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New Better Best

Continuing on from our discussion in episode 6, The lost art of delayed gratification, this time, David and Steve ponder the challenges we all face when the marketplace is full of businesses and media working overtime to be “novel”.

Despite needed to do some ethical gymnastics, they stumble upon a marketing mix that might help you have your cake and eat it too, without selling your soul (or your business).

You might recall how much Steve fell in love with the classic Russian novel, Anna Karinina, over summer. Well, this time he’s fallen for a contemporary novel writting in the sweeping but observational style of Russian literature, A Gentleman In Moscow.

His insight for all of us, related to a particular passage about the twice chiming clock.

In the problems section, Steve shares some thoughts on when you should or shouldn’t consider paying for support for WordPress themes.

And in perspicacity, the Mastercard Priceless ads are in the spotlight, including a particularly naughty one that might not be safe to listen to at work!

Listen below

Talking About Marketing podcast episode notes with timecodes

01:50 Person This segment focusses on you, the person, because we believe business is personal.
A Gentleman In Moscow

The novel, A Gentleman In Moscow, by Amor Towles, comes highly recommended by Steve if you have the mindset that allows you to slowly devour a story that is succulent in every detail.

The book revolves around the fictional character, Count Alexander Ilyich Rostov, who is a Russian aristocrat. When he returns to Russia in the wake of the 1917 Bolshevik Revolution, his death sentence for being a “social parasite” is changed to one of staying within the walls of the Hotel Metropol in central Moscow, for the rest of his life. To take one step outside would mean instant execution.

Towards the end of the book, having received guardianship of a little girl, Sofia, he is asked by the child why his heirloom clock only chimes twice a day. His explanation is something of note to all of us engaged in our enterprises, either as business founders or leaders.

As you hear in the excerpt, his father wanted the clock to chime at noon as a sign that one’s well-earned lunch break is now. The Count’s father believed that if you’d been up since sunrise, you should have completed your day’s work by noon, especially because the lack of hourly chimes would mean a lack of distraction.

Likewise, the only other chime was to happen at midnight and if you heard it, the Count’s father would argue you have not gone to bed early enough to maintain this disciplined regimen.

For us, the notion of hiding clocks or other signals that draw our attention and make us anxious about deadlines, could well be the key to deeper, longer bouts of concentration and productivity.

But what of rewards? The father believed that having worked a full day by noon, one should be able to spend the afternoon in pursuits of interest and curiosity without any guilt.

Let us know what you think about this.

09:50 Principles This segment focusses principles you can apply in your business today.
I Only Want New

Billy Joel sang, in The Entertainer, that he knew where he stood. He knew he was just another serenader, your current champion, but that if he didn’t stay in the charts we’d soon forget him and he’d be “put out the back in the discount rack like another can of beans.”

It’s a sobering thought but one that is realistic, especially in the fickle sector of fashion and entertainment.

We have noticed the dominant culture in social magazines and sites like Glam Adelaide and CityMag, that headline space only goes to “new and novel” things.

Here’s a sampling taken at the time of recording:

  • COMING SOON: Owner’s of Ovo Gelato are set to open Adelaide’s newest authentic pizza restaurant, Padrino … bringing incredible Italian cuisine and …
  • NEW: A river-side pizza restaurant and brewery with cheese and beer-making classes on site? We can’t wait! Stay in the loop and subscribe to our…
  • NEW PIZZA JOINT in the western suburbs … Westside Pizza Joint Whipping Up Cheeseburger Pizzas Has Landed … satisfy all your devilish cravings with a cheeseburger pizza only on offer …

It must be a disincentive to try to craft something of solid, lasting value, when media buzz and energy is constantly focussed on the latest fad; invest money in a new gin bar that serves drinks in glasses made from cardboard from wine cartons, get a hit of publicity, and then never rate a mention again until you go out of business.

It can be a vicious game and soul-destroying if your values are around considerate consumption and enduring value.

That said, while building up a loyal audience through quality and word of mouth is a solid gameplan, occasional flirts with fantasy seem to be wise to introduce you to new people who might then become your loyal tribe.

Listen to the podcast to think this approach through further.

19:40 Problems This segment answers questions we’ve received from clients or listeners.
Paying For Support Is Wise

We’ve been working with Donna on a web project and have needed to use a product for her WordPress site made by Radius Themes.

As is common, premium products sometimes come with six months support and just as her allocation of time was up, we had a few more question.

The Radius team was brilliant throughout, sending back helpful, custom videos and instructions to sort our issues.

It was an easy decision to page $20 to extend support for another six months.

Sometimes, in the WordPress environment, it’s easy to get stuck in “free” mode and neglect the value that comes from paying for premium services and products.

21:47 Perspicacity This segment is designed to sharpen our thinking by reflecting on a case study from the past.

Unless you consume zero media, it’s hard not to be aware of the Mastercard Priceless campaigns.

These ads usually show the dollar value of certain items but then, when showing how these items were used to enjoy time together with family or friends, the tagline notes that such times are ultimately priceless.

Like this one, from 1997.

You might be surprised to hear that both Steve and David were glowing over the enduring value of the messaging in these campaigns.

This is because they tap an eternal truth; money can’t buy you love but it is needed to buy the supporting things that you need to survive so as to be able to love.

In researching this ad, we discovered a strange strand of marketing called subviral marketing, nicely defined in this Guardian article:

Subviral marketing is a topsy-turvy trend that’s said to be being pioneered by brands including Budweiser, Ford, Levi’s and Mastercard. While traditional viral attachments feature short, slapstick video clips stamped with the brand’s logo and web address, subviral campaigns are carefully shot to seem like they were produced by an internet prankster.

The Mastercard reference relates to a cheeky ad brought to our attention by our editor, Tim. This might not be considered safe for work, so watch with caution.

For the record, we are not suggestion you use subviral marketing. The risks outweigh the rewards.

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