A month after the book launches, I'm finally getting to the blog post about my 4th book, which I've co-authored with my former client and current friend, Maarten Albarda.
Why has it taken me so long to write about it? I suppose a number of reasons:
- I've been really busy with Evol8tion work, extensive travel and a ton of speaking, including giving the Z.E.R.O. Keynote, which I'm happy to say is extremely tight and being tremendously well received. Normally it takes me a while to find the perfect presentation mix, but with Z.E.R.O., I've hit the ground running...
- I've had blogger's block or writer's blog or something to that effect. Writing a book really takes everything out of you and I've been waiting to find my writing groove at least on the blog
- What I have been doing is writing Online Spin on MediaPost bi-monthly. It's been just over a year now and I'm happy to announce that I'm moving to the "Lead Off" position on Monday's, alternating with Maarten, who makes his debut next Monday.
- Most importantly, Z.E.R.O. marketing is all about slow burn and long tail. It's about using existing customers to gain new ones. It's about utilizing customers and advocates in innovative ways, leveraging existing assets as opposed to piggy bagging on the borrowed interest and/or equity of middlemen.
So with that said, I am pleased and proud to present Z.E.R.O.: Zero Paid Media as the New Marketing Model
In Z.E.R.O., our position is that a perfect storm is coming…in fact it may already be here. To make this case, we introduce several key arguments: business, economic, consumer, media and creative cases – any of which could – by itself - be enough to be the straw that breaks the camel's back, but when combined presents a perfect storm scenario.
Our central premise is that if media inflation continues to outpace and run away from economic inflation, the bottom may fall out the media model. Put simply, it will become practically impossible to maintain minimum acceptable levels of reach, frequency, share of voice and presence in the marketplace.
Our solution for this eventuality is the Z.E.R.O. Manifesto, which holds that in a perfect world, the optimal paid media budget would be zero. In other words, brands would not need to spend a dime on paid media, because they would have enough customers; enough word-of-mouth; enough rabid fans and advocates; enough referrals; enough partnerships with entrepreneurs, startups and technology investments; and last but not least, enough assets to activate, amplify and monetize. What is an asset? Your people. Your products. Your packaging. Your clothing. Your billboards. Your trucks. Your stores. Your website. Your content.
Talk is cheap. So many books outline a problem, without putting forward a solution. Section 3 introduces a 10-point action plan, which presents 5 ways companies can implement Z.E.R.O. Internally (Cultural, Organizational), as well as 5 ways they can truly bring Z.E.R.O. to life externally (Strategic, Tactical). From compensation to budget setting; from flipping the funnel to innovation. It's all inside.
Whilst the Z.E.R.O. Vision is for brands to shift from being tenants (renting media) to landlords (owning assets), the "hidden message" here is the paid media will continue to exist (after all the world is not perfect), BUT it shifts from being the "go to" first port of call or star of the show to the final piece of the puzzle; a topper up or co-star / supporting member of the cast/ensemble. That's a significant shift as is the call-to-action for brands to audit their connections and ultimately strive for a 50:50 mix between direct:indirect (assets:media) by 2020.
Z.E.R.O. is not for everyone and I think it's important to manage expectations. This book is specifically written for C-suite executives that work for leading brands. Which doesn't mean to say that if you are a small business owner, this book isn't for you. In fact, you should look at the struggles and challenges presenting themselves to larger companies as your "foot in the door" or gain. In the 10-point action plan for example, the first 5 items that Maarten writes about from first-hand invaluable experience should all be second nature to you and non-issues. So skip past these if you like...or plan for the time when you get so big that you too will suck (as Jay Chiat once said)
And now comes the part where I ask for your help.
- Buy the book. For yourself. Your clients, colleagues, partners, superiors, subordinates, friends, enemies, frienemies!
- If you buy in bulk, I will do my best to help you out. Just contact me. I'll also try and sign copies for you, which can be done a variety of ways
- Please review the book on Amazon.com, BN.com etc.
- Going back to Life after the 30-second spot and Using New Marketing to Prove New Marketing (UNM2PNM) which is very keeping with the Z.E.R.O. theme, if you agree to review the book, I'll send you a copy with my compliments.
Maarten and I know that this book will leave a lot of people very uncomfortable, but it's tough love at worst and a game changer at best. Maarten and I put it this way: if we're wrong about this, you're a winner because you diversified your portfolio, you retook control as a marketer and you invested in your customer...but if we're right about this, well then you just obliterated your competition, potentially changed the game and who knows...perhaps transformed marketing from a cost center to a revenue generator. Maybe you even discovered the next Snapchat, GroupOn or Instagram in the process.
Be a hero. Commit to Z.E.R.O.