Steve McKee writes the Smart Answers column in Business Week. Last Friday he was talking about how everything a company does comes down to marketing. His column was replete with examples and well made points, but I was particularly taken with this story.
. . . The other night, my wife and I decided to try a new restaurant. But when we turned down its street, we just kept on driving, never even getting out of the car. It was the sign that gave us pause. It was simply a flat, translucent panel with an amateurish, one-color logo slapped on — the kind of sign you would see on a check-cashing operation in a seedy strip mall. The sign was of low quality and in bad taste — imagery not well associated with a fine-dining establishment. With plenty of other good choices we simply didn’t want to take the risk of spoiling our dinner date.
For all I know, the food would have been amazing and the chef an undiscovered gem, but the restaurant never got the chance to prove it because we naturally assumed the experience would be as unprofessional as the sign. As a result, we passed.
Perhaps after a few more quiet weekends the proprietor will realize that marketing is everything and will do something about the sign. Perhaps not. But I’m determined to apply the lesson to my own business and think about marketing in a much broader context. Are you?–Steve McKee, Business Week, Smart Answers : All Together Now “Marketing Is Everything,” February 10, 2006
Checking Out Curb Appeal
After I read Steve McKee’s story, I started wondering. How many readers are choosing to drive by our blogs–the same way Steve and his wife chose to drive by that restaurant–because they lack curb appeal? We do make assumptions based solely on how a blog looks. Try this test to see how blog curb appeal works for you.
- 1. Choose a keyword or search term that you don’t usually look for. It might be something like memory, dragons, or fortune.
2. Do the search on Google Blog Search, Technorati, or another blog search engine. Keep your search results window handy in case you need to return to it.
3. Randomly choose 3-5 blogs from the search results.
4. Without reading a word, rank the blogs in the order you predict they might rank based on linkage from other blogs.
5. Then do a link search for each blog on Technorati Advanced Search or another blog search engine to get their actual link stats. ( On Technorati–>[Search>Options>Links to This URL] On Others–>[link: domain.com] )
6. Rank the blogs again based on your findings from the links search.
7. Compare your prediction to reality. Did your prediction come close?
Curb appeal changes how we value things. To say it another way. Perception changes reality.
Granted curb appeal isn’t everything. Curb appeal gets folks in the door. Content keeps them. Even without curb appeal, if you can folks to read quality content, they’ll come back again. Still that doesn’t change the fact that curb appeal makes a HUGE difference in whether a stranger stops to read word one.
Curb Appeal in the Technorati 100
In the Technorati Top 100 Blogs, 10 are My Space Blogs. Who says a template blog can’t have curb appeal? Here are three My Space Blogs from the Technorati Top 100 and their link stats as of today.
Technorati 19 has 16,141 links from 4864 sites.
Technorati 81 has 6673 links from 2214 sites.
Technorati 96 has 5792 links from 2290 sites.
Obviously readers find these blogs have enough curb appeal. Like beauty, curb appeal is in the eye of the beholder. Our blogs need to match what our readers expect to see from a blog like ours. A Disney Blog shouldn’t look like Brooks Brothers or a hiphop blog for that matter. We all have sense what our readers will find confusing or won’t find attractive. Don’t we?
Steve McKee’s story stuck with me because my decision tree always starts with eliminating the negatives. That way I have fewer choices to work from. I might be missing something spectacular, but I don’t have the time to kiss all of the frogs I’ll meet just to find that spectacular something.
So many blogs and so little time. Don’t let me drive right by yours, just because I didn’t see the quality on your sign out front. I’m going out to check my sign one more time right now. How’s your sign looking these days?
–ME “Liz” Strauss