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I should probably start penning a piece on predictions for 2019, but they’re grueling to write, as they’re usually too obvious (e.g., a trend was already happening this year) or they’re not going to happen anytime soon. This time last year, pundits were talking about Bitcoin prices hitting $100,000 in 2019. This year, as it sinks below 4% of that, you’ll see various posts about Bitcoin dropping below $1,000 or rising above $10,000, and neither prediction matters much at all.
I am a bigger fan of reflecting, and to that end, if you have a lesson from 2018 you’d like to share, I want to include it in one of the year’s final newsletters (December 12 or 19). As a holiday gift to me and all the readers here, post a quick thought in this Google form; you can even remain anonymous. This can be 5 words – or something a bit longer. Try a haiku if you like.
Another holiday present came my way recently from Valeria Maltoni, one of my favorite writers and strategists who I often cite here; marketing wonks need to read her Conversation Agent blog, and less savvy folks should read it even more avidly. Valeria recently resurfaced an interview with me that she published nearly ten years ago, and it’s fascinating to see what changed and what hasn’t.
Here are a few excerpts:
Valeria: You have been an active participant in many social networks and have direct experience with social media. How much did your direct involvement help you feel you understand its dynamics well enough to explain them to your clients?
David: My involvement in it as a participant has been critical in helping me explain it. A good example that comes to mind is when I wrote a column about Second Life, and a die-hard fan of the virtual world wrote a blog post tearing my column to shreds, to the point where his response was longer than my column. Yet he acknowledged that at least I was someone who used it and wasn’t just observing from the sidelines.
I was a blogger before I ever advised anyone on a blog outreach campaign, I was a Facebook user long before I worked on Facebook ad and Page strategies, and I had been using Twitter for quite some time before helping one of our clients to become among the first major marketers participating there.
Valeria: What is your personal secret sauce? How do you influence your colleagues and team?
David: Keeping a good candy stash helps. Really though, I think my best form of influence comes from authenticity. No matter how much I learn, I’ll always be a student of media, I’ll always want to share what I learn with others, and I’ll always seek to try things first-hand and speak from experience over speculation.
Who would be your ideal client?
David: The tactful answer is that all my clients are my ideal clients, and I do work with a lot of the brands I truly love, from Comedy Central to J. Crew. But I’ve got a sweet tooth (see the previous question), so my ideal clients would really be Sprinkles Cupcakes, Jacques Torres Chocolate, and Franken Berry cereal. [I still love these brands, and coincidentally just cited Sprinkles in a podcast episode I recorded with GeoMarketing’s CEO on the Go series.]
Valeria: What do you think is in store for agencies in the next 3-5 years? Will agencies rethink their dependency on media? Is there a new model in sight?
David: Media’s not going away. There is a risk that a lot of the established media properties will be eroded as consumers continue to gravitate to properties that are more about conversations than content. Yet that line is blurring too.
Looking back on this, my ethos and approach remain the same. It centers around learning by doing, whether for my work for my firm or for my clients; the motto for the Slack community is “Learn. Try. Share.” The last question proved telling too. Look at Instagram Stories, Tik Tok, Snapchat, Facebook Live, Twitch, and other formats, along with all the discussion about media in forums like Facebook and Twitter, and it is hard to separate content from conversations. With the rise of podcasts, it seems like most of them are conversations between people; including CMO on the Go cited above.
Speaking of nostalgia, I put together a talk for the Louisville Digital Association in October about what’s changed at the intersection of tech and marketing between 2008 and 2018. Fellow nostalgia junkies may enjoy this; ll the annotated slides are on SlideShare.
As we get into this reflective stretch, be sure to share your take on what you’ve learned in 2018. And as always, let me know what you’re making of yourself.
LEARN. TRY. SHARE.
HUNT FOR READ OCTOBER
There’s a new social network called October. It rewards people who make the best contributions that are valued by the community. You can choose to post anonymously whenever you want (I’ve even responded anonymously to my own public posts), and that also means your real profile can be banned even if you troll with a hidden identity. I’m skeptical it’ll last, but it’s a smart enough experiment. Have fun Octobering when you’re not Peaching or Elloing or Pathing or…
TOP AI RESEARCH OF 2018
TopBots is my favorite newsletter in the artificial intelligence space; I initially started reading it to better understand chatbots, but the outlet expanded its scope (especially as the chatbot hype waned). Here’s a wonky academic roundup of 2018’s best AI research.
DOESN’T IT FEEL GOOD TO PAY MORE?
This is marketing comedy gold. Payless created a fake luxury store selling their regular shoes and paid some influencers to come. One bought a pair of boots for $640 – a 1,800% markup. These kinds of stunts never get old.
ALEXA, WHAT’S A FISHING SCAM?
Loudest novelty item of the early 2000s: Big Mouth Billy Bass. Most pervasive voice of the late 2010s: Alexa. Billy, meet Alexa. Alexa, meet Billy. And yes, I bought one already. It’s a terrible product. The fish keeps moving around in its motorized way while lip-syncing to songs played through Alexa, and its one button doesn’t always work. Give this to the kid or relative you can’t stand. It is worse than coal.
25 INSPIRING WOMEN IN DIGITAL MARKETING
TopRank published their annual list of female marketing all-stars. I’ll single out Alison Herzog of Dell, as she’s an active member of the Serial Marketers group where this link came up, but there are so many great leaders referenced here. And to TopRank’s credit, they’re not just jumping on the female empowerment bandwagon now; they’ve been doing a version of this list since 2010 (that’s like 1852 in blog years).
Want to include your event below? Just reply with the details.
These are some of my favorite local events. This month’s features Warren Zenna, President US, Location Sciences; Joel Wright, President & Founder, #Hashoff; Mike Teitelman, CEO & Founder, Trapica; and Ahmet Tosen, CEO & Founder, Poltio. I’ll be there.
MEET FOUNDERS AND CHIEFS OF AI STARTUPS
Hosted by Columbia Business School at a venue downtown, meet startup founders at this panel moderated by Jon Chang of IBM Watson. The organizer, Brad Jobling, always puts great sessions together.
I may return for my 13th straight year and am open to ways we can collaborate there. Registration is now open. Are you going?
Need your Gritty fix? You better. Because Grittycon is coming. I mentioned #Grittycon on Twitter in connection with the aforementioned Adweek article. Then Caroline McCarthy said she would keynote. And now she’s co-chairing it, and keynoting. Don Steele chimed in with his own contribution; he’s co-chairing too. Dates coming soon. This is happening. Sign up for more info.
ANA BRAND MASTERS
February 27-March 1
Submissions: globally through February 20
Event: April 5, Venice, Italy
The Crowdsourcing Week BOLD Awards, showcasing innovative businesses and individuals, will be a rewarding event for amazing projects, individuals and companies. After submitting your project, our team will review it within 1 week. If your project is accepted, it will appear online and votes will start on Jan 10th. Submissions are open and will be closed on February 20, 2019. Submitting a project will be completely free until January 1st, 2019.