The Future of Interactive Marketing

February 20, 2010

If you’re at all like me, you find yourself very pleasantly surprised when you download a whitepaper, research report or promo brochure from the website of a for-profit organization and it actually has content worth thinking about and passing along to others.

I’ve been remissing in failing to blog about teamDigital’s very fine “PROMOTIONS 2.0: The Future of Interactive Marketing,” which I downloaded last October. Let’s just blame information overload, but my failing means that it is very slightly dated. Rereading it tonight I find it still packed with fresh ideas, clearly illustrated and succinctly stated.

Here’s example #1:


We hear about social media ad nauseum: the notion that it is the new mass media is one that I had not considered.

Number 2:


Clear and to-the point. One of the key arguments you’ll find in this 32-page PDF file is a strong push on engagement through social media. This idea is not completely new or radical; I just have not seen it so well articulated from other sources.

And #3:


This slide/illustration really cuts to the chase, and states teamDigital’s proposition most succinctly. You’ll catch the point here. I do recommend that you download the whole PDF and give it a once-over. It’s an eye opener.

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The End of the Desktop Printer

February 17, 2010

I was pleased to encounter Adrian Kingsley-Hughes’ blog posting this evening, “The Slow Demise of the Printer.” Of course many of my readers could read into the title in two ways: an acknowledgement of my frequently noted difficulties at printing companies, or as a note on the decline in the use of desktop printers. You’ll realize from the title of this blog that he means the latter.

This is a topic that I’ve been following for a decade or more. The champions of paper and printing argued early that the Internet and the web actually were accelerating the consumption of both, as most people were not comfortable with reading long documents on yesterday’s generation of CRT screens. It was true. CRT screens did tend to weary the eyes after hours of viewing, and, at the same time, a lot of very long documents were published, whether as Microsoft Word docs or PDFs. Much easier to print them out and read them at your leisure, perhaps during business travel, back in the days when that was not a complete horror show.

As recently as 2006, an article in Toronto’s Globe & Mail proudly stated, “It’s official: The paperless office, predicted for more than 30 years, hasn’t happened. Less paper? Today’s offices use more. Paper use at home is skyrocketing too, and printer sales are way up. It wasn’t supposed to be this way.” Yet by that December, The Christian Science Monitor was reporting that “…after decades of hype, American offices may finally be losing their paper obsession. The demand for paper used to outstrip the growth of the US economy, but the past two or three years have seen a marked slowdown in sales — despite a healthy economic scene.” More recent reports indicate that the demand for laser printer paper is now declining.

Several things have changed (besides the horror of business travel). LCD screens have significantly higher resolution that CRTs, and the evolution of video cards allows us many more controls to set those screens to a suitable brightness/contrast setting for comfortable reading (of course most people don’t bother with the adjustments, but they’re there). Digital typography continues to improve  through the efforts of Adobe, Microsoft and some of their smaller competitors.

At the same time the web has trained most of us on the art of “skimming.” Yes some documents, books and other printable materials must be read careful, even repeatedly. But the bulk is dross, and if you can make it through the executive summary, you’ve probably aced the comprehension challenge for that piece of malarkey.

I saw early on that for me at least there was far too much interesting information I could access from the web to justify printing it all out and never getting around to reading it. So instead I create PDFs of stories that I think are interesting to me or readers of this blog, and file them carefully. They’re availabe to me through my filing system, but never in my face.

Works just fine.

I occasionally print out longer articles to read while travelling, but just as often copy them to my small laptop to read on-board, on-screen. Also workable.

I do not believe that the future of publishing will include more printed output. The changing landscape is just not tending that way.

Is it different for you?

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A Look at the Apple Hype Machine

February 2, 2010

Steve Job is considered one of the great showmen in the business (showpersons?), and the reputation is, I think, well-deserved. I’ve watched him live many times, and saw that the secret of his success on stage is no accidental talent. As one first hand, in-depth article points out, in U.K.’s The Guardian:

Steve starts his preparation for a keynote weeks in advance, reviewing all the products and technologies he might include. Although development and release schedules are set far in advance, he still has to satisfy himself that the chosen products are keynote-ready. For software, this can be hard to decide: the engineering work is usually still underway, so he will make a preliminary determination based on seeing unfinished software. More than once this has caused some tense moments in rehearsal when programs haven’t behaved.

Several reporters at the recent iPad launch wrote that when the doors opened they were nearly trampled by the crowd forcing its way into San Francisco’s Yerba Buena Center, hoping for front-row seats.

Despite this success, I cringe at one thing that Steve also launched into the business. He has mastered the overuse of superlatives, designed mainly to get the docile, loving audience whipped into a frenzy of belief that what they are seeing truly is “amazing,” “fantastic,” “magical,” “revolutionary,” and more. With thanks to my colleague Jon Robinson, I saw this lovely YouTube video today, which well-illustrates the point:

Steve can get away with this stuff, and keep ’em coming back for more. Some of you have no doubt had occasion to cringe watching similar efforts from lesser presenters.

Steve has reached the treasured pinnacle that most presenters can only dream about. Even if you find yourself doubting that the launch will be a success, and remember that Jobs has never batted 1000, you’ll soon be reminded by a colleague, blogger or journalist that “It rarely pays to bet against Steve Jobs.”

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