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Out-spend vs. out-inspire the competition


What can you do if you have a tiny marketing budget? The main message on this blog is that if you can't out-spend, you can out-teach. But another way to look at this is to out-inspire the competition. He who helps his users do more--reach more--engage more (I'm trying really hard to avoid saying, "kick ass"), might have the advantage.

[Disclaimer: I'm not saying the "traditional" column is wrong (or that they can't be inspirational). But there are plenty of things that cost less (or virtually no) money, and can carry more inspirational, long-term, passionate weight.]


So, what can you do to inspire your users? As a user, who has inspired you?

Loosely-related links:

Electric Rain
"User must do something cool in 30 minutes"

They can make anyone believe they can do a 10k, no matter if you've never run 100 meters in your life. But... it's not fantasy; they do everything they can to get you into a club, group, seminar series, etc. to make it a reality. Last year, they convinced 50,000 people they could do this. That's in a town of 100,000!

Customers become community become designers become motivated to do their own start-up.

Amazing pictures

Our favorite industry analyst James Governor sent me a link to this video of a guy doing... you just have to see it

(Their website alone does a great job of inspiring people to get involved)

How to get started taking kick-ass photos with your Nikon
A fabulous example of helping your users kick ass. BUT... it only barely makes up for the horrible user manuals. I spent $1700 on my Nikon, and the manual didn't even pretend to care whether I ever used the camera as anything but a really expensive point-and-shoot.

Posted by Kathy on May 15, 2006 | Permalink


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» "That's impossible!" from 卦Trigram
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Why not say that the Traditional column is wrong? Is that what you think? I do.

If you "kick-ass" and inspire people, you will inherently do all the Old School things like keep barriers to entry high. Others can always enter, but if you kick-ass, they can't touch you unless they kick MORE ass. Which will likely be inspiration enough for you to step it up another notch. Competition is gooooooood.

Posted by: jt | May 15, 2006 10:12:02 PM

The video "video of a guy doing..." is a video of what's called Freerunning (not to be confused with Parkour, which emphasizes elegant and efficient movement, not flair such as flips). David Belle is the pioneer of Parkour. Those keywords should get you started on an exploration of an incredible, mostly European, urban subculture that seeks to interpret urban spaces in new ways by breaking our common concepts of barriers, as you see in the video.

Posted by: James McKinney | May 15, 2006 10:52:07 PM

This can definitely be applied to people who work in customer service and sales. What are you doing to inspire your customers to want to do business with you?

By the way, this is my third or fourth visit to your blog and I have to tell you that you've definitely inspired me! Keep up the great work...

Posted by: Maria Palma | May 16, 2006 2:09:08 AM

Every time you make a table like this, I imagine there should be another column to the left labeled "primordial" that'd contain only "bash your customer/competitor's head with a club" or "stab then bribe".
I feel that's how it's done down here in eastern europe. We haven't even reached the "traditional", let alone the "inspirational" level.
I subscribe to "inspirational" however.

Posted by: animateusz | May 16, 2006 3:04:46 AM

When we asked women what they thought was "fun" from their point of view, "learning" was high on the list. It became very clear why TomBoy Tools is resonating with women, it provides a forum for women to help each other (and men too) accomplish home remodeling projects.

Posted by: Mary | May 16, 2006 8:01:02 AM

Shouldn't the header for "Traditional" be the same Kelly Green color as "Spend"? "Inspire" and "Inspirational" are both orange (though they don't necessarily match either).

Sorry, it's the anal-retentive graphic design background coming out of me. But little things like that do give strong relational ties for your charts.

Just be thankful you haven't had to hear all the restaurant menu-design critiques that my wife has endured. Now she just rolls her eyes and orders the Chicken Crispers®.

Posted by: DUST!N | May 16, 2006 2:40:07 PM

The Russian guy reminds me of a post of yours recently. He looks like he's running and jumping and climbing... well, just because he can. Joie de vivre (or more likely, Parcour) in action!

Posted by: Louise Barr | May 18, 2006 7:08:12 AM

Kathy, another AWESOME post and which really hits home for me.

We are a few weeks from launching our online bathroom store and with a very limited marketing budget I am having to get creative about how I spend it!

One thing I find helps tremendously (and is often missed out in the textbooks) is finding out what makes me PASSIONATE about the products I SELL.

What do I as an individual feel about my products? What makes me want to buy one style of bathroom over another? When I am buying a bathroom, what drives me to make the decisions I do?

Thinking like the customer and fathoming their buying passions, by putting yourself in their shoes is a sure way of making a good start against the big budget boys.

When I am thinking about ideas to implement, I always ask myself before anything else, "Can my customers feel passionate about it?".

If you can comfortably say that your customers would be passionate about it, there is an almost endless supply of shoe-string idea you can put into your marketing campaign!

Posted by: Paul Fabretti | May 22, 2006 7:26:29 AM

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