Friday, March 31, 2017

Bloggers' Work Habits

Orbit Media asked 1,055 bloggers how they work. It found:
  • Bloggers spend on average 3 hours to write a post (26% more time than a year earlier); only 1 in 3 spends less than 2 hours per post.
  • 1 in 4 bloggers rely on an editor to improve their posts.
  • The average post is 1,050 words long (19% longer than a year earlier).
  • Nearly 50% of bloggers include lists in their posts; 15%, video.
  • Most bloggers publish weekly; the number who publish daily is down by more than 50% from a year earlier.
  • Over 95% of bloggers promote their posts on social media; a majority use email.
  • 56% of bloggers routinely check their posts' traffic; 20% never do.
My work habits? Yours truly:
  • Spends about 1.5 hours per post.
  • Works without the benefit of an editor.
  • Writes brief posts, 350 words or so.
  • Loves to include lists and videos.
  • Publishes 7 days a week.
  • Uses social media to promote every post.
  • Checks traffic, but not obsessively.
What are your work habits?

Thursday, March 30, 2017

Apple is Killing Your Email Marketing

Ever since Apple released Version 10 of the operating system for its iPhone, your email marketing program has been under siege.

Version 10 of iOS begs the user to opt-out of the sender's list, if she so wishes, by displaying a mammoth unsubscribe banner above each incoming email.

To quit your list, all the user need do is click the banner. The click sends an email to you (or your email service provider) that instructs you to remove the user from your list.

Opt-outs have soared since the August release of Version 10.

There is one way to thwart Apple: enable opt-outs only through a website. If your email contains only a URL for unsubscribing, the ginormous unsubscribe banner won't be displayed.

HAT TIP: Thanks to
Mike Bannan, CDO of Inspire 360, for bringing this to my attention. Before he mentioned Version 10, I was at a loss to understand the surge in opt-outs.

Wednesday, March 29, 2017

Burn the Boats

Resolving to begin life anew, when the mutineers of the HMS Bounty reached Pitcairn Island, they burned the boat.

Like the Bounty's crew, many of today's publishers and associations must self-administer the shock that flings them into the "conquer or be killed" mindset, or they're sure to wither and die.

Burning the boats—destroying outdated, expensive and unprofitable products and programs—may indeed take a few mutineers. Comfortable execs and boards aren't about to do it.

Super Niche Media Event this week, I heard that idea expressed by attendees many times.

It may take a new generation to lead these organizations to burn the boats and behave like brands.
Provided the ships don't sink beforehand.

Tuesday, March 28, 2017

Government Communicators: Know Who's Who in a Video Crew

Photo: Patty Mooney
Award-winning video producer Ann Ramsey contributed today's post. She is a senior producer at the US Department of Health & Human Services in Washington, DC.

You probably deal with video crews often in your role as a government communicator. You host press conferences and other events broadcasters want to cover.

From the broadcaster's point of view, any shooting done is considered "field" or "remote" shooting; and it will send specialized crews for it. However, you may not be clear about the taxonomy and makeup of these crews.

Why do some field crews seem to waltz into any situation on their own, shoot it, and pack out with hardly a word, while others can't be satisfied without detailed advance support and extra time, space, access, and control on site?

The answer lies in the differences between two types of field crews: ENG versus EFP

The two types of crews have considerably different purposes and needs. Understanding the differences can reduce your headaches and improve your media coverage.

ENG–Electronic News Gathering

ENG refers to 
a field news team covering a current or breaking story.
The term derives from TV news in the 1980s, when field footage was first electronically transmitted to editors, instead of being handed off to them on videotapes.

Photo: Alex Row
ENG footage is recorded for editing and later airing, or for transmitting live. Today’s ENG crew could be a lone reporter, operating her own camera with a headset and microphone; or, it could be a reporter with a one- or two-person crew. If the latter, the crew captures the audio and video, while the reporter concentrates on interviewing or narrating. 

For high-profile or unfolding situations, a satellite uplink or a microwave truck might also be dispatched to the location for live transmitting, and to serve as home-base for multiple ENG crews. Regardless of size, ENG crews are used by TV, web and radio broadcasters to cover press conferences, crime scenes, public events, accidents, rescues, storms, court trials, and battle zones. ENG crews are “on call” day and night for immediate deployment to "get the story." Some storiesa hostage situation, a major fire, or a riot, for examplemay attract dozens of crews, who vie for position as the event unfolds.

