Content Inc., written by Joe Pulizzi, is one of my favorite books of all time. So, I wanted to see what his newer book, Killing Marketing was all about.
I am clearly not the target audience for this book, as indicated by the opening chapters, which I found to be a snooze fest. But I got exactly what I was looking for in the middle chapters, which made the book worthwhile.
Here are my book notes – what I found most compelling and applicable to me in Killing Marketing.
Focus on Your Audience & Their Problem, Not on Yourself
The book tells the story of #FlipMyFunnel, which I was not familiar with. The key point that I was reminded of is to focus on your audience and not on yourself. This will likely be reflected in the Music Entrepreneur HQ initiatives moving forward.
Conferences can be Profitable
It seems obvious, I suppose, but the people I’ve talked to in the music industry were basically using conferences as a loss leader. But Content Marketing World is an incredibly profitable arm of Content Marketing Institute. I guess, in many ways, it comes down to your target audience, the product and what they’re willing to pay for it.
Revenue Streams for Publishing Companies
I do think of Music Entrepreneur HQ as a publishing company of sorts, as most of my work revolves around scripting and writing.
Authors Pulizzi and Rose indicate that the main direct revenue streams for publishing companies are:
Advertising and sponsorships
Conferences and events
Premium content offerings
The book gets into a detailed explanation of each, most of which was obvious.
What I found interesting was that there are basically three types of premium content offerings – direct-for-sale products, funded content purchased on demand and syndicated content opportunities.
Direct-for-sale products are the most obvious – eBooks, audio programs, courses and other info products would all fall under this category.
Funded content purchases are content you create that’s bought by others. I didn’t realize that this was an opportunity and one I’m going to be paying more attention to moving forward.
Syndicated content is when your content is syndicated to other sites for a fee. Generally, I’ve been syndicating content for free, and didn’t know you could tap into this as a revenue stream.
I can certainly think of other revenue streams one could take advantage of but since CMI is a multimillion-dollar company, I better take their word for it.
The Audience is the Asset
Content blindness comes from focusing on the content rather than the audience. The content isn’t the asset. The audience is! Content is the means to get to your audience.
This would suggest that the most efficient model is creating the minimum amount of content with the maximum amount of resources. I couldn’t agree more.
Businesses should have one mission and one audience. Again, I believe this wholeheartedly.
The book talks about James Altucher, who makes it his goal to identify massive pain points his audience can relate to and then talk about how he attempted to recover from them. I love that. I’m going to be stealing that from you, James!
Qualities That Make an E-Newsletter Successful
Successful e-newsletters are consistent (published at the promised time every single time), valuable and exclusive (they feature unique content). Great model.
The Three-Legged Stool
It’s an old concept but it still works, no matter how pervasive our digital lives become. If you aren’t getting the results you want with digital, incorporate print and events too. That’s your three-legged stool – digital, print and events.
The book also touches on the idea of “experience business”, something I’ve been talking about for years (maybe I got it from another Pulizzi book). The idea is that you can create more value for your audience by creating experiences for them.
I discovered that pilot programs within a business should last at least 12 months. You must have a goal or vision of how the business will be different after the fact. You must also have agreed-upon metrics that help you determine when to keep it or cut it. I’m doing this from now on.
Get busy living or get busy dying – The Shawshank Redemption
Rose states that commitment and flexibility can both be a virtue in business. Sometimes you need to stay committed to generate results. Sometimes you need to stay flexible to pivot when opportunities present themselves.
The essence of strategy is choosing what not to do. – Michael Porter
I feel like I’ve been playing emotional chicken with myself.
After watching the first eight seasons of How I Met Your Mother from start to finish – two or three times, I might point out – I just couldn’t bring myself to watch the ninth and final season.
I also put off getting the DVD. You know how these things are – they take so long to come out, and by the time they do, you forget.
But even more than that, I could feel the emotional content ramping up in the series, and that added to my reservations. Plus, I’d heard things. One of my roommates – should I point out she’s Asian? – said, “So serious.”
More recently, she also pointed out, “It ends with the two people you’d suspected all along getting together.”
Hmm… I began to wonder if I could even live with the ending.
Why was I so invested in this series? Well, even I think I’m a tad irrational about this whole thing, but to understand that, we’re going to have to play jump rope with timelines a bit (a style I’m sure my fellow Motherians will appreciate – I’m sorry, I won’t say Motherians again).
And for the sake of everyone’s sanity, I’m not going to do a deep analysis of every season, touch on all of the classic inside jokes and references, or obsess about the little inconsistencies (ever notice how Barney is deathly afraid of driving Ted’s car in one season, and in a subsequent one he’s seen speeding so he can attempt to talk his way out of speeding tickets?).
I’m sure I could talk about that stuff for hours, so let’s move right along.
