A Business Plan for the Renton Printery (Part 3/3)

The following is the third part of our series A Business Plan for the Renton Printery.

Marketing and Sales Strategy

In this section we will identify our target market, why we want to reach this particular target market, and how we intend to sell our products to them.

Our target market is made up of:

  • The controllers and managers of large manufacturers.
  • The Executive Directors, office administrators, marketing executives, and and business development officers of large non-profits and B2C companies.
  • Similar such persons at large unions.

Why these persons?

Controllers and managers at large manufacturers frequently need stickers, labels, and the like, plus large quantities of signs, banners, and business cards. There might be an occasional order for other big-ticket items, such as company-patterned vests, hats, and shirts.

Various gate-keepers and decision makers at large non-profits are likely tasked by their bosses with finding printers for their events. Accordingly, we will want to target them too.

Similarly to non-profits, many large unions need much printing done, including mailers, t-shirts, signs, bumper stickers, brochures, business cards, stickers, newsletters, and more. The same people who buy printing for non-profits tend to also populate unions.

How do we reach these groups?

The relevant execs at large manufacturers can easily be found at Kent, South King County, and Auburn Chambers, along with certain local conferences of various manufacturing associations.

The problem is being able to make it to these events without stretching ourselves too thing. Another possibility is to become involved in the Kent Rotary, but the feasibility of such an idea remains to be seen.

It would be a simple matter to find clients from appropriately sized B2C corporations and non-profits by frequenting local Chamber of Commerce events in Seattle, Bellevue, and Issaquah, not to mention the Renton Rotary and Chamber of Commerce.

But first we must ask, do we want to extend northward into Seattle and the Eastside? Can we afford it? Is it logistically possible?

These are questions that continue to puzzle the Renton Printery’s management team. Until then, we will continue to focus on the south.

Speaking of which, we will be discussing the Renton Printery’s management team and personnel in the next post in this series.

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A Business Plan for the Renton Printery (Introduction)

Those of you who know me personally know that I currently work at my father’s print shop.

This family business has helped me to remain gainfully employed, to one degree or another, since 2011.

I currently hold the title of “Marketing Director,” but in reality I am responsible for a wide range of tasks, including data entry, bookkeeping, and sales.

The accumulated experience I have gathered in my work at the shop has led me to decide to engage in a not-so-short thought experiment, wherein I will outline a business plan for the Renton Printery.

Are you ready to begin? Return tomorrow.

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How Talk Radio Can Attract Millennials (4/4): Review

In this concluding post in my series on how talk radio can attract Millennials, I’m going to go over some stuff that came into my head that I didn’t tackle in the previous posts.

Some of these items are related to what I wrote previously, while others haven’t been fully addressed yet.

We’ll chiefly be talking about the product, the demographic, and influencer endorsements.

The Product

As I stated in the post on The Campaign, I’m just the marketing guy.

I have no real expertise on the subject of radio and am not remotely qualified to produce an actual show.

That said, I can make some intuitive suggestions that might be helpful to the distinguished radio executives who might want some input.

In the post on The Campaign, we talked about our imaginary program, The Mark Dogero Show.

I would suggest that the show use intro music that appeals to the demographic. But this in and of itself means almost nothing, as our particular demographic is known for its eclecticism. (See here for a full explanation.)

However, the obstacle is once again the way!

To appeal to our target demographic’s variety of preferences, simply recruit local independent bands to play a new intro song before every show.

There is no shortage of such bands who crave such publicity, and in keeping with our eclectic style, we could even tailor whatever song we pick to the main theme of each episode of the show.

The Demographic

In the post on The Campaign, we defined our target demographic thusly:

“For the purposes of this scenario, let’s say our target demographic is college-educated Seattle-area 18-34 year-olds with a Christian background who lean libertarian and who are most concerned about social issues such as poverty, homelessness, and abortion.”

However, I don’t think this is specific enough.

It focuses heavily on the demographic’s view of key issues, but it doesn’t add enough flavor to it. Most people aren’t totally consumed with the political process, and therefore don’t define themselves by their political affiliation.

The solution is to add in something to this mix that will make all the difference.

Enter gamers.

According to a 2015 report from the Entertainment Software Association, 61 percent of gamers identify as conservative.

