Welcome to the other side of New Year; the post-Christmas slog to spring.
While January has just begun, the days stretch a bit longer every day.
As I headed to the library late Friday afternoon, I noticed how the weak sunlight glimmered off the gold-capped building at the Sixth Avenue corner of my block. It made my heart sing!
Table of Contents | Volume 11, Issue 2
While the cool temperatures signaled that winter was still nestled in for more sleep, the small increases in daylight each day deliver energy-giving hope for better things ahead.
Over the holidays, I began voraciously reading mystery thrillers again—my escapist reading of choice! No break was too short to slip into the current book’s pages.
I decided to start my mystery education with classics by Dashiell Hammett and Raymond Chandler, but I found their writing difficult to read.
They have a different writing sensibility, So their writing contained longer passages, fewer breaks and older colloquialisms.
While I love the classic film noir movies made from their books, as earlier authors, their audiences had longer attention spans and were comfortable with their writing style. My friend and colleague, Ann Handley, calls this “the writer’s voice.“
To understand the difference, pick up a copy of her newly revised edition of Everybody Writes and compare it to the first edition. You’ll
notice how her writing has evolved with mainstream sensibilities and readers’ attention spans.
Marketing Lesson of The Week
► How To Create A Writing Strategy
I started my mystery reading with Lee Child’s first book, Killing Floor. I had watched the Reacher television series on Amazon Prime as well as a movie starring Tom Cruise, who looks nothing like Reacher. Ironically, while I sold Child’s books when I worked at Bertelsmann, I had never read any of them.
Prior to his writing career, Child worked in the UK soap opera business. In his words, soap operas were “an incredibly powerful narrative engine.” This makes sense since they need to hook viewers 5 days a week over a period of years.
Before getting laid off from his soap opera job, Child read John D. MacDonald’s Travis McGee series. These books focus on a Florida-based investigator who calls himself a “Salvage Consultant.” Child finds McGee’s senses of honor, obligation and outrage important.
Initially, the series targeted air travelers looking for a flight-long read so the paperback branded the covers to help readers see which titles they hadn’t read yet. Over 21 novels, additional information about McGee and current events emerge. As a result, readers see him evolve as a man and the cultural zeitgeist through his eyes. (Source: Wikipedia)
Similar to Charles Dickens who wrote his novels in installments for magazines, MacDonald considered all of the McGee novels as one long story told in many installments.
After reading MacDonald’s thrillers, Child adapted his writing strategy. He developed his main character, Jack Reacher, with the aim of writing other books featuring him.
Content marketers call this creating a marketing persona. As an author, it helps you to develop later books since you’ve already built your protagonist.
McGee lives in a 52-foot houseboat, named “Busted Flush.” He docks it at the Bahia Mar marina in Fort Lauderdale. Also, McGee owns an electric blue pickup truck named “Miss Agnes.” It was converted from a custom vintage Rolls-Royce.
To stand out in the crowded mystery genre, you must have a special element of difference. At their core, Child viewed mysteries as soap operas where:
- The lead characters were the first among equals,
- Locations were fixed and significant, and
- Employment was fixed and significant.
From a marketing perspective, this helps build your audience by getting them to like your main character and other key factors so they buy your next additions to the series.
Having worked on soap operas, Child believed that “The audience mattered from the start.”
According to Child, “character is king. No one remembers the plot, they remember the characters.” So he made his characters carry the weight of the story.
In Child’s words:
…basically a book is a simple psychological transaction. “I’m the main character” the main character announces. The reader asks ”Am I going to like you?” [Source: Killing Floor Introduction page xviii – xix]
Actionable Writing Tips
Understand what your audience wants from your content as well as how they choose to consume it. According to C.K. Chesterton, “Dickens didn’t write what people wanted. Dickens wanted what people wanted.”
Assess how to develop content that can become a series. For marketers, this works well if each section of your content is aligned with different phases of the buying journey. For example, Jason Miller created LinkedIn’s Read Me series of ebooks as requested by the sales team.
