Sunday, August 21, 2016

White Papers

White Papers are in favor among internet marketers these days, especially those selling to businesses, and they score high among preferred lead-generating devices. I think it’s the carefully crafted aura of impartiality that does it.  
There is a definition of the White Paper that says it derives from British government documents so named a few decades ago to distinguish them from other British government documents called Blue Books. Sounds reasonable.
I wonder, though, if the White Paper may not go back further than that, even to events like Ferdinand and Isabella hiring Columbus. The final results were royal charters and voyages of discovery, but can’t you just imagine the studies that preceded them?

Court of Spain, 1491: The Project which Applicant propofses seems suicidal, if only for the fact that the Earth is Flat and he could sail off an Edge, taking Your Majesty’s ships and goods, to substantial loss to the Crown. Another danger arises from the very Crew, ruffians well-aware of the presence of Sea Monsters in the Western Longitudes and easily incited to Mutiny if conditions become difficult.

Ameliorating those factors, however, is the pofssibility of Great Wealth being gathered from yet-undiscovered Lands; and the stipulation that the man Columbus is willing to take the Risks and has not asked that anyone from the Court accompany him. On Balance, therefore, this Commission is inclined to the Belief that Funding of such Projects would be to the Crown’s advantage.

Then, for sheer magnitude of effect on the lives of people, there is Great Britain’s White Paper of 1939. In effectively reversing the policy of the Balfour Declaration of 1917 establishing a Jewish state in Palestine, it determined the fate of millions.
My own White Papers are of much less consequence, but they carry on the tradition. If you can muster the curiosity to wonder about
           (a) the significance, for businesspeople, of three executives’ hopscotching                     efficiently between Los Angeles, New York, Houston, Springfield                             Illinois and Augusta Georgia in one trip in 1988, or 
          (b) how a new business proposal goes together,
those White Papers are available.

Sunday, August 14, 2016

Can't Help Myself

Yet another on-line debate with a “content marketing” guru. I know the futility of these arguments by now, but I’m like the firehouse dog responding to the bell.
What started this one was an article citing a study that found just 30% of business-to-business marketers who do "content marketing" define themselves as "effective," which translates to 70% ineffective. The study was by the Content Marketing Institute(!)

Of course I jumped on this as proof from the horse’s mouth that “content marketing” is a fraud perpetrated on the marketing world. I apparently struck a nerve, and the answer came back in a sarcastic tone, which I matched in my reply. 
The odd part, however, was that the answer cited another study showing that the technique had been "researched and proven to work." Another case of dueling surveys. However, since this one was in the Harvard Business Review, it was presented in the tone of revealed truth.
This put my adversary in the difficult position of showing his own study being contradicted by a more authoritative study.  I pointed this out in my reply, but haven’t heard anything back at this writing.  
Still, as I may have mentioned before, I am the King Canute of marketing, demonstrating that the tide of “content marketing” can not be held back for now.     I believe it will run its course, though, and will be replaced by something (probably with a catchy name) that will revert to a more direct effort at selling things.

“Engagement” will give way to “Attention” and “Interest,” the opening steps of the old AIDA formula; “storytelling” will go back to the demonstration of customer benefits; “friending,” “sharing,” “follows,” “pageviews,” “click-throughs,” and “likes” will be abandoned for  sales. If we really clean house “personas” will go back to being researched prospects, the “customer journey” will be the sale process, “pain points” will once again be customer needs, and “funnels” will be what you use to pour ketchup from the old bottle into the new one.
Or have I mentioned my opinion of “content marketing” already?

Sunday, August 7, 2016

Dispatches from the Park

... an occasional series, vignettes, each of which isn’t of much consequence alone and which together still don’t have much substance, but whose compilation satisfies a craving for taxonomic orderliness.

A Dog-Powered Recumbent Bike
I’m sitting on one of my benches, and here comes a recumbent bike being pulled by a black cocker spaniel on a leash, a heavyset man sitting regally in the seat.
They go by pretty fast, the dog looking eager enough. They come around the circular path that surrounds the greenbelt and bench a second time, and they’re still going along at a pretty smart clip. I start to wonder if that fat guy is taking advantage of the dog. He doesn’t even have to pedal; the dog is doing all the work.
It’s alright. They come around the third time and the dog in in the guy’s lap, getting the free ride this time.

An elderly parent/dutiful child going by on the footpath. You can always tell; they’re together, but a little apart. This time it’s a father, probably in his late 80s, and a son probably late 50s or early 60s.
The son watches the older man, who walks very slowly and with an occasional wobble. The older man wears what look like Birkenstocks, the sandals popular years ago.
Both men wear shorts, but shouldn’t. I mean if you’re going to wear baggy shorts, go all the way and do those great boxy yard-wide English World War II jobs that could have accommodated an extra person. At least they had style.
There’s no conversation between the men. Playing parlor psychiatrist I deduce that the son feels imposed upon to have to nursemaid his father, but at the same time guilty because his father did it for him 50 or 60 years ago.
The old man has run out of things to say and even things to do and is really just biding his time to the end. But the weather is fine and it’s good to get out for some son and heir.

As I write, the old man has wandered a little too far afield and his son, keeping a discreet distance, trails him. The son is getting a little business done on his cell phone, so the day isn’t wasted entirely.