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A New Rap for a New Era

Reinvent your customer base. Launch new products that fulfill needs in novel ways. Show customers you are a purveyor of ingenuity, not an order taker.

December 2013 By Ken Macro
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Snoop Lion gets it. Or at least his advertising agency does.

Lyrics from the rapper's songs were printed on 10-lb. onionskin with a perforation at the gutter and bound together with a hemp-covered case and a red phosphorous textured spine. Rolling Words debuted at the 2012 Coachella Music Festival in California where 420 elite and rare "prototypes" were handed out to fans of the hip-hop star formerly known as Snoop Dogg (but whose real name is Calvin Cordozar Broadus, Jr.). So highly coveted were these books that websites have appeared specifically designed to demand that the product be mass-manufactured and sold.

But why all of the fuss? I mean, it's a book after all, and books are passé, right? All of the American retail book stores that once populated every town across the country are rapidly disappearing only to defer their customers to the online storefronts, which allow you to simply download content onto shiny e-readers and i-devices. In fact, in a socially-driven wave of self-fulfilling prophecy, the era of printed ephemeral and publications—as we know them—has gone the way of the Betamax, the Linotype and the Pet Rock.

How many people have subsequently canceled printed newspaper subscriptions in lieu of electronic versions only because their neighbors said that the newspaper was going to stop producing a printed version anyway? We have talked ourselves into believing that the printed product is, in fact, already dead. Many of us staring into retirement have decided that the time to cash in is now. Pack up our boxes and our things and think of good times from years gone by.

"We gave it a great run," said a former press operator who retired from a prominent printing company in San Francisco that recently closed in doors. "We can't compete with these electronic gizmos; everybody gets their information online." So says mainstream America.

Fulfilling a Need

But Snoop Lion gets it (or at least his advertising agency does).

By developing a product that engages your senses, your needs, and—most importantly—promotes novelty (albeit activities that are not condoned nor endorsed by the author or publisher of this fine magazine), the impetus is not placed on the content as much as it is placed on the experience and on fulfilling a need. The demand for Snoop Lion's book was based upon the novelty of it. It isn't cool because it is "a book"; rather, it is cool because it is a well-designed novelty item that represents his culture. This is innovation and this is called product development.

About the Author

Dr. Ken Macro is an associate professor and chair of the Graphic Communication Department at The California Polytechnic State University in San Luis Obispo. He leads courses in marketing and sales, print production management, post-press processes, and teaches the Introduction to Graphic Communication class. Prior to academia, he was the director for Reprographics, Mailing and Shipping Services at both Cal Poly and The University of Akron, and has held various sales and management roles in the graphic communication and healthcare industries. His new book, The Future of Print Sales: The Renewal of Print Manufacturing through New Product Development, was published by Printing Industries of America Press. Contact Dr. Macro at kmacro@calpoly.edu.

 

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