Learn from fiction authors how to create must-read content. Translation: Incorporate good plotting to keep your audience reading your content.
Use different content formats to allow your audience to consume your information on their time schedule and via the device of their choice. Include graphic novels and audiobooks that audiences like.
Like MacDonald’s paperback books, promote other forms of content in the series with the same visuals. As a content marketer, add promotions for your own products and services. Editions of Sherlock Holmes used this approach.
Create consistent branding and visuals for your content. John D. MacDonald’s publisher used a similar color arrangement on all of the paperback editions to attract travelers’
attention in airports.
► How Location Extends Your Brand And Community
While best known for its regal Fifth Avenue main building, The New York Public Library (NYPL) has many locations spread out across the 5 boroughs of the city and each one offers a wide range of activities.
Diagonally across from the main library, the newly renovated Stavros Niarchos Foundation Library on the corner of Fifth Avenue and 40th Street provides a relaxing setting for the public to read, do research, attend programs or just relax.
Recently, it’s become my go-to branch of the library due to the great experience. Also, my local NYPL is closed for renovations and this branch is 2 short subway stops away.
As you walk into the main entrance, there’s always a timely presentation of books related to the calendar of events and related to the current exhibit in the main building. Also, I was surprised to find an actual puzzle that visitors can help complete. As a marketer, add surprises to keep your audience engaged and wanting more.
Community jigsaw puzzle at the Stavros Niarchos Foundation Library
On all of the floors, the seating is comfortable and there are long wooden tables where you can plug in your electronic devices. You can even sign up to use one of the library’s computers. In addition, the basement contains a special area for families and teens.
The top floor has an auditorium and a snack bar. Even better, there’s an outdoor seating area where you can get an unusual view of Fifth Avenue.
View from the top of the Stavros Niarchos Foundation Library
Actionable Marketing Tip
Make your physical location welcoming. As one of the 4Ps of Marketing, your physical place helps attract a new and broader audience to your organization or brand.
► The Guardian Offers Paid Courses
While most content marketers consider the major categories of media-based revenue generation to be subscriptions (made popular by Netflix) and advertising sales, they often overlook the potential for other types of revenue. If they do consider other types of revenue, it’s often conferences and other events.
In his book, Content, Inc., Second Edition, Joe Pulizzi of The Tilt outlines 10 different forms of content revenue. They include:
- Advertising and sponsorships,
- Premium content,
- Conferences and events,
- Other products,
- Recurring customers,
- Increased yield, and
The Guardian newspaper created a writing course taught by their journalists.
They named their course to brand the course’s quality:
An online [writing] retreat with Guardian Masterclasses
Beyond adding a strong affiliation with the well-respected Guardian newspaper, the title also associates itself with the long tradition of writing retreats. Through a variety of writing retreats across the US and Europe, I got my equivalent of a writing degree while learning from prize-winning authors.
On The Guardian Masterclass website, they provide the daily schedule for the program. The writing program is run by their employees
in real-time so students get access to their experts. (Unfortunately, it takes place on UK time.)
The Masterclass runs from January 9th through January 22nd and costs £299 British pounds (or $361.62), a reasonable price compared to other courses. In addition to a Slack Group, students have access to recordings of the sessions.
But, The Guardian cleverly set a deadline of February 12, 2023, for recording usage. This serves 2 purposes:
Encourages students to view the recordings as close to real-time as possible. Since many people sign up for online events to get the recordings but never listen to them, The hard deadline pushes students to make use of their investments.
Sets an expiration date for the product. This allows The Guardian to reuse the recordings in a different packaging to create another product or to offer the content at a different price or later date.
Why Are Masterclasses A Great Media Offering To Generate Incremental Revenue?
Take advantage of internal expertise.
Widen the reach of the newspaper to segments that might not otherwise read it.
