Recap of SMBMTL# 18 – A Conversation with Mitch Joel

SMBMTL 18 - Mitch Joel

A solid fifty attendees and then some made their way out to La Bistrote despite the bitter cold to listen and engage with Mitch Joel and address some of the big ideas laid out in his book CTRL Alt Delete back on January 22nd.

Due to scheduling conflicts the 70 odd minutes Mitch was able to listen, answer, and share went by like lightning, and he’s kindly agreed to come back and continue the conversation in a couple months. As a courtesy to those in attendance, spots at that future breakfast will be offered up to them first.

He and I spent some good time discussing some of the core ideas in his book in a recent Hangout, and thankfully the audience squeezed some other awesome tidbits out of him that struck a particular chord with me as it likely did most who could hear (the sound was pretty weak we know – this will NOT happen again).

Mitch answered a question about the idea that as consumers looking for “good” content we gravitate towards tools and brands that are useful. Resources that are not only relevant to our queries, but ones who go the extra mile to wow us. The ones who don’t just make something (app) or push information out there (he calls this ‘screaming’ or ‘shouting’). The ones who don’t make things that suck. The ones that earn the real estate on the screens of their most faithful advocates, some of the most important real estate that can be earned.

For someone who claims to be non-religious he certainly throws around some terms normally reserved for discussing such things. The notion of ‘purgatory’ and the fact that many many businesses have become locked in this place describes a culture of indifference when it comes to adopting or at the very least informing business decisions based on the seemingly never-ending influx of new things. Joel says companies know these things are out there, but are either fooling themselves about the this whole ‘web thing being a fad or don’t believe it can add value to their business…it sounds unbelievable but I think we all know this to be true based on the clients we’ve dealt with and discovered have no clue where their domain is registered or what their host login and username/password are..forget about Analtyics and A/B testing..most small and medium sized businesses don’t even have the fundamentals down.

Mitch talked about something else quickly after I shared the story of his replying to my email almost 5 years ago asking that he come participate in our 2nd ever SMBMTL at that point with a phone call not 30 minutes later. He said he was impressed and happy to support such a thing where its clear the people there waiting/wanting to hear his insights are up and at ‘em at 30 below and 8am on a random Wednesday cared. Cared about their clients. Cared about learning how to do better, and how to better understand what Joel seems to spend a lot of time thinking about; the future of the web.

He also didn’t believe that content as an answer to engaging clients and winning with G was the be all end all to success or even a necessity. That how you choose to acquire and retain clients needs to be based on testing and data, and not a newly seemingly universal accepted fact that in order to do those things you need to be creating content. For someone compelled to pump out something of quality and density everyday culminating in his Sunday podcasts for the better part of the last decade, that’s a pretty important takeaway. It works for him and Twist Image – but it may not work for you. If no one on your team enjoys writing, and more importantly is bad at it or can’t write in such a way as to add value or entertain, than what’s the point?

As more technologies become available to brands and companies trying to sell their wares/services to the masses, so too do more apps, softwares, sharing, social media platforms, review sites, etc.. become available to those same masses. The playing field is evening out to the point that if brands/companies spew any type of BS they are going to be called out – so the message is ‘be real’. And useful.

Thanks again to Mitch and all in attendance, as well as La Bistrote and staff, and other organizers Luis London, Virtual Resources and Tux Productions.