BTRIPP (btripp) wrote,

The Fusion Fire Hose ...

A number of months ago I attended a BIGfrontier talk featuring Lon Safko, who was out pitching his new book, The Fusion Marketing Bible: Fuse Traditional Media, Social Media, & Digital Media to Maximize Marketing … while I was familiar with his previous The Social Media Bible, it'd never attempted to plow through its massive 640 pages. Noting that this was of a much more manageable length, I reached out to the good folks at McGraw Hill to request a copy.

Safko is an interesting character, with a bio that reads like fiction, involving numerous companies, inventions, programs, etc., etc., etc. that he is credited with developing. The concept of “Fusion Marketing” (for which he apparently has patents pending) is relatively simple in its broad strokes, however, in being (as one would gather from the sub-title) an approach to using a mixture of traditional, digital, and social media in one's marketing efforts.

One of the key elements of this approach, though, is not so simple … the “Safko Wheel” is a three-dimensional visualization tool that appears to be remarkably complicated (having not bought the book, I was never able to successfully get into the “free extras” parts of the book's site - which requires a password that never seemed to materialize from other requests – and so didn't have an opportunity to play around with the kit), although, according to the book, that complexity enables one to chart optimal courses in one's marketing strategy.

Frankly, there is a lot of stuff in here (after all, he's discussing three forms of media, and the various individual aspects of each, and how to work them into a unified approach!), so it's a bit hard to give an over-view in more than the broadest strokes (as above), so I'm going to go the other way, and cherry-pick bits and pieces to give you a sense of what's in there.

In discussing “microblogging” (ie Twitter), he has an interesting guideline:
Every tweet needs to have a WII-FM (What's In It For ME) or a IDKT (I Didn't Know That) value to your readers. If you can provide that you win. If you can't, hold the tweet.
… he follows that with a warning that he'll unfollow you if you tweet the mundane stuff about pets, food, and even complaining about transportation – which I can understand if that's all somebody tweets about, but, hey.

In another place he's discussing social networks, and rattles off more than a dozen names (a couple of which I hadn't heard of), and strongly recommended signing up for every one you come across. He then preemptively addresses the scoffing that would come with suggesting MySpace in the past few years, both by pointing out that (at the time of writing) it still had more members, 200 million, than Twitter and LinkedIn combined, and by noting:
What percentage of 200 million random people would you consider to be potential customers? Would it be 1 percent? Or maybe ½ percent? Well, ½ of 1 percent of 200 million is 1 million potential customers. Even at 0.0005 percent, you'd still have 1,000 prospects. Choose any number you like and run the numbers again. What do you have to lose? There has never been another time in the history of marketing when you had the opportunity to reach 200 million people with your message.
Again, there is so much stuff here … Safko is one of the few marketing voices that is still bullish on my old stomping grounds of Second Life, and that leads him into stories of opportunities his presence there generated. The book is full of examples of how company X did project Y and ended up with result Z … each illustrating how these things work.

Which brings me back to the Safko Wheel … this arose “by accident” initially when he was trying to explain to a visually-oriented client that there were 20 major tools outlined in his Social Media Bible, “not just Facebook and Twitter”, which he illustrated by producing a 20-point starburst and placing the individual elements at each of the points. This worked for Social, and he had the idea to do similar patterns for “traditional” and digital media. The dynamic part of this system is making connections between these elements, an example he gives is putting coupons on the back of business cards as how this would generate new ideas.

He then shows a 40-point wheel of 20 traditional and 20 social elements, and notes that this provides 8.2x1047 possible connections, and that's squared to 8.2x1094 if you factor in reverse connections. Obviously, this is an insane number, but it suggests how this could spur new ways of approaching one's marketing. He does warn, however:
... if your marketing message is “Hey, I want you to come buy my stuff!” it doesn't matter how many different ways you communicate that message … Tripling the number of times a customer gets an ineffective marketing message does not make that message any more persuasive. You cannot simply focus on the vehicles of communication if you are going to be successful with either traditional or social media.
Another thing that he's quite adamant that should be defined in one's marketing efforts is your business' “COCA” - Cost of Customer Acquisition – something that I'm guessing the MBAs out there are familiar with, but is likely a rather hazy concept for most small businesses. The examples he gives range from under ten bucks to several thousand dollars for high-ticket items like new homes … and he points out that you can't accurately know your ROI unless you have a fix on your COCA, and spends several pages giving a plan of action of doing this sort of analysis with all your recent and upcoming campaigns.

In another section he talks about “Google Juice” and “Link Love” and comes up with some amazing numbers, including some that suggest that you really need to do a blog on WordPress because, for some reason, new posts on that platform are very strong within Google's ranking system. Of course, he also deals with videos, podcasts, email campaigns, even door hangers in the course of the book, so there is way, way too much to even get around to listing in a review. Additionally, for the smart-phone obsessed (hey, I have one, but I don't keep it on me 24/7) there are also over 100 QR codes pointing off to web resources all throughout the text.

Oh, and the “final” variation of the wheel? It's got three rings (yeah, like a circus), one on each axis (so it sort of is a sphere), each with 20 elements, for traditional, digital, and social media. I think “bazillions” of possible combinations is probably shorting that by magnitudes of magnitudes, but I'm sure not going to try to do the math.

All-in-all, The Fusion Marketing Bible is a pretty amazing book, certainly in the “taking a drink from a firehose” type of experience. It is, however, a marketing book. It's not a philosophical look at various media types, it's not a “how can I make myself a better person” book, it's not a futurist's vision for tomorrow, this is about selling stuff and making money, and how to do that with maximum efficiency with the tools currently at hand. As such “your mileage may vary” for how awesome a read this will be for you. It came out last Fall, but it is a hot enough topic that I'm sure the brick-and-mortar guys are likely to have it on hand, but the on-line options are currently offering it at a fairly sizable discount. It's not for everybody but if you're in marketing, or the Social/Digital spheres, I'm pretty sure you'll like this one.

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Tags: book review
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