For an ENG crew, the emphasis is on speed, agility, and fast turnaround of short-form stories, usually for airing the same or the following day. Their set-up and tear-down process is fast; they need minimal B-roll footage (“covering shots"); and, since they are reporting at public press events, don’t need to get appearance releases signed. You will hear them use the term “run-and-gun,” which is the signature ENG style.

As a communications professional in charge of a government event such as a press conference, you and your team will need to accommodate each broadcaster’s ENG crew: give them the event rundown, and let them know how to get into the venue. When crews arrive, show them to the area where they can set up; and let them know if there will be press availability time with the VIP for individual questions. Crews will usually have batteries, but show them a power source for backup. Tell them if they will need to acquire audio using their own mics; otherwise help each crew plug into to your "mult box" for a direct audio feed from the podium or soundboard. (A mult box is a single audio source with multiple outputs. Mult boxes are commonly used at press conferences in small spaces, so that umpteen mics are not all in the speaker’s face at the same time, and so that reporters can all get the same, clean audio.) Crews will want a couple of minutes to run a sound check before the event starts and cameras begin to roll. If your event is happening someplace with local color or visual interest, you should also arrange a few minutes for the cameras to shoot some B roll. After the event, ask the crews if there’s anything else they need, and show them the best way out.

EFP–Electronic Field Production

The EFP crew works to create a narrative, rather than reacting to an unfolding story in real time. Whereas short-form news packages or live stories are the norm for local reporters, longer-form, in-depth stories are covered by national news magazines. In addition, you may want your agency’s in-house video production team (or a crew that you hire) to make a video out of an event as an edited package, or to create "Bites and B roll" to be made available to broadcasters for their use. Any of these more complex situations will call for an EFP crew.

According to the Herbert Zettl's Television Production Handbook:

"[Electronic Field Production] uses both ENG and studio techniques. From ENG it borrows its mobility and flexibility; from the studio it borrows its production care and quality control. EFP takes place on location (which may include shooting in someone’s living room) and has to adapt to the location conditions… Good lighting and audio are always difficult to achieve in EFP, regardless of whether you are outdoors or indoors. Compared to ENG, in which you simply respond to a situation, EFP needs careful planning.”

Typical uses of EFP are: industrial videos (i.e., non-broadcast, which includes government videos), documentary, broadcast magazine interviews and profiles, and promos.

Photo: Ann Ramsey
An EFP crew is unlikely to consist of one person (a “one man band”), although some documentarians operate that way. Most often, the crew is sizable. EFP done on a large scale (for example, the Olympics, the Oscars, or the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade) are called “remotes,” and will require crews for multiple-camera setups with videography, photography, advanced graphics, sound, grips, gaffers, and camera motion rigs such as Steadicam, drone, action camera, dolly, crane, and jib. In government's sphere, something like a large town hall or political debate would require so large a crew, but in everyday practice you find most EFP crews that are needed to cover speeches or press conferences will consist of three to six members. Crew members could include a producer/interviewer, one or two cameramen, a sound recordist/mixer, a gaffer (lighter), and a production assistant or grip. They will bring an audio mixer with several types of microphones, and probably a couple of cameras, a case full of lenses, field monitors, and a couple of camera set-ups (a tripod and dolly, for example). Most conspicuously, an EFP crew will arrive with numerous cases of lighting instruments and accessories. All of this equipment needs to be staged where the crew can get access to it as they move through their shoot.

Photo: Ann Ramsey
If a national news organization wants to create a magazine story, your press event will essentially become B roll, with the content of the story (the A roll) likely interview-driven. B roll is typically gathered by a three-man team (a producer, cameraman and audio technician). The crew will want to go to the home or workplace of one or more of the interviewees, or possibly arrange additional locations representative of the story. The lighting and shooting style of A roll and B roll will be consistent with the look and feel of the series. Raw footage can be hand-delivered, shipped on a hard drive, or fed via a local satellite service to the studio, where it's screened and edited. The final product may be aired in a matter of days, weeks or months, depending on the broadcast schedule. 

