There’s a new book by the long tail guy that everyone is talking about. And by everyone I mean Malcolm Gladwell and Seth Godin and pretty soon I’m sure, Bob Lefsetz. These guys are a few of my chosen filters. At least when it comes to the topic of marketing. I read their stuff online. I’ve purchased their books. I’ve heard their talks. I tend to agree. And when I don’t agree, I at least care because, like them, I am moderately obsessed with how ideas spread and how the process affects commerce and society.
I earn my living by thinking up and executing strategies for getting people’s attention. It’s a tough thing to do these days. It’s quite messy in fact. (As Seth powerfully stated: “Neatness is for historians.”) “Influencing the press” is no longer as possible (or valuable) because “the press” is withering away. Advertising is a crapshoot, now as always. There’s always been that Lord Lever mantra to contend with: “I know that only half my advertising works, but the trouble is that I don’t know which half.” But now that people have the tools to evade uninvited non-personal communication … Zap, Block, Delete …there’s a general feeling that that 1:1 ratio no longer applies.
Plus there are now more media options than anyone knows what to do with. Aggregating and evaluating reach and impact is more perplexing than ever. Everyone in every kind of business wants to know how to win, measure and place a value on people’s attention. Where is the impact? What breaks through? We want a silver bullet… clarity… something we can buy and be done with, and know whether it worked. A clear path. Instead we have many rough roads to travel and new trails to blaze before we can figure this new world out. As MW aptly stated in his recent New Yorker piece: “The digital age has so transformed the ways in which things are made and sold that there are no iron laws.”