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The Message is the
Medium
Venkatesh Rao
Twitter: @vgr
European Trend Day, March 19, 2014
“Because the purpose of business is to create a
customer, the business enterprise has two–and only
two–basic functions: marketing and innovation.
Marketing and innovation produce results; all the
rest are costs. Marketing is the distinguishing,
unique function of the business.”
-- Peter Drucker (1967)
^
and keep
Grand Unified Theory of marketing today…
Marketing by this theory is almost 100 years old….
the BIG assumption
The medium is the message (Marshall McLuhan)
how a message spreads shapes what it means
Medium is the Message in the 1960s
Radio listeners thought
Nixon had won
Television watchers
thought Kennedy had won
Producer context: studio Consumer context: living room
The message is the medium
what a message means shapes how it spreads
but what if…?
Message is the Medium in the 1960s
Message:
“Social Object”
Jyri Engestrom,
2005
Tupperware party
Party is
consumer
context
Producer context: product Consumer context: party
Producer context
Medium is the
message
Consumer context
Message is the
medium
Two contexts for all marketing…
The Internet is a planet-wide Tupperware
party. On Steroids.
Producer context Consumer context
Revenge of the 99%: Increasing reach share
1970
2014
2030?
I’m the
CMO, I’m in
charge here!
CMO budgets
now exceed CIO
budgets!
Do you feel
in charge?
And that gives
you power over
IT?
“Phil doesn't just go on one date with Rita, he goes on thousands of dates.
During each date, he makes note of what she likes and responds to, and drops
everything she doesn't. At the end he arrives at -- quite literally -- the perfect
date….But at the end of this perfect date, something impossible happens: Rita
rejects Phil.”*
-- Jeff Atwood, Coding Horror
* http://blog.codinghorror.com/groundhog-day-or-the-problem-with-ab-testing/
3/16/2014 Venkatesh G. Rao 13
“Half the money I spend on advertising
is wasted; the trouble is I don't know
which half.”
– John Wanamaker
100 Years Ago…
Now…
“99% of the money is wasted, but we
know EXACTLY which 99%”
– Ghost of John Wanamaker
Increasing certainty in execution
Decreasing certainty in objectives
1890 1920 1950 1970 1990 2010 2030
Certainty
Yellow
Press
Vicks
Salesman
Mad Men
Al Ries
P. T. Barnum
Seth Godin
Radio
Mature
Press
TV
Internet
Tim Ferriss
?
Hypothesis: Peak Attention ~1970
Ed Bernays
AdBusters
Whitaker
and Baxter
Medium is the Message in 2014
If you try to increase control of consumer
context by increasing investment in producer
context, you get a race to the bottom
Focus less on episodic campaigns
Focus more on persistent presence
Finite game: goals lead to episodic behaviors
Infinite game: persistent behaviors lead to goals
Producer context Consumer context
1970: Customers as babies – parental authority (0-12)
2014: Customers as teenagers – peer pressure (12 – 19)
2030: Customers as adults – personal choices (19 - ?)
Why?
High
Speed
Low
Effort
High
Control Slow Marketing
Three Infinite Games in Marketing
Pick two out of three
Growth hacking
Manage the stage that contains the consumer context
Examples: Tim Ferriss, Ryan Holliday, Patrick Vlaskovits
Scene hacking
Steward language evolution in the consumer context
Examples: O’Reilly media, Maker movement, Andreessen-
Horowitz
Slow marketing
Be the True North in the consumption context
Examples: Google, Paul Graham, Elon Musk
the purpose of business is to create and keep a
customer
-- Peter Drucker
v 2.0 to catch and release
v 2.1 to tag and release
v 2.2 to recognize and release
v 2.3 to arm and release
v 2.4 to equip and release
Acknowledgements: Seb Paquet, Patrick Vlaskovits, Rob
Salkowitz, Jeremy Epstein, Marc Andreessen and many others.
Thank You!
