Great maketing is a great story shared well

Everything I believe about marketing can be summed up in one sentence: “Successful marketing is a great story shared well.”

If you’ve ever visited the website of the place I work, you know that.

So, when I point to this New York Times piece about the books written by Barack Obama, “A Career Forged by Telling His Story,” it’s not a political statement, but it is an endorsement of the idea that great stories well told are the key to any cause worth joining, any product or service worth buying or any candidate worth electing.


“Senator Obama understands as well as any politician the power of a well-told story. He has risen in politics less on his track record than on his telling of his life story — a tale he has packaged into two hugely successful books that have made him a mega-best-selling, two-time Grammy-winning millionaire front-runner for the Democratic presidential nomination at age 46. According to his publisher, there are more than three million copies of his books in print — and two more on the way.

More, later.

G.E. to exit all businesses related generally to electrictity

The NY Times and others are reporting that GE plans to sell its appliance division.

In other news, McDonalds has announced it will stop selling Quarter Pounders and Nike is exiting all lines of business related to sports.

Who dreams this stuff up? This sounds like an idea straight from Jack Donaghy, vice president of east coast television and microwave oven programming?

Friday afternoon fun post – Reality virtually

My friend Jay Graves, the CEO of the Nashville-based Hobby-Lobby International (the Radio Control airplane direct marketer, not the retail chain with the same name that sells basket-weaving materials), is all giddy today because Gizmodo has planted a wet-kiss on a new product his company is selling: a wireless video camera unit that attaches to an R/C airplane and streams video to the R/C operator on the ground who wears some funky virtual-reality goggles. In other words, it’s like a first-person pilot simulation game, but instead of “simulation,” you are watching real-time video that allows you to experience the flight as if you are sitting in the cockpit of the model airplane you are operating. Very expensive military drones have been around for a while, but this takes the concept down market with a big-boy toy that costs around $550. (Since becoming Hobby-Lobby’s CEO, Jay has been trying to entice me into getting an R/C airplane, but I told him that all my toys are from the Apple Store or Lowes. I think I’ll take him up on his invitation to join him for a trial flight “in” one of these, however.)

Here’s some video of how the PilotView FPV 2400 works:

Print is not a burden. Useless drivel is the burden. So ignore this post.

Early this morning, there seemed to be a theme emerging in my RSS newsreader. Here are a few items that showed up:

Frank Anton of Hanley Wood, says:

“If the magazines published two or three years from now aren’t different, we’re in trouble. The current magazine model won’t take us into the next five years, let alone the next 100 years.”

Colin Crawford of IDG says:

“…being unburdened by print allowed the team at Infoworld the opportunity to focus on the changing needs of their customers and to develop online, event and mobile products.”

Jeff Jarvis responding to Colin’s post, says:

“Yes, print is a burden. It’s expensive to produce for it. It’s expensive to manufacture. It’s expensive to deliver. It limits your space. It limits your timing. It’s stale when it’s fresh. It is one-size-fits-all and can’t be adapted to the needs of each user. It comes with no ability to click for more. It has no search. It can’t be forwarded. It has no archive. It kills trees. It uses energy. It usually brings unions. And you really should recycle it. Wow, when you think about it, print sucks.

So what was the theme? Print is a burden. Unfortunately, saying “print is a burden” implies that there are other options out there that are not burdens. Frankly, the web is a burden. Traveling to events IDG puts on is a burden. Trying to synch my phone and computer is a burden. As Scott Karp displayed in a post yesterday, trying to discover which among 2,000 different news stories on the same topic is a burden.

Despite my love (and I use the word love very deliberately) of the magazine medium, I have never been burdened by thinking print is a hammer and every communications or marketing challenge is a nail.

Granted, my company has published magazines since the day it opened 16 years ago. But even back then, we also created lots of “interactive multimedia” (published on CD-ROM). And in those pre-web days, we also managed “forums” on CompuServe. As a custom media creator, I’ve never felt “burdened” by any medium that helps build strong relationships between our clients (associations and companies) and their members or customers. If smoke signals would help forge and sustain those relationships, we’d be all over it.

Those who know me — even through this blog — know I personally agree with Jeff Jarvis on his somewhat satirical indictment of print. I’m about as paper-free as someone can get in their personal and business practices, but I’m no print vegan (did I just create a new buzzterm?). As Jeff is writing a book and writes for newspapers and magazines, it’s not like he’s a print vegan either. But my print aversion is neither “environmental” (as I always say , if paper is the cause of global warming, someone needs to share that inconvenient truth with this guy) nor based on any belief that print is inherently bad. What I find a burden is poorly designed, written and produced print. What I find a burden is the clutter and confusion print and paper often add to my already cluttered life.

Bottomline: Print is not the burden. My time is the burden. If you publish a beautiful magazine with articles that really matter to me — that instruct, inform or celebrate something I feel strongly about, it is no burden on me. If you help me get to the information and insight I need to live a fuller life or conduct business in a more flexible and productive way, your blogging and tweeting and bookmarking does not burden me. Useless, redundant, meaningless, re-shuffled drivel is the burden. It can be delivered via print or on a weblog or a mobile device. Crap is a burden no matter what the medium used to deliver it.