Disruptive technology + innovation

Gutenberg Bible

Johann Gutenberg (ca. 1400 – 1468) introduced movable type to Western Europe and revolutionized printing, books and communications. In 1455 in Mainz, Germany he published 180 copies of the Biblia Sacra, St. Jerome’s 4th century Latin Bible. Out of this printing revolution emerged the Renaissance, the Reformation and the Scientific Revolutions. In the 50 years that followed its publication, hundreds of presses emerged across Europe, printing millions of books.

  • The Gutenberg Bible was printed using black ink. The colour illuminations were added by hand after each page had been printed.  
  • To produce 180 copies of the 1,282 page bible 230,760 passes of the press were required; about two years work.
  • The average scribe produced one Bible every three years.
  • Gutenberg’s typeface mimicked the formal book hand used by scribes of the period.

Of the 180 copies printed, about 50 are known to survive and 21 are complete. This copy of the Gutenberg Bible, printed on velum, was purchased by the Library of Congress in 1930.




Testimonial Advertising

 1850 Testimonial ad

This is a testimonial ad by Lewis Miller, a carpenter in Pennsylvania around 1850. At the time homes were built using a technique called post+beam construction which demanded the work of skilled craftsmen. In this ad Lewis Miller four core testimonial advertising elements:

  • an illustration of himself
  • an illustration of some of his home building tools
  • a bit about himself; 30 years of experience at the same business address, and . . . 
  • a list of over one hundred satisfied clients.

Now jump forward 169 years + here we are in 2019.

Today we still use the same four core elements to build compelling testimonial ads, newspaper + magazine advertorials, business case studies as well as B2B and B2Cwebsites for one important reason:

While times have changed, people’s fundamental natures, their hierarchy of needs and their reasons for buying have not.



Turmoil and Opportunity

Where there’s turmoil, there’s opportunity . . .

In the mid-1960's, the positive outcomes of an American nuclear war were promoted with propaganda like this.

 Nuke Benefit Ad

At the same time fall-out shelters were repositioned and sold as an advanced underground lifestyle option.


Maybe, information like this needs to understood better. Check this out;

In 1962 Jay Swayze built a 3,400 square foot - four bedroom, three bath home inside a steel reinforced concrete shell, 13 feet underground. The first bomb shelter residence of its kind. The creation was named "The Atomitat", derived from the words atomic habitat. It was a futuristic concept designed as a shelter for the nuclear age.

 The project started during a hot period in the Cold War, and was a concept that was completely ahead of its time. It was the first underground home in the U.S. that met civil defense specifications. From above the earth's surface, it doesn't look like much of a home, but while walking down the giant staircase in between the two above ground single car garages, you realize that this is a very unique home. "You close the steel radiation proof doors at night," said the owner who bought the underground house 50 years ago, and lived there for over 30 years.

"We’d look out the kitchen window and see beautiful murals. There are windows everywhere and there is also an outside patio”. Windows throughout the house give you a false sense of being above ground. Murals on the concrete shell enclosing the house were given careful attention. Each could be lit to mimic daytime, dusk, nighttime or dawn. Cleaning and dusting the house is rarely needed because you don't have the deterioration that you do above ground. Real plants grow under artificial lights on the porch and patios, and the days and nights are always calm, despite what the weather might be doing 13 feet above ground. It's easy to maintain and energy efficient. It is also storm proof, burglar proof, disaster proof.

While this scenario may describe how the first martian or lunar billionaires will live, do you really want to live like this on earth?



Small business planning

Here are a few small business planning tips from Rhonda Abrams, author of “Six-Week Start-Up”, just released in its fourth edition and other books for small business owners. Connect with Rhonda on Facebook and Twitter: @RhondaAbrams.

1. Keep learning.

Your business can't grow if you don't. Attend trade shows, read journals, take seminars, hire a consultant to teach you new skills. Your brain is your most important business asset – add to it.  

2. Keep your priorities straight.

It's easy to keep busy being busy, but that doesn't necessarily mean you're being productive. Make a list of those few items that make the difference between succeeding and failing, both in business and in life and put your energies there.

Stay in touch with former clients.

Don’t just focus on the projects at hand because former customers are the best source of new business. Find an easy way to communicate with all your customers; past, present and future two to three times a year.

