Make Marketing History

The views of a marketing deviant.

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Gomorra Marketing.

One of the many great things about this movie is the way the characters emerge over the course of the narrative. Unlike many movies, no-one is introduced, you're not told who they are nor what you should think about them. The mystery draws you in, the discovery hooks you and the reward is all the greater because of it. The marketing analogy is obvious.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

The Medium Isn't The Message.

"Murky is why being embraced by extreme athletes and clubgoers and gym rats and middle-class office workers and computer gamers and break-dance fans is just fine - at worst, each group simply thinks Red Bull is something for them, partly because they have never been told otherwise."

"Timberland discovered success in the diverse, even contradictory, ways that consumers found personal narrative relevance."

Do you really think you can know your prospects so well that you can craft the singular message that a specific individual wants to receieve?

Monday, October 27, 2008

Too Close To The Edit?

In what I think they said was Phil Spector's first television interview for forty years, the "genius that other geniuses come to" described The Beach Boys' Good Vibrations as an "edit song".

Since he contrasted this with his own composition "Be My Baby" (which Brian Wilson calls the greatest song ever written), I took him to mean that an "edit song" was one that couldn't be faithfully reproduced live and was therefore inferior at some emotional and perhaps musical level. It's an interesting thought.

Perhaps that is what the repulsion of the uncanny valley is about - if something is refined or edited too much, the authenticity is lost and we sense the manufacture involved. This doesn't mean we have to get it right first time, but I wonder if it means we have to know when to stop refining and move to a whole new model/service. Incremental improvements are fine, but eventually they get tiresome. It's easier to be remarkable if you do something completely new.

Friday, October 24, 2008

Wired Causes And Philanthropy.

Tom Watson has written a really interesting book (albeit with an appalling publisher-imposed title) in which he expands on themes espoused by Clay Shirky with specific reference to social activism, charity and philanthropy.

It is required reading. Not just because of the importance of the subject matter, not just because increasingly your business demonstrably has to stand for something, but also because it is filled with lessons in low cost marketing and you just know you're going to be expected to market smarter in the coming years.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Noticed Once, Never Forgotten.

When the going gets tough, businesses tend to play safe. When the going gets tough, it paradoxically becomes easier to stand out if you are brave enough to make yourself different. When the going gets tough and the competition is playing safe because of financial worries and reduced budgets, you can be frugal and still stand out.

The photo above is taken from a pdf of all the interns who worked with Seth Godin this summer. He featured it on his blog and thereby gave them a great platform to sell themselves. The one page that stood out (and not just to me) was the one that didn't list their qualities and skills, but just took the opportunity to say thanks. Being different got her noticed.

In similar vein, I know that Iain Tait is worth listening to, be it over a beer or at a conference or, ideally, both simultaneously. But so will anyone who reads this bio. I'm pretty sure it was written specifically for this conference, but it's so different from the other dreary ego-puffs that he will inevitably be noticed before he's even uttered a word.

Both people realised you have to be noticed before you can be missed.

Monday, October 20, 2008

The Psychology Of Gullibility.

I couldn't resist a lecture with that title, now could I? It wasn't even the hoax I half expected it to be, but rather a discourse by Cornell's Head of Psychology, Thomas Gilovich on the causes of questionable and erroneous beliefs. He focused on three.

1) People have great pattern recognition machinery in their mind.

Unfortunately that means people often see patterns where there is, in fact, only randomness. A perfectly fair coin could land on heads ten times in succession and the odds of it happening an eleventh time would still be 50% but most people would think differently.

2) People test propositions by looking for evidence that supports them.

Positive reinforcement is much easier to find when you're actively looking for it. To test a proposition correctly you have to find both positive proof and a lack of negative disproof.

3) People are literally always of two minds about things.

We have a rational and an intuitive mind that battle against each other all the time. Intuition works better in situations where you have more data and/or experience, but people don't realise that.

Short-term marketers could and do take great advantage of any or all of those things and pull the wool over gullible eyes, but smart marketers who use them to help the customer feel more informed in their decisions and in control of their life will reap greater and longer-term rewards.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

The Village Pet Store.

Not really a marketing post, just a recommendation if you're in New York before the end of the month. Though it does serve to remind you that someone, somewhere will always point out your business malpractices and that today that word will spread like wildfire.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Make Marketing Transcendant.

