I was excited to attend my first FOLIO: Show in ages, and after a slow start that included HTC’S awkward plea for VR content and some uninspired Facebook examples, things picked up with some great presentations from National Geographic, Harvard Business Review, The Foundry, and Revmade. While I didn’t come across anything particularly new, there were some solid takeaways that I found helpful and heartening.
Over the years, I’ve worked with salespeople across a variety of industries and the best ones were always those who combined deep knowledge of our markets and products or services (backed by actual data) with an innate ability to identify their client’s or (prospect’s) real needs. They didn’t rely on fancy media kits or elaborate PowerPoint decks, nor discounts or hefty expense accounts—all valid tactical tools to be used, or not, as each situation calls for—and personal relationships were just the icing on the cake they got to have and eat, too because they instinctively grasped Kaushik’s underlying concept: understand a client’s needs and challenges better than they do themselves, and then help them understand how to achieve their goals.
When Google acquired Blogger in 2003, it was a smart move that tied directly to their core ad business, with the visionary bonus of foreseeing the value of user-generated content when it was still scoffed at. Yahoo acquiring Tumblr 10 years later (after badly fumbling GeoCities, del.icio.us, and Flickr, among others) is like the drunk uncle showing up late to a baby shower with a stripper and a trained monkey. Even the “announcement” via GIF feels forced and desperate.
A large part of GOOD’s appeal was its unique business model, its compelling mission, and its target audience: “For People Who Give a Damn.” While not replicable in any scalable way, it had a far more noble mission than the mercenary and fickle “connecting advertisers to eyeballs” model of most magazines, and it looks like that mission ultimately forced a complete and radical rethinking of the magazine itself.
Most magazines, print and digital, are little more than advertising platforms whose readers are defined as “targets”, valued in quantity over quality, and when the advertising revenue stream dries up, the magazines usually fold, readers be damned.