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The Entrepreneurial Free Agent and Dejobbed Small Business R&D Lab
Rants and Raves #04
What's your Click-spread?
Doing a Popcorn-inspired Business Analysis

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Table of Contents

  1. Have you done a ClickSpread Analysis of your business?
  2. The Open Fork Alliance - How's it working?
  3. The 'Few Heads - Many Hats' Dilemma - Netmosphere update...

Have you done a ClickSpread Analysis of your business?

Madison Avenue marketing guru Faith Popcorn has identified seventeen social trends driving consumer behavior.

Popcorn's guideline says a business needs four or more trends supporting it to "click" for sustained success.

Inspired by Popcorn's insight, we developed our ClickSpread Analysis technique to assess and plan the strategies and marketing messages of the subsidiary businesses of the JFS Consulting nanocorp.

Popcorn's trends and nanocorp strategy

The seventeen Popcorn trends are: 99 lives, anchoring, atmosfear, being alive, cashing out, clanning, cocooning, down-aging, egonomics, eveolution, fantasy adventure, icon toppling, mancipation, pleasure revenge, small indulgences, S.O.S. (Save Our Society), and vigilante consumer. Buzz-words aplenty. And a cogent summarization of market dynamics which affect your business and life around you.

We won't take the space to summarize the trends here. But don't let that understate their importance. Our on-line ClickSpread Analysis of the JFS Consulting nanocorp has links to each of the trend profile pages at the BrainReserve site.

 Clicking by Faith Popcorn If you haven't read Popcorn's insightful marketing guide yet, explore the trend summary links on-line, then read the book at leisure. (Read more about Clicking).

Why are the Popcorn trends so important to tiny diversified corporate conglomerates? Well, more often than not, nanocorps have big ideas and small budgets.

Nanocorpers need to be savvy marketers. We cannot afford to believe that our better mousetraps will succeed on merit alone. Nor do we expect to push our products and services into the marketplace on the crest of a competitive advertising budget.

We have to fine-tune our strategies and messages to the dynamics of the marketplace. We don't own the wave, we ride it.

If you take the time to understand your customers and partners in terms of Popcorn's consumer dynamics, you will be a long way toward keeping the business you have while tapping into new opportunities.

ClickSpread Analysis... as easy as 1, 2, 3.

ClickSpread Analysis is not rocket science. Deceptively simple, its real value is in the effort you put into developing and interpreting the ClickSpread table.

(Note: You don't have to be running a nanocorp to use ClickSpread Analysis. We use our nanocorp's subsidiary businesses for the columns of our table. You might create columns representing alternative strategies to address a business objective.)

Here's all there is to doing a ClickSpread Analysis:

  1. Create a table; one row for each of the Popcorn Trends, a column for each of your nanocorp's subsidiary businesses.
  2. On a scale of one (low) to three (high), rate the importance of each of the trends to your business strategies and marketing messages.
  3. Look at the table. Consider your "market magnet pattern".

What you get out of doing a ClickSpread Analysis is totally dependent on your own efforts to capture and ruthlessly interpret what's really going on in your business plans and marketing messages. Be honest about your trend cell weights. For example, we don't track "1" ratings for the JFS Consulting nanocorp analysis. We feel that such a weak rating on any trend can lead to a false sense of trend coverage.

As you ponder your ClickSpread table, ask yourself revealing questions such as:

  • How many trends do I cover?
  • Where are my strengths?
  • Where are my opportunities?
  • Do I put all my business eggs in the same trend baskets?
  • Does my ClickSpread help my nanocorp avoid feast or famine cycles?

How does JFS Consulting click?

To give you an idea of how ClickSpread Analysis can be used, take a moment to study the ClickSpread Analysis of the JFS Consulting nanocorp.

You will see how our four seemingly unrelated web businesses are strategically positioned to both complement and counterbalance each other.

You might be surprised to see that Sohodojo is our strongest play clicking with twelve of Popcorn's seventeen trends.

Did you see how clanning plays a part in every one of our businesses?

Notice how and The Pop Culture Store hit the same groove.

Do you see how gives us a unique hit on 'pleasure revenge' nicely reinforcing plays on 'being alive' and 'fantasy adventure'?

We'll be creating a pleasure revenge 'doorway page' and associated guerilla marketing strategy to tap into this trend for Smoking fine Cuban cigars and sipping duty-free liquor while overlooking Hope Town harbor from the deck of a luxury cruising catamaran... well, it doesn't get much more pleasure revengy than that! Had we thought to promote sailboat chartering in the Bahamas on a cigar site? Not until we poured over our ClickSpread Analysis looking for marketing opportunities!

