What Do You Make?

Creativity, Goals, Leadership Thoughts, Marketing, Motivation 10 Comments »

The things we make…make us.

That’s what Jeep declared last summer when they unveiled their newest creation.  I thought it was brilliant.


 

It just begs the question:   What do you make?

“A business that makes nothing but money is a poor business”

- Unknown

I must make money to reach my life goal, but I decided to make something great along the way. You know what?

It “makes” me feel great.

  • When I make a difference, I feel different.
  • When I make someone happy, I am happy.
  • When I make magic happen, I feel magical.

Finally, when I make that last payment towards my life goal, I’m going to feel like a billion bucks.

You and your team must commit to making something special.  It’s a battle sometimes (especially in this economy), but it’s a battle worth fighting.

Fight it.  It’ll make you special.

Have a great night,

Aaron@Biebert

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Where There’s Smoke, There’s Fire!

Bravery, Business Opportunities, Changing Times, Creativity, Leadership Thoughts 13 Comments »

The world is moving too fast to waste time proving that your instincts are right.

If you’ve had success, go with your gut!

It’s always true that where there’s smoke, there’s fire. Unfortunately, some people require proof of the fire when we can all smell the smoke.

It’s not smart.

Whether it’s Triberr, Klout, or the next big thing, great leaders and entrepreneurs trust their instincts and move full speed ahead.

That’s what Steve Jobs did, and we all know how that turned out.

Don’t wait for the fire.  It will be too late!

Have a great night!

Aaron@Biebert

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One Size Fits…You!

Changing Times, Creativity, Family, Goals 11 Comments »

Each one of us is unique. No two 8pm Warriors are the exact same size.

I’ve worn a one-size-fits-all hospital gown in the past and it wasn’t a great fit.  Probably not the first choice of apparel for many people…

Many other “free” things only come in one size too:

  • Grocery bags
  • Baseball cap giveaways
  • Drink trays at the theater or drive thru
  • And many others

However, I have yet to find a “one size fits all” life.

The problem with “one size fits all” is that it usually means “this size fits no one”.  In the end, no one really wants it.  It doesn’t fit.

The same goes for life.

So then why do so many people base their happiness on how well their life compares to others?  Why do some parents drag their children down the same path?  Why do some children strive to be just like others?  It doesn’t work.

No matter what anyone says, you must follow your own heart, do what you love, chase your dreams, and find the one life that fits you.

We only get one, so it better fit right.

Have a great night!

Aaron@Biebert

PS. The same goes for business….make something that fits. It’s what people crave.  In this era, there’s no excuse.

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Build Something that Doesn’t Last

Changing Times, Creativity, Failure, Marketing 4 Comments »

Long-term success depends on one’s attitude.

Creating a strategy is like building a sand castle on the shore. Unfortunately, the tide will always come in and destroy your work.  Just ask every business leader before 705 AD and almost all of them since. Successful leaders must plan for it.

It’s inevitable.

Since nothing lasts forever (especially now), the way to be successful in the long run is to honestly consider a future without your current star product or business model.  No matter how hard it is, you need to start tearing down emotional connections to your successful past endeavors so you can plan ahead.

Don’t make your success a liability.

Just ask Circuit City about Best Buy, Montgomery Ward about Walmart, or Dell about Apple.  They all dominated the other before ultimately losing the lead. Circuit City had big box electronics retail figured out and  Montgomery Ward was famous for their catalogs.  Now my daughter doesn’t even know what a catalog is. Catalogs didn’t last.

Also look at Michael Dell.   He built an amazing company that took “on demand” manufacturing to a whole new level and was the poster child of  the best cost marketing strategy.  I remember reading in 2000 how analysts thought Dell would be hard to beat due to their strategy and economies of scale.  The “moat around them is too wide” they said. 10 years later Dell’s value is down almost 80% even though computer sales are up.

Their strategy didn’t last.

The winners will be companies like Apple, who plan for change because they see that products, companies, and even whole industries don’t last.  Apple didn’t think stand alone music players (iPod) would last, so they developed the iPhone.  They don’t think laptops will last, so they developed the iPad.  They’re building something that doesn’t last…and they know it.

