Wednesday, April 19, 2006

“Someday Never Comes”

This morning, as I was getting ready for work, doing the shower and shave thing, my mind drifted into one of my favorite songs. It’s by Credence Clearwater Revival, and it’s called “Someday Never Comes.” It’s all about a young man coming to terms with family struggles. The verses each end with the phrase, “Someday, you’ll understand.”

But then the chorus comes in strong:

“Well I’m here to tell you now
Each and every mother’s son
You’d better learn it fast
And you’d better learn it young
Because someday never comes
Someday never comes”

As I thought about it this morning, I started to think of it in other contexts, beyond family functioning. I started to realize just how often I fall into what I now call, “The Someday Trap.”

This is represented by the thinking that someday something will happen, and I will be happy. For example, someday, I’ll get that job and then I’ll be happy. Someday, my business will take off, and I’ll be rich. Someday, I’ll retire, and then I’ll be able to relax.

It doesn’t even have to be as big as those. It can be simpler things, like: Someday, I’ll get a faster computer, and then my website will really fly. Someday, I’ll get that top search engine ranking, and people will flock to my site.

The problem with this kind of thinking is that someday never comes, and there’s two reasons why.

One, as long as your thinking is locked in the someday instead of the here and now, you’re trapped. If you think living in the past is a problem, living in the future is even worse. You’re constantly dreaming of how nice it’ll be when some imaginary thing happens, and you’re not putting any effort into making that thing real.

Fantasy is great. It fills you with feelings of well-being and comfort. Fantasy can motivate. It can inspire, and even lead you to creative problem solving. But only if you come down out of the clouds once in a while to implement what you’ve been fantasizing about. Come out of the someday, and do something today.

Two, someday never comes for the same reason that tomorrow never comes. When you wake up tomorrow morning, it will no longer be tomorrow, it will be today, and there’ll be another tomorrow a day away. What I’m saying is that once you do get to your someday, there’s a new someday even farther ahead that you want even more.

“Someday, I’ll get that new car, and I’ll really be driving in style!”

Great. And when you do get it, you’ll find that it won’t be too long before that new car isn’t cool enough. It’s going out of style. There’s a new model with more features. More bells, more whistles. And you want that one, too.

I’m not saying it’s bad to keep wanting to grow and change. That’s what drives capitalism and business. That’s what keeps making things better and better. I AM saying, however, that if you always put your happiness and self-worth in the someday, you’ll never get there. Because someday never comes.

So, plan for the future, and hope for the future, but live in the today, work for today, be happy today.

Because someday never comes.

Tuesday, April 11, 2006

Using MySpace, Part II

Last time, we talked about how works, and how to protect your kids who want to be on it. It’s a big, exciting, online club, and it’s fun to be a part of. It’s also important to play safe.

So, this week, we’re going to talk about how to use MySpace to promote your business. I’m writing this after using MS to promote my music website for quite some time, now. My own myspace profile can be found at

MySpace is basically a place where people gather. As a result, if you want to make it effective, you have to realize that you have to be a bit careful how you advertise. You could come across as being quite pushy if it’s done wrong.

In fact, it’s probably best to not think of running a MySpace profile as an “advertisement” and think of it instead as a way to build up your customer base. And there’s a difference.

So, here’s how to do it:

1. Is your business right for MySpace?

MySpace promotion is a very time-intensive process. Before you invest a lot of time and effort into it, take a little time and effort discovering it. Click into some of the profiles, get familiar with the interface. Jump from profile to profile in the “friends” list. It’ll seem pretty chaotic at first, but before long, it’ll start to make sense.

You’ll probably notice very quickly that most of the people with profiles on MySpace are between the ages of 15 and 25 or so. There are variations, but the majority fall into that range. They’re also, by and large, a tech-savvy bunch, and very aware of trends and popular culture. Some are outgoing and opinionated by nature, others are using MySpace because they feel shy face-to-face. Does that sound like your demographic? Is that the audience you want to market your products to? If so, then MySpace is your place. If not, then don’t waste your time here.

2. Set up your “space”

If you realize, like I did, that this is where your target market hangs out on the ‘net, then you’ll want to have a presence there, too. At the top, you can click into the registration page, and after following their instructions and answering a few questions (as well as uploading a picture or two), you can have your MySpace profile page set up.

Here are some hints to make it more effective: One, make sure that you link, very conspicuously, to your website. The whole point is to get them to click there. Show pictures of the things you want them to buy. Grab their attention.

Two, many people fill up their profiles with hundreds of irrelevant pictures and animations and songs and videos. Resist that temptation. Keep it focused and clear.

3. Make Friends

The key to social networking websites like this one is a process called “adding friends”. Typically, a MySpacer will go to someone else’s profile page, and click the “Add to Friends” link. That person will then get a message saying that someone made a “friend request”. If it’s approved, then they each get added to each other’s “friend lists”, and have links back and forth to each other’s profiles. They can also post comments on each other’s pages.