Use technology better.

Use it to master your contact lists, move more paper to digital files, and keep better control of your finances.

Know when NOT to use technology.

Technology is not the answer for every problem. Be open to the right solution for each problem, whether it's technology or paper and pen.

Throw stuff away.

Get rid of files that are 10 year old or older. Back-up your computer onto zip drives and cloud drives more often and toss all of those little slips of paper on your desk.


Business improves when you actually take time to think about it. It's easy to get so busy that you stop thinking about your business. So regularly, ideally every day, stop and think about what you're doing, what you're saying and how you're saying it. The busier you are, the more important it is to pause, catch your breath, and reflect.

Hire more help.

Sure, it takes time and energy to train employees, and money out of pocket, but evaluate whether you might actually make more money if you had someone to take over some of your non-income producing tasks.

Be more patient with employees.

I've gotten a lot better at understanding that the way to help employees grow is to let them make decisions, do things their way, and sometimes make mistakes.  

Help others.

Find ways to have your businesses help others. Make 2019 a year in which you add to the wealth of the world, not just in monetary terms but in terms of kindness, sharing, lending a hand, and giving others opportunity. We all focus on improving the bottom line, but remember, the bottom line is just the bottom. This year, let's all make a resolution to aim higher.



Google vs. live media representatives


Every week I get a few pokes from Google inviting me to become more proficient with their ever expanding suite of self-serving media optimization tools. Every few months I get a nice direct mail package, and a few times a year they call me. They’ve even paid me to attend their focus groups here in Toronto. I feel loved.

Google makes it incredibly easy for today’s agency media teams to look smart + informed when in fact Google has dumbed them down, blinding them to the virtues that exist in the wider world of media that Google does not own or operate.

Until online advertising came along agency media buyers and planners spent a lot of time with live media representatives (at the agency or in bars). I used to love going across Canada on local media buying trips where I would meet with all of the local TV, Radio and Newspaper sales representatives for at least five reasons:

  1. to learn all about the pros + cons of the media that they sell,
  2. to get the representative’s perspective on the other, competing and non-competing media,
  3. to find out what it’s like to live in the market – in general and as a user of the brand I was caring for,
  4. to find out what the people in thecommunity thought about the brands that I was buying media for, and
  5. to gather some (public domain) information about the competition’s marketing + advertising activities.

Despite the bias that each media rep brought to the table, I ended up with a pretty good feel for the market's dynamics when I compared my notes (for the 10 – 20 media sessions) at the end of the day. Those in-market-buying-trips also introduced me to a wonderful network of people that I could call anytime, and rely on for a professional perspective on their medium, the market and the local business climate in general. My network used to cover Canada and the N.E. United States.

My clients were always amazed at how much I knew about their business at the grass roots level. That local + national knowledge made my job FAR easier and enabled me to get away from the mundane “price” discussions and get them to focus on . . . 


"BETTER" as in "more effective", not cheaper!

I find doing business in today’s marcom climate VERY frustrating because 98% of those I speak to regularly confuse cheaper with better. Getting a dozen ads “cheaper” might be better for your budget, but it does not follow that it’s a “better” – or more effective advertisement or a more effective media buy. And if the ads run in cheapest, rather than the most appropriate medium, more ads in the lower priced medium will not save your brand, build your sales or save your skin.

Google is great at telling you (frequently) that you’re doing well and could do better. But they’ll NEVER tell you:

  • that you shouldn't use one or more of their media,
  • how well you’re doing compared to your direct or oblique competitors + why,
  • how their media options perform (locally or globally) by SIC.    

Their non-disclosure excuse is always the same: "privacy", when in fact it our "ignorance" is their financial "bliss".


That they use a combination of online + traditional offline media to keep their marketing funnel + pipelines full. Here's the first three lines of this post . . . sothat you don't have to scroll up:

Every week I get a few e-mails from Google inviting me to become more proficient with their ever expanding suite of self-serving media optimization tools. Every few months I get a nice direct mail package, and a few times a year they call me. Ocasionally they pay me to attend their focus groups. 

If Google use a combination of online + traditional offline media to keep their marketing funnel + pipelines full, shouldn't you?