Magazine article Online

About Having Fun

Magazine article Online

About Having Fun

Article excerpt

Incoming asteroids (last year's metaphor for the dramatic changes in the industry) have hit; it's now time to reinvent out of the ashes.

"It's fun to have fun, but you have to know how."--The Cat in the Hat, by Dr. Seuss

The first INDUSTRY INSIGHTS column, which ran in July 1999, introduced what was, at the time, a fairly radical notion for information professionals. I suggested that they act more like vendors--that they think of marketing their services as more than just market communications or "promotion." Marketing meant understanding users and decision makers in their markets; developing targeted offerings for those markets; promoting a value proposition for those markets; measuring satisfaction and loyalty; and ensuring that the information unit is strategically and operationally aligned--as a business within a business.

Since then, Outsell analysts and I have used this column to advise information professionals and explore the various tools at their disposal to do all those things: gather end-user data, create loyalty models, benchmark products and services, and manage relationships, all the while identifying trends and best practices.

And along the way, during our 4-1/2-year journey in this column it has always been clear that vendors too have their challenges. Being a successful content vendor in this day and age means being open to change, being able to turn on a dime, and always being open to working "market-in" rather than "product-out." It also requires a constant willingness to be visible, to drive for it, strive for it, and be "out there" a lot of the time. It takes a constant willingness to reinvent, play, recreate, and re-create. To have fun!

PLAYING WITH OPPORTUNITY

But it's been hard to reinvent, play, and recreate during two of the most difficult economic years in recent history. We've had our heads down, hunkered, dealing with the onslaught of budget cuts, staff turnover, doing more with less, proving value, and in general slogging through the serious times of past. Frankly it's been tough work and slow going.

We've weathered war, tough economic times, September 11th: We've weathered a lot. It's been gloom and doom for a while. Or has it?

One man's crisis is another's opportunity. Our philosophy has always been to look at the glass half-full instead of half-empty. There's no doubt we've survived significant events, but each of us has a choice about how to deal with it. You'll recall in 2001, we wrote about managing up and the opportunity that was ahead. We talked about Marketing 201 and provided a self-evaluation checklist for self-assessment. During the downturn we talked about the opportunity that the year of accountability brought and the upside of having to run a tight ship and reevaluate all that we were doing. There are always silver linings during clouds of doubt, and the past 2 years haven't been different.

It's time now to look ahead. Indices show that the industry and economy are lightening up a bit. Our industry has been out-performing the general economy and growing for five consecutive quarters. The rest of the economy hasn't caught up, but information is showing that clouds are lifting a bit, and it's time to get out of the doldrums. It's time to play and recreate! Incoming asteroids (last year's metaphor for the dramatic changes in the industry) have hit; it's now time to reinvent out of the ashes.

As we share our last column at the cusp of a new year, we want to share some of the things that we see as evidence of play at work (double entendre intended ;->).

WHERE TO PLAY

If you want to have fun, you need a playground. Here's a list of marketing imperatives. Not coincidentally, these are the same one we've been providing to vendors in the content world. But for most content deployment professionals, these are the kind of comfort zone stretchers that make the best possible playgrounds:

* Make new friends. …

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