The report also said that 61 percent of gamers aged 18-34 are in favor of budget cuts. 42 percent are in favor of school choice and 40 percent support the use of military force in foreign policy.

Therefore, the logical step would be to rewrite our target demographic as college-educated Seattle-area 18-34 year-old gamers with a Christian background who lean libertarian who are most concerned about social issues such as poverty, homelessness, and abortion.

Everybody needs a hobby.

Influencer Endorsements

In the post on The Campaign, I mentioned that it might be tricky recruiting “influencers” who have a hold on our target demographic to be on the show because of its political nature.

My solution was to invite potentially hostile guests to be on the show and then have “Mark Dogero” use it as an opportunity to show off his policy smarts.

While this could be done occasionally, I have since rethought this strategy.

Since our target demographic leans libertarian and conservative anyway, especially when we factor in “the gamer vote,” I believe it would be more prudent to simply invite a wide variety of libertarian or conservative guests.

We don’t want to identify them as “Republican.” Rather, we would simply bill these guests as ideologues who stand for conservative or libertarian principles, totally separate from any particular political institution.

The idea here is to appeal to the sense among this demographic that Republicans are bad, conservatives are suspect, and libertarians are trustworthy.

If we use the correct labels as bait, we can hook them on the substantive philosophy and discourse that lies behind the curtain. Remember, Millennials want to be on the side of the good guys.

A warning: We must also be careful not to alienate the hardcore conservatives in our target demographic’s ranks, who may be more numerous than we suspect.

Thankfully, we can use targeted ads to turn this wrinkle into an advantage. Gotta love those things.

Thus ends the series on how talk radio can attract Millennials. I dearly hope that some wise programming executive happens to read all this and say, “What a great idea! I should hire Levi Sweeney as a marketing consultant!”

Hope springs eternal.

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How Talk Radio Can Attract Millennials (3/4): The Campaign

Last time we talked about The Problem that talk radio faces today.

Now for the fun part: The Campaign.

After locating suitable on-air talent, a Seattle talk radio station would have to tailor the show to the preferences of Millennials and then market the heck out of it using The Seven Touches Method.

Let’s say that you’re a producer at a Seattle talk radio station. You’ve managed to find some hot on-air talent.

He’s a young, energetic, smart kid with a great radio voice, a keen grasp on the issues, and strong writing skills.

You’re all set to put him on the air, but then you realize that you need to build some buzz for this new show first. (Let’s call it The Mark Dogero Show.)

Enter me, a marketing consultant you hired to help with this task. After sitting down and talking with you and the talent, I present you with a seven-touch marketing plan.

The seven-touch marketing plan is a tried-and-true method of marketing which is even more pertinent in the social media age.

The saying goes that your audience needs to hear about your product (The Mark Dogero Show) at least seven times before they’ll buy it, or in this case, tune in to the show or listen to the podcast.

Before you do anything, be sure that the show itself will appeal to your target demographic. Up to this point we’ve been saying that we want to reach “Millennials,” but we have to get more specific.

For the purposes of this scenario, let’s say our target demographic is college-educated Seattle-area 18-34 year-olds with a Christian background who lean libertarian and who are most concerned about social issues such as poverty, homelessness, and abortion.

As for the show itself, I’m no expert on radio (that’s your job, Mr. Radio Producer), but my experience tells me that the key to appealing to Millennials is to take the moral high ground.

If you can convince this particular target demographic that your viewpoint is morally superior to that of the opposition, then you’ve got them hooked. Millennials want to on the side of the good guys.

Be sure to back up the style of morality with the substance of facts and figures. Millennials (I’d like to think) aren’t complete idiots.

Now, on to The Campaign.

The first of your Seven Touches is a face-to-face encounter. Send Mark on a speaking tour of every college campus in the Greater Seattle Area.

Have him speak to (the admittedly small-numbered) every on-campus chapter of the College Republicans and Young America’s Foundation, free of charge.

Identify other groups, large and small, of like-minded persons, such as local conservative and libertarian Facebook groups, and promote speaking engagements to them as well.

Use targeted ads on Facebook to spread the word to people matching the target demographic to attract more people to these meetings.