EFP usually has higher production values and slower turnaround than ENG. As the government communicator, you want to assist the EFP crew to make a terrific video, one that's assured of getting aired. Help them with: scouting locations, securing interviews, and accessing the venue. For unloading, look for alternatives to stairs (s
ince they usually put all their equipment on a rolling cart, EFP crews need elevators or ramps). For set-up, give them space to stage equipment, and allot them at least an hour to light the interview set. EPF crews will want attractive interviews, so they need extra room (“throw”) behind the interviewee to blur out the background. They also need to minimize disturbances and light and sound interference once the cameras are rolling. For multiple interviews, you might want to arrange a separate room that can be pre-lit. You should also accompany the crew to B-roll locations, to ensure they get access and can get the variety of shots they need. Don't be surprised if a two- or five-minute finished piece requires a day or more of production time. At the end of the shoot, ensure the crew was able to get signed appearance and location releases, and give them adequate time to pack up and load out.

Different animals

Because ENG and EFP crews are different animals, they demand different care and feeding. To complicate matters, it's possible you'll find both types of crews covering a single event. So you need to:

  • Understand that ENG crews, although more self-sufficient, are concerned about their deadlines. So if they request something, they need it on the double! As appropriate, you will be directing your ENG crews to one or more designated press areas from which they can cover the main podium, plus any immediate follow-ons, such as press avails or facility tours.

  • Understand, in contrast, that EFP crews will likely need pre-arranged, one-on-one interviews and multiple set-ups, so they'll require additional space, time and attention during, as well as after, the formal event. Don't begrudge them the time and trouble. The compensation for the extra effort you give EFP crews will show up in the end result: a high-quality, in-depth and compelling video.
ENG & EFP crew roles
Normally, these roles are combined varyingly among a small crew:
  • Producer/Reporter - directs crew, conducts interviews
  • DP (Director of Photography) - chief camera person
  • Videographer - camera person, e.g., second camera
  • Sound Recordist - acquires and mixes audio
  • Boom Operator - sound recordist who uses a pole-mounted mic
  • AP (Associate Producer) - assists producer with logistics
  • Gaffer - lighting director
  • Grip - assist the DP and sets up the camera rigging
  • Dolly Grip - operates a camera dolly
  • PA (Production Assistant) - manages gear
  • Media Manager - relays or transfers video and audio files

Monday, March 27, 2017

Jesus Lied

If you believe Seth Godin, all marketers are storytellers and all storytellers, liars.

History's most famous storyteller, perhaps, is Jesus Christ, which would also make him history's most famous liar. Jesus told parables, allegorical stories that aim to teach.

Among his best-known is "The Good Samaritan." The parable teaches neighborliness and goes like this:

A man was traveling when he fell among robbers, who stripped him, beat him, and left him half dead. A priest who was also traveling the road saw the man and passed by him. So did a Levite. But when a Samaritan came upon the man, he took pity and stopped; he bound his wounds after pouring oil and wine on them, and set the man on his own beast and brought him to an inn. The next day, the Samaritan gave two denarii to the innkeeper and said, "Take care of him; and whatever more you spend, I will repay you when I come back." Which of these three, do you think, proved neighbor to the man who fell among the robbers?

Well-told, the parable can be a powerful way to put across a lesson, as contemporary storytellers like Malcolm Gladwell know. Perhaps every salesperson's favorite parable is "The Stingy Customer." It warns against false economy and goes like this:

A rep received a call from a prospect. He told her he wasn't going to hire her company, but instead pay three college students to build his company's shopping cart. He also told her he was nobody's fool: her fees were too extravagant. Four months later, the man called again and asked the rep to look over the students' code, which worried him. The rep saw the students had taken shortcuts, making the application sluggish and easy to hack. With little experience a hacker could steal all the customers' names, passwords, credit card numbers and CCIDs. The rep wished she'd told him four months earlier, "If you think it’s expensive to hire a professional, wait until you hire an amateur."

TED organizer Chris Anderson says the parable "can entertain, inform and inspire all in one." But he cautions parable-tellers to avoid preaching. "You don’t want to insult the intelligence of the audience by force-feeding exactly the conclusion they must draw from the tale you’ve told," Anderson says. "It’s important to test your material on someone who knows the audience to see if it lands with clarity, but without clumsiness."

Sunday, March 26, 2017

A Buck is a Terrible Thing to Waste

Twenty percent of every digital ad dollar is wasted, according to a new study by The & Partnership.

Last year, $12.48 billion of the $66 billion marketers shelled out for digital ads flowed into the hands of crooks committing botnet and adware fraud.

Botnet fraud occurs when an ad is presented, but never viewed by a human; adware fraud, when it's never even presented.