Actionable Marketing Tips
Assess the products other content and media companies created based on their existing content and data. Then consider whether you can create similar offerings from your content. BTW, I regularly assigned this project to my NYU Online Marketing students.
Pricing your product with care. You want to hit the sweet spot between generating the greatest total profitable revenue and attracting the most customers to build your house file to sell to them again to maximize long-term business value.
► Introducing Conversational AI
During 2022, the voice and AI marketplaces expanded and combined into the Conversational AI Marketplace. This allows businesses to address their conversational AI-related needs across their organizations by taking a more holistic approach to their overall voicetech needs.
CAPTION: 2022 Overview of the Conversational AI Industry Market
To help new venture-grade early-stage conversational AI and voice technology businesses enter the field, Project Voice Capital Partners launched their Venture Fund for Conversational and Voice AI on January 1, 2023.
The fund focuses on companies working with language (both spoken and/or written), audio-only, multi-modal or visual as well as generative AI involving natural language processing.
Nuance’s $20B acquisition by Microsoft and other successful recent voice-related exits signal that the startup ecosystem in the Conversational AI emerging technology is vibrant and has lots of potential.
Why the voice-first industry’s evolution to conversational AI matters to your marketing.
The slow disintegration of walled gardens like Amazon’s Alexa Voice Assistant and Google’s Voice Assistant marks a move within the industry to focus on improving language quality and the variety of interactions along the entire customer purchase process.
The Conversational AI market covers:
Sonic ID (aka: Sonic Branding),
Conferences and Funding, and
Additional research from McKinsey in 2022, revealed that one-third of B2B buyers chose to use voice options. These included phone, video conferencing and web chat.
If voice search across devices and newer, AI-powered forms of IVA (aka: Interactive Voice Assistants), formerly referred to as IVRs (or Interactive Voice Responders), are used by customers during the purchase process, then the portion of sales handled by voice increases significantly. This is especially important for purchase, onboarding and customer retention.
For example, a Vodafone client got permission from their call center agents to clone their voices and use them to provide the IVA’s answers to customer questions.
The IVA answered questions until an agent was needed then gave the caller the choice to have the agent, whose voice they had heard, call them back or wait for the next available agent. This measurably improved the customer experience while protecting the employee’s privacy.
For a better understanding of the evolving IVA market, tune into VUX World’s Kane Simms podcasts on YouTube. He and his team speak with different guests each week at noon ET.
VUX’s Kane Simms and Actionable Marketing Guide’s Heidi Cohen at Voice 2022
Actionable Voice Marketing Tips
Assess where your audience, especially those with immediate needs, want to use a voice-enabled device. These devices include out-of-home, in-car and smartphones to aid in multi-tasking and time-shifting due to changed consumer habits.
Improve web chat functionality. Use conversational AI specialists to develop your chat-based interactions. Where possible, let visitors get answers to all of their product and service-related questions via chat or IVA.
Plan Ahead: Mark Your Calendar
► VUX World With Kane Simms – January 12th at 7 am ET
How We Created Sandy With Eugene Neale of Love Holidays.
(Note time change – Listen to it live or get the recording later)
► Voice Lunch Fridays – Every Friday at 1 pm ET
An open and often free-wheeling discussion of all things Voice and AI hosted by Alan Firstenburg and Mike Novak.
► VUX World With Kane Simms – January 19th at 12 pm ET
Digital Humans For Healthcare With Paulina Lewandowska of Roche
► Digital Book World – January 16-18 in New York City
The annual gathering of the publishing industry returns to New York City after six years.
► Project Voice 2023 – April 24 to April 28th in Chattanooga, TN
► Are you hosting an event that you’d like us to add to the Marketing Calendar?
If so, let us know by using our Contact Form with the Subject Line:
Event For AMG Newsletter Calendar.
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Photo Credit: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lee_Child#/media/File:Lee_Child,_Bouchercon_2010.jpg