When legendary University of Alabama football coach Bear Bryant surveyed the college football landscape in 1971, he saw things changing. Having produced NFL passers like Kenny Stabler and Joe Namath, Bryant realized that teams that could run the ball and play defense won championships.
He saw what Texas and Oklahoma were doing with the ground-oriented option attack called the “wishbone,” and directed his offensive coaches to install the offense. Alabama would go on to dominate for the rest of Bryant’s career.
That’s the one thing I’ve always admired about the old gruff ball coach: He had the innate ability to adapt. This trait made him a winner. He knew that flashy passing stats are sexy, but winning national championships is downright erotic.
A few pieces of information recently left me thinking about this, especially in terms of publishing.
It seems the world’s last typewriter company is changing with the times. Godrej and Boyce, a company from India that makes the Godrej Prima, stopped production of this typewriter in 2009, and once it unloads the final 500 in inventory, the typewriter will officially go the way of cuneiform.
Obviously, typewriters dominated for years – I am proud to say I started in the newspaper business when we still used them. Milind Dukle, the general manager for Godrej and Boyce, says that until two years ago, the company produced 12,000 typewriters a year. Before that, it was 50,000 annually. Now, the company will concentrate on producing refrigerators.
Although we might think it too obvious that it would be stupid to continue making typewriters, I have to say, kudos to Godrej and Boyce for embracing the obvious. Too many companies stubbornly cling to antiquated methods, and if you are passionate about what you do, you can’t cling to those methods.
I know a prominent ministry head that still pecks along with a typewriter made during World War II. He produces a newsletter – printed – and is proud of all this.
Sad. In a few short years, the huge ministry he helped build will drive right off the White Cliffs of Dover, baby.
If a publisher of anything does not embrace the new technologies and social media, he’ll end up desperately typing his resume, because he’ll be out of work.
As I’ve stated before, I love printed books. I have 100-year-old books on my shelf, and I love to just look at them. The craftsmanship was extraordinary. I also do not like much of what passes for youth culture today.
Yet I embrace the opportunities to disseminate those things I’m passionate about via social media and e-books. I just downloaded the new book by Josh McDowell and Dave Sterrett, “Did the Resurrection Happen … Really?” I bought the Kindle version and now read the book on my phone.
And I suppose my real point with today’s column is this: Be smart when marketing yourself. Focused marketing is just as important as producing your book, play, newspaper, etc. It can be the difference between success and, well, manufacturing typewriters in the age of Apple.
A sales rep friend of mine told me something interesting over lunch this week. He said a fellow had approached him about representing his product to retail channels. This man had cashed in his retirement to produce a series of books and a DVD. I mean, a load of money.
Bill showed me the books and DVD – beautifully produced, good, solid topic, important target audience.
But the whole project is DOA, for one reason: There are literally thousands of similar titles and emphases on the market. It’s just sad. I was sad looking at these books and DVD project, because the man who had invested so heavily evidently did not research the market before producing all this.
I see this mistake time after time. People produce a book and then begin thinking about where to market it. Let me tell you something: If you don’t start thinking about marketing, a nanosecond after The Idea makes its way through your brain, you are virtually wasting your time.
I’m not advocating that printed books go the way of typewriters. Not at all. And I’m also hesitant about “going green” (unless something makes real sense, like recycling glass and plastic so we don’t dump it in the ground – or if e-books can save some forests), but electronic publishing is smart.
Michael Hyatt, the former CEO of Thomas Nelson, is an interesting guy. He seemingly “tweets” two million times a day, but he often has great information. I admire him for embracing new technologies to advance those things he is passionate about. He has much to say about e-books.
Worldview matters a lot. If you have a worldview that you want to share with the world, get with the program. Spend a lot of time thinking about your delivery system. If you can move your thinking from being, say, a publisher of a book, to behaving as a “content provider,” you open up the possibilities.
Recently this hit me like a ton of bricks. Attending a Bible prophecy conference and then looking around online was such a study in contrasts. The conference has been losing market share for years. Routinely in the past, 1,000 people attended to see older white guys struggle with overhead projectors. At the recent conference, I’ll bet there weren’t 250 people there.
Later that evening in my hotel room, I was surfing the Web and saw the video Rob Bell’s publisher (or church, perhaps) produced to market his latest book. I saw this on Amazon.
I like the messages from the prophecy conference, and I gag at Bell’s worldview, but one is a marketing genius, and the other is hammering out a message using chisels on stone.
This morning I was visiting with a friend via Skype; he’s visiting the sites of the seven churches of Revelation. Here I was, talking in real time with a friend who is in Turkey.
I was visiting with him via Skype, which I downloaded to my Droid X. I can also use Twitter and Facebook. Google recently announced a new, space-age operating system:
“Honeycomb is the next version of the Android platform, designed from the ground up for devices with larger screen sizes, particularly tablets,” Google boasts. “We’ve spent a lot of time refining the user experience in Honeycomb, and we’ve developed a brand new, truly virtual and holographic user interface. Many of Android’s existing features will really shine on Honeycomb: refined multi-tasking, elegant notifications, access to over 100,000 apps on Android Market, home screen customization with a new 3D experience and redesigned widgets that are richer and more interactive. We’ve also made some powerful upgrades to the web browser, including tabbed browsing, form auto-fill, syncing with your Google Chrome bookmarks, and incognito mode for private browsing.”
I don’t know what all that means, but I’m going to learn! The cyber world is where worldview will be disseminated in ways too vast for our ancestors to have understood. I’m going to embrace it. If you want to succeed, educate yourself about the possibilities. If you have a book you want to publish, spend six months learning how to market yourself. I hope to see you in the future, because I’m going with the flow.
I’m installing the wishbone.