A marketer trying to reach these young customers will think of the friends list as a variation of the mailing list. The more interested friends there are, the bigger the marketing base!

When you go out making friend requests, it’s usually a good idea, first of all, to target your market even more narrowly. Are you wanting to sell your products to boys or girls? What kinds of styles and music do they like? Are they a part of a particular organization, club, or church? You can use these things as search parameters and pull up lists of people that are ideal for your products.

When you visit their profiles, it’s best to send them a message as well as an add request, and to make that a more personalized message. Comment on their profile page, or on something they said there. Comment on why they might like what you’re promoting: “I see you’re a skater! Do you do halfpipe tricks? We make some of the best street boards around!”

When someone accepts your friend request, or even if someone sends you a request, go to their profile and post a comment. Your profile picture and your comment will appear at the top of their comments list, for all to see, further promoting you.

Having lots of friends is great, but having lots of qualified friends is better. Blasting out hundreds of “add me” messages to anyone and their dog might get you responses, or it might get you blacklisted. In either case, it won’t bring you many buyers. Identify your target market and pursue them.

4. Use groups

MySpace has some extensive interest group pages, and forum sites. Find ones that are of interest to your audience and join them. Start actively participating. People will see your profile picture and click in and soon you’ll be getting more inbound ad requests, as well as clicks to your website.

5. Send bulletins, bring them to your site

Building up a big friend list, even a good quality one, is great, but if you don’t use that to promote your site, there’s no point. Sending a “bulletin” is a great way to do that. When you send a bulletin, that message gets sent to everyone in your friends list. It’s just like a newsletter mailer. Send out a bulletin often, but not too frequently. Have something to announce, like a new product, or a new page on your site. Running a special sale? Send out a bulletin!

The bottom line in any kind of marketing, but especially on the web, is to find your audience and get in front of them. If your audience is young and tech-tuned, then MySpace is the place to be to attract them to your site!

Wednesday, April 05, 2006

Using MySpace, Part I

Lately there’s been a lot of talk on the media about a site called “”. It’s primarily a place where people (and it’s used mostly by teens and twenty-somethings) to create a space for themselves on the web. They can collect friends and comments on their profile pages, post their own blog entries, and interact in the forums, groups, games, and chats.

The reason it’s been getting so much press and coverage is that there are some people out there using the net as predators, and they tend to gather wherever other people are also gathering. Where there’s fish, eventually the sharks will come. And some of the kids on MySpace aren’t always careful about the information they share.

Recently, a concerned mother asked me about it. “My daughter has a MySpace page, should I be worried?”

My first response to ask if she had checked out her MySpace page. When she answered no, I wasn’t surprised.

I asked her if her daughter had a driver’s license.


And does she drive her car?


You let her go out in the world in something as dangerous as a car? She could be killed, or hurt someone else!

“Yeah, but we’ve taught her how to use a car safely.”

So you see my point.

Here’s some ways you can help your teen or your young person be safe and enjoy MySpace

1. First of all, spend some time checking out their MySpace page. Check out what they’re saying about themselves in their profile. What kind of pictures are they posting? What’s the message they’re sending out about themselves? Click into check out some of the other people in their friends list. Your kids won’t have any control over what the others put in their profiles, but they have total control over who they accept on their friends list.

2. Tell your son or daughter that you are checking out their MySpace, and that their computer privileges can be conditional on what you find there. If they’re giving out too much information, you can tell them to cut back, and where. You can tell them if they’re posting pictures that are inappropriate. You can tell them if they’re sharing links with friends that make you nervous. If they accuse you of invading their privacy, tell them that it’s your job as a parent to do that. Besides, a MySpace page is public, and you should have just as much access to it as anyone else.

3. The minimum age that’s allowed on MySpace is 13. I’d recommend that you not allow anyone below 15 or 16. Those few years can make a huge difference in the maturity and responsibility of the child.

4. Online friends can be wonderful. I have a lot of them, most of whom I’ve never met face-to-face. The ones I’ve met face-to-face are ones that I’ve met as an adult. As the parent, you can tell your children that they are not to set up a face-to-face meeting with someone they met online EVER. There are certain conditions when a F2F meeting can be safe. If you’re with them in a public place, for example. Remember that a grown adult meeting another grown adult is risky enough. Don’t let your kids meet someone online without your protection, and maybe not even then.

5. Remind your child that just because someone’s profile says they are a 16-year-old high school kid, that doesn’t necessarily mean that they really are.

6. While you’re in your kids’ MySpace pages, take an opportunity to learn about them. When they come home and you ask, “What did you do in School today,” they’ll probably say, “Nuthin’” But then they’ll post blogs about the game or the math test, or whatever. You’ll have a good chance to discover what’s important to them.

MySpace is an exciting phenomenon, and if it’s misused, it can also be a dangerous place. Face it, the same can be said for the whole internet.

Have a safe drive out there on the information superhighway!

Next time in Using MySpace, Part II: If your target audience is trendy, tech-savvy youth, then MySpace can be the perfect place to promote your website. We’ll talk about how to do it right.