regressive policies that further reward the perceived winners and punish the perceived losers based on income level.”

Third Base (Scott Galloway)

Those of us who can make a living by working from home are blessed right now.

Sure, it might be inconvenient, if you’d prefer to be in the office with your colleagues every day. But think of all the people who don’t have that option.

And as office workers stay home, think of all the people who’ll likely find their hours being cut because their usual customers aren’t showing up. Then what are the ripple effects from that, further up the chain, as revenue declines?

If you’re not impacted by that ripple effect, that’s another blessing — you’ll be better off, not because you chose to be, but because you got lucky.

Aristotle’s five rhetorical devices for great presentations

Note: This was originally published in Our Favorite Management Tips from 2019 on Harvard Business Review. Clipped it here because I thought it was really useful.

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When you need to sell an idea at work or in a presentation, how do you do it? Five rhetorical devices can help — Aristotle identified them 2,000 years ago, and masters of persuasion still use them today:

1. Ethos. Start your talk by establishing your credibility and character. Show your audience that you are committed to the welfare of others, and you will gain their trust.

2. Logos. Use data, evidence, and facts to support your pitch.

3. Pathos. People are moved to action by how a speaker makes them feel. Wrap your big idea in a story that will elicit an emotional reaction.

4. Metaphor. Compare your idea to something that is familiar to your audience. It will help you clarify your argument by making the abstract concrete.

5. Brevity. Explain your idea in as few words as possible. People have a limited attention span, so talk about your strongest points first.

All hail the welcome bots

New members of online communities are more likely to stick around if they’re welcomed by fellow members — but Nickerson and his team found that new Wikipedia users who interacted with advisor- and protector-bots were significantly more likely to become long-term contributors than those greeted by humans. That remained true even when the bots were contacting users to point out errors or delete their contributions, as long as the bots were cordial and clear about their reasons.”

Rise of the bots (Science Daily)

Since 2017, Discourse — an open source forum platform that’s an absolute delight to use — has welcomed new members via Discobot. You can think of it as a customizable autoresponder taking on the form of another user.

This sort of automation, when used transparently, can offer a good deal of scalable utility to help with new member onboarding. It acquaints users with the platform and sets expectations out of the gate.

It’s kind of like the introductory levels or tutorials in a multiplayer game. You learn the gameplay mechanics in a safe space before jumping in with real players.

The ROI of supporting existing community groups

“In variety of other ways — with the launch of community events, youth workshops, and other programs — Katz and her partner continue to double down, investing back into the culture and creative community that provide Paper Chase business, and in turn, support and nurture its growth.”

The Creative Entrepreneur Behind Paper Chase Press (99U)

I’m big on supporting existing community groups. Why? Because the people you want to reach are already coming together. The interest and momentum is there. You just need to tap into it.

I wouldn’t start a new group unless I felt like there’s something missing from what the current group was doing. Even then, I’d look at how I could fill that gap within the existing group, rather than forking off in a different direction.

Here’s an example:

Back in 2011, a local eBook publisher was struggling to get off the ground. The founders had a history in print, they knew the industry, they had connections to great authors.

They wanted to provide consulting, design, and editing services to new authors for a small percentage of the sales revenue. To keep costs low, they’d cut out the middleman and sell the books directly to readers.

They didn’t know where to start with their marketing, and they had a very limited budget. So I suggested that they take the community marketing route: piggyback on local meetups, book clubs, and online groups that aligned with both sides of their business — authors and readers.

The goal would be to find the aspiring authors in these groups. If they could convert a chunk of those members into publishing under their label, they’d have an organic (unpaid) program for raising awareness & finding new leads.

The groups could also help with customer research. What were people reading? How were they discovering new authors? If they were trying to write and get published, what were they struggling with?

That’s the ROI of supporting existing community groups. You’re plugging into a collective of people you need to reach. Instead of buying attention with dollars, your investment is time spent on showing up, contributing, participating, and listening.

Start small, build relationships with members, gather a lot of qualitative insights, figure out what works, and scale up from there.

Personal training & the whole product experience

“Sometimes a product can be too focused. You need to identify the whole product – the full set of features (including services) that are required to delight the customer.”

The Whole Product (Bill Barnett on Strategy)

A business doesn’t just sell a product or a service. It sells an experience. It’s true for big box stores, online retailers, real estate agents, web designers, et al.

Here’s an example: I’m seeing a personal trainer right now because I’m trying to build my functional strength. I remember seeing my father suffer from back issues when I was younger. I don’t want that to happen to me.

There are lots of personal trainers in the GTA. I chose to work with this guy in downtown Toronto for two big reasons. First, I was referred to him by people I knew. That meant a lot. Second, we went through two free consultation sessions, and those sessions were better than any training session I’d had in the past.

So I signed on for a six month contract. Now I haul myself downtown, twice a week, just to train with him.

I’m only two months in and I already feel stronger. Exercises I never had the confidence to do before — barbell squats, lifts, presses — are almost comfortable. I look forward to seeing how much more I can lift each time I show up.

From each session I get some new pointers, some new exercises to try on my own, some new guidance on form and technique and equipment that can help improve my performance.

That’s the whole product experience. The two hours of personal training time each week are the table stakes.

Set some guidelines for saying yes.

“We often say yes to everything because we don’t have any hard and fast guidelines for knowing whether or not we want to say yes. Setting guidelines for when you’ll say yes can help you make decisions that will better serve your priorities.

The Art of Doing Nothing (99U)

A friend told me recently that I’m very good (too good?) at saying “yes”.

There’s a long, long list of things I’d like to learn and do. But I need to get better at saying no to new projects, or figuring out how they fit into something I’m already doing.

Paraphrasing a colleague: let’s do a few things really well this year.