The ads should use buzzwords like “justice” and “equity” and “economic empowerment,” which when applied to a libertarian idea, will attract Millennials from left, right, and center.

For example, you could run an ad on a lecture series on rent control, the minimum wage, and zoning regulations.

Titled, “The Injustice of Progressivism”, your ad would have copy saying: “Learn How Regressive Laws are Hurting the Most Vulnerable and Keeping Our City Poor.”

So people come to the speaking events, and word gets around about Mark’s new show on the radio, which you’ll emphasize is available on SoundCloud and via your radio station’s app.

People will sign up at the meetings and events for subscriptions to Mark’s blog, follow him on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram, and get email updates from your station!

These email updates are the second touch. They will include Mark’s written thoughts in addition to the show and video clips from the show itself.

These will keep you stuck in the mind of your audience, even if they ignore most of Mark’s emails.

That’s where the third touch comes in: social media updates. Mark will be most active on social media platforms where the target demographic is most active, namely Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.

Since the target demographic is very attuned to video, updates on these channels should include short video clips of Mark speaking about trending issues and topics, taking questions from the audience, and interacting with relevant guests.

Speaking of guests, that brings us to touch number four: Influencer endorsement! That is, have someone on the show whom Millennials trust and promote clips of their appearance on social media.

This one was a little tricky to figure out when planning this post, as most influencers who resonate with our target demographic tend to lean left or else do not have much to say about the issues that The Mark Dogero Show would care to discuss.

What I mean to say is that most public figures whom Millennials pay attention to are Hollywood actors, musicians and bloggers, along with the occasional politician.

The obstacle, as so eloquently popularized by Ryan Holiday, is in fact the way forward.

In addition to inviting recognized conservative or libertarian figures of note, also invite persons of the opposite inclination to be on the show.

When Mark is talking to an influencer whom he agrees with, very good.

But when he’s talking to an influencer whom he may oppose on policy issues, it will give him an opportunity to show how “fair” and “tolerant” he is by having such guests on his show and hearing them out.

A focus on local personalities and figures would be best. Remember, your audience lives in Seattle!

Touch number five would be to distribute free or low-cost pamphlets or eBooks written by Mark to your followers that can be easily shared with friends.

Readers should be able to recommend Mark’s books enthusiastically, so they’d better be good!

Touch number six would be to promote the eBooks and pamphlets on Facebook and Twitter through targeted ads. You’ve gotta love those things!

Combined with the word-of-mouth generated by their being a great product, those pamphlets will spread Mark’s philosophy in written form my leaps and bounds!

The final of the seven touches is an email invite to an event hosted by the radio station, featuring this Mark Dogero guy that everyone’s been talking about.

An example of such an event would be a debate or a lecture. Since it’s an event being put on by the radio show, it could be broadcast over the airwaves.

It could also be live-streamed on Facebook, recorded and posted to YouTube, and, of course, put on SoundCloud!

But remember, the key here isn’t quantity of platforms. It’s better to focus on where your target demographic is hanging out. Promote the event ahead of time using targeted ads, calling on people to tune in on the radio or online.

Use the opportunity this opportunity from people signing up to attend the debate or lecture to build your email list for further marketing efforts.

Also use it as an opportunity to upsell other shows put on by the station, not to mention those eBooks and pamphlets.

If this strategy has been properly executed, The Mark Dogero Show will be a knockout, and advertisers will be clamoring to get behind it.

These seven touches can overlap a little. Some of them can be expanded to make a total of nine or ten touches. In today’s wonderful wired info-saturated world, some marketing gurus have suggested that as many as thirteen touches may be necessary.

But the principle remains that with a good product, followed by a disciplined marketing strategy such as the one detailed here, a large following of Millennials can be attracted to our imaginary talk radio show.

So, Mr. Radio Producer, what’s next?

We’ll talk about a few miscellaneous details that we haven’t covered yet in the fourth and final installment of this series: Review.

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How Talk Radio Can Attract Millennials (2/4): The Problem

The fact is that most of my fellow Millennials aren’t listening to talk radio.

There’s no reason they shouldn’t.

My personal observations and at least one poll indicate that many Millennials identify philosophically as libertarian. That’s a start.

