Make Marketing History

The views of a marketing deviant.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

The Medium Is the Message.

Last week, I attended an unusual evening built around neuroscientist David Eagleman's book of short stories about what happens when you die.

As well as the engaging conversation of Phillip Pullman, there were a series of live and recorded readings by luminaries such as Jarvis Cocker, Stephen Fry and Miranda Richardson. And it was this that fascinated me - some of us preferred the live performances, others found ourselves more engaged in the disembodied voice of the recorded readings.

In an attention economy, it is crucial to remember that distraction takes many different forms.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Thank You Notes.

It was interesting to hear a group of newspaper letter-editors reporting an increase in one type of letter. The type where readers make public their appreciation of customer service that they have recently received.

Therein lies the seeds of an economic direct-mail campaign focussed on every local newspaper in your markets, but I'd say it was safer and smarter to focus on your customer service quality and let your customers do the direct-mail part for you.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

The (Same Old) 4Ps Of Marketing 2.0.

When the new "paradigm" comes along, people often describe it in ways that differentiate it totally from what came before. Often to enhance their guru status. That's a mistake. Revolution is rare - evolution far less so. Relating the new to the old can be much more insightful and is also more welcomed by the unconverted.

In that vein, I prefer to look at marketing 2.0 in terms of existing frameworks rather than throwing the baby out with the bathwater. After all, the two ends of the transfer are still essentially the same - there is stuff and there are customers. They may be changed people and it often is new stuff, but the real changes lie in the interaction between the two. The traditional 4Ps still apply, but they present new problems.


Economic theory dictates that equilibrium prices equal marginal cost. In the digital world of cost-less replication, that price is increasingly tending towards zero.

While that may not make obvious business sense to producers, there is all too often someone who will think they can do this profitably via aggregation or just delusion and there is increasingly an audience who expect it to be so. Thus, even if you are not valuing your worth at zero, they are.

Solution – sell something with a marginal cost greater than zero.


This used to mean distribution and it used to be on the high street. Now its more likely to mean visibility and is increasingly found online – not necessarily for the final purchase, but certainly for the discovery

It’s not so much about identifying the best places to capture physical footfall. It’s about being wherever the digital footfall is. Fish where the fish are – don’t expect them to come to you anymore. Just as "now is preferable to free", so too is proximity.

Solution – be searchable, findable and spreadable.


Promotion has all too often been confused for the totality of marketing. Moreover, it's arguably been shown to be less effective than previously believed. Vested interests resist but we have to think more closely and seriously about what we mean by promotion (not just advertising) and what the role of marketing/promotion is.

As connectivity gets greater, promotion gets smaller – that doesn't mean restricted, just more personal. Don’t dictate what users do with your offering, just give them space to use it and reason to proselytise it.

Solution - fan club not fanfare.


Product is still the most important element of the marketing mix. It's just clearer that this is the case, that bad products are more easily uncovered/spoken about and that the definition of product must be expanded to include customer service and usability.

Your product/service has, of course, to be unique and remarkable. But what has changed is the "always in beta" philosophy of "fail quickly, fail cheaply". You don't dictate what the product is, you make a suggestion and adapt it in response to your users' wishes.

Solution - have a point of view, not a point of functional differentiation.

Bottom line - you can create all the additional Ps you like. Yes, we need to consider participation, permission and proximity. Just don't tell me that's new or that the old disciplines no longer apply. It isn't and they do.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Have You Heard the One About Differentiation?

I read this in an unlinked article about the threat that online plagiarism presents to comedians' live performances.

The secret is to be unique so that they can't steal from you: "That's what comics should think about: it's not the jokes; it's about themselves. It's about your personality. They can't appropriate "you".

I'm sure you can see that the marketing punch-line writes itself.

Friday, November 06, 2009

Marketer Of The Year.

"My customers will be happy I've been honest with them."
"I own my shelf-space and I can do anything I want with it."
"I don't work, I just play all day long."

More wisdom than you'll get from any marketing conference.

Thursday, November 05, 2009

Marketing Isn't A Destination.

One of my biggest gripes about the development of marketing is the increasing trend towards the outsourcing of thinking and execution to third party agencies.

It's not that the work done by those agencies is necessarily bad - indeed as a result of writing this blog I've had the pleasue of meeting innumerable practitoners who are smart, funny and conscientious (though rarely glamorous).

The problem is that they cannot be as invested in your company as you are and they shouldn't know your customers better than you do. But, all too often, marketing directors run the risk of becoming administrators of these third-party relationships rather than poduct/service champions.

Their career development is predicated on the budgets they manage rather than the results they achieve. They become the "client" and develop a client mindset. They forget that the true client is, in fact, the customer. And from there, it's all downhill.

Tuesday, November 03, 2009


Today’s technology seems to threaten the sort of recurring and stable reciprocity that is the building block of trust.

That's the final sentence from a piece in today's New York Times about online hook-ups, but it uses all the adjectives that marketers should be double-checking. Marketing is not about conversations, it's about the quality and nature of the conversations you have and when you have them.