After my last piece was published, an email exchange between Rebecca Lieb and me ensued. (Rebecca is the executive editor of the eCommerce/Marketing Channel at internet.com, of which ClickZ is a part, so she is “da bossman,” so to speak.) These emails began with me complaining about an edit and continued with Rebecca telling me that she thought my personalization pieces were “off topic.”

In all fairness, her off-topic complaint was probably right on. I’m not much for topics, and I’ve definitely never thought of myself in terms of the on/off light switch paradigm.

But, fairness aside, after the exchange I set about listening to my new Kid Rock CD, drinking some red wine, and weatherproofing my house. And the next thing I know, I’m writing my crazy readers on my TDCRC (Titanic Deck Chair Rearrangement Corporation) email list — telling them that da bossman at ClickZ thought I was “off topic.”

The next day, I receive a message on my cell phone’s voice mail (paraphrasing):

Hi Eric, this is Rebecca Lieb. Well, you may be off topic when it comes to personalization, but you’re certainly very good at viral marketing. Is there any way we can call off the rabid fans?

After laughing my ass off for about five minutes, I called Rebecca back. I certainly hadn’t meant to incite verbal riots, I explained. I was simply exploring the Web’s “instant publishing” possibilities (heh, heh, heh). Rebecca very kindly offered to allow me to expand my personalization column to include something like… targeted marketing. But I’m not into the commerce-as-war metaphor, so I was forced to decline.

In turn, I expressed interest in doing opinion pieces, because I certainly wouldn’t be off topic with a mandate like that, huh? As it turns out, da bossman can’t pull that one off. Apparently, the rules surrounding opt-in email lists mean that she’d have to get everyone to resubscribe were she to change my column topic.

End result: I’m outta here — and I’ve found a helluva replacement.

But before we get to that, let me say a few parting words:

  • Mucho thanks to Andy Bourland for constantly challenging me with engaging emails.
  • My essential message is simple: Marketing is lost.
  • My solution isn’t quite so simple: Ultimately, business has to see itself in a larger context.
  • Rap music can teach us a lot about how to accomplish this.
  • Nick Usborne is a Brit living in Canada — hence, he talks funny.
  • Sean Carton is a good source from which to bum smokes (and he’s not too bad at biz stuff, either).
  • Lastly, thanks to all of you who wrote with kind words.

All right: I’m outta here. If you’d like to find me, check TDCRC or my Weblog.

My replacement is Jack Aaronson. I’ll leave his bio to him, but I will say this: Jack was director of personalization at barnesandnoble.com for a long time and is, without a doubt, one of the finest public speakers I know. His knowledge of personalization is unmatched, and you will most definitely find him to be practical, engaging, and on topic.


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