Conversation Is Not A Strategy – Video

I don’t agree with the first thesis of the Cluetrain Manifesto which asserts: Markets are conversations. There’s a measure of truth to it, but it’s an assertion that can lead marketers down a narrow path that obstructs a larger view of the possibilities of media. If markets were indeed conversations, then we all could get rich just by conversing. No, leading an audience is what gets things done – conversation is simply a bonus feature of a two-way Web.

I need to make my point in the flesh. So here I am, presenting an elucidation of my thesis: Audiences are strategic imperatives [link to video if you can’t see the embed is here]:

Investing your talents into inspiring and conversing and leading your audience is one of the most challenging but important things you can do with the Web. If you don’t have an audience, you don’t have a business.

If you spend yourself being everywhere, you’ll end up nowhere.

Know where audience needs to be – and that isn’t on dozens of un-monetizable social networks.

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Content is King – Context is Kingdom – Process is Power

A king without a kingdom is a pawn. A kingdom without power is checkmated.

After listening and meeting companies and the agencies that want to do business with them, one theme has emerged: so many of them don’t know what to do and ultimately feel somewhat powerless against a sea of endless new media emerging.They get a few slivers of sound-bites at the myriad of conferences abounding these days, like the ePharma Summit in Philadelphia earlier this week. Overall, however, there doesn’t seem to be unifying, integrating and penetrating views propagating. Echoes mostly. That’s OK – we all need training wheels.


When I hear talk about Content is King, I wonder how much of that is based on experience or whether it’s based on mimicry. Soundbites are nice. But they don’t put bread on the table. No, what’s important is to understand things in their entirety – what are their properties? what are their possibilities? what are their limits? what are the connections? what does the lifting?

Come here Marketers (well, most of you aren’t marketers: instead you’re Messengers – busy with messaging, an important part of Marketing no less): Marketing is about Presence: Creation, Process, Distribution, Connection. And when it comes to the Web, those are exactly the five things it’s all about: Presence, Creation, Process, Distribution and Connection. Of these, Process often gets overlooked. So on the Web, what’s the process? What matters?

The Process is weaving in and out and together Content, Conversation and Audience.

I’m not a Marketer. No, actually I am. When I was a bedside ICU nurse, I did more marketing in 12 hours than most professional marketers do in a month. I’m not kidding (and I’m not dissing anyone, either). I had to bring forth my content of knowledge, assess the marketplace of suffering, develop my action-calling pitches to doctors and nurses and patients and administrators; distribute molecules and care and news on time and without error; provide relevant advertising (otherwise known as education). And my ads had to be remarkable – simple, elegant and unforgettable.

Healthcare Marketers could learn a few things by spending a day in a clinical setting. No, really. I mean that. Can’t help you out if that’s over your head. Sorry.


The One Percent Rule is one of the most misunderstood guides about content. Here is is:

One percent of people online create Content.

Ten percent create Conversation.

Ninety percent create Audience.

There’s a ton of noise about how social media is “all about the Conversation”. That’s a misunderstanding – and this misunderstanding is confusing a lot of marketers.

Marketers have now splintered off into two basic groups: Traditional Marketers who don’t know the Age of Broadcast is over; and New Marketers who think it’s all about Conversation. The truth of the matter is this: new media is simply enhancing and completing the circle of communication. That’s all. And yet it’s a big deal.

Ninety percent is an awfully big chunk of attention to ignore.

In all the talk about Conversation, the Audience has been all but forgotten. Audience is not about blasting unilateral messages at people. All of us want to be in an audience. Patients – who are ourselves – want to be in an audience of helpful, caring, illuminating, wise, experienced providers and patients. I wish more Pharmaceutical and Healthcare companies understood this: it’s a staple of understanding. If any of these companies need to attend conferences on “what patients want”, that’s a big problem. Real big.

The fact is, however, that these companies do know what patients want. But I suspect that they simply don’t know that they don’t know. You know what I’m saying?

Pharma and Healthcare Marketers: Don’t ask: What do patients want? Ask: What do I want? But only ask this question while you imagine yourself taking your last few breaths. Are you dying in the company of love? Or are you alone? Do you know what you want now? (Consider this my Healthcare Marketing Tip of the day.)

So Marketers need to worship the one percent rule (even if the numbers don’t work out exactly). And they need to understand the Holy Trinity of Presence: Content, Context and Process. Don’t forget Process. You’ll get nothing done if you do.

(As an aside: don’t confuse content with information. Information is data with the power to help make a decision in light of a given risk. Content is the active manifestation of knowledge and wisdom with the power to change a mind.)


I could go on and on about this, but consider this and decide what you need to start practicing now:

The bad news about the Web is that you have to be a master creator, a master conversationalist and a master of ceremonies.

The good news about the Web is that you get to be a master creator, a master conversationalist and a master of ceremonies.

Bonus: Print this out – make a bumper sticker of it – put it in a plaque and slap it up on your cube or on your office wall – and Retweet it:

Content is King. Context is Kingdom. Process is Power.

The Kingdom of Heaven is within you. If you bring it forth, you might save a life!

Go forth and empower your audience.

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What Pharma Advertising Should Be Made Out Of

The Pharmaceutical industry has effectively made a mockery of itself with television advertising (harsh assessment, I know, but bear with me). In the late 1980s – 30 years after television advertising was figured out – Pharma finally jumped into the game after regulatory constraints were lifted. Some of it worked – but mostly, the efforts just amplified the industry’s public relations comorbidities.

I actually believe that the industry could learn a few things in this video I came across. It’s a road safety advertisement and it brilliantly weaves together a simple idea with visual and emotional vigor.

See? It’s very hard to hold attention anymore. You have to know some things about the human brain.

It can be said that we have three brain segments: reptilian, mammalian, neocortical. Sex sells – that’s the reptilian brain. Love sells – that’s the mammalian brain. Ideas sell – that’s the neocortex. The video here: do you see what it’s doing? It’s making a stunning appeal to all three brains. Fear of dying; love of family; the reason of a seat belt.

It’s not easy to achieve this kind of remarkability. I think the Pharmaceutical industry could learn a lot from this video. So could the Healthcare industry. Why? Because when it comes to our health, we need all three brains activated in brilliant and loving ways. Doing this is very hard – and it has to be selfless, ethical and useful.

This is the sweet spot. Very few advertisers and marketers will hit it. Which means, it’s wide open for someone to take a shot.

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