So, a few months ago Rob Ciampa and I got into a heated discussion about whether or not we’d hire a marketer who didn’t have a significant Twitter followership or blog readership. (You’ll have to watch the video to see where each of us stands on this, but you can probably guess my position and you should know that Rob and I disagree — which is a good thing.) On the strength of that conversation, Rob invited me to join him in a video in which we would talk about what we want to see in an effective marketer. This video is the fruit of that discussion.
I’m very flattered that Rob would put so much effort into talking to me. If anything, the video has too much me and not enough Rob. Winston Churchill once said of FDR that meeting Roosevelt for the first time was like taking your first sip of champagne. Rob is like that — an ebullient and engaged personality who can converse knowledgeably about history, food, travel, culture, food, marketing and food. Did I mention food? Here’s the thing: no matter how good you think your last meal was, Rob ate something better. Always. And he has the pictures to prove it.
As a kind of appendix to the video, I offer the following thoughts on the issues we discuss:
Social media and the marketer: How much social media activity is “contributing to the conversation” and how much is merely headlong self-aggrandizement? BS, like beauty, is in the eyes of the beholder. You make the call. In general, I think marketers (and everyone else) would do better to talk less and say more — quality over quantity.
Technology and the marketer: I know enough about electricity to not stick a fork in a wall socket. That about sums up what I think marketers must know, at the very least, about technology — enough not to get shocked. If they can learn to apply technology to make things move, all the better.
The “chief cultural officer”: The very title smells like California and reminds me of one of my favorite lines from a Woody Allen movie: “Right now it’s just an ocean, but with some money, it could be a concept.” Do most companies need one of these? Probably not. But some do need to be fluent with contemporary culture. I have been impressed, for example, by how The Gap responds to change. In the 70’s, they embraced a backwoods persona in keeping with a post-Woodstock, anti-establishment aesthetic. In the 80’s, however, they completely renewed themselves (a bath and a haircut, as it were) to be THE parlor for casual Yuppie cotton goods. Then in 90’s and the into the 00’s, they showed real smarts by not dramatically altering The Gap brand and instead, creating an entirely new one, Old Navy, in keeping with a grunge generation looking for disposal clothing with a thrift store chic. Smart.
Other thoughts: I think the best description of advertising I’ve ever heard is, “salesmanship in print.” Good marketing embeds salesmanship in whatever medium it works within. In essence, that’s what I look for in a marketer: someone who knows how to implant salesmanship in products, prices,positions, promotions, etc.
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There’s a great story behind Nat “King” Cole, the beloved entertainer famous for “The Christmas Song,” “Nature Boy” and other classics. Funny thing: he didn’t start out as a singer; he began as a pianist and a very fine one at that. His trio was renowned for its low-key sophistication long before Miles Davis made “cool jazz” a phenomenon.
One night, Cole and his trio were playing a swank bar frequented by gangsters. One of them approached Cole and asked for a song. “I’m sorry,” Cole allegedly replied. “I don’t sing.”
“You do now,” said the gangster. The rest is history.
Now, I’m not Nat Cole, I don’t expect to achieve equal fame and my client certainly isn’t a gangster, but . . . when Elsevier first asked me to script a Flash video, I declined; scripting was out of my area of experience, I said. But they insisted — and I’m glad they did. Here is my first animated, Flash video project. I hope you like it.
Kudos to Xplane for the excellent animation!