Good marketers know their markets inside and out. Great marketers succeed time and again by knowing how, where and to what extent their markets fit within a wider world that is constantly changing.
For professional marketers, advertisers, writers, promoters and image-makers schooled before Monica Lewinsky made headlines, the pace of change the digital revolution has wrought in terms of how we communicate has been overwhelming.
It’s easy to understand why so many boomers and even Gen Xers in these professions are saying, enough already! Stop with the endless hype about the latest platform and the latest way to slice and dice data.
Information overload today is threatening to drown many a marketing practitioner. What was once part art, part science is fast becoming, we are told, one vast and indecipherable algorithm. It reminds me of all the political science courses I took in college.
Having spent my entire professional career in our nation’s capital I can say with some certitude that as with marketing, there’s not as much “science” in politics as we were once led to believe.
That said, it is vitally important to keep up with developments that can impact your ability to deliver markets to your clients. Lessons learned from others who have gone down similar paths can be invaluable. For this you need someone/something to curate what is going on in other industries and deliver it to you in a timely and understandable fashion.
Newspapers used to perform this function until they downsized and shed almost every last bit of insight. Television, once the promise of the future, like flying cars and jet packs, now churns out little more than “reality” TV, talking/shouting heads aimed at the chattering class and fantastical entertainment designed to wake us up and lull us to sleep.
Social media also had promise as a source of community-based knowledge until it was overwhelmed by Facebook, Snapchat, Instagram and Pinterest, etc.
On the other hand, smart magazine publishers who have embraced change and cultivated clearly defined market segments have seen their publications renewed. Since the rise of the smartphone and the fall of the economy at the end of the last decade, I’d like to single out one magazine that I have found to be an indispensable marketing treasure trove.
I have personally relied on Bloomberg Businessweek magazine to give me a window to the world and, as important, serve as a bridge to the up and coming generations for whom the digital world and social media are second nature.
It’s interesting to note that this publication actually began life in 1929 in the aftermath of the Great Depression as BusinessWeek magazine. In 2010 it was entirely redesigned in the wake of the Great Recession, emerging as Bloomberg Businessweek.
When I first stumbled upon this publication it assaulted my creative senses, which had been honed as editor and publisher of BoatUS Magazine over a nearly three-decade span. Everything I thought I knew about how a magazine should look and be laid out was turned on its head by this weekly.
I was taught that there should be a certain sense of harmony among typeface, white space, graphics and photography. Bloomberg Businessweek instead bombarded its readers with a cacophony of images that at times looks as if it could have been produced by a band of juveniles gone wild after they were let loose in a graphics studio.
But side by side with these visuals were page after page of curated content conceived by editors who are on a mission. Their goal is to have their reporters and writers anticipate, look just over the horizon and report back to their readers with useful information about how business and markets are developing around the world. Although this information may be available elsewhere, it does not come like this in one place and in such an intriguing format.
In the end great business magazines are all about delivering ideas, so let’s review two recent issues and see what niche marketing insights Bloomberg Businessweek has that might spur the creative juices of today’s marine marketers.
The cover of the Oct. 10 issue is par for the course, featuring a picture of a mosquito and the teaser, “Sex-positive hetero male, new in town, seeks Zika carrying female for 5-min fling.”
Among the highlights of this 76-page issue is “Still Ugly After All These Years,” a feature about how the redesign of the Toyota Prius has led to a significant sales decline.
With all of the concern in the boating industry about the shortage of skilled labor, “The Short Flight From Clerk to Cockpit” is a piece about how JetBlue is turning people with little or no flight experience into pilots.
“Baby You Can Rent My Car” recounts how peer-to-peer services are mushrooming in Europe.
Think electric vehicles are a fad? “Sketching a High-Voltage Future” reports on plans by Mercedes-Benz to produce an all-electric sub-brand, Generation EQ, by 2019.
A feature article about Patagonia, heavy on marketing insights, outlines how the outdoor apparel company has started selling food that’s healthy for the environment.
“Out-Ubering Uber” tells the David-and-Goliath tale about how a nobody from nowhere in the People’s Republic defeated the colossus, Uber, in the race to provide transportation for hundreds of millions of Chinese consumers.
The cover of the Oct. 17 issue features Univision’s chairman as “Hillary’s Billionaire.” This issue features the following:
“Alakazam!,” a rags-to-riches story about how a family with a novelty shop in Queens, N.Y., came to dominate the market for Halloween costumes with more than 3,000 employees and factories from Long Island to China.
Bet you never thought about how major brands go about marketing to 3,200 undergraduate sorority chapters. The article “KE$” has the answers.
“You’re Smelling Different Again” reports that millennials no longer look at fragrances as a “personal signature” and don’t want mass-market perfumes and celebrity scents.
“Cashing in on the Fear Factor” tells a harrowing tale about how a young Aussie is making millions in Japan as the “brains” behind Bungy Japan. Note: He set the Guinness world record with 158 jumps in one day.
“Packaging Salmon Jerky for the Masses” is a short piece about how a marketing VP helped native Alaskans diversify their business.
“The Great Indoors” or how North Face and Moosejaw are using VR to bring the mountain to their marketing.
Tempted by these morsels? Prefer to get your insights visually? A great way to get an in-depth overview of what Bloomberg Businessweek has to offer is to tune in to the weekly hour-long television version of the magazine hosted by Carol Massar and David Gura that airs on Saturday. Or go online at http://www.bloomberg.com/businessweek.
For those of you who want to get a sneak peek into the future, the Oct. 25 issue, “The Year Ahead, 2017,” is well worth your time.
Michael Sciulla established boating’s first federal political action committee and testified more than 30 times on Capitol Hill during a 28-year career at BoatUS, where he managed the organization’s government relations and public affairs operations while also serving as founding editor of BoatU.S. Magazine, its 650,000-circulation flagship publication.
This article originally appeared in the December 2016 issue.