One of my favorite analogies to describe great digital experiences involves the movie The Matrix. (Don’t worry, I mean the awesome first one, not the so-so second or let’s-pretend-they-didn’t-try-that third.)

Throughout the film, the protagonist Neo (Keanu Reeves) gets pushed and prodded to do great things by his mentor and leader, Morpheus, which mostly leads to Neo feeling some combination of stressed, confused, and despondent — which, if we’re honest, is a pretty accurate description of how many of us in the events industry are feeling right now.

By the end, he’s a hero, practically Superman, literally flying around the…

When the medium changes, the psychology changes. The failure to grapple with that is what causes so many brands producing content to ring hollow: they make a great thing over here (say, an article), but then they simply copy and paste pieces or a link over there, and there, and there. The problem is the lack of customization to each unique delivery vehicle for the value, each unique channel. This lack of customization thus reveals a lack of empathy for the audience. Their experience is radically different in each place, so the content must be too.

Each delivery vehicle for…

Originally published on Marketing Showrunners, a site which teaches marketers how to find and share their voices and make a difference through their podcasts and video shows.

It’s an odd detail to remember perhaps, but one of the things I most remember from my time with Anthony Bourdain was him sitting in the back of a cab. It wasn’t a special cab. It wasn’t a particularly visible cab, either. It was nighttime, and Bourdain had just arrived in Mexico. …

A look at the marketing playbook of The Good Place

This was originally posted to Marketing Showrunners, a media company covering the exploding movement of marketers making original series to build their brands. Subscribe free to join marketing leaders from Red Bull, Roku, Adobe, Salesforce, Shopify, the BBC, Mailchimp, and more.

Originally posted to Marketing Showrunners, a media company dedicated to advancing the craft of marketers making original series to create brand affinity. Subscribe free to join marketers from Red Bull, Roku, the BBC, Adobe, Salesforce, Shopify, Mailchimp, & more.

Whether at work or just in life, I find it’s helpful if your enemy has a name. Mine’s name is JR.

We’ll get to JR in a bit. (Ugh. Freaking JR.)

For now, consider the biggest problem facing shows of any kind — a podcast, an online video show, a TV show, anything. It’s not launching it. It’s not promoting it. It’s something far more fundamental that the very notion of a “series” hints at: sustaining it.

According to a recent piece in Variety (there’s a publication I never thought I’d cite while writing about marketing), major TV networks ordered…

There’s a flower shop near my home that uses a clever sign to lure customers into the shop. It says, “Come on in for a free rose if your name is Samantha!” Each day, they change the name. They’ve done Amanda, Tim, Bryce, Alicia, Tara, Lindsay, and Jason. (I declined my rose, thus sending myself home from this episode of The Bachelor in Rye Brook.)

We see that sign all the time, though it comes in different forms depending on the business. It’s a clever ploy to catch the eye, a pithy statement to acquire a customer, and a get-it-while-you-can…

The command to publish practical advice (if we’re to be successful marketers) often leads to a glut of similar stuff: how-tos, tips-and-tricks, ultimate guides, and lists. In the race to get “practical,” we’ve become “instructional.”

But “practical” doesn’t actually mean “instructional.” It just means that it helps others do something, ideally better.

Know what else helps others do something better?

Stories that inspire them.

Concepts that improve their thinking.

Reminders of the fundamentals.

Research into what matters.

Frameworks for navigating complexity.

Anything, really, so long as it’s informed by the reality of what others are trying to do.

When we’re…

Originally posted to Marketing Showrunners. MSR provides insights and ideas for marketers who make original series like podcasts and video shows. Serving subscribers from Red Bull, Roku, Salesforce, Shopify, Wistia, Zendesk, the BBC, and more.

Imagine two different brands, Brand A and Brand B. Both compete to earn the trust and dollars of the same audience.

Brand A is widely considered to be one of the best marketing teams in the world. They understand each stage of the funnel, have discrete strategies and tactics for each, and it all rolls up to one coherent brand story. They invest a ton…

When most teams hear the call to “innovate,” the work devolves into a stress-fueled, feverish race to manufacture spikes in the numbers. We obsess over finding “what works,” instead of identifying WHY something works, thus equipping ourselves to be proactive, original thinkers. We try trend after trend, endure hype cycle after hype cycle, doing anything in our power to get those spikes. We pull all these random acts of creativity because we don’t have a plan otherwise.

Just gimme those spikes! We need the spikes!

This is maddening. This is exhausting. This is simply unsustainable.

So how can we make…

In the last decade, I’ve been ridiculously, laughably lucky in my career. (Have I worked hard? Yes. Were there circumstances I didn’t control that stacked the deck in my favor from my birth onward? Also yes.)

I’ve worked for companies that sound attractive to work for: Google, HubSpot, a VC firm (NextView), a tech startup.

I’ve done things that sound exciting to do for my own business, too: hosting podcasts and documentary series, writing a book, and delivering dozens upon dozens of speeches, sometimes to thousands of people.

I promise you, I feel grateful for it all. Insanely, obnoxiously grateful…

Jay Acunzo

founder | author, Break the Wheel | host, Unthinkable podcast & other shows about creativity | keynote speaker 20x/yr

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