The money wasted exceeds the cumulative digital advertising revenue of all 80 members of Digital Content Next, a trade association whose members include AP, NBC, NPR, PBS, Turner and other publishers.

Fraud will worsen this year. The report predicts $16.40 billion will be lost to it in 2017 (20% of the $82 billion marketers will pay for digital ads).

Saturday, March 25, 2017

Who Should Vote?

Democracy is a charming form of government, full of variety and disorder, and dispensing a sort of equality to equals and unequals alike.
— Plato

Most philosophers agree "one person, one vote" is the right policy in a democracy.

But who counts as a person?

You could say any individual affected by the government should count. But it's hard to say who is and who's not affected by the government. And would you let children vote? Probably not.

That answer's clearly wrong.

You could also say any adult citizen should count. But would you let POWs, felons, tourists, aliens, and the mentally incompetent vote? Probably not.

That answer's also wrong.

I'd go out on a limb and say any democratically competent adult should count. And I'd determine whether any adult were "democratically competent" by requiring her to answer, in writing, two questions:

Philosophers call my preferred political system an epistocracy (episteme is the Ancient Greek word for knowledge.) An epistocracy restricts suffrage to the democratically competent, assuming good political outcomes depend on votes cast from knowledge, not ignorance. Philosopher Jason Brennan calls it "rule by knowers."

You might say, "Wait, the Founding Fathers rejected epistocracy!"

That's true; and they also rejected the Ancient Greeks' democracy, in favor of the Ancient Romans' republicanism.

Under the Founding Fathers' preferred system, citizens can vote to elect politicians, who act as a firewall against mob-rule. They defined a citizen as any wealthy white man.

But 230 years later, we have a democracy, the political system Plato called the "agreeable form of anarchy." We let nearly any yahoo vote.

Plato also warned: Democracies inevitably give rise to tyrannies when a populist autocrat can play to the mob's passions.

It's time for an overhaul—b
efore we're led over the cliff.

Friday, March 24, 2017

Expanding Your Boundaries?

According to Bain consultants Chris Zook and James Allen, a company can grow profitably in two ways: by diversifying or by expanding the boundaries of its core business, or what they call entering adjacencies.

Their study of thousands of companies has led them to say there are six ways to enter an adjacency:

  • Expand along the value chain (De Beers moved from wholesaling into retailing diamonds, for example).

  • Use new distribution channels (supplement maker EAS moved from selling to nutrition stores to selling to Wal-Mart).

  • Enter new countries (Vodafone expanded from the UK to Europe, the US, Germany, and Japan).

  • Address new customer segments (discount broker Charles Schwab became an advisor to the super wealthy).

  • Offer new products and services (IBM pioneered "global IT" and doubled its earnings).

  • Build a new business based on an in-house capability (American Airlines created Sabre, which in turn created Travelocity).

From their study, Zook and Allen also conclude that companies which learn to enter an adjacency, then repeat their recipe again and again, grow at twice the speed of rivals—at a minimum.

How about you? Are you expanding your boundaries?

My new business partner and I, while our direct marketing agency is still in its infancy, have already added six new products and services to the four core offerings we opened shop with in January, including PR, video production and marketing research.

We're following advice you can find in Competing Against Luck, whose authors say customers never "buy" products and services, but "hire" them "to get a job done."

We're designing a menu based on jobs our customers need to get done. We might not grow at the pace of Charles Schwab or IBM, but we're trying—and learning a lot in the process.

I'll keep you posted, in any event.

Thursday, March 23, 2017

B2B Events Get Hip

Expect more annual B2B events to market themselves like music festivals, according to Cramer.

Meetings once held in convention center halls and hotel ballrooms will migrate outdoors and to hip, alternative venues, offering inspired music and entertainment.

"Festivalizing" your B2B event means adding not only rad surroundings and music, but the other hallmarks of a big festival: frictionless registration, entry and wayfinding; a "choose-your-own-adventure" schedule; post-modern structures; exotic food and beverage; cause-related happy hours; playrooms and coffee houses; co-created artworks; social media extravaganzas; and event themes that celebrate coolness, community and creativity,

Festivalization's dual goals are "reinvigorating attendee bases and attracting millennial prospects, who prefer experiences, touchpoints and connections at events," Cramer says.

B2B event planners are riding a wave. According to Billboard, 32 million Americans attended a large music festival last year.

