complex brain

I’ve had two great conversations with two great marketers in the past week: Ed Thomas of Process Unity, and Jim Burns of Avitage.

I recently moved to Ayer, Massachusetts, and as it turns out, Ed lives just around the corner from me. We met last Thursday for burgers and wine, and in our second glass we made a mutual confession: “strategy” makes our eyes glaze over. When someone takes the stage to talk “strategy,” nine times out of ten, they’re making a grandiose claim for whatever their own S.O.P. happens to be. Worse, that grandiose strategy often has little relation to practical marketing realities. What do we really need? Stuff that works.

By sheer coincidence, I had a call scheduled with Jim the following morning. A casual introductory call turned into a two-hour plus deep discussion about the impact of digital technologies on publishing and marketing. Understand, Jim was a digital guy back when being “digital” meant being able to print a banner of your name (over the course of two hours) with ASCII characters from a dot-matrix printer connected, by a phone receiver in a modem cradle, to a distant mainframe. In other words, back when today’s lords of technology weren’t even gleams in their fathers’ eyes.

Many people say we should “think like a publisher,” but Jim is one of the few who has translated the aphorism into an effective working principle: thinking like a publisher means collecting source material from which you can create MANY relevant content pieces on the fly. Multiplicity leads to efficiency which leads to profitability. In other words, we can’t just think like publishers, we have to think like Henry Ford or Eli Whitney.

In Jim’s mind, the real problem isn’t “strategy” per se, it’s the gap between the overall strategic objective and the marketing tactics intended to fulfill it. The missing piece is PROCESS, an intelligent, digitally enabled way to collect and retrieve valuable source material (video, copy, images) that can be quickly retrieved and repurposed into an almost unlimited variety of relevant content outputs.

I don’t want to steal Jim’s thunder. You can hear it and feel it here in his post, Complexity Simplified  — The B2B Selling Dilemma. In it, Jim takes a deep dive into his vision: why we need better a better way to operationalize our strategies, the consequences of failing to do so, and the core things we need to change before we get there. Please read, learn, share and comment.

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