Blog: ribbonfarm.com
Twitter: @vgr
Email: vgr@ribbonfarm.com

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The Message is the Medium

  • 1. The Message is the Medium Venkatesh Rao Twitter: @vgr European Trend Day, March 19, 2014
  • 2. “Because the purpose of business is to create a customer, the business enterprise has two–and only two–basic functions: marketing and innovation. Marketing and innovation produce results; all the rest are costs. Marketing is the distinguishing, unique function of the business.” -- Peter Drucker (1967) ^ and keep Grand Unified Theory of marketing today…
  • 3. Marketing by this theory is almost 100 years old….
  • 4. the BIG assumption The medium is the message (Marshall McLuhan) how a message spreads shapes what it means
  • 5. Medium is the Message in the 1960s Radio listeners thought Nixon had won Television watchers thought Kennedy had won Producer context: studio Consumer context: living room
  • 6. The message is the medium what a message means shapes how it spreads but what if…?
  • 7. Message is the Medium in the 1960s Message: “Social Object” Jyri Engestrom, 2005 Tupperware party Party is consumer context Producer context: product Consumer context: party
  • 8. Producer context Medium is the message Consumer context Message is the medium Two contexts for all marketing…
  • 9. The Internet is a planet-wide Tupperware party. On Steroids.
  • 10. Producer context Consumer context Revenge of the 99%: Increasing reach share 1970 2014 2030?
  • 11. I’m the CMO, I’m in charge here! CMO budgets now exceed CIO budgets! Do you feel in charge? And that gives you power over IT?
  • 12. “Phil doesn't just go on one date with Rita, he goes on thousands of dates. During each date, he makes note of what she likes and responds to, and drops everything she doesn't. At the end he arrives at -- quite literally -- the perfect date….But at the end of this perfect date, something impossible happens: Rita rejects Phil.”* -- Jeff Atwood, Coding Horror * http://blog.codinghorror.com/groundhog-day-or-the-problem-with-ab-testing/
  • 13. 3/16/2014 Venkatesh G. Rao 13 “Half the money I spend on advertising is wasted; the trouble is I don't know which half.” – John Wanamaker 100 Years Ago… Now… “99% of the money is wasted, but we know EXACTLY which 99%” – Ghost of John Wanamaker
  • 14. Increasing certainty in execution Decreasing certainty in objectives
  • 15. 1890 1920 1950 1970 1990 2010 2030 Certainty Yellow Press Vicks Salesman Mad Men Al Ries P. T. Barnum Seth Godin Radio Mature Press TV Internet Tim Ferriss ? Hypothesis: Peak Attention ~1970 Ed Bernays AdBusters Whitaker and Baxter
  • 16. Medium is the Message in 2014
  • 17. If you try to increase control of consumer context by increasing investment in producer context, you get a race to the bottom Focus less on episodic campaigns Focus more on persistent presence
  • 18. Finite game: goals lead to episodic behaviors Infinite game: persistent behaviors lead to goals
  • 19. Producer context Consumer context 1970: Customers as babies – parental authority (0-12) 2014: Customers as teenagers – peer pressure (12 – 19) 2030: Customers as adults – personal choices (19 - ?) Why?
  • 20. High Speed Low Effort High Control Slow Marketing Three Infinite Games in Marketing Pick two out of three
  • 21. Growth hacking Manage the stage that contains the consumer context Examples: Tim Ferriss, Ryan Holliday, Patrick Vlaskovits
  • 22. Scene hacking Steward language evolution in the consumer context Examples: O’Reilly media, Maker movement, Andreessen- Horowitz
  • 23. Slow marketing Be the True North in the consumption context Examples: Google, Paul Graham, Elon Musk
  • 24. the purpose of business is to create and keep a customer -- Peter Drucker v 2.0 to catch and release v 2.1 to tag and release v 2.2 to recognize and release v 2.3 to arm and release v 2.4 to equip and release
  • 25. Acknowledgements: Seb Paquet, Patrick Vlaskovits, Rob Salkowitz, Jeremy Epstein, Marc Andreessen and many others. Thank You! Blog: ribbonfarm.com Twitter: @vgr Email: vgr@ribbonfarm.com