The McGraw-Hill Cengage Learning merger — and the perils of dog food marketing

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Two competing textbook publishers, McGraw-Hill and Cengage Learning, have proposed to merge. Reducing competition in markets fueled by predatory pricing is a bad idea. But why are textbooks so expensive? When I worked in the textbook publishing industry, the CEO of my startup publisher told me that what we did was “dog food marketing.” When … Continued

There are six PR people for every reporter. So change your strategy.

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Bloomberg reports that, according to the U.S. Census, as of 2018, there are 6.4 PR people for every journalist. Reporters will tell you what that means for their inboxes. Thousands of pitches falling on the floor. Constant pestering. And waste. So much waste. You can lament this trend (and the loss of media is a … Continued

Beware marketing thought leaders bearing fashionable truths

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I just came back from a conference full of marketers. Marketing conferences challenge the mind — but not necessarily in the way that they should. There are the talks that are intended to inspire. They are about being true to yourself and your brand, or the power of outstanding customer experience to inspire people. They … Continued

“Competing authors” is an oxymoron

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Benjamin Dreyer is a copy editor who just wrote a book on English. So is Mary Norris, the “Comma Queen.” So they’re in competition, right? Not even close. Here’s some Twitter repartee between the two: Traditionally, two people in the same space are competitors. But that dynamic doesn’t apply with authors, for several reasons: A … Continued

Why NAV.com belongs in the clueless telemarketers hall of fame

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So I got a call last week from an unfamiliar number. I answer these because sometimes they are leads from my site. But then . . . well, we’ve all developed the instinct — my spidey-sense started tingling immediately. Ring. Josh: [Waits a few seconds, then] Hello. Caller: [Three second pause, click]. Hello. Is this … Continued

Before you buy “The Room,” ask yourself, is your workplace hell?

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You can buy your own office phone booth for $3495. Here is a picture. This is “The Room,” which has apparently been written up in The New York Times, Time, and Business Insider. It is soundproof, ventilated with a “discreet fan,” mobile, and made out of recycled plastic bottles. Two people can put it together … Continued

Correlation, causation, and confusion: The Backlinko study of 912 million blog posts

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Brian Dean of Backlinko, an SEO maven whose site includes a technique that “almost guarantees that you get high quality links from every piece of content that you publish,” published a study of 912 million blog posts. He says his results include worthwhile insights. I say they support an alternate explanation: nearly all content marketing … Continued