It’s a golden milestone for the Serial Marketer Weekly, which changed considerably since its 2016 launch but remains true to its text-only roots. It’s been an ongoing learning experience for me, serving as the writer, editor, publisher, and curator, and it’s also been a labor of love. What I’ve loved the most is all the conversations that this has led to thanks to your responses every week. My favorite response was when someone told me she landed a job directly through the newsletter.
Scanning all of the issues to date captures a zeitgeist, whether it’s macro issues like challenges with influencer marketing and using blockchain apps or personal issues like the job search or learning to swim. Often, I find myself inspired by newsletter writers such as Scott Galloway, Heidi Cohen, Darren Herman, and Ann Handley, all of whom have influenced my content, format, and style.
You can explore some of the evolution below, and perhaps catch a few pieces that you’ve missed. If this newsletter does resonate with you, please share it with others. This has mostly grown over the years thanks to word of mouth, and your advocacy means so much.
Also, check the events section for details on the first-ever event programmed by Serial Marketer (there’s a discount code too). Meanwhile, here are 49 highlights spanning each previous edition. If you joined after the first edition, sorry for all the spoilers.
Issue 1 (9/27/16): Bot or Not
It begins. “I adapted this format from a 2001 eMarketer newsletter, back from when I was an editor there. In this age where we’re bombarded by GIFs and autoplay videos, it’s a throwback format featuring forward-looking ideas.” The first editions featured a brief welcome note, rather than a full column.
Issue 2 (10/25/16): Just Keep Writing
This edition introduced the job board. Also, there’s a Vine of a hippo eating a watermelon.
Issue 3 (11/29/16): Election, What Election?
I focused less on the election results, and more on the failure of predictions. “Most marketers have access to enough data; the next wave of value from both technology companies and service providers will come from deriving insights from all of it.”
Issue 4 (2/7/17): Putting the “Sporadic” Back in “Sporadic”
I’m still not sure why I thought it made sense to run a byline about The 10 Plagues of Marketing in December. I did like the font in the presentationthough.
Issue 5 (3/29/17): It’s All Topo Chico
This was by far my strangest event recap column – comparing SXSW to a sparkling water brand.
Issue 6 (7/13/17): The Rebirth of Advertising
The 97-slide centerpiece is all too relevant right now, as it chronicles the demise of advertising and some reasons for optimism.
Issue 7 (8/17/17): Embracing Nothingness
The colum format took shape in earnest here. The more I wrote up front, the more people responded. The column here was about a family road trip to the Midwest, where I learned so much about what I don’t know.
Issue 8 (10/3/17): Making Something of Yourself
Read the story behind the tagline I include at the end of the opening section every week.
Issue 9 (11/2,/17): Once around the Blockchain
I wrote my first blockchain column, “27 Ways Marketers Can Use Blockchain.” I’m wary of rereading it.
Issue 10 (12/1/17): Creative Passion and Disaffection
I self-published a children’s book. It doesn’t have to do with blockchain.
Issue 11 (1/24/18): Playing the Long Game
This theme of “the long game” in building relationships comes up repeatedly.
Issue 12 (3/20/18): The End of the Influence
Sure, this Ad Age column on buying bots is useful, but the song lyrics about the end of influencer marketing should be sung at pretty much every marketing conference. Around that time, I also wrote song lyrics about Facebook apps, “We Didn’t Still Your Data.”
Issue 13 (3/15/18): Back to Reality
Another frequent theme here is learning by doing, which I discuss here in the context of Oculus Go and Snapchat Spectacles
Issue 14 (7/8/18): Learn. Try. Share.
The Serial Marketers community launched with “Learn, Try, Share” as its motto. It would inspire a lot of the best material shared in the newsletter going forward.
Issue 15 (8/8/18): Less Sporadic, More Jobs and Links
Thanks overwhelmingly to Heidi Cohen, the newsletter shifted to the weekly format, and barring a couple brief breaks, it’s still going strong. Circulation picked up considerably since it became a regular publication.
Issue 16 (8/15/18): Beware of Bot
A rogue chatbot made me more loyal to my cable company.
Issue 17 (8/22/18): The Tortoise Wins Again
Handwritten notes are a thing. Next up: how to churn your own butter
Issue 18 (8/29/18): Summer Cleaning
I no longer use the two apps I discussed here. Shapr was mostly a waste of time, though I met a couple interesting people through it. And with Franz, while I loved it, I found a better alternative in Station for managing multiple communication tools.
Issue 19 (9/5/18): Angels in the Catacombs
There’s nothing like listening to classical music while surrounded by dead people.
Issue 20 (9/12/18): Networking not Working
I’ll never forget writing this one, as I was going to send it to my friend Luke Haseloff, a master networker who connected so many thousands of people, but he died the day before it was published. I get together with Friends of Luke all the time – it’s a not-so-secret club, and I’m not sure any of us have gotten over his death yet.
Issue 22 (9/26/18): New Ideas for Networking
Readers had some wonderful ways to reinvent networking. Luke would be proud.
Issue 23 (10/3/18): Ad Week Needs Fewer Speakers, More Listeners
This is true for most events. How can we spark discussions and learn from our peers rather than nod to talking heads?
Issue 24: (10/10/18): Want 100+ Tech Recommendations?
I continue to update this tech recommendation spreadsheet, and I use it constantly.
