Case Study: Ben Franklin and Jeff Bezos

Franklin and Bezos are separated by centuries but make no mistake they are connected. What connects them? They sought to bring producers and consumers into contact. They utilized a communication channel that already existed: the mail and the Internet. In both cases, the technology was on-hand. Neither manufactured products consumers bought. They were/are in the marketing communications business. The technology (movable type printing press) on hand for Franklin was well-suited to the requirements. He was also well positioned to leverage other advantages, see below:

  • Publisher (Content creator)
  • Printer (Content producer)
  • Postmaster (Content distributor)
  • Product (Philadelphia Gazette)

His thorough understanding of the benefit to both advertiser and consumer set the stage to for additional revenue from advertisers and subscriptions for consumers. The modern term is demand generation. Franklin’s ownership of the means of production allowed him to amortize costs over the entire business base of his printing operations as ink and paper were common to all output.

Like Amazon, Bezos or not, he recognized the game changing impact of on-line shopping and on retail. In addition to bringing producers and consumers together, he centralized distribution into facilities around the U.S. for shipment via existing channels. Both Franklin and Bezos could leverage their consumer reach to induce producers to climb on board. The obvious difference is that the Intent is a dynamic, two-way communication affording value to both parties that transcends the retail transactions.

In spite of being centuries apart, I would argue it was their situational awareness and the resultant strategy that delivered considerable success. The day-to-day demands of business can blind us to opportunities. It is the proverbial can’t see the forest because of the trees. In spite of this, knowing as much as possible about the business environment we find ourselves is a lesson for the ages.

Written by Blog Contributor: Brad Lena