Signals in the Noise – Issue 48

For two and a half years, every two weeks I sifted through over 140 blog posts and podcasts that talk about how to build successful online businesses. I found the best content, summarized it, added a bit of my commentary, and delivered it to the inboxes of entrepreneurs around the world…for free. I’m no longer writing Signals in the Noise issues (because my business partners and I are focusing on other parts of Clarity Lab), but please enjoy these archived issues. There’s a ton of useful information in them!


Grapes of math

“The XSS flaw, discovered by SumOfPwn researcher Cengiz Han back in July at the Summer of Pwnage bug bounty project, allows attackers to use a crafted image file, upload to WordPress, and inject malicious JavaScript code into the software. An attacker can exploit this vulnerability to perform a range of actions, including stealing session tokens and login credentials, as well as remotely execute malicious code.” Charlie Osborn, from Zdnet, with news of an important “you’d better upgrade your core WordPress files now” warning from the makers of WordPress. The upshot? A hacker fighting for the Rebel Alliance discovered a big security vulnerability that can leave your site’s doors open to hackers working for Darth Vader. Their clever, algorithmic, mean math can get in through that door and cause your site harm.

The WordPress team created a fix that will patch up the security hole, but you’ll need to upgrade your version of WordPress to get it. I’m still waiting for the WordPress team to create a hack that will hack the hacker’s computers, causing it to play non-stop mashups of Barry Manilow and Yanni music over their speakers.

category: Software


Vanity flair

“Vanity metrics such as likes and followers hold importance when it comes to making you look cool among your friends. The real metrics to be focused on from a business perspective are the ones that translate into branding or revenue growth, and can be monetized, directly or indirectly.” That’s Rishab Dev, on iamwire, explaining that the number of followers you have on a social media site, and the number of likes your shares get, are pretty much irrelevant. Here’s the 20 metrics from your social media marketing efforts that you should actually be paying attention to.  Personally, I track another metric as well: how many people I can make laugh (usually at me.) Laughter increases my conversion rates by 27.4%. Maybe I should create an online program about how to use humor in marketing. I could call it “Laugh Your Way to the Bank.”

category: social media marketing


Cognitive dissidence.

The longer you stay on the path of building and growing a business, the more it will become apparent just how important it is for you, or someone on your team, to master the art of persuading people to take an action based on ideas or thoughts you present to them. Words are your friends. Persuasive ideas your savior. And as Josh Bersin, from Harvard Business Review explains, you need to learn to use them, particularly in presentations, to make people a bit uncomfortable with good ‘ol cognitive dissonance, and then tell them how your product or service can ease their pain. Last week I got pulled over for speeding, so I tried the presentation techniques in that post above with the police officer. He was not amused. I think I needed to create more cognitive dissonance.

Categories: presentations, copywriting


No pain, no gain.

When you hear marketers recommending that you need to find the pain points of your target market, agitate that pain with your copywriting, then provide your solution to that pain, it can feel like marketing is just what you thought it was: manipulative and smarmy. There are many ways to do marketing, though, and it’s important to remember that if your product or service actually reduces someone’s pain in some way, well, that’s a beautiful thing.

Look, I’m a card-carrying Buddhist (though that card never seems to get me any perks in the airport), and reducing the amount of suffering on the planet is a huge motivation for everything I do, including the businesses I build. Those “pain points” that marketers like me talk about? That’s just another phrase for suffering. And suffering sucks. (If there were t-shirts in Buddha’s time, he would have had one that said that on the front.)

So, finding out what your customer’s pain points are and explaining how you can relieve their pain doesn’t have to be all aggressive-car-salesman-smarmy. It can be done ethically, as the always good Neil Patel explains in this great how-to article, How to Ethically Use Your Customers’ Pain as a Powerful Marketing Tactic.

Category: marketing


Giving is the new getting

“When we found GiveDirectly in November 2015, an org that gives $1,000, unconditionally, to people who are in extreme poverty, as a solution to get them out of extreme poverty, we fell in love. Unconditional — they can do anything they want with it — which is incredibly empowering to recipients, but many people in ‘the west’ think it’s risky…or even foolish.” That’s Andrew McDermott, on the essence of one of my favorite charities, GiveDirectly, and what happens on the ground, in communities where GiveDirectly recipients live, when you give someone $1000.