Oh, and if you’ve never watched the show, there will most definitely be spoilers ahead. Be forewarned.
I’m not going to do a lot of explaining here, because I’m sure anyone reading this is a fan of the show… or you just like to read my stuff (in which case, thanks for reading!).
How I Met Your Mother is a sitcom that ran from 2005 to 2014. It had a really good run.
When it first came out, it was one of those shows that, if it was on TV, I would watch it (that’s a long time ago now – I haven’t had TV in years). I’d catch a few episodes here and there, and I really loved it.
But what really solidified my love for the show was a family trip down to Portland and California (I live in Canada, by the way – insert some joke about maple-glazed donuts and Zambonis here).
While in California, my step sister was having her graduation, and I ended up not being able to attend due to a lack of seats or some such.
So I had a night alone with a laptop… No, it’s not what you think. It was my step brother’s friend’s laptop, and on it he happened to have a few episodes of How I Met Your Mother.
Actually, I’m a little foggy on the details. I think my step brother was around while I was watching, at least part of the time.
Anyway, when I sat down to enjoy a few episodes, I just felt that the show got me. The humor was undeniable, and I was hooked.
That was around 2009. In retrospect, you probably only had to say three names to get my attention. Neil Patrick Harris, Alyson Hannigan, and Bob Saget? I’m in!
But let’s not forget that they also brought us The Karate Kid himself Ralph Macchio and his opponent William Zabka (the true hero), who was present for a good chunk of the final season. Wow, they so get me. I didn’t mind a lot of the other cameos either, even if they felt a little more canned.
Britney Spears, Alan Thicke, Nicole Scherzinger, Mandy Moore, Jorge Garcia, some of the cast from NewsRadio… these were some of the better picks.
So it was around that time, after returning from California, that I started collecting the DVDs. Strange how irrelevant DVDs have become since that time – but I do have the full HIMYM collection now.
And after watching the first couple of seasons, the perfect balance of comedy and sentimentality grabbed me anew. The sentimental aspect was mostly lost on me until I started watching every episode.
In subsequent seasons, the show started getting a little edgier (a little), and began emphasizing the comedy over the sentimental part. But you knew that the emotional content would return. Let me come back to that.
I am convinced that How I Met Your Mother is really the show for my generation. Or, at least, it is for people like me.
It really made me feel stuff – some stuff that, when I was watching the first couple of seasons, wasn’t too distant in my memory.
Amazingly, I was actually able to interpret some of my life events through the show too.
For example, in 2008, for the first time ever, I fell head over heels for a girl I met. Unfortunately, within a three-month time period, we fell out of touch for good (well, I still haven’t heard from her some seven and a half years later – I’m pretty sure it’s not happening).
I was left reeling for months after that… maybe even years. But time did indeed heal that wound.
Anyway, there’s a scene in the show – in the first season if I’m not mistaken – where Robin says to Ted something to the effect of, “you’re giving me those eyes… like you want to kiss, and merry, and have kids, and settle down, but I can’t give you that. I’m not that girl.”
Right there I got the answer and the closure that I surely deserved, but never got from my ex. She wasn’t ready.
But even if not for the eerie parallels that existed between what was happening in my life and what was happening on-screen, I also related to the characters.
Like Ted, I’m a bit of a hopeless romantic. But I’m definitely not an architecture or history buff, wine connoisseur, or, for that matter, a total nerd.
Like Marshall, I’m tall. I also have a frame very similar to Jason Segel’s. But I’m nowhere near as spazzy as the character he plays.
Like Barney, I use catchphrases and movie quotes in conversation without people even knowing it. But I’m not a sociopath, womanizer, or suit collector.
As for Lily and Robin… Well, I’m not a girl, but Robin reminds me of my sister quite a bit. Lily just seems to spend a lot of her on-screen time getting angry (ever notice that?).
And I’m also not much of a bar-dweller like the crowd on the show. What a way to spend your life. But for the intents and purposes of the show, it works.
I’m not sure that I’m totally coming across here, but for these and other reasons, I am making a sweeping declaration that How I Met Your Mother was – and is – an important show for me, and for my generation.
I promised to touch on the emotional content a little more. Well, this also relates to my previous point about how I was drawing parallels between the show and events in my life.
Marshall loses his dad. I also lost my dad, though it was much earlier in life – when I was 13, in fact. I’ve since lost my grandpa, a cousin, and an uncle too.
Robin finds out she can’t have kids. I have no basis for relating to that, but the episode where she says to her imaginary kids that they aren’t “real”, wow.
Like Ted, I’ve considered giving up on the idea of love altogether, though there’s a part of me that wants to hang on. I’ve also experienced prolonged periods of loneliness.