But conservative talk radio, which relies heavily on programming which appeals to older audiences, is slowly waning.

Social media allows ideological opponents to harass the medium online faster and harder than pundits can react.

It generally lacks the same internet presence that can allow it to beat back such attacks.

The result is that talk radio continues to fall back on the old stalwart of older blue collar folks.

But insofar as I can tell, stations aren’t attracting large swaths of Millennials, who should be welcoming them with open arms.

This is The Problem.

Changing demographics and inflamed social media reactions have resulted in talk radio both losing advertising money and failing to attract new audiences.

The main issue that talk radio faces today is the blunt reality is that there just aren’t enough young listeners to sustain the medium.

In an interview with Forbes, media scholar Jeffrey Berry summed up the numbers game that talk radio faces today:

 

And it’s a shrinking demographic. For every white farmer in the heartland who dies, he’s being replaced by a 25-year-old Hispanic living in the Bronx. It’s just the way America is going right now.

People are obviously listening to talk radio, and will continue to do so.

Unfortunately, the audience that most talk radio shows are aiming for isn’t the type that media buyers want to target, that is, Millennials.

Meanwhile, firestorms on the internet instigated by ideological opponents haven’t helped either. In fact, they may account for the lion’s share of the blame.

A 2015 article for The Wall Street Journal reported that controversial comments by Rush Limbaugh directly led to advertisers choosing to avoid buying airtime around such shows.

The article reads:

Local and direct-response advertisers, such as flower-delivery and financial services, continue to advertise on conservative talk shows. But overall demand has tanked among national advertisers for anything else that could air on the same stations, putting some syndicators and stations in a bind on their programming.

As a result of various reasons, having to do with the philosophical inclinations of Millennials and sloppy marketing work, Millennials typically don’t listen to talk radio, conservative or otherwise.

A Nielsen report, for instance, states that only an average of 3.7% of persons aged 18-34 listen to news or talk radio.

The report also notes: “On average, radio reaches nine out of 10 Millennials across all three life stages each week.” (The report breaks down the age group’s preferences by life-stage.)

So Millennials are listening to radio in general, but most of them aren’t listening to talk radio.

The talk radio format still has a hope of reaching Millennials and expanding its audience, thus attracting more advertisers.

If by some marketing miracle this can happen, then the newfound popularity of talk radio among Millennials will make airtime an investment worth the risk for cautious media-buyers.

To accomplish this feat, conservative talk radio will have to do two things:

  • Present a product (programming) that will appeal to the tastes and ideology of libertarian or conservative Millennials.
  • Execute a marketing strategy that will reach this demographic and make the medium attractive to them.

This post discussed The ProblemNext time we will discuss The Campaign.

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Rated P for Passable – An Ancient Secrets of Lead Generation Review

Note: This review is adapted from an article I wrote on LinkedIn on November 4, 2016, which was in turn adapted from a review I wrote for Ancient Secrets Of Lead Generation: Your Primitive Business Guide To Better Leads With Less Effort on my Goodreads.com account.

Today’s business blogosphere is teeming with thought-leaders and wannabee-thought-leaders, including myself.

The ones who manage to grow a big enough following are invariably offered book-deals.

The typical result of such book-deals is a compilation of the newly minted thought-leader’s most popular blog posts.

Combine that with a sliver of original content and a punchy-sounding title, and you’ve got something that will fly off of conference room tables and help fuel the thought-leader’s personal brand.

Ancient Secrets of Lead Generation by Daryl Urbanski is one such book. Although it contains legitimately good business advice, it is without a doubt the most sloppily-written eBook I have ever read.

I put this book on my to-read list after I saw it on Josh Kaufman’s Personal MBA reading list. After having read it, I concluded that Ancient Secrets does have some good points.

Unfortunately, they are rendered nearly moot by its chronically haphazard editing. This is another hallmark of the books put out by mini-thought-leaders such ask Urbanski.

Ancient Secrets of Lead Generation is a slim volume with advice which is almost as gaunt.

The basic principles of hanging out where your target audience is and using targeted ads for different demographics are rather elementary, but sometimes that’s a good thing.

What’s unique about Urbanski’s book was that he made me rethink my ideas regarding these tactics.

