PPPPast is the Present Again (Four P's #181)
Returning to Live Events, Previous Marketing Playbooks, LGBTQ Discrimination and the Latest War in Europe
What a crazy, intense, rewarding, occasionally scary, and even confusing year these last four weeks these have been. To summarize:
🟢 I'm now fully FULLY immersed in the world of Web3, NFTs, blockchain tech, and Mint magic. Yay!
🟡 This past month has also included the return of business travel, in-person events, and in-person meetings, re-connecting with old colleagues and friends, attending parties, and spending more time outdoors (even in the freezing cold). Partial Yay!
🔴 But just as COVID recovery entered a new phase of relaxed protocols, the past month has also seen several states introduce discriminatory policies against trans and other LGBTQ children, as well as the most severe and concerning international conflict in recent memory. Not Yay.
These make up the four topics in this edition of the Four P's.
SOMETHING PERSONAL: Back to Work, Not Normal
Two weeks ago, I boarded a plane and returned to the (cleve)land of "in-person work events" again. This came later than some others, but also before many have returned to IRL networking conference and activations.
I was in Cleveland to help promote and support our partnership with the NBA, as tech provider of the official 2002 NBA All-Star Weekend NFT "souvenir." We know the League puts on a flawless events, but to see the billboards all over town with easy-to-buy calls-to-action was truly incredible.
Fortunately I survived and remain COVID-free, but I was pretty much aware of it at all times... from wiping down every surface of my hotel room with a Clorox wipe... to eating most meals alone in a corner somewhere. I was also one of the 10-20% of attendees who wore a mask throughout the weekend, though it also helped to keep my face warm in the sub-zero temperatures while walking between venues. I also wore it inside the arena and at parties, taking the mask off only to sip club soda or take a picture. Yet that first night, I still awoke in a panic that I had been too risky and too foolish.
To its credit, the NBA required proof of vaccine AND a negative test within 24 hours of arrival for all event attendees, which gave me some peace of mind. NBA employees were required to wear their masks at all times, which also helped. So I found myself falling back into some of the social circles, relationships and experiences as if I hadn't been gone for 13 years at all.
Next up: To Boston for the Sloan Sports Conference. At some point, I'm looking forward to being someplace warm again. Who's in this weekend? (And then again next week in Austin for SxSW?) Hit me up!
SOMETHING PROFESSIONAL: Back to the Marketing Mix
While I never exactly stopped writing over these past few years (see the previous 180 editions of this newsletter), it's great to be writing regularly again in a content marketing context. Part of my job as CMO of Mint is to educate brand leads, agencies, prospects and even the media... and our blog will be a great resource for those looking to learn more about this next chapter of marketing. https://medium.com/mintstore
Going from longtime agency lead to entrepreneurial B2B2C tech marketer, it's been rewarding to push those Imposter Syndrome thoughts aside and get to work. And I come into this experience with eyes wide open, aware that some of you believe that NFTs are hype... aware that part of the speculative values will burst... aware that so many marketing crazes are short-lived.
On the flip side, we also see lots of stale, copycat, (non-) creative work. When brands use the same marketing tactics over and over again, customers become habituated to them and eventually learn to stop paying attention. Going the tried-and-tested route means you’ll blend into the background.
As a blockchain technology platform for brands, Mint is early. Heck, we're ALL still early with NFTs. But marketing this message to marketers? To attract their attention, we’ll have to be clear, confident, different. The goal of marketing is awareness. But before articulating the benefits of a product or service, we need to know whose attention we are after. So that’s our first step: to identify the right audience and ideal prospects for our marketing experiment. And it probably includes YOU. My friends, former colleagues, trusted marketers with whom I have loved working. I don't need to pitch you, but let's have a conversation. What do you already know? What do you need? What are you willing to try? What do you want to achieve?
We’ve already established that effective marketing will have elements of past successful models, but can also be different from the norm. The question is, how? When evaluating the ideas, the most important question you should ask is, "Does this clearly present an opportunity for my target market?" If the answer is yes, you’re on to something. Ultimately, when it comes to marketing, it’s best to keep it simple. Whether you’re presenting an opportunity or communicating the outcome you want, offer a simple directive. As B2C and B2B marketers, we must attract prospects’ attention and keep them engaged long enough to take the next action. An effective idea paired with a clear call to action can transform a business. Is it speed? Is it simplicity? Is it value? It might be all, but don't try and explain it all at once.
