Happy New Year: A Personal Letter From the Publisher

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I take that title. The one in the headline. It goes with my role as CMO here at Acronym. I don’t edit Tech Marketing News (TMN) anymore; in fact, I rarely get a chance to contribute to the content. For sure, being a modern CMO is a much more evolved and a much more content-experience focused job these days. You know yourself, as a digital marketer, you need to think much more like a “brand publisher” and “brand broadcaster.” And yet, often times, it’s that very same role that prevents you (certainly me) from creating it yourself. That said, not every CMO wants to create or produce content themselves.

Interestingly, I’ll probably have a bit of a rant in a few minutes in this short “brand epistle” (yes, I just made that up) about marketers using mass media communication terms such as broadcaster (as I just did), when we’re so focused on digital channels. Digital provides modern methods of communication that transcend previous methods of marketing communication, particularly when it comes to “getting personal.” And yet, so much mass media communications and mass media marketing communications terminology works its way into digital marketing literature, when it rarely has any place there at all. Even when I was involved in mass media communications, we used the term “narrowcast,” which was more suited to what we were so frequently trying to achieve. And yet, often you still had to broadcast in order to narrowcast. Yes, that’s one of those “we need to have a seat at the bar so I can explain” statements I frequently make.

There have been so many occasions over the past few years when I have had to discuss this dichotomy with peers and colleagues in the digital marketing industry. There was a time (pre digital) when media was scarce. By that I mean you had the difficult job of trying to insert your message into press, radio, and television. There you were, doing anything you possibly could to try to get noticed above everyone else. Not just your competitors, literally in a few channels where everyone was trying to get anyone’s attention. You could at that time get away with what in old fashioned sales parlance was called “a numbers game.” But now media is everywhere. Everyone can be a publisher. Everyone can be a broadcaster.

My own personal experience has led me to discover that now, in particular when marketing to marketers (digital specifically), it’s absolutely much less of a numbers game and much more of a name game. I have a wide and expansive digerati network myself. I mean thousands of people. And of course, I can name every one of them. Not at will, but simply by searching at the various social networks we’re all members of. Not only that, I can meet many more thousands in the same way and add them to my networks. In a community where so many people know so many people, and can get to know EVEN MORE people at such a personal level, why on earth would mass communications terminology and methods even come into it?

Leaps and bounds in technology have brought about huge changes in consumers, markets, and marketing. The connectivity of individuals and groups has allowed for a major transformation where marketing is no longer a one-way communication. Interactivity between consumers and companies has changed this into what has been referred to by many practitioners as “the participation age.” The age of a more creative society, where consumers are more collaborative, cultural, and human spirit driven. No longer can you view consumers as passive targets of marketing campaigns. As they both consume and create media, consumer becomes “prosumer” and participation and content creation are at the heart of this transformation.

In my own career experience, I have worked as a broadcaster in radio and television. I have written newspaper and magazine articles. I’ve written books, papers, and columns. During my various media and marketing roles over the years, I have developed, created, presented, produced, commissioned, licensed, leased, negotiated, begged for, borrowed, and yes (to my own disdain), even stolen content. In short, my background has always been in some shape, form, or fashion about CONTENT.

I’ve mentioned marketing to consumers a few times in the same breath as having mentioned marketing to marketers. But that’s because of the similarities of my company marketing to marketers and those marketers communicating with consumers. These days, brands need to respond in a timely fashion and interact with consumers who can group together and change perceptions through their own media channels. In the same way, marketers can respond and interact with other marketers vying for their business through their own blogs and other digital channels. It’s my belief that using content to “pull” and engage with peers is much more valuable in our own marketing program here at Acronym than it is to try and “push” shitty product and services-led messaging. I really do have huge disdain for other companies I see using their own channels (and possibilities of excellent personal communication) to simply talk about themselves in the first person. They make things up, manipulate numbers, and flatter themselves with huge amounts of self-reference criteria, which they issue in syrupy dollops of platitudes and clichés. I think we’ll refer to that as “me-to-me marketing” (kudos to Larry Chase for coining that one) because, in modern marketing, the only people actually receiving that type of messaging are… the people sending it.

We’re making this year the year of intent at Acronym. And we’ll spend most of our time with clients looking at methods of developing content around intent. At the same time, we’ll spend the same amount of time doing that to connect and present contextual and educational content experiences for all of our existing and potential clients.

Happy New Year and all the best from myself and the editorial team at Tech Marketing News.

Mike Grehan.
CMO & Managing Director.

(All thoughts, ideas, opinions and irreverent language are those of the author).