Denis and I ran into each other once again at The Next Web 2017. The Next Web is one of the most important tech conferences in Western Europe, founded by a group of Dutch people who missed an event to launch their product. Denis and I had gotten to know each other a few years previously, when I wrote articles for The Velvet Vox — a blog that he was joint owner of back then. It was a slow blog, even before De Correspondent existed. Denis told me during The Next Web that he was looking for an editor and copywriter; I had just started as a freelance PR consultant and copywriter. This is how our journey started.
Hardwell hacks career
Four hours or so prior to Denis and I having a beer at the Westerpark location where The Next Web took place, Hardwell gave a presentation. He explained how he ‘hacked’ his career. One does not become the world’s number 1 DJ by simply playing good records or producing the best music. He reached the top by making smart use of data, engaging his fans and focusing on new technology.
I really enjoyed Hardwell’s presentation — and I was not the only one. Moreover: there was not enough room to fit all interested parties in the presentation area, while this area could fit at least 500 people. Only 6 months later I learned that Denis and the digital team he had put together, were responsible for the digital strategy of the top DJ.
Hardwell made the first steps as a growth hacker, but Denis and the digital team assisted him in seriously taking this further. How Hardwell hacked his career, learned to not follow his instinct alone, use data in a smart way and how he uses the theory described in this publication in practice: these are a number of the issues that you will read in this publication.
Putting the lectures into practice
After The Next Web, Denis and I spoke every few weeks. He informed me how he saw the world change around him. Existing business models that were disrupted. What was required to make a difference as a marketing, communication and sales department. What the winners of this world — digital challengers, new airlines, successful festivals and artists — did better than their competitors. I helped Denis put these observations, tips, suggestions, theories and philosophies on paper. This publication is the compilation of all practical tips, theoretical reflections and blog posts that have been published before; in fact, you’re reading a large how-to article, a number of best practices and the substantiation for this.
As a content marketer, it was explained to me during our discussions why publishing content is necessary. How to develop a relationship with (potential) fans or clients by being relevant in their lives– and primarily: why this relationship ultimately determines whether companies, brands or artists have a future. That followers are actually worth something and not only represent the status of an influencer. How data is of (financial) value for an organisation. If I think back, these have actually been paid lectures, a look behind the scenes of a renowned chef that reveals his recipe and how to prepare the dish.
Fear of visions
Denis gave me this space in his book, with room for a few of my observations. In view of the fact that this space is at the start of the book, it might be good to explain to you that I resist visions. Visions — theories which explain and predict everything — actually obstruct your view. A vision often has something scary about it: if you really believe in something strongly, then everything else cannot be true. This means that you are no longer open to reality. Consider the film Goodbye Lenin: the mother of the main character in this film could not take the shock of East Germany abandoning communism. That is why her son keeps that reality well hidden from her.
The opposite can be rather pleasant: sometimes there are many observations, that all fit within a theory, which makes you value that theory more. I believe they call this inductive reasoning. For example: you see many white swans and subsequently conclude that all swans are white. You do not assume an all-important theory, but base this on practical examples. This is what happened with me and Denis’ theory — and that is why I feel that you should read this publication, even though I understand that as the editor in chief of this book, I am probably not the most objective source.
From Kakhiel to Balr.
For example, I saw the advent of a number of new initiatives, such as Kakhiel, RUMAG or Balr. This cartoonist, a platform for funny and recognisable texts and the clothing brand all have one thing in common: they first had a large following on social media, before they started earning money. In other words: they first understood how to develop a relationship with fans and then offer products to them. Content and relationships come before profit in these forms. Exactly as is claimed in this book.
In addition, certain companies invest large budgets in innovation, which ultimately do not yield returns. Consider new technology that is not used. Marketing, communication, and sales departments that speak and work on different wavelengths, rendering their efforts useless. Frustrating to witness, excruciating to have to work with.
In this publication you will read how this can be different and better. Denis shares his insights regarding a number of organisations and interesting people in his network; a few of the professionals that he works with will give their views. In turn, they will share their experiences and insights, how they proceed with the vision and insights presented below. In addition to being a manual for hacking your business, the expansion of your company value and making successful innovations, this publication (and the framework) also helps you understand the (digital) world better.
You understand what goes wrong at some marketing, communication and sales departments. Why someone earns their living with a lame play on words and speech bubbles. And how you can predict the (financial) value of data. Naturally, you want to increase the value of your company and optimise your business. But an understanding of the world around you is also valuable. Therefore, do not let this publication simply be the framework for new insights, but to also be a new digital direction.
Editor in chief of Digital Assets
- This post is a pre-read of the first prologue of my new book ‘Digital Assets’ the translation of the Dutch publication ‘Digitaal Vermogen’.
- Also read the publication ‘EDM and the Digital Domain’