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

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

Marketing is from Mars, Sales is from Venus

Some things are predictable. Politicians lie. The sun rises in the East. Sales and marketing don’t get along. The misalignment between sales and marketing is legendary to the point of cliché. The reasons are both obvious and not-so-obvious, yet all distill down to perspective. Neither sales nor marketing can change their perspective, nor would that be desirable. But one of the two teams can adapt. This will not end the misalignment, but it will increase profits. Perspective A definition of the word perspective is “the faculty of seeing relevant data in a meaningful relationship.” The gotcha word is “relevant”. What is relevant to a salesperson struggling to make their quarterly quota is different than what is relevant to a CMO trying to enhance a brand. People with different perspectives rarely unite. Airlift a rural bible-belt citizen into a San Francisco transgender convention, and there will be little shared perspectives at … Continue reading

Believe This

Try forcing a stranger to believe something they have never heard of before, or to abandon a belief they have held for years. Odds are you will fail at both. “Belief” is understanding without knowledge, facts or proof. Yet humans have many complex belief systems firmly rooted in air. This is not inherently bad. Beliefs guide actions, and if beliefs are noble, then good things occur. But beliefs are also firmly rooted in the mind – trying to uproot beliefs (at least in the short term) is like trying to pull a redwood tree out of the ground with your bare hands. Belief systems are important to humans and to marketers. For humans, belief systems are shortcuts to understanding life, the universe and everything. The belief doesn’t even have to be correct as long as it provides a person with a grasp on their perception of reality. This is one … Continue reading

Buzz Kill

Why is everyone talking about Kim Kardashian’s rump and not your disruptive, world-changing app? So many startup marketing plans are based on building buzz, yet achieve none. The reason is that founders believe their own hype. They see the intrinsic usefulness and beauty of their products and believe that everyone else will too. Based on little more than this borderline egocentric outlook, startups rarely get people talking because they missed the point about why people talk. People talk to one another out of personal motivations. Seth Godin once presented a monstrous list of why people share ideas, which gives you a clear idea of why the motivations of your communications conduits are more important than your features and benefits. People talk about products because … Continue reading

B2B Lust

It is possible to create a passionate desire in the minds of B2B technology buyers, but beware of lustful nerds. Humans, including IT people, are of two minds, namely the practical and the desirous. We all need and want things, even in our daily jobs. Back when I was running big iron for a national retailer (my pre-marketing guru days), I had a boss who had a messianic drive to convert all of IT to UNIX. I took fiendish joy in finding the precise moments to demonstrate why it was, in the short run, foolish and extravagant, thwarting his sundry attempts to drive my proprietary platforms into non-use. But I did save the company millions in unnecessary short-term costs, so I don’t feel too bad. My boss had UNIX lust, and it overrode his objective thinking. This is a major part of consumer marketing – generating irrational desire for products. … Continue reading

Innovation, Disruption and Groundbreaking

“Our technology is disruptive” said every founder at a recent venture capital pitch fest. If that had been the case, it would have been a wonderful evening. As it turned out, not a single deal was discussed after the last slide deck reached its end. All said, the words innovative, disruptive and groundbreaking were frequently used and never accurate. I have seen the same with marketers. As with startup founders, if you don’t understand the difference between these concepts, or you buy your own hype and assume your product is in a status it isn’t, you are unlikely to be profitable. Innovation: To innovate is to make changes in anything established (things that are disruptive are innovations as well, but of a different caste). If you devise a small enhancement to a product category that creates a minor but marketable advantage, you have an innovation. Likewise, if you overhaul your … Continue reading