Wednesday, March 22, 2017

The Truth about Trade Shows

Last evening, I watched an old rerun of The X Files. The entire episode is a flashback to a time before FBI Agents Mulder and Scully are partners, and is set inside a trade show in Baltimore in the year 1989.

It was a kick to see how many everyday objects have changed in a quarter century. Men's suits. Women's dresses. Cameras. Computers. Telephones.

But not trade shows.

The imaginary 1989 trade show looked just like a 2017 trade show.

The truth about trade shows: they're lodged in the '80s. We still need them now, but we need them to deliver something new.

With buyers' ranks thinning, web content exploding, and pre-released products the norm, '80s-style trade shows are obsolete.

Yes, we still need to meet face-to-face, take the pulse, and wave the flag, but why "flash back" to do so?

Maybe it's time for organizers to flash forward, to think badgeless and boothless and begin to craft experiences matched to today's need to gather and do business.

The answers are out there.

Tuesday, March 21, 2017

Quiet Desperation

The mass of men lead lives of quiet desperation.

Henry David Thoreau

Last week, Steven Beck, a 61-year-old handyman who lived as a recluse in a foreclosed home in a Washington, DC, suburb, killed his dog and then himself, moments before his house blew up.

His act saddened neighbors, who suspected he was desperate.

Media lures us every hour to celebrate beauty, luxury, mastery, victory.

Self-help gurus tell us, "Professionals are amateurs who didn't quit."

But the Steven Becks tell another story. Some professionals quit, as well.

Vincent van Gogh completed 860 oil paintings and 1,300 watercolors and drawings before he died from a self-inflicted gunshot.

Ernest Hemingway completed 20 books and hundreds of articles and won a Nobel Prize before he died from the same cause.

Hunter S. Thompson completed 15 books and hundreds of articles before he died, once more, from a self-inflicted gunshot.

Thoreau called quitting "confirmed desperation."

If he was right, most of us are desperate; and some of us are confirmed in despair.

The easy success stories are "fake news."

The real news is: the 5 Signs of despair are easy to spot.

Learn what they are.

HAT TIP: Thanks to Susan Rosenstock for her work to raise awareness of the 5 Signs someone needs help. You can help with a donation now.

Monday, March 20, 2017

Comma Sutra

When and where should you insert your comma for maximum satisfaction? The style manuals don't advocate one position.

Those used by book publishers endorse the serial ("Oxford") comma, claiming you need it to clarify any list.

Those used by newspaper publishers eschew it, claiming economy should rule your writing.

Even though advocates can now cite a Maine court's decision, the serial comma is far from the law of the land.

What's your verdict?

The Yeahs

Book publishers insist the serial comma assures clarity. 

For example, because I inserted a serial comma before the coordinating conjunction "and" in the following list, you won't conclude both my followers are dead guys:

This blog is dedicated to my followers, William Strunk, and E.B. White.

The Chicago Manual of Style, for example, endorses the serial comma. You're clear that four, not two, people posed for this White House guest:

She took a photograph of her parents, 
the president, and the vice president.

Modern American Usage also endorses the serial comma, on grounds that it's harmless.

The Nays

Newspaper publishers insist the serial comma, being far from harmless, clutters writing. 

The serial comma here feels like poke in the eye:

I can't resist watching The Three Stooges, Moe, Larry, and Curly.

And The Style Book of The New York Herald Tribune shows how the serial comma here not only clutters the sentence, but misleads you to think Smith donated the racing cup:

Those at the ceremony were the commodore, the fleet captain, 
the donor of the cup, Mr. Smith, and Mr. Jones.

The Comma Sutra

Serial comma or not, some lists are best reordered.

The Times of London once summarized a BBC travel show with this list:

The highlights of his global tour include encounters with 
Nelson Mandela, an 800-year-old demigod and a dildo collector.

Yes, a serial comma would prevent you from thinking Nelson Mandela collected dildos; but he'd remain an 800-year-old demigod. The simple fix would be:

The highlights of his global tour include encounters with 
a dildo collector, an 800-year-old demigod and Nelson Mandela.

POSTSCRIPT: My rule for using the serial comma: easy does it. For in the words of the Kama Sutra:

The mind of the man being fickle, how can it be known what any 
person will do at any particular time and for any particular purpose.

