Today Seth Godin wrote a blog post on branding called The platform vs. the eyeballs. Framed as possibly “the most subtle yet important shift that marketers face as they deal with the reality of new media“, namely, that “Marketers aren’t renters [of eyeballs], now they own [platforms]”, the post was fine except for being 15 years late.
This isn’t a derisive comment on Seth—it’s not even a comment on him. The bigger story is about where ideas and ingenuity actually reside vs. where we go looking for them.
Godin’s points, well taken, weren’t new. Rapper and entrepreneur Master P exploited them nearly twenty years ago while building his own empire. He’s 40. But by 29 he had a Forbes estimated net worth of $361 million. With this and a 1998 #10 ranking on a Forbes listing of the highest paid entertainers, Godin’s concepts of branding and nurturing a platform strategically using technology vs. fleetingly renting eyeballs, were exactly what Master P was doing from the start of his career—except he lacked an online networking platform because the eyeballs (or eardrums) weren’t plugged in as they are currently. And while very successful he was hardly singular in innovating platform marketing: other creative people like Spike Lee assumed alternative approaches to marketing that erected a platform vs. influencing one audience one time.
anecdote–the “No Limo Story”:
I once awaited actress Jane Fonda’s arrival for a meeting with my then superior, U.S. Surgeon General Dr. David Satcher. From his suite I watched panoramically for her limo. It never came. I turned around to an opening door and she walked in. This movie star and former wife of a billionaire had driven herself in a bland Toyota, had parked in the visitor’s lot where no other visitors of her profile had ever parked and had walked to our offices. We can miss things that come packaged counter to expectation. And packages can be places, institutions, people, socioeconomic class—everything.
Any top American business program and certainly the ones with purported marketing expertise whose marketing faculty collectively have no mastery of the Hip-Hop industry’s innovations in marketing, are obsolete.
What’s great about America is that it has enough critical masses of diversity such that it can avail itself of multiple labs. It can nurture whole micro-cultures that create intelligence and mores potentially transferable and scalable to the larger heterogeneous economy. I say top MBA programs can’t teach Master P’s brand of marketing because they source from places that systematically skirt these microcultures—are branded to do so. But value is there. Big value.