Friday, January 19, 2018

Marketing Is King | Lefsetz Letter


Weren’t we supposed to live in a word of mouth economy, where the cream rose to the top?


Actually, never forget that distribution is king. Did you read that NBC tied in with Netflix for the Olympics, with a two hour special? Millennials are cord-cutters, they don’t even see NBC, but they all have Netflix accounts, even if they’re courtesy of mommy and daddy, you’ve got to go where the eyeballs are.

But there’s this illusion that content is king. A canard creators use to pat themselves on the back, to make themselves feel better, after Silicon Valley stole their thunder. Once you hear an artist say he’s not getting paid enough, know that he or she does not have good representatives, or is not good enough period. Like that kerfuffle with Mark Wahlberg and Michelle Williams and the payment for reshoots on that movie. Mark just had a better agent, he used his leverage. Michelle’s, not so much. Never mind that both agents were working at the same company, what are they calling it this week, “Endeavor”? They take one of the best brands of all time, the ESSENCE of agenting, i.e. “William Morris,” and eradicate it. And we think Ari is gonna triumph with such a blind spot? What hubris!

So in the last decade, when everybody got broadband and the internet burgeoned, the landscape was still comprehensible, we could still find things, we could still notice. Now we’re all overwhelmed. We stay in our own silos. And reaching us is damn near impossible. There are no more viral videos, whether they be of musicians or animals, we’ve seen that paradigm. And legends put out new music and it goes straight into the dumper. U2? Did they really put out an album? I know Jann Wenner put Bono on the cover of “Rolling Stone,” who’s next, Frankie Valli? No wonder the magazine crumpled, unlike MTV it never realized you mustn’t age with your audience, but reinvent yourself and be hip, otherwise you’re toast.

So today you make the product and nobody cares.

Which is why first and foremost you must know who your audience is. It’s all about the data folks, you think your fans know you’re playing in town, you think they know you’ve got new music, BUT THEY DON’T! They’re too busy leading their own lives, they’re overbooked. You post it on your website and issue a press release and think you’ve conquered, but the truth is you haven’t done a thing. Which is why now, more than ever, you must be your own marketer.

Yes, you must know who your fans are and continue to seed them. Knowing the hard core will spread the word if you do something great. Or if you’re over the hill and not doing something noteworthy at least they’ll keep you alive. But if you’ve got something that will spread, that people will like if they experience it, then you must market it, you must sell it.

It was easy in the last century, all you had to do was get it on the radio or MTV! But at least with MTV there was only one station. You either won the derby or you were lost in the wilderness.

Now there’s no platform of choice and we’re all living in the forest.

Except for Tuma Basa with “Rap Caviar.” Why Spotify has not established legends with playlists in other categories I don’t know. They should be taking ads about John Marx, who they stole from SiriusXM, after he broke so many country records, some of them even unsigned. We don’t trust celebrities as tastemakers, that’s passe, they’re all whored out and living in holes, no we want nobodies we believe in, who we exalt, like the legendary deejays of old.

So the question is, HOW DO YOU GET THE WORD OUT?

Because believe me, if you build it they will not come.

This was proven by Steven Soderbergh’s last movie, which he released independently with half the marketing spend and then went straight to the dumper.

If you’re big enough, you buy advertising. But it’s best if the platform you’re on hypes you. Which is why you want to be on Netflix instead of HBO, because people visit more frequently. Which is why you don’t want to make an exclusive music streaming deal, so all services will feature you.

But the truth is no one is listening. Not anymore. This is what the media does not know and does not want to face. Whether it be mainstream or miniscule. They want to believe they’re important, that they have impact and make a difference. But they don’t.

The “New York Times” doesn’t reach the Fox audience and there’s nothing wrong with getting screen time, but it’s just an element of your marketing, not the whole kahuna. Appear on late night TV and no one will know.

You’ve got to have traction. Starting from zero it’s hard to become a hero. If people are not reacting to what you’re doing, give up, really, or change direction. That’s what they do in Silicon Valley, PIVOT, why can’t you?

And then you must seed your hard core fans, who can never get enough, and then take every bite and explore every nook and cranny to try and get noticed. If we see your name here and there, multiple places, we’re intrigued. As long as it’s not the same damn story. When I read the same press release in multiple publications I laugh. And as long as you’ve got something worth selling. And now, more than ever, we want personal. If you’re not willing to lay it on the line, shut up.

As for pissing off the naysayers…FUHGETTABOUTIT!

When everybody has a voice, they use it. They get angry that you’re not paying attention. They’re haters. It’s deafening, all the responses, assuming you’re getting any at all, but he or she who blinks is left out. They hate you until they love you. Or they love you until they hate you.

So concentrate on your product. In a world where Amazon reviews mean everything, if you ain’t got ’em, you’re toast. I won’t read a book with a three star review, life’s too short. You need at least a four to reach me. Sorry!

But once your product is set in stone… Then the challenge begins.

Which is why publishers are up in arms over Facebook’s changes. That’s where they do their marketing, turns out people don’t want to go directly to the news site, they want it all put together.

Meanwhile, Apple’s got one of the best news apps extant and no one knows or cares, because they’re too busy apologizing for the revolutionary iPhone. Now naysayers say it must be hobbled, it’s hastening the end of society. WRONG! It’s your obligation to put this fantastic device down, not for them to cripple it. What next, cars with less horsepower that can only go 25 miles an hour? While we’re at it, why don’t we put a Pentium in your computer and get rid of browsers and multitasking!

All this is featured in the “New York Times” day after day, a reaction to the future. BUT YOU LIVE IN THE FUTURE! WE ALL DO! ACCEPT IT!

When you hear people railing against Spotify payments, ignore them, they’ve got too much time on their hands, they’re probably not making any money anyway, or like Michelle Williams they have a bad representative and a bad deal.

We live in an era of winners and losers. If you’re satiated with your niche, more power to you, if you’re not…

No amount of bitching is gonna help you. You must sit and contemplate how to get the word out. Ten years ago it was Starbucks. Just recently it was Facebook. This is where the innovation comes in. Who can get their message heard?

That’s your challenge.

“NBC is Using Netflix to advertise the 2018 Winter Olympics”


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