Push vs Pull, or, How I Need to Know About Your Product

[NOTE: this post originally appeared on Datachondria, a blog dedicated to technology, data, and modern life.]

Sharing some love for the extraordinarily attractive Harvard Business Review Classics series, which appears to be devoid of any presence on the web as an independent entity. This I don't understand. A series obviously aimed at capturing and retaining a consumer -- attractive design, brilliant product aimed at a specific market, consistency in both to encourage that 'collect them all' instinct. I will buy them all as they come out.

So why isn't there an RSS feed or Twitter account to inform me when each new volume comes out?

Contrast the blog maintained by 33 1/3, Continuum's series of books on classic albums. There are usually five or so posts per month (I know this, obviously, because I can look at the Google Reader stats), featuring news on new additions to the series, alongside events and media surrounding each publication. It's low volume -- but enough to alert me to things in which I have already indicated my interest. What's more, it's done with an openness and transparency -- for example taking readers step-by-step through the submission process for new titles -- that encourages me to think of it less as a marketing tool, but more of a dialogue on a subject (and with a product) with which I'm already engaged.

It's surprising how few companies are aware of the change in consumer mentality that is taking place with the increase in available data and the appearance of filters to help users better manage their inflow. RSS readers, Twitter, even Facebook -- these are content aggregators allowing incredibly supple management of inputs at a granular level. My Twitter account is a highly idiosyncratic mixture of friends, information pertinent to my job, and select entertainment/leisure news. It's unique to me, and it's something that I'm continually redesigning to meet my needs. Which means that I'm spending more time with it than I am in the presence of content distribution hubs -- magazines, websites, bookstores, TV, the transistor wireless machine -- over which I can exercise less control. So if you've made it onto my Twitter follow list, you're there because I want you to be. It's permission marketing in the purest sense.

Indeed, there is the possibility for the impact of your message to be amplified; as Matthew Forsythe points out, ReTweets are "socially targetted":

People usually only retweet things they’re interested in or they think their followers might be interested in. So as the tweet travels through the twitterverse (for lack of a better word), the message is finding people who are more and more likely to be interested in its content.

I'm not asking you to beg for my attention. That would get on my nerves. Just send me a little note every now and then when you have something new that I would like. Cost to your business = zero (well, thirty seconds each time you publish a new volume). Increased revenue to your business = more than zero.

Why not help your customers build their identification with your product? This is a recession, isn't it?

Update: More offenders from the world of publishing. Hesperus Press's striking On series: Stendhal On Love; Virginia Woolf On Not Knowing Greek, John Donne On Death... are there more? Who knows? Bloomsbury's indescribably elegant The Writer and the City series, so far only catalogued by enthusiasts on LibraryThing.