It’s time we all did.

Today it’s time to start thinking about the future, the time when what you’re working on today is obsolete.  Plan for it.  Change before you need to.  Build something that truly lasts.

Have a great night,

Aaron@Biebert

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The Life of a Creator

Bravery, Creativity, Failure, Social Media No Comments »

(This post is the 5th and final segment of a five part series about participation in the world of Social Media)

As someone who’s made it my life’s work to create things, I often wonder:

  • Will anyone care about what I am creating?
  • Does my creation matter?
  • Will anyone read my blog, watch my show, join my community, buy my service, appreciate my design, listen to my speech, share, comment, or care?
  • What happens if I invest an extraordinary amount of time into something and it fails?

Creators live in a difficult position.  If they invest their life into something that fails, they are considered a failure by many.  Creators and their creations are often grouped together.

Creators must be prepared to be a failure.

Think of the inventors, writers, designers, and artists who spent their life working on their creation, only to come up short.  Just think about all the developers that developed something that no one used, bought, or shared. For every Facebook, there are hundreds of social websites like Legacy 110.

There is great personal risk to any creator.

As I’ve said many times, there is a place for bravery in a modern world.  Just look at the creative process.  If no one was brave enough to risk total failure, we’d have no internet, no computers, no electricity.

Someone had to risk wasting their life.

It’s the only one of the 4 C’s of Social Media that regularly faces a do or die situation. If consumers don’t like what they consume (fail), they can easily find something else. If curators share something unpopular (fail), they can move on quickly to share something new.  There is an unlimited supply of things out there to consume or share.

Creating just isn’t that simple.

If you’ve ever blogged, recorded, designed, engineered, written a book, or given a speech, you know what I’m talking about.  It isn’t easy to create  something truly new.  The bigger and better the creation, the larger the risk.  That’s why so many people avoid beginning the journey.

So what makes people create?  Natural curiosity?  An accident?  Insanity?  The potential payoff?

I don’t know.

What I do know is that I’m truly thankful for those who invented the telecommunications that connect me to you, the computer I’m using right now, the software that makes it run, and the coffee that I’m enjoying right now.  All of these things had to be created and they truly enrich my life.  And so do the books, movies, and blogs that I consume each day.

I am thankful for the Creators in my life.

However, creators are not islands, they can not exist alone.  They need curators to share their work and curators need consumers to make their curation matter.   We are all creators, curators, and consumers in some way, and we all need each other to make this social web work.

Thanks for creating, sharing, and reading.  Because of you, we are all better off.

Have a great night,

Aaron@Biebert

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3 Examples of MS Tags (not QR Codes) in Marketing

Changing Times, Creativity, Marketing, Social Media 7 Comments »

After my last article (3 Reasons to Use MS Tags) I got to hear from a lot of naysayers in the QR Code industry that had made up their mind already.  They didn’t care much for my post.

Others were supportive and felt like they found a leapfrog technology over QR Codes. I’m glad I could help.  This sort of healthy discourse is why I started the 8pm Warrior blog.

Since this has been a very hot topic lately (almost a thousand views the last couple days), I wanted to do a follow up post sharing a couple pieces that I’ve had designed using MS Tags.  One of my fellow 8pm Warriors (Mary Fitzgerald) asked to see ways that my team has used MS Tags before.

Here are some examples:

First, grab the MS Tag reader for your smart phone at http://gettag.mobi (you should test it to see how it works).

The MS Tag size is nice for business cards.  We were able to go slightly below the 0.75 inch size that is recommended.  That helped us keep the type of design we wanted when designing a card on clear plastic.

As you can see (below), it didn’t have much room for a massive 1×1 inch QR Code.  With the use of an MS Tag, we could have our cake and eat it too.

In the Clear Medical Network poster below, we started off using QR Codes.  However, many people thought they were bar codes and that we were selling the posters.

Since they are free for college guidance counselors, that was obviously a problem. Our fix? Use a colorful and fun MS Tag.  (See below)

Again, here we used an MS Tag to bring this fun Insider Show video series to life with a colorful tag.  Nothing says fun like lively colors.