I guess you could say that Urbanski gave me perspective on this strategy by giving an example of it in practice, via his anecdotes of running a small martial arts business.

But that’s where my admiration ends.

The eBook’s core flaw is that it’s littered with typos, misspellings, and bad grammar.

This takes the reader out of the experience of reading to an intense degree, making it difficult to absorb the author’s platitudes. It also undermines Urbanski’s credibility as a marketing guru.

If he cannot produce a high-quality product, then his marketing scheme will only serve to fuel the dubious reputation that reviews like mine will give him.

Again, a lot of eBooks written by mini-thought-leaders such as Urbanski tend to be a bit spotty in terms of editing, but this book left me utterly flabbergasted.

To wit, Ancient Secrets of Lead Generation presents old ideas in a new perspective, making them easy to grasp for relative amateurs such as myself.

Sadly, the book’s execution is critically lacking. It would have been improved a hundred times over if Urbanski had hired a decent proofreader.

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How Talk Radio Can Attract Millennials (1/4): Intro

My day job is listed on my Twitter account as “Marketing Director at the Renton Printery.”

My family’s print shop is a brick-and-mortar, blue collar establishment.

To while away the countless hours working on the machines, starring at computers, or even sitting at desks occasionally, we listen to a lot of talk radio.

I’m generally fine with talk radio, even though I don’t usually tune in outside of the shop.

I have a short commute and don’t drive much, so that nixes opportunities to listen to full broadcasts of Rush or The Great One.

The point here is that without a lot of Millennials tuning in with our smartphone apps that can stream radio and podcasts whenever we want, older talk stations are missing out on a sizable chunk of listeners.

Meanwhile, their primary audience, the older folks who crew the shop where I work, are slowly shrinking in numbers and influence.

Thus, the only advertisers interested in leasing airtime on talk radio are peddlers of mattresses and men’s health products.

This is The Problem.

The other day, the Marketing Guy-half of my brain sat down with the half of my brain that was listening to Michael Medved and put together a thought:

“There must got to be a way to get more people my age to listen to talk radio! I like it just fine when it’s convenient, so there must be others like me who think the same.”

Enter The Campaign.

I began constructing in my head what it would take for my local talk radio station to make me, a representative of a sought-after target demographic, want to go out of my way to listen to their programming.

The goal of this series is to explain the current marketing funk that conservative talk radio has found itself in, how it might lure a new demographic into its audience, and what the benefits of such a circumstance could be.

Talk radio’s listener base has few young people in its audience, myself included. But with a targeted marketing campaign tailored to millennials, new life could be breathed into it, leading to The Reward.

Stay tuned for the next installment of this series, in which we discuss The Problem.

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Every Christian Movie I’ve Ever Seen Is Awful. But Why Do They Sell Tickets?

The last Christian movie I saw was a Pirates of the Caribbean-knock off called Beyond the Mask.

If the pretentious title wasn’t enough, the 2015 movie’s script followed all the standard beats of a Christian movie:

  • All Christians are perfect nice-guys (as in Fireproof and The Identical).
  • All non-Christians are jerks (as in Courageous and Flywheel).
  • Your youth pastor think it’s great (as in every Christian movie ever made).

The fact that the film was a technical and aesthetic monstrosity aside, I left the theater wondering why my fellow Christians continue to eat this garbage up.

Quite obviously, it’s not because the films are good.

Courageous was a clumsy grab-bag of sitcom humor, melodrama, and gunfights.

The Identical had an original concept, but everything but its logline caused me unintended laughter and cringing.

Fireproof is probably the Citizen Kane of Christian movies. (Some might opine that Facing the Giants, which I haven’t seen, deserves that title.)

Insofar as I can tell, its script, while minimally passable in terms of dramatic quality, was copied from a Christian marriage counseling book.

Titled The Love Dare, this totally real book was actually named and featured in the movie. I’ve heard of product placement, but this takes the cake.

Speaking of product placement, this leads me to the real reason that Christian movies continue to sell tickets at multiplexes.

Ready? Okay, say it with me:

Marketing!

Now it’s time for me to take off my film critic hat and put on the Marketing Guy hat.

Months in advance before the 2014 film God’s Not Dead was released in theaters, trailers and what-not found their way onto the computer screens of young, tech-savvy believers, their parents, and most importantly, pastors!

