Saturday, September 05, 2009

Second Draft Required

I said I don't have much to say about the Disney/Marvel thing, and that's true. However, I do want to draw attention to Brian Hibbs letter to Disney CEO Bob Iger.

Now, Brian is a pretty sincere guy and as solid a commentator on the Direct Market as one can expect. His thoughts and opinions should be given serious consideration.

It's just sad that his letter won't get any attention where it counts.

I'll just go through the highlights here, as I don't want to reprint the whole thing.

Hi, you don’t know me, but I’m a comic book specialty retailer – also known
as a Direct Market (DM) retailer.

This is not how you want to introduce yourself. Of course Bob Iger doesn't know who you are - hell, he probably doesn't even know what the Direct Market is. It's your job to inform him and make him care. Something this next passage does not help with:

I also suspect that the publishing arm of Marvel is among the least of your
concerns in this deal, as the potential for movies, TV shows, licensing,
amusement parks rides, whatever, is the true prize here for you.

And now the letter is in the trash. Why? You just argued against your own importance, and undercut whatever brilliant arguements you had. If you want him to pay attention, you have to sell him on the idea that what you do MATTERS. If you can't or won't do that, then don't bother with the letter. There's a lot more in this letter that should be addressed, and maybe if I hear enough feedback, I'll even write it down, but it's all irrelevant until this point is dealt with.

I'm sure Brian knows that in business (because he is a businessman, and I'm not) you want to talk up your product, your service, and what you offer. That has to be embedded deeply into every passage of your letter, so it is reinforced to such a degree that the audience/reader cannot deny it. Being self-depricating is not the way to go if you want anyone to pay attention to you. But it's understandable - even we comics fans tend to talk down our product, because we're afraid of ridicule or for other reasons. And that's fine in a social setting, but not in business. You, as a leading retailer, have to convince the CEO of a multi-billion-dollar media empire that your business matters, and that your opinion matters because you are good at running your very meaningful business. So speak up, speak loud and proud and don't be naysayed by hecklers. Try something a little more like this;

"My name is Brian Hibbs, and I run one of the most successful retail shops for
comics and other fine graphic paraphenilia in this country, of which your recent
purchase of Marvel Entertainment is a key part. As a leader in
this region, it is my opinion that an opportunity presents itself for Disney to
increase its holdings by...."

And that's the other part Brian doesn't give much emphasis to in his letter; What's in it for Disney? Because if he wants them to do anything, he has to prove it's in their best interest. Disney's not in the business of helping out someone unless there's a payoff.

So, in summary: Talk up your business, be proud of who you are and what you do, let them know that there is opportunity for DISNEY to profit, and then make your case by stating the facts and backing them up with the numbers. Anything else is a waste of their time and yours.

1 comment:

John said...

I got bored halfway through that letter; he seems to be whining that Marvel isn't helping them as much as he would like and/or as much as they used to.

This would not persuade me if I were a Disney exec.