Change the We Into I

If you are interested in business and were alive before the year 2000, chances are you read the book Guerrilla Marketing. It’s a fantastic book. I benefited from it greatly. There are a lot of great pieces of advice in it for entrepreneurs.

Now, go to your bookcase and throw it away.

Alright, not literally – I can’t stand to throw away a book. And I feel a bit guilty for even suggesting that you do so. But you get the point. The world has changed.

One of the principal glamours that small entrepreneurs used was the impression that their fledgling start up was bigger than it actually was. The perception that you were a large company was important because people wouldn’t want to do business with you if they thought you were just some kind of small, in-home operation. You weren’t to be taken seriously.

All of that has changed. The social media generation prefers personal service, organic support, and openness that businesses in the 1990’s just didn’t ever dream that their customers would ever want. The large, domineering corporate presence that once garnered trust now is a disadvantage that micro-startups can (and often do) use to their advantage.

This has been a personal challenge for me in my business, OCS Solutions. I started the business in the most modest of circumstances with a $30 ad in a local paper. My business has come a long way from those humble beginnings, but we are still considered by most measures a small business. It is tempting for me to refer to our company as a large corporate conglomerate because that was what was beaten into all of our heads two decades ago. But that strategy no longer works – not even for the largest of companies.

I found that by replacing we with in business communications I was able to connect with customers in ways that had previously eluded me. Yes, that personal connection may seem foreign in a business environment, but it creates a sense of community and purposeful exchange with your customers that is now both highly valued in the marketplace and extremely beneficial to all involved in the transaction.

Don’t believe me? Try it for yourself. Next time you reach for the word we in business, replace it with an and see what happens!

I Hate Having to Block Ads

I’ve long despised having to block ads because I know that many of the sites I visit depend on advertising revenue to survive. And with the recent Huffington Post article that states that 77% of people feel guilty about blocking ads, I know I’m not alone. I feel guilty for blocking ads. As a content creator myself I realize that doing so is partially shooting myself in the foot, but the risks outweigh the benefits in an unfortunately high number of cases.

If I feel guilty, why do I continue to do it anyway?  There are several reasons:

  • Many sites have so many ads that either makes the site nearly unusable.  The site jumps up and down on a mobile browser, refreshes or flickers incessantly on a desktop browser, or is so cluttered that it’s hard to tell what is content and what is advertising.
  • Some ads try to deliver malware or crapware.  Some even try to force the window to stay open either in an annoying or downright abusive manner.
  • Some ads display offensive images.  I’m not talking about nudity – I’m talking about massive abscesses, medical abnormalities, and so on.  If I’m trying to read the news, I don’t want to see massive butt-crack.

I do unblock ads on sites that I really care about, and I subscribe to YouTube Red through my Google Music service to support the content creators that I enjoy.  I don’t expect anything for free.  But I do want to view a usable site and I don’t want an ad to try to infect me with a virus just for reading an article.

If 77% of people feel guilty about blocking ads but do anyway, its time for content creators (and advertisers) to wake up and understand why their revenue streams are dwindling. They clearly have a large majority of visitors who are willing to support their work but unable to justify the security risk to their devices and serious usability issues that can completely disrupt the experience. I hope that this will motivate websites to reduce and optimize their advertising displays. I strongly suspect that they will receive higher click-through rates if they showed more meaningful, less obtrusive ads.