GiveDirectly is ranked #4 in the list of most effective charities on the site, which uses a rigorous, scientific method of finding the most effective charities in the world. If you’re looking for an easy and incredibly potent way to make an enormous impact in the world by being an impact entrepreneur, it’s hard to go wrong with donating 10% of your profits to GiveDirectly.

Category: social entrepreneurialism, effective altruism


Minority raport

Fun fact of the day: if you’re an entrepreneur in the United States, you are in a small minority of a population where only 4.1% of the people are entrepreneurs. That puts us Americans in 42nd place on the list of most entrepreneurial countries. The top three countries have greatly higher percentages of entrepreneurs per capita: Uganda (28.1%), Thailand (16.7%), Brazil (13.8%). Also fascinating: apparently being a twenty-something-year-old kid who starts up a multi-million dollar tech startup is not normal. The average age of entrepreneurs worldwide is 40. (Guess I’m not such a late-blooming, old-guy entrepreneur after all.) Find those stats and a whole gaggle more on this great infographic about entrepreneurship.

Category: entrepreneurship


Start with aye

Why are you doing what you’re doing with your business? What’s your “big why,” the most important reason you’re doing your business? In this poignant post, Derek Sivers explains that most people don’t know why they do what they do, but that knowing your “why” is one of the most important things not just for your business, but for your life. He says, “Maybe the most important thing to you is learning, or creating, or giving. Maybe it’s how many people’s lives you can influence. Maybe it’s how deeply you can influence just a few people’s lives. Once you realize it and admit it, you need to pursue it.” In other words, get insanely clear on your Big Why, and then go after it with all of your heart.

Category: visioning


State of the cart

“The marketing concept that challenges old-style funnels, and that recognizes how much things have changed is RELEVANCE. That means, offering your potential lead the right type of information at the right time and in the right place, based on their mindset.” That’s Scott Oldford, on a landing page about his new marketing technique, called The SSF method, and how it can help you make your marketing funnels more relevant, and effective, based on where a potential buyer’s mindset is at. The idea is that more relevant funnels will lead to more people making it through your checkout cart (the fun moment when your businesses revenue engine goes “cha-ching.)

The philosophy behind it isn’t new, but his approach to the tactics that use the philosophy is. The concepts behind the SSF method are based on Eugene Schwartz’s book from 1966, Breakthrough Selling, which advises that you build your marketing and advertising efforts to people based on what state of awareness they’re in. Awareness of what? The problem that your product or service solves.

What seems to be new about Oldford’s approach is creating a separate, but interconnected, funnel for each of the three levels of awareness he outlines in his model. (Schwartz outlined five. Oldford simplified it to three.)

The SSF method is interesting and worth checking out, even if you only pay attention to how Oldford does the SSF method with you, as you read that landing page and opt-in to the next step in his own funnel. Ahhhh, yes…the old online marketing hall of mirrors, where marketers teach you how to do the method that they used to get you to sign up for the program that teaches you how to use that same method. Over the years, I’ve found that if I read landing pages and sales pages like this through a two-way mirror that I hold over my laptop screen, the marketing tactics can’t hypnotize me.

Category: marketing


One-on-one to many

If you’ve got knowledge and expertise that you want to sell in the form of scaleable online courses, it can be challenging to know when it’s the best time to start creating and selling something like that. Right out of the gate? After a year of doing regular content marketing and list building? After two years of running live, in-person classes? Paul Jarvis has a great perspective on this: create products that can help many people at once after you have worked with enough of them one-on-one to be incredibly intimate with their problems. At that point, you’ll know, without a doubt, how your knowledge can help solve their problems. For example, after working one-on-one with our 8-year-old son for his entire life, my wife and I have learned that he’s convinced that the iPad will solve all of his problems.

Category: strategy and planning


Tools of the paid

Here’s a great top 10 list of the best apps to use for doing a science on your website (a.k.a., performing A/B split tests to optimize your conversion rates).

Category: software


Like this issue of Signals in the Noise? If so, I’d be much obliged if you share it with your friends 🙂

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Until next time, my friends, dig deep and keep going!

Your friend in entrepreneurship,

Forest Linden
Editor-in-briefs for Signals in the Noise
Co-founder @ Clarity Lab

p.s. You can find the archive of past issues right here.

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