Ultimately, marketing is art and science. So none of this matters if we can't (eventually) measure the success of an idea, and continue to experiment if necessary. Most importantly, never get discouraged if an experiment fails. Selective memory can be an advantage, because we can always try something different.
SOMETHING PRACTICAL: Don't Mess With Transkids
The hateful discrimination and attacks on trans and LGBTQ youth in this country continues to become a pandemic of its own.
Last week, Texas governor Greg Abbott called on citizens to report parents of transgender kids who receive gender-affirming medical care. Those who fail to report instances of minors could face “criminal penalties,” especially in the medical community. The directive was part of a letter Abbott sent to the Department of Family and Protective Services, calling on it to “conduct a prompt and thorough investigation” of any reported instances of minors undergoing “elective procedures for gender transitioning.”
Abbott’s letter follows an opinion released Monday by Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton, which stated that allowing minors to receive transition care such as puberty blockers, hormone therapy and surgery is "child abuse" under state law. Meanwhile, Florida's House of Representatives passed a discriminatory bill last week limiting when and how teachers and school staff can discuss gender and sexual orientation in the classroom. Opponents — many of whom have taken to calling the measure the "Don't Say Gay" bill — say it will make life harder for LGBTQ youth, who already face a higher rate of bullying and a higher risk of suicide than their straight, cisgender peers.
I fucking hate this. Both are also human rights violations. So what can we do about it? As someone who will be in Texas in a week, I can speak up and speak out. And so should you. Which is why I had these shirts made up for us to wear, depending on your comfort level. Note that ALL proceeds will go to The Trevor Project. Hope to see you there, and using your body to make a statement.
SOMETHING POLITICAL: Revolting Russians
Humans are consistently repeating their past mistakes. And now we find ourselves on the brink of the first truly global world war in two generations. The invasion of Ukraine by Russia will go down in history as either the beginning of the end of this latest phase of Russian tyranny, or the end of a long period of peace on the European continent.
Americans have been mostly blind to recent Russian policy, but after throwing off the cloak of authoritarian rule, dismantling the Soviet Union, and abolishing the Communist Party, here we are again with Vladamir Putin’s regime. With the collapse of the Soviet Union, an unprepared citizenship balked at the uncertainty and instability that came with the fall of communism. As a result, they embraced Putin's autocratic rule. Under Putin, Russia has taken dramatic steps away from democracy, and the future of totalitarian has just become the present.
100 years ago, the Russian Revolution was fueled by Marxism, which promoted a new kind of ideal man – one who had no use for the kind self-reflection which is at the heart of these disciplines, since individuality was seen as insignificant. Books burned or banned. Knowledge sequestered that did not promote the state for 60 years. This lack of knowledge created a new mess when perestroika changed the rules of society drastically changed.
In the 1990s, following the end of the Soviet Union, the stage was set for an authoritarian takeover. By the time Boris Yeltsin took power, there was already turmoil over which territories from the extended Soviet empire would be included in the newly liberated Russia. Some territories were still using Soviet rubles for money and Soviet passports to travel. Private commerce was legalized, and businesses were being privatized left and right.
Yet many saw their stable future evaporate. The Russian people experienced new levels of poverty and class stratification. Some people were suddenly getting rich while others were falling through the cracks. With open borders, citizens could see first hand just how different the lives of others were. Nostalgia for the Soviet era grew, for those simpler times. It was clear that Russians, still largely uninformed about past atrocities, were all too happy to return to a time when things were predictable and relatively boring.
This enabled Vladimir Putin to grab the spotlight with determination. Putin, a former lieutenant colonel in the KGB, impressed the people with his conviction. In his rise to power, Putin quickly took steps to move toward authoritarianism. He strengthened federal oversight over the local districts by firing the local leadership and put national television back into the hands of the Kremlin. Some Russians were worried about Putin’s rewriting of the constitution and removal of rights that enabled him to stay in power. They were ignored. Legislation banning “homosexual propaganda” and behavior. Protestors were arrested. Critics have been silenced, poisoned, or simply disappeared. So here we are today, aghast that a full-fledged invasion of Ukraine has taken place.
It's been a slow, gradual usurpation and march towards authoritarianism, but it happened under our own eyes. Never again? More like, "Yes, again." Maybe we’ll learn next time? Here’s to hoping…
Until then, stay safe, my friends