A fellow journalist familiar pointed me to David Meerman Scott, a marketer and writer whose book, Cashing in With Content, offers 20 case studies of how web sites can be used, as the subtitle suggests, “to turn browsers in buyers.” Marketing is not my prime interest but new media startups that aspire to publish original material may have to create cash flow by taking work-for-hire projects. Thus a familiarity with the state-of-marketing makes sense.
Scott’s website is laid out to draw you into his book — which is the distillation of his various consulting projects and/or observations of successful web-based outreach. You can download, as I did, an extensive table of contents that lists the case studies. This is a selling tool. Listing the studies lets the prospective buyer know that while Weyerhaeuser and Alcoa may not be of interest, perhaps the segments on the Wall Street Journal Online, or mediabistro.com would be more akin to their interests. It is very clever — and surely clever enough to turn a susbtantial fraction of browsers into buyers. After all, if a person learned just one useful thing, wouldn’t that be worth $25, plus shipping and handling?
Aside from flogging someone else’s book – or thanking another J-Wab (journalist with a blog) — the uber point is a thought that I heard from Tom Foremski, the former Financial Times journalist turned blogger through his SiliconValleyWatcher.com site. (FYI, when I checked into his site this morning, I noted that Foremski recently won an award from a San Francisco Bay Area group.)
In any event, he and I get together occasionally to brainstorm. I frankly do more of the listening than the talking. Two his comments, apropos of this blog, stick in my head. “Every company is now a media company,” he told me one night when we were hiking up at the Presidio, a lovely former Army base overlooking the Golden Gate. And by that he meant that with the web, every company can now communicate directly with its customers. By extension, those firms that don’t choose to go direct to their customers, may find their competitors have started doing just that.
Foremski’s insight sounds an awful lot like this line from the introduction to Scott’s book: “Organizations everywhere taking the role of the new publishers … it’s not just McGraw-Hill, Oxfford University Press, or the New York Times … The new publishers are nonprofits like AARP and the NRA, companies like Pfizer and Nike, politicians, rock bands, and upstart e-commerce companies.” ( Yesterday I noted that the Center for Public Integrity had been nominated for an Online News Association Award for publishing a series on Pentagon boondoggles.)
So publishing is everywhere and marketing, which many writers would dismiss with a sniff of the nose, must fall into the new media basket — and many of us may find ourselves in marketing because that’s where the money is.
One more Foremski comment is apropos of my effort today. “Blogging,” he once told me, “is the most honest form of self-promotion.” I think of that with a smile this morning because I’m blogging from an Internet cafe after my home network went kaput. My wife, who was getting ready to go to her early-morning, part-time job gently suggested that maybe a blogger didn’t need to blog every day, since my early departure would leave two sleepy teens in charge of a sleeping toddler. “I am not that blogger,” I told her stiffly (a remark that she will surely give me cause to regret!).
But in a serious vein this determination gets to the heart of why I blog — which is because no one can stop me. I find that an empowering thought. Now, back home to soothe the spouse and care for the kiddies.
‘Cause if you ain’t Mass Media, you’re Mini Media