60 minutes

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Not sure if this is an apocryphal story or not but it certainly sounds legit. There is a 10 A.M, Delta flight out of LaGuardia weekdays that flies into Bentonville, AR home of Walmart.  Anybody who is anybody in retail, I’m told, has been on this flight known as the Bentonville Bus.  If you want to sell to Walmart, you need to meet their buyers which is best done in Bentonville. 60 Minutes did a report recently in which they stated Plattsburgh, NY gobbles up a lot of electricity used to power server farms mining Bitcoin, but I’m guessing the computing power churning in Bentonville is equally massive. 

Bentonville computer nerds spend their days running sales reports, projections, analyses and other retail magic, which they send to the desks of the buyers in preparation for hour-long meetings with sales VPs arriving daily on the Bentonville Bus. Oh, to be a fly on the wall of those meetings. The marketers on the Bentonville Bus are a Who’s Who of American industry. You can bet they have a story or two. (Might make a a great book.) The Bentonville Bus is to American business what the All-Star game is to baseball.



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Tools and Rules.

Yesterday I was watching a video entitled “How to Use Periscope Like A Pro” and about 3 minutes in the speaker mentioned the #1 rule for success: “Know your brand.”  Good advice. “Think about your brand, your message, your topic, your expertise,” was the speaker’s advice.

Know your brand (strategy) is how all brands must operate, be they on Periscope, 60 Minutes or Instagram.  The “B” word is easy to talk about in theory but not so much in practice. 90 out of 100 times the brand has no plan.  

Thanks to marketing’s social media and digital avalanche, we have tons of new tools and tool vendors. Read Twitter some time and see home many rule and tool providers are out there. Their Tweets all have numbers in the first sentence. “7 ways to..” and “15 surefire tactics to…”

Know your brand is good advice, being able to articulate it clearly, succinctly and in a meaningful way, is hard.  Brand architecture is the provenance of business people. Creating meaningful delivery is that of creative people.  A brand strategy (one claim and three proof planks) bridges the gap.

Only with a tight brand strategy in hand can the tools and rules take on true value.  




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I had never heard of a Breguet watch until thumbing through a lovely glossy magazine published by the brand earlier this year. The booklet paid homage to the Swiss roots of the company, its longevity and amazing craftsmanship – Breguet created the world’s first wristwatch and opened for business before the U.S. declared independence. Inside and out, these timepieces are unlike any others in the world. Rolexes are elegant in their simplicity, Breguet timepieces are elegant in their overt beauty and celebration of complexity.

As the craft economy grows, so will grow the market share of companies like Beguet because they embody the movement (excuse the pun.)  The craft economy, signaled by craft beers, Etsy, workworking channels, etc., has also spawned the latest trend, the maker society.  The word “maker” is the latest pop marketing term and started with the very cool Makerbot. Maketbot is a 3D prototyping printer and was shown in a recent 60 Minutes piece creating a working hand prosthesis for a child…for a few hundred dollars. (The 3D printer is really a robot. The making of robots is cool; mass producing robots – not really craft economy stuff.)

Back to Brequet. When a person holds a “thing” in their hand made by another person and is astonished by the craftsmanship, it is an affirmation of humanness. (I encountered this feeling when as a volunteer archeologist in Maine I found a deer rib bone in the shape of a weaving shuttle, ornamented by human hand. Blown away.) Mass produced products do not astonish. Frankly they lack brand panache and brand story.

The craft economy does not delight customers, its goal is to astonish.   Peace.  

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I am a NY Mets fan.  Saw their first ever World Series home game. Gary Gentry and Nolan Ryan pitched. A great catch in the outfield.  When the Mets were bad, I’d read every NY daily newspaper after a win and only one after a loss. When a 20 something in NYC without any dough, I’d listen to the games on the radio and keep a score card in lined yellow legal pads I’d borrowed from work. 

The Mets are going to win the pennant this year, and people will look back and call me prescient.  But this year they are the poor, poor Mets.  Messrs. Wilpon and Saul Katz have developed a case of stinky which has attached to their suites and pressed shirt and it’s now passed on to the franchise.  The Mets have allowed the mainstream press to load up on the clubs financial troubles and it now defines them. Wait till 60 Minutes and Morley Safer gets after it.

New Yorkers are a very resilient group.  We love what’s ours. Don’t read on us. I don’t begin to know the intricacies of their business dealings with Madoff, but the Wilpons need to play some ball. They’ve got to stop being tofu in this media maelstrom.  Their strategy has to be “play to the kids and adults will follow.”  They should cancel the last few games of pre-season, come back to New York and barnstorm. Get the players to sign balls at malls, tweet their butts off, visit little league fields. Don’t just show up at Cohen’s Children’s hospital for a photo op. Take some grounders in Massapequa Park. Be heroic.  Remind us that they are just kids playing a kids game.  People are tired of money woes, it’s so last year.  Let’s play some baseball. (The $10 tickets, by the way, was a good start.) Peace.

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My favorite modern marketer and lexicographer, Faris Yakob, uses the word “recombinant” a lot in his work and it’s a word I love.  His thesis is that everything is old and that what is new is just repackaging and/or a recombination of existing borrowed things.  

The new network television schedule launching tonight reminds me of Mr. Yakob’s theory.  More cop shows, medical shows, a sitcom or two depicting likeable middle ‘mericans.  But nothing really innovative.  The last innovation, if you don’t count cable using the word “dick” was probably reality TV, now accounting for 2 out of every 10 shows. Program-wise everything is so stale. Oh, we can text message and affect outcomes, but that’s a little 4th grade don’t you think?

We need some recombination here.  Mix a little Steven Colbert with 60 Minutes or NFL Pregame with America’s Most Wanted.  How about recombining House with Jersey Shore. Better yet, why doesn’t network TV go beyond recombination and just innovate completely.  The answer I trust lies somewhere at the nexus of consumer generated video, geolocation, gaming with a dash of celebrity.   The next big thing is out there and programmers with the vision to break the mold will reap the rewards. Come on networks, hire Mr. Yakob for a month.  Peace!

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Here on Long Island lives a little phenom by the name of Victor M. De Leon III (don’t forget the III part.)  Victor is a 56 lb. 9 years old and though that almost sounds sub-Saharan, he is a very healthy kid.   What makes this little boy unique is that he is quite the gamer.  If you know what Halo is, you probably know “Lil’ Poison (his gamer name.) When I was 9, I couldn’t spell poison.
While most 56 lb. 9 year olds around the world are foraging, this little dude is kicking some major ass in his Holbrook basement. Oh yeah, he also has just about paid for college with gaming tournament winning. He’s been on “60 Minutes.” And he has more frequent flier miles than your average business exec.  Today his amazingly determined face is on the front page of the New York Times.
While the adults are debating whether Victor will grow up to shoot people in the head with real bullets, or become an anti-social nerd with half a friend, Victor is taking the world by storm. Who deserves the publicity more, Lil’ Poison or Paris Hilton (also about 56 lbs. and sitting in a basement.)? Go Victor Go!

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