Books and Brain Busting

The phrase “post-literary” scares me. It is a real term, bandied about by the intelligentsia, and speculates that people are not reading books these days. There is no question that the book market is a horrid place, one where the major publishers treat writers like chattel, only big names make big bucks, and where being a touring musician looks appealing by comparison (a common joke in the music business is that a touring musician is the only job that pays less than being homeless). Which makes the book industry a wonderful model for discussing marketing of difficult products, changing channels, and general business dystopia. Changes … bloody changes The book market has changed, but not just because Amazon said so. In North America and many industrialized nations, readership is falling. Pew Research said that in 2011, about 79% of the adult population had read a book – or at least … Continue reading

Swift Sales

Can’t say I care for Taylor Swift’s music, but her marketing skills have me tapping my toes. News broke that her latest album sold more copies in four days that Ed Sheehan’s latest album sold in seven months. Swift has, over time, amassed a large and borderline rabid fan base, who would likely buy her album in droves. Many musicians have loyal followings. Songwriter Tom Waits, who in his experimental phase was nearly unlistenable, still sold records to his very loyal fans (I have a complete collection). But Swift, understanding better than most how social media and the streaming music markets work, leveraged them all to sell over a million albums in less than a week. Some of it was traditional marketing strategy and some was exploiting new channels to drive demand. Stream not my love Swift’s fans … Continue reading

Uber’s Image

An ounce of image is worth a pound of performance. Uber’s image has taken a beating. A shellacking. A bloody thumping. And it started long ago. I’m one of the few humans who finds nothing to like about Las Vegas. But when I’m reluctantly in town, I use Lyft to shuttle around. Upon occasion, the Lyft driver will also have an Uber sticker in the windshield. I always ask them who they like working with better, and why. In a word, they think Uber is a hard-nosed, cheap outfit, difficult to work with. Okay, that was more than a word – but their dislike for Uber is palpable. In fact, they would rather drive for Lyft but they still bow to Uber’s market dominance. Which is fading. Where did Uber’s bad reputation begin? It appears to have started at the top, where all corporate culture begins. From there, the next … Continue reading

In the Moog

Great things don’t die. Among musicians, Moog – the storied innovator and maker of synthesizers – is iconic. This despite the company having once been sold, the buyer disfranchising Moog’s engineering team, then going under, then being revived by the founder (Bob Moog) who later passed away. In an age where digital, software controlled synthesizers are much more versatile than Moog’s analog gear, Moog is growing. Mainstream musicians and Hollywood studios clamor for their products. It is a sign of coolness for a road musician to have at very least a Minimoog on stage. A brand based on somethings Key to Moog’s revival was … Continue reading

Authenticity Angle

“It will take me a few days to get $800,000. Is that okay?” This was actually uttered by the CEO of a tech startup when an early adopter customer was unsatisfied with the product and wanted to cancel their contract. The lesson herein is that this company is still alive, is thriving, and dominates their industry; and the customer still tells the story to peers … who buy the product. It was a most authentic statement. Here, the CEO was understanding about the customer’s desires, and the limitation of his corporate cash flow, but also the need to make things right. He may have lost a sale, but he built a corporate reputation concerning authentic relationships. The Authenticity Issue Authenticity has always been a valued part of a brand. Now it is as critical as a heart. People once allowed a lot of slop from corporations in terms of integrity … Continue reading

Trust Me. I’m In Marketing.

Trust isn’t what it used to be, because there isn’t much left. A report by Richard Edelman surveys people from countries around the globe to see who they trusted or not. Trust in government is low, but then again no sane person really trusts that much concentrated power. Trust in the media has plummeted as alleged journalists have removed their masks to expose their unmade partisan and ideological faces. Only businesses and NGOs (non-governmental organizations) score above the 50% mark, and they do so with no margin for error. Who the heck is this Trust fellow? All relationships are built on trust. If you don’t believe that, go buy a candy bar and think about the layers of trust incorporated in a simple purchase. You trust the maker of the candy bar not to poison you, which means you trust their trust in agricultural and chemical suppliers. You trust the … Continue reading

Plan to Scramble

Sadly, go-to-market strategy planning has fallen out of vogue in Silicon Valley, for all the rightly wrong reasons. The untempered M.O. of startups today is growth hacking. This is a work- and risk-intensive system that is, according to Wikipedia, “A process of rapid experimentation across marketing channels and product development to identify the most effective, efficient ways to grow a business.” The key word is “experimentation”. Experiments are conducted to discover the unknown. Hence, the goal of growth hacking is to discover the best way to grow your company when the path to growth is vague. The problem is that the right paths are often known, or at least 90% of the bad paths can be eliminated before the first marketing dollar is spent. Traditional strategy development never picks the perfect plan on the first try, but it does typically find a low-risk path with very probable results. Silicon Valley … Continue reading