Thanks to Lauren's art direction, I recently found myself amazed by the scale of the gallery that is Dia Beacon and being able to have huge rooms all to myself. I didn't understand a lot of it, but the comment of one of the artists Michael Heizer seemed to apply to the whole experience and many forms of business communication and interaction as well.

"It is interesting to build a sculpture that attempts to create an atmosphere of awe....if people feel commitment, they feel something has been transcended."

Transcendence is a great marketing goal. Hard for your competition to achieve and utterly memorable.

Sunday, October 12, 2008

That's Not How We Explain Things.

Much as I love New York, it seems to me that the signage has deteriorated greatly - nowhere more so than on the subway. The most prominent part of this poster delivers a message that is incorrect for the majority of the day on which it appeared.

It would have been much clearer to announce that there were "No late-night Brooklyn bound trains" at this station, but that didn't happen because someone has decided that the conformity of communications format is sacrosanct. Consequently, timings appear in a small, unobtrusive header because the internal communication rules dictate that, even if doing so renders the message opaque.

Something to think about when you next hear the argument that you can't do that because "it's not on brand".

Thursday, October 09, 2008

Co-Opting Causes Causes Customer Concern.

If your company believes in something, then don't just co-opt the sentiment as a tagline. Walking the walk is what counts, both in real life and in terms of customer approval.

Wednesday, October 08, 2008

Missing The Customer Target.

Just saw this tweet from my CTO friend Matthias.

"I hate when Dell asks "what segment are you? small business? large business? home?" without explanation. Just show me computers, ok?"

He's right. Yet businesses still insist on trying to categorise customers by their criteria rather than ours. Why should they presume to know us better than we know ourselves? Make it easy for customers to tell you, if it's really necessary, and then just focus on giving them what they want.

Tuesday, October 07, 2008

Being Missed (aka Seth Godin Agrees With Me!).

Last night, I had the privilege of being one of a group of people invited to watch and comment upon a run-through of Seth Godin's newest talk. In it he adds some of the ideas from his latest book Tribes to the mix while synthesising a lot of thinking that is bubbling around social media and marketing. It was terrific.

Coincidentally, one of the points he made was what I had intended to blog about today. That point is that among all this talk of social objects, friending on Facebook or herd behaviour, the underlying test is what would happen if you were suddenly not one of the group. Would you be missed?

If your product/service is not so remarkable, so well able to meet your users' need and (in some more ephemeral sense) adds to their lives by virtue of standing for something, then they will not miss it if they don't buy it. You want your product/service to be one of those that people pine for when they're travelling overseas or suddenly discover they've used up. You want it genuinely to engage them rather than just get their attention. You want it to be something that truly engenders passion.

Being missed is ultimately what all the oft-quoted examplars have in common(think Nike, think Innocent, think latest industry poster-child) and being missed is what your marketing should be all about.

Addendum: The actual talk happens later this week and thereafter the slides will be online. You should check them out.

Monday, October 06, 2008

Make Marketing Exciting.

If you're not excited about your product, why should a customer be?

Thursday, October 02, 2008

Everything Is Marketing (Chapter 271).

The previously featured Ferrari emporium in Regent Street is seeking staff. But the marketing department - who previously used it to announce the arrival of the emotion of Ferrari - seems to have fogotten that its temporary storefront is still the billboard for their brand.

By allowing such a badly written piece of copy (for that's ultimately what it is), they've the location all the aura and emotion of the corner-shop window replete with DIY ads for gardeners and second-hand prams.

Wednesday, October 01, 2008

Don't Watch That, Watch This.

The news that ITV has developed a technology to embed advertisements into the uninteresting part of TV dramas is indicative of a desperate attempt to cling to a model that customers have started to abandon. Even if there is a lot of dead screen-space in ITV dramas these days.

People change their behaviour for a reason. The appropriate marketing reaction is to understand that reason and adapt accordingly. It is not to ignore their mindset completely and seek to impose your unwanted thinking on them. Viewers won't let this happen, of course, and ITV will have to think more about how to adapt their medium to their users' viewing habits rather than trying to change the way their users behave.

If they are to remain advertising-funded, then they must ensure that their viewers receive those advertisements that they want to see, when they want to see them. Not when ITV want them to see them. Like all broadcasters, they have to acknowledge that technology and choice means that it is the viewers (more so than the advertisers) who are now their customers.Times change and you have to change with them.