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The World of Marketing #9: The Ad, the Group, the Magazine and the Book

There was once an ad, a social media group, an online magazine and a book.

The ad’s main advantage was that it travelled far and wide, but its disadvantage was that, as it moved very quickly, and didn’t stay in one place for more than a second or two, not many people noticed it and it didn’t get much feedback. It also cost money.

The social media group, on the other hand, tended to linger in places a little longer, getting to know a few of the locals, and encouraging them to chat for a while. But relationships there were fleeting to a degree. Some friendships formed; some people linked up in private as a result meeting in the group; but the large majority of the people wandered in and out very casually. The big plus was that it was so casual and accessible; the big minus was that the casualness of it meant that things were not looked at as closely as they might be.

The online magazine, conversely, hung around for a while longer, but with fewer readers. Here, with a little more privacy, things were looked at in more depth, which was the main thing it had going for it. The only real difficulty was that the magazine, unlike the social media group, lacked a facility for immediate participation - one couldn’t talk back, ask questions, or respond positively or negatively to what was in the magazine, however valuable it might be. However, this was largely outweighed by the fact that the magazine was a more tangible thing: though online, it sat there, in cyberspace, not going anywhere.

The book was a different case again. Being a book, it was an intensely private thing. Readers tended to concentrate more on its contents and think more about what it was saying. In terms of prompting real change and growth in others, the book was the more likely candidate to achieve success, primarily because it was very much ‘in the face’ of its public. The disadvantage? It cost money, and, being such a solid thing, required a heavier commitment from people than an ad, a social media group or an online magazine. That meant that fewer people acquired it.

All of these things were ways of communicating from a transmitter to thousands and thousands - maybe even millions - of receivers. Peculiarly, the ad and, for the most part, the book shared the fact that they were, by their nature, from one source, whereas the social media group and the magazine consisted of many voices.

So which one was better?

The answer is that none of them was better than the others. They all served their own purpose and the wider purpose, which was communication. The ad saw more people, but got less feedback; the social media group saw fewer people, but got more response; the magazine contacted even fewer individuals, but had more effect; and the book was reserved for a select few, but could change lives.

A simple diagram of all this would look something like the above.

If one were to build an ideas-based, literature-orientated, life-changing machine capable of sustaining itself, one would have to have all of these in operation: while books would do the work of changing people’s lives, groups and magazines would be involved in the business of engaging and communicating with those people initially, while some form of ad was out there drawing in the numbers.

At some point, all of these would operate optimally to create viability and therefore continued life.

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