Marketing a revolution – learning from history

Marketing a revolution – learning from history

On 3 December 1992, Neil Papworth, an engineer, sent the text “MERRY CHRISTMAS” to colleagues at Vodafone. It was the first SMS. It took another 7 years for text messaging to take off.

Perhaps it was badly marketed. I wonder how they described texts. Something like

Send a ​message to someone’s ​ ​phone by ​pushing ​buttons for ​letters on ​yours.
You’ll need to learn a new, foreign, language to send longer messages.

Not enticing! No sign of the text revolution that led to 16 billion texts in its tenth anniversary year.

So how do we spot a revolution?

We’ve spent 6 months developing something revolutionary. It’s been painful, joyous, and expensive. Three things that matter a lot to us but not a jot to anyone else.

What we’ve done could be described …… how should I put this? Corporately, boringly, with an excess of jargon!

This is because our market is corporate – business intelligence, Big Data and other increasingly cliched terms.

Recognising this, but nevertheless starting a bit boringly …… we’ve built an Enterprise Reporting Platform.

Even as I write it I yawn.

However, before dozing off

Let’s remind ourselves that the consumption of specialist reporting is growing – fast.

For example, China Daily European Weekly is up 6%; Investors Chronicle is up 7%. And this is print. The Economist digital readership is growing in triple figures.  See here for even more such data.

This shouldn’t be surprising. Big data does not readily offer accessible insight.

Instead it stimulates a need, a thirst, a hunger for intelligent interpretation of that data.That hunger is fed through our eyes’ ability to read text and images from multiple sources.

And much like our taste buds crave good tastes, our eyes crave good looking vehicles for the transmission of intelligent insight.

Organisations create content. Great organisations create great content

Many organisations have recognised this thirst for analytical interpretation of the world’s events.

For example, in the US, the Conference Board, in just one year (2013), produced well over 100 written reports / analyses – many of which are reproduced monthly or quarterly.

In addition, the Conference Board organised at least as many conferences and webcasts – all of which will have generated their own written insights. That’s a vast array of data, commentary and imagery to curate.

I’ve used the word ‘curate’ quite deliberately because that’s our revolution.

We curate stuff.  That is, we undertake “the collection, selection and presentation of information or items for people to use and enjoy”

Curation is critical

I suggest that there are four areas in which great curation can support great content creation.

Managing the intelligent author / analyst

In the world of published data insight, the role of contributor is key.  (And incidentally, those contributors are increasingly likely to be distributed globally).

The more creative, less inhibited the writer then the better the content (probably) but also the greater the need for editorial oversight.

The truly creative contributor will want to use THEIR data, to reach INDEPENDENT conclusions and REVISIT them regularly.  All of these are laudable characterstics but they carry risk for the publisher.  The data must be monitored, change must be audited, content must be managed and published appropriately. And above all, the analysis must be transparent.

Write once and publish multiple times

In the world of content creation, the need for productivity is getting bigger by the day.  The sheer volume of content is growing at a staggering rate and the creators of content will increasingly need to concentrate on the quality of what they produce – on the new stuff – and not unncecessarily re-invent content.

Additionally, content editors want analyst authors to concentrate on their individual specialisms and have an ability to ‘call up’ those of others when they need to.

In this context therefore, productivity gains arise through enhancing the work rate of analysts, automatically updating material (text, charts, tables, maps) and easily drawing upon material already created.

Doing this releases an unremitting focus on creating new, fresh content.

Publishing today must be in multiple formats

People want hard copy – yes, they really do. But they also want to read stuff online; through their own systems; in Microsoft Word / PDF / XML / HTML / and more.

Look good

As I said earlier, we consume content through our eyes.  Our eyes are sensual organs, they need to feast upon great design.

Design is essential to turn great content into consumed content.

A blog is not a puff

I wrote this because we really are thinking hard about how we talk about our Big Data Publishing Revolution and we’re trying hard to learn from others.

But we still haven’t a clue what we call it. Surely there must be something better than Enterprise Reporting Platform?

Maybe we’ll call it Phyllis.  Here’s an example




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