And I can also remember leaving friends behind. Shortly after my dad passed away, my family moved back to Canada. Up until that point, we were living in Japan. I had built some amazing friendships as I was going through grade school, but after my dad passed on, we had to make some choices that were right for the family.
So, this type of emotional content was building, particularly in season seven and eight. It made you wonder what was coming in the final season – what they were liable to pull off. To quote from the commentary track, “we felt like we’d earned that with our audience.”
Look, at the risk of sounding like a softie – and maybe I am – the show has brought me to tears multiple times. I could relate to what many of the characters were going through.
It seems silly to say in reference to a sitcom, which is why I’ve held off on saying it until now. But things got real ‘o clock fast.
That’s why I was so hesitant to delve into the final season.
I know I’ve been jumping around quite a bit already, but I’m going to veer completely off track for just a moment (it still relates to the subject matter at hand, however).
The reality is that I’ve always had this kind of relationship with the arts and entertainment. “Real life”, it seems, is monotonous. I feel kind of numb about it at times.
Don’t get me wrong – I still have intense moments of elation, sadness, or anger. I have a lot going on in my life, and one thing I can say – with a lot of gratitude, in fact – is that it’s never dull.
But there is something about comic books, TV shows, movies, or video games that have really pulled my heartstrings through the years, at least periodically. Let me show you my work.
I remember playing through the PlayStation 2 “classic”, Final Fantasy X (definitely not deserving of the high marks it earned with gamer mags, by the way) for the first time, probably around 2003. I’d bought and moved into my first house around that time.
There’s an emotional moment where the main characters, Tidus and Yuna embrace in the Macalania Spring (well, some call it a love scene – it’s not that graphic).
If I remember right, it had something to do with the fact that Yuna was going to die, and Tidus learned it for the first time. I could be wrong on the exact details, but you’ll have to forgive me as it has been a while.
Here’s what I’m getting at. After watching that scene, I couldn’t even play the game for a month or two.
No, I wasn’t disgusted. The emotional content was so real, so resonant, and so heavy that I just couldn’t bring myself to go on. It was a really odd experience, even for me.
One more example, if you’ll permit me – Californication.
Yep, it had drugs, it had sex, it had nudity, it had suggestive language, and it was even a tad violent at times (look, I’m not telling you to watch it). But there was something about that show that was very real for me as well.
I think what it showed me, in a weird sort of way, was that there is life after your 20s. There are things to look forward to, like marriage, kids, work, opportunities… Well, I guess that depends on who you ask.
But when I was watching it, it was kind of a dark period in my life. I wasn’t exactly feeling ecstatic about where things were going at the time, and for some reason I just couldn’t seem to comprehend why I was even here – like I had outstayed my welcome on earth or something.
I’ve since come to the conclusion that you have to attach your own meaning and purpose to life.
Californication made me realize that there could still be fun times ahead, things to look forward to.
I’ve been saying, for a while, that there are two shows that ruined TV for me – one is Californication, the other is How I Met Your Mother. Well, it’s really the latter that did a number on me.
I guess all I’m really doing here is painting a picture of how sensitive I can be, and how uninvolved I can be at other times. I care deeply about the outcome of some things, but could be totally detached in other situations, for reasons that aren’t totally apparent to me.
There are actually several other examples I could bring up from my past, but I’m sure you get the point.
I’ve come full circle, so let’s get back to the topic at hand.
So, can I live with the final season of How I Met Your Mother?
As it turns out, the answer is “yes.” I just watched the final episode last night, and I think I will sleep just fine (I didn’t).
Before I say anything else, don’t you think they did a great job with the final season? The callbacks, the characters, the inside jokes, the new jokes, the references… they really went all-out here, and it makes me – watcher of every single episode – very happy.
But they did do a couple of things I wasn’t expecting. And no, I’m not referring to the final scene with Ted and Robin.
The first is the mother whose name we don’t even learn until the very, very end (Tracy). She was built up for so long, you just knew that she had to be a heck of a woman – and she was.
But not revealing her name had a way of dehumanizing her, almost as if she wasn’t even there. It was creepy. In an earlier season, Lily went on about how she would be “the same size” and get to share clothes, but she barely even acknowledges her existence once she’s in their lives.
But in the end, it’s exactly like Ted’s kids say. He was always more invested in Robin, and Tracy was (unfortunately) a much smaller part of the story.
The other surprise was how they kept moving the story further and further into the future. I guess it was necessary to “kill off” Tracy and break up Barney and Robin for Ted and Robin to wind up together. That story probably couldn’t have been wrapped up any other way.
But, as for me, I think it would have been okay if it had ended at Ted and Tracy getting together at the train station. This is actually what they did with the alternate ending on the DVD – it was simple and cute, very in character with the entire series. But then it sort of makes “the rest of your life” portion less meaningful.
