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Rebuttal To Lord Michael Grade: Digital Marketing Needs Distribution As Well As Quality

Lord Michael Grade gave the keynote at a digital conference, the Drum Digital Sessions Conference. According to Stephen Lepitak, reporter for TheDrum, Lord Grade suggests that quality in digital marketing outweighs everything, he said, "the quality that makes any kind of marketing really memorable, as you all set out to achieve, is exactly the same quality that makes great theatre. It’s drama and most of all it’s emotion”. 

Lepitak writing in theDrum wrote the following to set up Lord Grade’s quote, "The technology, has adds, is important but it is," and Lord Grade said “very much a second order issue,” and “a distribution method.”

The Importance of Place: Cranium

 Cranium, a board game invented in Seattle, Washington, by a bunch of ex-Microsoft people, initially had difficulty in finding distribution channels through toy stores.

Not a lot of copies of Cranium had been sold, and the toy stores were unwilling to take on board yet another untried game. The founders needed to sell their product and met in a Starbucks store to figure out what they were going to do, they decided to take their product to their customers.

Cramium's customers were coffee drinkers like the founders, so they went to Starbucks, who agreed to sell the game and Cranium became the first board game Starbucks sold through their stores. Cranium became a runaway success partly because of the unique distribution channel. (From my 2004 article, “Follow The Customer: Best Buy, Starbucks & Cranium.”)

Why A Keyword Can Make All The Difference To Distribution

One of my favorite SEO case studies comes from Brent D. Payne, one time Director of SEO at the Tribune, and now Owner of BaldSEO, LLC a social media and SEO consulting firm. A few years ago, I saw him give a presentation in Greensboro, NC,  on how he managed SEO for online journalism. Brent talked about the, "Crash on the Hudson," case study.

Basically, he explained that the L.A. Times wrote an initial headline for the article about the Hudson River plane crash titled, "two wings and a prayer," and changed it to Plane crash, Hudson River." The New York Times kept their title, "Pilot Makes Icy Plunge." The L.A. Times secured number one on Google and received millions of unique views, the New York Times article didn't make the first page.

Brent monitoring social media understood how people were referring to the crash, and how people were searching for the stories about the crash in real-time, he recommended the keywords in the title of the L.A. Times article be changed to match the growing consensus of how the crash was to be described in the hours after the event, and as a result produced major traffic for his company’s paper.

Check out Lee Odden’s interview with Brent on this topic and SEO journalism.

Why Marketing Is Not Just About Promotion!

As a marketer I try to remember my four P's, not simply because four words are something I can easily remember; Product, Price, Place and Promotion. Also, because as a marketer I sometimes forget there's more to marketing than promotion. Yes, you have to make sure you make good quality content; Product, but in today's world if you don't use language that the user doesn't search on, you will not be found; Place.

Lord Grade is right about quality content, it is important; but I think he misses something important about how digital marketing works, quality without distribution means poor execution, and poor quality marketing. As the success of the Cranium board game and L.A. Time article about the "Crash on the Hudson illustrate," sometimes Place is everything in marketing.