Sunday, March 19, 2017

Milk and Serial

As reported by The New York Times, a Maine appeals court has ruled a group of dairy workers deserve back pay because a state overtime law lacks a serial comma.

Five delivery drivers sued Oakhurst Dairy, claiming the company denied them overtime pay.

The judge hearing the case determined Maine's overtime law doesn't exempt the dairy from paying its drivers.

The law states workers need not receive overtime pay for "the canning, processing, preserving, freezing, drying, marketing, storing, packing for shipment or distribution of: (1) Agricultural produce;(2) Meat and fish products; and (3) Perishable foods."

The judge ruled, because there's no comma after "shipment," the drivers deserve overtime pay. Why? The drivers don't pack perishable foods for shipment; they only distribute them.

The comma missing in Maine's overtime law is the "serial comma" (also known as the "Oxford comma").  

When used, the serial comma precedes the last in a series of things, reducing ambiguity. For example:

Before the secret meeting, Putin invited the hackers, Sushchin, and Dokuchaev.

Without the serial comma, the sentence could be understood to mean Sushchin and Dokuchaev were a team of hackers (they're actually spies):

Before the secret meeting, Putin invited the hackers, Sushchin and Dokuchaev.

Got it?

PS: Everything you ever wanted to know about the serial comma will be covered in my forthcoming manual, Comma Sutra. Among other things, it will explain when and where to insert it to achieve total satisfaction. Look for it wherever adult books are sold.

Saturday, March 18, 2017

CMOs Must Overcome Specialist's Bias

Once upon a time, a CMO could count on her agency for leadership. The firm was her "agency of record" and served in the role of "brand steward."

No longer. Today, the agency is merely one member in an orchestra of suppliers. It's no longer the conductor; it's not even the first chair.

Conductor-less, the CMO must make sense of a cacophony of instruments, most of which belong to martech firms beating the drum for their own solutions.

It's easy in this situation for CMOs to fall into the trap of specialist's bias.

Studies of medical practitioners show specialists over-treat patients with the therapy they specialize in. 

CMOs can fall victim to specialist's bias as readily as doctors.

The former digital marketer will glorify viral Tweets; the former ad man, four-color placements; the former sales exec, fancy collateral; the former video producer, lavish productions; the former researcher, elaborate studies; the former PR guy, puffy product mentions; and so on.

Without the touchstone once provided by the agency of record, agnosticism is no longer a phone call away.

"Look around," says John Ounpu in Brand Quarterly, "and it’s not hard to find brands doing too much with no gravitational center to hold it all together. Letting tactics overshadow strategy. Setting the marketing agenda based on vendor capabilities instead of customer needs. Creating a disjointed, fragmented customer experience with too many moving pieces."

Ounpu offers a way out: make marketing strategy another speciality. The strategist's specialty would be to align the moving pieces and watchdog the other specialists. 

"Strategy must be a practice, not an event," he says.

The strategist would look 'beyond channels and quarterly plans" into "how teams are structured, how priorities are determined, how agencies are selected, briefed and managed, how technology is assessed and invested in, and how performance is measured."

Sounds awesome. But I can't imagine it working.

Is the marketing strategist some kind of internal auditor? Can she poke her nose into every team and every supplier relationship? Can she dictate everyone's metics? And who, really, would take orders from the in-house "strategy cop," unless the cop also signed all the paychecks?

People and organizations aren't built like that. 

The leadership has to come from the CMO. And the CMO must find a way to overcome specialist's bias.

One smart way to do so is to read relentlessly.

The other is to attend marketing conferences.

Friday, March 17, 2017

Adventures in Autocorrect

When I split an infinitive, God damn it, I split it so it will stay split.
— Raymond Chandler

In a previous life, I must have committed some atrocity. 

Autocorrect is my karmic curse.

Autocorrect constantly replaces my words.

Yes, I know I can customize it (or at least turn it off). 

But why am I required to do so in the first place? And why does it default to the linguistic ability of a moron?

The word moron, by the way, also has an atrocious past.

It was coined in 1910 by psychologist Henry Goddard to designate someone with a learning disability. 

Goddard believed the learning disabled posed a threat to "American stock" and took steps to purge them from the gene pool.

He first convinced legislators in half the states to pass laws requiring their forced sterilization. Over 60,000 involuntary operations resulted.

He also dispatched assistants to Ellis Island, to look for morons trying to enter the country. When one was spotted, he was given an IQ test (developed by Goddard). The results weren't often favorable. Over 80% of immigrants tested were deported.