And I also can’t help but feel that the fast-forwarding killed the generational and sentimental resonance a little bit. We could – or at least I could – relate to the characters because of how close in age they were to me.
With that in mind, this is the story that Ted was sharing with his kids, so it makes sense that it would end many years ahead of when Ted met his wife-to-be.
So that, as they say, is that.
I probably seem obsessed in a way, and I’m definitely gushing, but honest to God, I don’t watch that much TV. It’s really a rare thing for me to sit through an entire series, let alone an entire season or episode of any given show (I haven’t watched a single episode of Breaking Bad or Orange Is The New Black). That should tell you something.
Entertainment is a small part of my life. I do enjoy myself from time to time, but for the most part I am far too ambitious to sit around and watch others live.
But I feel like we had something special with How I Met Your Mother. Thanks to everyone that was involved with this project – you did amazing.
Now it’s time for me to get back to living a legen – wait for it – dary. Legendary life!
Well, I’m not one to put my “stamp of approval” on too many things (at least, I don’t think I am). If I do, it’s only because I consume a lot of content.
I recently found out that How I Met Your Mother: The Whole Story is available on DVD (get it at Amazon or Amazon Canada). It includes all nine seasons.
If you like sitcoms, then I don’t think you’ll regret checking it out. The humor, surprisingly, still holds up, and you’ve already heard me talk about the emotional side of things.
I am an Amazon affiliate. If you purchase through one of the provided links, I will earn a small commission at no additional expense to you.
I have often been told that my music and vocal style sounds like that of the Barenaked Ladies – in particular Steven Page – many times before. The comparison is admittedly flattering and complimentary.
I can’t say that I’ve always been a Barenaked Ladies fan or that they were ever my primary influence. They’ve just always kind of been there.
Still, I have memories of listening to them on vacation in Malaysia when I was a kid, and I also remember the big break they had with “One Week” when I was in high school.
A lot of people thought that the band was brand new when they broke into the U.S. market, but they had spent many years as independents, and released several demo tapes before they experienced any kind of mainstream success. Looking for a hardworking band? You’ve found one.
Gordon (affiliate link) is therefore their first official commercial release, in a matter of speaking. It sold extremely well in Canada, which is not surprising considering how polished and simultaneously quirky it was.
The Ladies cite artists like the B-52s, They Might Be Giants and “Weird Al” Yankovic as influences, and I suppose that is where some of the similarities between them and David Andrew Wiebe becomes more apparent.
“Weird Al” was a staple in my dad’s music collection, and I would later become obsessed with They Might Be Giants on my uncle’s recommendation. I have also had a love affair with New Wave music, and I suppose that’s where the B-52s fit in.
Both Yankovic and TMBG have influenced my approach to music in a significant way, though it doesn’t always come out lyrically. Musically speaking, I can draw some similarities (I often play acoustic guitar and use jazz chords; so do the Ladies).
As I sit back and listen to Gordon again, I am amazed at how every song is so recognizable. Again, it’s not like I wore out any of their CDs at any point. Somehow, this album has embedded itself into my subconscious without me being aware of it.
Many of the songs on it are fan favorites, and I’m partial to “Enid” and “Brian Wilson” myself. In a way, it’s almost like a Greatest Hits album. It’s what an album is supposed to be.
Gordon is serious, smart, sentimental, quirky and funny all at the same time. I think this is due in part to the chord progressions and harmonies. Though there are some frantic and upbeat numbers, there are also some slower, more laid-back songs like “Hello City”, “Wrap Your Arms Around Me” and “What A Good Boy”.
Gordon is also daring. I think it goes a lot of places perfectionists wouldn’t go. Just listen to Page nearly breaking out in laughter on “The King of Bedside Manor”, the weird vocals and tip-of-the-hats to Rush on “Grade 9” or the comedic call-and-response banter on “If I Had $1000000”, and you find a band that was willing to let it all hang out.
What is sometimes overlooked as that they are also backed by serious talent. They could write catchy pop hits and then turn around and write ballads or folk and bluegrass tunes. They could be poignant and heartwarming, and they could be equally lighthearted and fun. They could also pay homage to Rush within the context of their own songs.
My band mate Anna pointed out that the Barenaked Ladies sound like “frustrated jazz musicians”, and nowhere is that more apparent than on this record. Just listen to “Box Set”, and you’ll see what I mean.
I can’t call myself a frustrated jazz musician, because my roots are overwhelmingly in blues and classic rock. But I am easily bored with traditional open chords (“zombie” chords), and I have often used jazz chords and suspended chords in place of them. Again, that’s where I might share some things in common with the Ladies.
In all, this is a great collection of songs. Though the they can be enjoyed individually, this is one of those rare cases where the sum is better than its parts.
Hey! I’m author, entrepreneur, and musician David Andrew Wiebe. Learn more >