Okay, thought my teenage-self. This looks pretty cool.

Meanwhile, the filmmakers cut new trailers featuring big-name Christian media personalities such as that guy from Duck Dynasty and his wife and Christian rock band the Newsboys.

If my teenage-self kind of wanted to see that sucker then, I definitely wanted to now! It had the Newsboys in it, and I just loved their music!

That, my friends, is what we call a celebrity endorsement from an influencer to whom your target audience will pay attention.

As if all that wasn’t enough, as the time drew close for the film to be released, I heard rumblings from fellow churchgoers about the film, and how some were going to see it.

I’m fairly certain that at least some of my pastors mentioned it. I know for certain that one of them proclaimed his enthusiasm for the 2016 sequel, God’s Not Dead 2, from the pulpit.

But this wasn’t just positive word-of-mouth, though it was that too in retrospect.

It now wasn’t only an excuse to see a movie the Newsboys in it, it was a religious duty.

By paying twelve bucks to sit in a chair for two hours and watch that one kid from Good Luck Charlie literally debate philosophy with the guy who played Hercules, you were helping to propagate the Gospel.

In the end, I wound up not going to see any of the God’s Not Dead films. But I almost wish I did, just to see why everyone kept saying, “Oh, it was great.”

Nevertheless, God’s Not Dead had a box office of some $60 million, more than recouping its shoestring budget. Indeed, I recall 2014 being hailed as “The Year of the Faith-Based Film.”

Having not seen God’s Not Dead or its sequel, I cannot in good conscience comment here on its quality.

However, I can tell you that one of my more secular friends scandalously watched part of it on YouTube.

He is the sort of person whom I and my fellow Christians are told that we must help to evangelize to by supporting the film.

He thought it was boring and stupid.

Funny how that works out.

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A Groundswell Review: Old But On-Point

Note: This review is adapted from an article I wrote on LinkedIn on November 4, 2016, which was in turn adapted from a review I wrote for Groundswell: Winning in a World Transformed by Social Technologies on my Goodreads.com account.

I checked this book out from the library when I saw it on a list of books about “social media marketing.”

In my quest to learn everything about the subject, I had consulted books by Guy Kawasaki and Gary Vaynerchuck. This was something very different.

Written in 2008, my second edition of Groundswell by Charlene Li and Josh Bernoff was released in the slightly-less ancient age of 2011.

Although Groundswell is admittedly a little dated, it does provide much insightful advice regarding social media marketing.

This book was plainly written as a guidebook for executives in established corporations who are trying to navigate the brave new world of social media.

It provides several case studies regarding the issue. Li and Bernoff are a decidedly more technical in their approach to understanding social media.

Thankfully, they avoid the common mistake of focusing on the particulars of the internet and technology.

It is foolish to spend close to two years writing a book about a field which changes every two minutes. Messrs. Li and Bernoff are not foolish.

It was nonetheless rather jarring to hear the book refer to things such as MySpace as significant factors in the realm of social media.

It was even more incredible to find that YouTube, Twitter, and Facebook were hardly mentioned at all. Regardless, I’ll hardly fault the book for failing to predict the future.

Groundswell has two main strengths.

First, they manage to present their findings, research, data, case studies, and advice in a manner that is easy to understand and accessible to everyone, from the average person to a C-Suite executive.

It’s largely free of corporate-speak and industry jargon that might have hindered a lesser book.

The book’s other big strength is that although the future of social media was made of Playdough when this book was written (and still largely is now), Li and Bernoff do manage to give mountains of good advice regarding what is still a very new subject.

It’s good to know that there’s someone from the old school of doing business who “gets it.”

For example, they perceptively note near the end of the book that it would be foolish to force everyone in a company to be part of social media. It would not only be ineffective, but might backfire.

It’s smarter instead to empower people who are already engaged in social media and let them do their thing.

This and other good pointers, combined with interesting case studies, make Groundswell a book that should be read by all corporate executives at big companies that are still trying to tell Retweets from Likes.

Any that are still having trouble with that are going to be desperately in need of help. Luckily for them, Li and Bernoff have written a book in their language.

Image courtesy of netchange.co

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