Friday, September 21, 2007

"The highest reward for a man's toil is not what he gets for it but what he becomes by it." John Ruskin

"The world isn't interested in the storms you encountered, but whether or not you brought in the ship." Raul Armesto

"Leadership is the art of getting someone else to do something you want done because he wants to do it." Dwight D. Eisenhower

True or false? If you build it they will come.

That line from the film Field of Dreams reminds almost everyone of another line.

Emerson most often gets the credit for it - "If you build a better mousetrap, the world will beat a path to your door."

Scott Berkun brings this up in his cool little book The Myths of Marketing. Scott writes "More than 4000 mousetrap patents exist, yet only around 20 ever became profitable products." Scott goes on to reference the work of historian John H. Lienhard...

"Rarely, if ever are the networks that surround an innovation in its
earliest stages given the credit they are due...a better mousetrap,
like anything else, will succeed only when those who envision
the idea convince others to join in their new venture - as
investors, suppliers, employees, retailers, customers, and
even competitors."

Berkun then tells us "When we bemoan our favorite restaurant going out of business ('but they make the best cannelloni!') or why our favorite band can't sell albums ('they have the best lyrics!'), we're focusing on the small part of the picture that effects us personally, which is only one factor in the environment determining its fate. These environmental, or secondary, factors have as much influence as the quality of the idea, the talent, or the innovation itself." (ibid)

We are living in times of significant and wonderful change. In the media business the object of the exercise is to reach out, to get into the places where people happen to be, to be a part of their moment. To earn and therefore deserve the big prize, the honor of repeated invitation. The privilege of being in the evoked set of daily media. My sense is this is complex and subtle, calculus rather than arithmetic. Perhaps the best metaphor is fashion, in fact, fashion retail.

Enjoyed a really good conversation about widgets last evening. The take away is we need to stop expecting people to come to us, that is, expect 100% of our traffic to end up dead ending at a specific destination, some single url. We must begin to imagine/invent ways for us to get present, be present, stay present, to play a part in the world of others. Widgets are an attempt to do just that (so is TiVo, VOD, the iPod, et al). It's becoming more about export and the trend in media consumption seem to be less about import (a complete reverse of the traditional producers' perspective).

Marshall Field got it right - "Give the lady what she wants" - the only update needed to that wise counsel is "Provide it when and where she wants." Utility. We should be focused on exporting valuable stuff rather than simply and only importing people. What is value to the user? How can we make it simple and easy for them to get value from a sustained relationship with us? Loyalty and engagement are the first products, the second and third effects, of trust. Trust is earned. Get into the export business, time to focus less (even prepare to someday abandon) the aging import model. Arbitron PPM is about getting into places, it's about penetration of personal and public spaces; you need to be played to be exposed and to be played you're going to need to be invited. Getting invited requires you to be known and "findable." Export vs. import.


It will become critical to dominate the commons of your target demo.
The winners will be those who discover ways to play some persistent role on a much bigger stage, that of the commons at large.

Imputed: an added importance in the dimension of occasions, that being sense of place. The skill set required is an acuity, a sensitivity to space. The player with the greatest and most consistent measure of reach, that is, the player that is most cognizant of place, the one able to be present, without regard to elected usage (or preference), becomes the player most likely to succeed.

This starts with an understanding of where they are, where they happen to be and it takes you to everywhere they want to be. Therefore, the only standard of pure excellence becomes nothing less than ubiquity. Places are properly defined by they. And, now, after an entire career of learning about what they say and what they want, you need to discover and study where they are (and in real time). May I please show you something in geo-parsing? Place, the next important frontier. Be there.

Building the better mousetrap, creating engaging content, offering the best programming is certainly important, yet, it's not really enough to ensure sustained success. It is becoming the start, the first big step whereas, once upon a time, the very same work product was considered to be the finished art. It would seem that the best used by date on that traditional approach is drawing near. Welcome to the 21st century. Game on!

Thank you very much: Programming ace Lester St. James for the ping and kind words.

Congrats & cheers: Hey!Nielsen getting ready to go public, days away now. My thanks to Steve Ciabattoni for the very cool HeyNielsen sneak preview. Powerset Labs is set to swing their doors open, standby for launch! (Thanks to Mark Johnson for keeping me dialed-in). Michael Rosenblum on the occasion of Current's Emmy win. We can all learn something from Michael Rosenblum (and he's just getting started).

Have an amazing weekend. Back next week with a brand new show.