It was nice that the free online MS Tag creator made the tag and the instruction box. Obviously most 8pm Warriors don’t have a lot of time, so this is a nice feature.  Since just about anyone can make one, it also leads to lower design costs.  Simple, colorful, fun.  (See below)

After looking at some real world examples, check out the MS Tag showcase site to see what other great organizations have been using them.

The good news is that the 2D tag industry is still in its infancy, and you can choose whichever method you want.  Don’t always listen to everything you hear.  I was told that many designers hate Microsoft, so they will always oppose MS Tags over QR Codes.

Try both (QR Codes and MS Tags) for yourself to see what you like.

Have a great night

Aaron@Biebert

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3 Reasons to use MS Tags (not QR Codes)

Changing Times, Creativity, Leadership Thoughts, Marketing, Social Media 20 Comments »

“QR Codes are so 2010!”

That’s what I tried explaining to Jimmy Fallon tonight when he used a giant QR (Quick Response) Code in Stephen Colbert’s spoof of Rebecca Black’s “Friday” song.

It’s time to advance.

In the era of $49 iPhones, smart phone usage is skyrocketing and leaders are trying to connect clients to their digital presence through traditional offline marketing materials.  In the past, QR Codes were the way.

(Not familiar with QR Codes?  Check out the black & white image to the right.)

If you’ve never used QR Codes before, don’t worry.  As far as I’m concerned, there is no reason to use them in a marketing campaign ever again (they are going the way of the VHS tape, floppy disk, or land line phone).

It is time to start using MS (Microsoft) Tags in any offline marketing you are doing that asks customers to call a number, take your contact information, or go to a website.  Why not make it easy for your customers to call you, connect with you, or find your site without typing anything?

Here’s why MS Tags are better than QR Codes:

1) MS Tags can be 44% smaller.

When designing beautiful and effective marketing pieces, space is valuable.  MS Tags offers us a smaller option.

Here is the minimum dimensions for each:

  • MS Tag (color):  0.75 inch
  • MS Tag (b&w):  0.875 inch
  • QR Code:  1 inch

Note:  QR Codes get bigger as you add more information to them (longer message, number, or URL)

2) MS Tags offer flexibility.

QR Codes are permanently linked to whatever is programed into the code.  MS Tags can be switched to whatever message, website, phone number, or vCard (electronic business card) you want, whenever you want.   By using an MS Tag, you don’t have to switch the tag you use on your business card, marketing flyer, etc. every time you switch messages or strategies.

It makes sense in a fast paced world.

3)  MS Tags build in tracking.

Every time someone scans your MS tag, it is tracked and made available to you in a report.  QR Codes do not offer any sort of tracking ability.  This is a huge advantage, since metrics should be the basis for all marketing decisions.  ROI is key and MS Tags can help adjust your strategy on the fly.

In addition to the above three reasons, there are other advantages such as faster scanning, more supported languages (6),  location based GPS campaign customization, and tag design customization (you can design the tag to look more like a picture).  I personally have used QR Codes & MS Tags in marketing campaigns and from personal experience I can confidently recommend the MS Tag to my fellow 8pm Warriors.

If you’re curious how they work, grab your smart phone and try scanning the two pictures on the upper right or check out “3 Examples of MS Tags in Marketing“.  Let me know what you think.

Have a great night,

Aaron@Biebert

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Push it!

8pm Warriors, Creativity, Goals, Motivation No Comments »

Have you ever tried “half pushing” something heavy?

It doesn’t work.

There is no such thing as a “half push” or semi-push.  We’re either pushing something or not.

Pushing is an “On” or “Off” activity.

The same goes for our work, our dreams, and our personal limits.   We won’t reach our full potential by “sort of pushing” or sometimes pushing.   The more we push, the more we move towards our goals.

We’ve got to keep the dial turned “on.”

On a side note, it’s important to push big things.  If something is too easy to move, then we can’t call it pushing.  It’s just sliding.

Big dreams need big pushes, and big pushes should have big dreams to push.

Push it tonight!

Aaron@Biebert

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