To his credit, late in life, Goddard disavowed his work.

Thursday, March 16, 2017


As a noun, blarney means nonsense intended to charm or persuade. In other words, affable BS.

As a verb, it means to employ nonsense to those ends. In other words, to BS someone.

The slang term is American, and over two centuries old. It got its meaning from two sources:

  • The false claims by thousands of Irish Americans "to have kissed the Blarney Stone," when in fact they'd never set foot in County Cork.

  • Lady Blarney, a smooth-talking liar who appears in Oliver Goldsmith's 1766 novel The Vicar of Wakefield.
A lot of blarney is harmless; what Jungians would call "extroverted thinking." Because he thinks out loud, the extroverted thinker spouts a ton of nonsense all day long. It feels good and means little.

But some blarney is ominous: it's meant to fool.

The term for that form of blarney is

Trumpery is a Middle English word that refers to anything that's attractive, but of no real value. "Truthful hyperbole" fits the category.

Trumpery also denotes trickery, and derives from the French word tromper, to deceive. Today we call those tricky paintings meant to deceive trompe l'oeil.

Savor blarney, but beware of trumpery.

And, no blarney, Happy St. Patrick's Day!

Wednesday, March 15, 2017

Which B2B Marketing Skills are Most in Demand in 2017?

SiriusDecisions asked 270 B2B CMOs to list the skills their departments lacked. Their top five responses were:

Strategy. CMOs need marketers who can translate corporate objectives into integrated, scalable marketing strategies.

Analytics. CMOs need marketers who can direct data scientists and socialize their findings internally.

Channel partner management and sales enablement. CMOs need marketers who can generate demand.

Social media. CMOs need marketers who can leverage social throughout the company.

Measurement. CMOs need marketers who can demonstrate ROI.

Where will CMOs find marketers with these skills?
  • 81% will turn to outside suppliers
  • 77% will hire and train staff members
  • 96% will do both

Tuesday, March 14, 2017

Should a B2B Copywriter Have a Voice?

Tell the truth but make truth fascinating.
— David Ogilvy

Except for Theresa McCulla, B2B copywriters have the best job ever.

They spend their days making machine tools, office furniture and cloud services fascinating.

The best ones know that craft, as well as truth, can lure buyers into buying.

They delight in discovering phrases that makes convoluted concepts seem clear and parity products, powerful.

They wouldn’t do the job if they didn’t harbor a love for language's capacity to transform truth.

But should a B2B copywriter have a voice?

I'd argue: yes. Without a voice, though it might be factual, the writer's copy is flat. 

And, as David Ogilvy said, "you can't bore people into buying."

Others would argue voice is a distraction and should "disappear into the house style." Voice can in fact be a hindrance to a writer: in-house reviewers don't welcome it and clients won't pay for it.

I'd argue that's old-school. Just as it favors generosity and artour connection economy favors voice.

In Bright Book of Life, critic Alfred Kazin describes the late John Updike's visibility in his voice:

Updike writes as if there were no greater pleasure than reconstituting the world by writing—writing is mind exercising itself, rejoicing in its gifts. Reading him one is always conscious of Updike the Gifted, Updike the Stylist, Updike the Concerned Roguish Novelist. Updike is always so much Updike that the omnipresence of Updike in all his writing finally seems not a hindrance but a trademark.

A B2B copywriter's voice isn't a hindrance

It's a trademark.

Monday, March 13, 2017

Always Be Closing

Close your emails with an expression of gratitude and you'll boost the chance of response by 36%, according to a study by Boomerang.

While there are lots of ways to say "thanks," the software company sampled the closings in 350,000 emails and concluded these three expressions are the top performers:
  • Thanks in advance garners a 65.7% response
  • Thanks garners a 63% response
  • Thank you garners a 57.9% response
There must be 50 ways to leave your reader (Forbes says so, anyway).

But the above three work best.

HAT TIP: Thanks in advance to Mike Hatch for suggesting this post.

Sunday, March 12, 2017

Unkind Cuts

A telling statistic lies deep within CEIR’s new report, Cost to Attract Attendees.

It could in part explain why association-owned shows have recently seen a falloff in attendance, exhibits and income.

Association organizers, according to the report, have cut their marketing spend during the past four years.

To learn more, read my post on CEIR's new blog, Event.
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