Issue 25 (10/17/18): Our Phones Won’t Save Us… From Phones
Yeah, tiny phones are not a thing. Also, it was the first deep take on disconnecting from tech, something I expect to cover much more. “A basketball or chef’s knife or paperback book could save you from your phone. Another phone won’t.”
Issue 26 (10/24/18): 40 Lessons on my 40th Birthday
I need to follow a few of these better myself. A few are almost profound. “Never climb a tower for the views” means something, right?
Issue 27 (10/31/18): 2008 vs. 2018 – A Tech Odyssey
A trip to Louisville led to a decade of tech reflection. Also, great bourbon.
Issue 28 (11/7/18): All Hail the Brand Dinosaurs
One of my favorite bylines describes how “dinosaur” should be a compliment.
Issue 29 (11/14/18): It’s a Blockchain Party (BYOB)
There’s no interview worse than a crypto job interview.
Issue 30 (11/21/18): Serially Thankful
My gratitude column includes family, Sal’s Pizza, and some useful apps.
Issue 31 (11/28/18): Got TBD?
Some trolls are good. Like animated ones.
Issue 32 (12/5/18): Back to the Future of Marketing
A decade-old interview held up pretty well.
Issue 33 (12/12/18): What You Learned in 2018, Part 1
“Nothing is as important as it seems at the time, and the most impactful things usually seem trivial as they occur.” – Tim Williams.
Issue 34 (12/19/18): What You Learned in 2018, Part 2
“…The support from my friends was the boost I needed to quiet that inner voice of imposter syndrome.” – Allie Smith
Issue 35 (1/2/19): Consistency Resolved
If you wonder why and how to publish a newsletter, this is the insider’s perspective.
Issue 36 (1/9/19): The 5G, 8K, Voice-Powered CES 2019
If it’s possible to one-up “blockchain” with a buzzword that everyone talks about but doesn’t understand, it’s “5G.” But damn, I feel smarter just writing it. 5G 5G 5G.
Issue 37 (1/16/19): What Really Mattered at CES 2019
The SlideShare recap deck returns.
Issue 38 (2/13/19): What Does Offline Mean to You?
I told people I was offline, but I kept using apps. “Offline” is now a state of mind.
Issue 39 (2/20/19): Dentists vs. Banks
You can guess which one people hate more. But why? Maybe banks should act more like dentists
Issue 40 (2/27/19): From Roulette to Blackjack
This is the most candid I’ve been about job searching for senior marketing roles.
Issue 41 (3/6/19): Meet Me in the Middle
If any song will get this one out of my head, it’s Taylor Swift’s “Me.” But still, “Baby….” Make it stop!
Issue 42 (3/13/19): Life, the Universe, and SXSW
I’m not sure enough readers connected the issue number to Douglas Adams.
Issue 43 (3/20/19): What We Learned at SXSW 2019
Perry Hewitt taught me that “JOMO” means “Joy of Missing Out.” Thanks, Perry.
Issue 44 (3/27/19): Name Your Destiny
It took this many issues to write a “Son of Sam” column? That, my friends, is restraint.
Issue 45 (4/3/19): Notecards from the Edge
I have two issues about handwritten notes and two on blockchain. Clearly, this is why I’m a writer and not a VC.
Issue 46 (4/10/19): Learning to Swim (but I Ain’t Got Waterwings)
Update: I’m still taking lessons. Update: it keeps getting harder. But it feels good to stick with it.
Issue 47 (4/17/19): Our Lady Immortal
Notre Dame will always be Notre Dame. And this is my favorite subject line so far.
Issue 48 (4/24/19): Why All Conferences Should Turn Inside Out
Talent Land in Guadalajara is muy loco.
Issue 49 (5/1/19): Deleting without Disappearing
After writing this column, I also deleted the Facebook app from my phone. Thanks for all of your motivation.
Issue 50 (5/8/19):
I’ve been spending too much time reviewing old newsletters and links. What have you been making of yourself? The tagline may now be 43 issues old, but your responses never get old. Thanks, as always, for your readership,
LEARN. TRY. SHARE.
HOW MCDONALDS CAN IMPROVE THE DRIVE-THRU
For New Yorkers like me who routinely wait 45 minutes for food delivery, spending 300 seconds in a drive-thru lane doesn’t sound so bad. But, apparently drive-through times are slowing everywhere. McDonald’s has some secret plan to fix it. My idea to fix it: if you wait more than 5 minutes, you get a free extra-large order of fries. It will make people disappointed if they DON’T have to wait, and it’ll be a fun bonus. Maybe even mix it up with a screen that flashes your surprise reward if the clock ticks past the deadline, and then it’s a kind of traffic lottery. So many more people will use the drive-thru that it will slow down times, making even more customers happier. For nominal cost, McDonald’s sales will skyrocket. You’re welcome, Ronald.
THE GOLDEN CHILD OF WIKIPEDIA
This new “self-constructing knowledge database” also relies on human editors. Also, unlike Wikipedia, there are commercial subscription plans. It just landed $5 million in funding. The biggest question will be how well its algorithms and other resources can minimize misinformation.
AN ORAL HISTORY OF PRIME
What would Amazon be without Prime? What would e-commerce be without it? What if Wal-Mart got there first, or no one did? Would we sitll be spending a lot more time and money with the likes of Best Buy and Barnes & Noble? Would eBay have unearthed new competitive advantages? This history explores how transformative this move was, and how it transformed how we think about retail to this day.