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Ken Magill

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Silos, Always the Silos, Stop it with the Friggin' Silos Already


By Ken Magill

During his opening keynote at the Direct Marketing Association’s All For One conference at the New York Hilton yesterday, DMA president Larry Kimmel spoke of the need to break down marketing silos.

Iʼve met Kimmel a number of times and found him to be smart and likable.

But you know what? Iʼd rather have finishing nails pounded into the webbing between my toes than have to hear the phrase “marketing silos” ever again.

Every talking head in marketing has been talking about the need to eliminate silos for as long as I can remember.

But hereʼs the thing: Silo is simply another word for territory. Silos arise because employees are territorial about their responsibilities.

The catalog guys want credit for catalog sales. The email folks want credit for email sales and every other lift that seemingly results from their efforts.

And donʼt dare introduce something that may threaten retail managers’ ability to make their numbers.

People are territorial. Marketers are people. Hence, silos.

Telling marketers to eliminate silos is like telling a male dog he canʼt piss on tree trunks and fire hydrants.

Good luck with that.

Non-marketing thoughts from the All For One Conference

Itʼs tourist season in midtown Manhattan. I hate midtown in tourist season. Why must visitors to Manhattan always walk three abreast? Slowly ... in the middle of the sidewalk ... and then stop ... and look up.

Message to Manhattanʼs tourists: When you look up, youʼre identifying yourselves as tourists. Youʼre in effect putting a neon sign over you that says, “Hey muggers and pickpockets! Over here!” Theyʼre buildings for Peteʼs sakes.

The wife calls Manhattanʼs tourists tourons.

Want to pass ʻem on the left? Well, guess what! Right as you begin to make your move, theyʼre drifting left.

Oh, and donʼt bother with the right. Tourons have a special sense that allows them to feel when people want to pass them and instinctively drift that way ... and stop ... and look up.

The only way to get around them is the street. The street frightens them. They won’t walk there except at corners and with the light.

“There should be a yellow line down the middle of Manhattanʼs sidewalks,” my wife says. “Tourons on the right. The rest of us on the left.”

Either that or just arm the rest of us with Taser guns.

“Excuse me.” Bvvvvvt! “Sorry, Klaus. Please tell your wife to keep to the right from now on, okay? Thanks! Enjoy the rest of your visit.”

Sound mean? Live there for a few years and then letʼs chat.

Oh, and if walking in midtown Manhattan in summer wasnʼt already annoying enough, thereʼs a new trend—or at least one I hadnʼt noticed happening so frequently before visiting there this week: People walking and texting with their heads down so they donʼt know theyʼre about to run into you! Yay!

This is in addition to all the people talking on their phones and ambling down the sidewalk toward you with utterly blank expressions on their faces.

I call them Celletrons. “Oh, look. Here comes a Celletron. Better step aside because heʼs so engrossed in his super-duper, more-important-than-anything-you-ever-even-thought-of affairs, heʼll walk right through you if you donʼt. ... piss ant.”

In making the argument to leave Manhattan, I told my wife sheʼd be saving the city from a spree killer if we moved.

Now I remember why.


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