As you see, we actively use this table to tune our nanocorp business strategy and marketing messages. We encourage you to read Popcorn's book and do the same.

Nanocorper or not, we think you'll find yourself grabbing new insights into your business by doing regular ClickSpread analyses.

The Open Fork Alliance - How's it working?

Sohodojo is founding co-sponsor of the Open Fork Alliance (now defunct with the closing of RIP). Together with the good folks at, we are dedicated to website improvement through an 'open book' approach to soliciting and responding to complaints, irritations and strong suggestions from disgruntled site visitors.

We created the Open Fork Alliance with nanocorps in mind. Since a nanocorp's reputation is only as good as the reputations of its owner-employees, it stands to reason that nanocorp-owned websites must have high integrity. Joining the OFA is one sure-fire way to put your commitment to customer service to the test.

The Open Fork Alliance is a webring of sites which have adopted the Open Fork Policy. You don't have to be a nanocorp to value website integrity. You don't have to be a nanocorper to know the value of letting disgruntled visitors let off some steam while giving you valuable data points about what's not working on your site. You just have to be committed to listening to your visitors, really listen... and you have to be committed to responding one-to-one.

Does it work? Is it worth it?

We can't speak based on a broad cross-section of experience. We only know how the OFA is working for us. It works great. Because more than anything, one-on-one handling of site complaints turns losses into wins.

Just yesterday, a quick exchange of e-mails turned a fork into an enthusiastic candidate for admission to the Open Fork Alliance. Like Pink Floyd says, it's another brick in the Wall. Special-interest content-driven community-building sites earn their place one set of eyeballs at a time.

The Amazons and eBays of the world can't afford to give the kind of personalized attention we give to a fork. They wouldn't want to, they can't afford to. It's their Pandora's Box. Open it and all Hell breaks loose. Remember the last time you sent feedback to a major website? Remember the "timely" response?

That's why it makes so much sense to do Open Forking on your small business site. Differentiate on service. Differentiate on proactively soliciting complaints and suggestions. Listen and respond.

But realize you can't make it on empty promises. If your site joins the OFA, take the funny forks seriously and the cranky ones too. Each fork provides opportunity. The effort you put into making complaint solicitation work for you will pay off by growing a community base of loyal visitors and by continual improvement for your sites.

If you want to see how forking works for us, check out Sohodojo's own Forks O'Shame.

The 'Few Heads - Many Hats' Dilemma - Netmosphere update...

If you have followed the last couple of newsletters, you know that we have been in search of a good collaborative software solution to our 'Few Heads - Many Hats' nanocorp time and resource management dilemma. (See the Rants and Raves newsletter archive for back issues.)

You would also know that we reported our delight at finding a candidate solution.

Netmosphere ActionPlan and Project Home Page is an exciting offering. Its strong role-based template modeling, its flexible task decomposition interface, and its simple and powerful project status report website generator combine to let the nanocorper take charge of his or her hectic work life.

We are continuing to explore AP/PHP by actively using it to manage the JFS Consulting nanocorp. We can faithfully report that there truly is a lot of functionality to like about the Netmosphere products. We do, however, note that Java user interfaces look better than they feel. You'll be seeing more about Java UIs in another newsletter when we are more inclined to rant.

We asked, they listened... more to come

Java user interfaces aside, it seems we have hit a complementary chord with the Netmosphere folks.

Our last issue of Rants and Raves made the rounds of this hard-running San Mateo start-up, and they heard what we are saying. Nanocorps and similar small businesses are now on their radar.

We are currently in talks with Netmosphere to collaborate on a co-moderated forum at Sohodojo where we will collectively explore the 'Few Heads - Many Hats' time and resource management dilemma of small business.

There is a Tom Peters' quote on the Netmosphere homepage,

"In the new economy, all work is project work."

Right-on. Absolutely. This is how and why we use ActionPlan to facilitate the strategic planning and follow-through at our nanocorp.

Team-based project management software solutions are in a growth and transition phase. They are moving from the "NASA rocket science" roots of addressing monolithic complexity to handling the ad hoc, fluid dynamics of Real World Work.

We are pleased to have the ear of Netmosphere to ensure that small business and independent professional needs will be taken into consideration as this company evolves its products. We'll keep you informed of all developments.

As always, thanks for reading this issue of Sohodojo's Rants and Raves newsletter,
    --Jim Salmons and Timlynn Babitsky--
    Hosts, Sohodojo

About the Sohodojo Rants and Raves newsletter

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