The “M” Word

Maybe you’re a poet. Maybe you’re an activist. Maybe you knit lampshades.

You spent a lot of time writing those poems, agitating and knitting. The one thing that we all have in common is that we all need to connect with people who might, at some point, want what we create.

If you want people to pay money, and even if you want to keep your art pure, by getting people to pay in attention rather than money, we all have to get our stuff to market. Eek. Marketing. (Please read on!)

(Please forgive me, ghost of Bill Hicks. Just trying to help.)

You might sing a better song than that person on TV, but they somehow (probably unfairly, using evil trickery) got their stuff to market.

Fame isn’t meritocratic. In the bad old days, all you could do was whine about monopolists and the TV-industrial complex. Doesn’t have to be like that anymore.

Some people don’t like the word “marketing”, and that’s why Malcolm Gladwell wrote a book about ideas spreading and called it The Tipping Point. It made people feel clever and became a best-seller.

Turns out people are interested in marketing if you call it something else. This is marketing marketing.

Where Gladwell wrote the The Tipping Point for the general audience, Seth Godin wrote Spreading The Ideavirus for people who wanted to get stuff done and out there.

He made it free and downloadable.

In All Marketers Are Liars, Godin suggests that if you have an idea, and you want people to engage with it, you’re in marketing, whether you know it or not. (He might be lying, though!)

But Seth’s early innovation was Permission Marketing. The idea here is that you shouldn’t bother people who don’t want to hear from you. It’s common sense to you and me, but some in the marketing world needed Seth to write a whole book about it!

The old model revolved around the right (purchased with bales of cash) to interrupt people over and over again until they give in, and buy Coke or vote for UKIP.

It still works, evidently, but the internet changes things a little bit – and it’s good news for you!

How many Viagra emails have you opened lately? How many ads have you skipped lately? Now think about emails and messages from people you want to hear from (anticipated, personal and relevant, as Godin puts it).

That Viagra salesman (it has to be a man, right?) that just spammed a billion people is getting his ass kicked, in attention terms, by your little mailing list, because everybody on it wanted to hear from you.

Your list (or however you prefer to connect) wins, because you made a genuine connection with people who like what you do.

Whatever it is you’re making, (poems, social change, knitted lampshades), if it’s for other people, you need to build a following and get it to them.

Yes, it’s a lot harder to do for those of us without powerful media connections, but it used to be impossible. Now it’s not.

So, just to round up, build away with the social networks, lists, and what have you, but build permission at the same time.

Good luck!

PS. Some of my best friends are marketers. Go easy on me if you read this, guys!


Whatever You Do, Don’t Look At This Thing I Made.

To mark the rebirth of of Pirate Bay and Justin Timberlake’s impending parenthood, I went to Pirate Bay and searched “Justin Timberlake”. Then I searched on “Total Recall (2012)”. Pages of torrents, seeders and leechers. Oodles of people unwilling to help Justin and Jessica Biel support their new baby!

…That’s the old fashioned view of “piracy”. The new model, as described by many a business guru is that the mp3, the mp4, the ebook, etc. are ideas, and the DVD, the CD, the paperback, etc. are the souvenir of the idea. Ideas that spread win. Free ideas spread the best. Illicit free ideas? Well, just look at “The Interview”. It was actually hard not to.

It all reminds me of being a parent. When you can’t get your kid to eat their greens, just dangle a forkful in front of them and say, “Whatever you do, don’t eat this piece of broccoli, because I’m just about to eat it…” Look away. Look back. Hey presto. Broccoli eaten. If you want experience the real joy of parenthood, act frustrated that your broccoli has been stolen. This results in a giggling child. Repeat until your child is brimming with nutrition. Priceless. You’ve made them do something they didn’t want to do, and made them happy about it! For more Machiavellian parenting/governing tips see here.

So with that said, I would certainly hate it if you went to this link and downloaded my latest album for free.

PS. I’d only ever use BitTorrent for educational purposes.

PPS. I would hate it if my stuff ended up on Pirate Bay. So whatever you do…