Category Archives: Miscellany
Something unusual has been happening in the office over the last couple of months. After years of seeing the volumes of free-circulation business press dwindle to almost nothing we have begun hearing the thud of magazines more frequently once again.
It started with Print Power, a publication produced by Lateral Group. The blurb at the front says that it is a European initiative dedicated to strengthening the position of print media in a multi-media world. That’s as may be, but what actually hit the desk was an extremely well thought out, beautifully designed and, most importantly, well written publication that not only made it out of the poly bag (got to open it to separate the recycling) but is still here for reference.
And then, starting the new year with a bang, along came the January issue of B2B marketing. I haven’t seen a hard copy of this magazine for a while, which is a pity because it’s a smasher. Lots of varied content, once again well written, great layout and a tone which didn’t make the reader feel like they were on the periphary of a rather exclusive club, or reading something fresh out of the mouth of a PR assistant.
So, this got me thinking about two things: how important it is for B2B magazines that they are written properly; and secondly how we need to find time to sit, absorb and process information.
Many business magazine operations (and one of the above is not innocent of the offence) have embraced technology and decided that the way to keep their readers and consequently their circulations is to develop regular email newsletters. And then send them out to their database. Every Day. Event magazine went even further and sent out two email bulletins a day. Thank goodness they have stopped that. It seemed like a great plan at the time, but it forgot something very fundamental about human behaviour: that if you give us snacks we will graze rather than engage; and that most people switch off when they feel they are being nagged.
What’s more, readers don’t even have to let on that they have stopped engaging. While the email administrator always ensures that the unsubscribe information is included, all the recipient has to do is to classify the message as unwanted and it will forever be consigned to the junk folder.
In creating this constant stream of bitesize snippets we have created a culture of having to write something to a timetable rather than to an editorial plan. In doing so, we resemble budgerigars: saying anything for the sake of it, not because we believe it is something that will interest the recipient or even that they will make time to read it. So they lose interest, stop reading, and they are off to find someone who they think will give them what they want. Our marketing messages become bland, our products uninviting.
As consumers of information we are not without blame either. This veritable cornucopia of new media has us flitting from place to place searching out the information we think we need. But, time to ‘fess up: it’s exhausting isnt’ it? There’s a reason why hummingbirds drink pure sugar…
If we want to make good business/marketing/communications decisions, then we must pause to nourish ourselves with high quality information devoured slowly and with relish. We must create time to sit down and consider what is in front of us without constant interruption from screen based applications, or the pressure of having to tell an audience of disinterested individuals streams of minutiae. And noone is better placed to provide this michelin-starred content than the quality end of the B2B press.
So come on chaps… put the chips away and start cooking up some roasties.
This was sent to us today by a designer friend who is plagued by requests to work for free by the PTA who just want a poster for an event or a mate who is “sure it won’t take you more than five minutes…”
So, if you are a freelancer or someone whose working environment/talents makes you a valuable commodity to all and sundry, here’s a little something to help you decide…
When faced with a disruption to their travel plans, individuals fell roughly into one of two distinct groups:
Tigers or Sheep.
There were those who, when presented with cancelled flights and an indeterminate delay, took their destiny into their own hands: hiring cars and coaches; undertaking epic overland journeys; travelling via cargo ship; or simply deciding to create an extension to their holiday by going off and exploring something completely different. For others, the solution was simply to wait and let someone else do the thinking and organising. Passive by nature, it wasn’t up to them to solve the problem.
The first group are our tigers, keen to manage their own destiny, anxious to make a change and a difference even if the end result is no different to what it would have been if they had let someone else take control. The latter are the sheep, who really aren’t keen on making a decision or taking responsibility, they simply want everything to follow the path and plan that they bought into.
At events, it is really important to understand whether your audience is made up of tigers, sheep or a mixture of the two. Where attendees are predominantly tigers, the onus needs to be on creating programmes which are self-determining, requiring action and consequence; with sheep a clearly defined itinerary with understandable pathways and careful management of expectations will lead to a successful conclusion. Events that depend upon networking are more likely to appeal to the tigers; those with a tightly timetabled series of learning or experience based sessions will be more satisfying for the sheep.