Make Marketing History

The views of a marketing deviant.

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Heed The Aged?

We live in a youth-obsessed but ageing world, a world where the elderly are often ignored. Well we do in the first world. Elsewhere, the vast majority of populations are heavily skewed to the under 30s, yet respect for elders is pronounced.

Why that is and whether it will change seem to me to be important questions for marketers to ponder.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

What's Wrong With Marketing?

On an obscure train journey one afternoon this week, I sat near a microcosm of marketing myopia - three executives working in the promotion of horse racing in this country. In the space of ten minutes (and in their own words) they revealed a number of common marketing/business traits.

1) Assuming homogenous demand.

One of the three was bewildered by the fact that while Chester racecourse had booming attendance in recent years this was not reflected in the static television viewing figures of their racing.

The answer is that Chester, an idiosyncratic historic venue with a tight oval track, is a great place to visit. But, because of this, the racing is also idiosyncratic,harder to follow on screen and less appealing to those who bet.

She was wrongly assuming that viewers wanted the same thing on their screen as they did when attending in person. When you put yourself in the customer's shoes, you have to remember they have different shoes for different occasions.

2) Diversifying the product to increase demand.

One of the ways racing has sought to expand its attendance and television audience has been through additional features designed to appeal to specific demographics. Thus, there is a rise of fashion shows and themed "ladies days" aimed at enticing more women and post-racing rock concerts seeking out the elusive youth demographic.

To some extent this works in terms of attendance, but there has been some alienation of the core audience. Moreover, there has to be a question of what these new customers are buying and whether they will have any loyalty. Is their attendance the physical equivalent of a webpage impression or is it more substantial?

Expanding your offer is not necessarily the same as enriching it. While that may be a justifiable move if you're moving your business (and implicitly acknowledging that your original business is in terminal decline), it is also the road to the industrialisation of novelty that William Gibson derides in his new book. Intensifying your product is the better way to go.

3) Hiring from within.

In the course of their conversation, the executives spoke of their backgrounds and how they all understood racing. One man noted how the industry was a small world where "people do seem to pop up in different places and circle around". That's no doubt factually true and hardly unique to racing, but there was no questioning of whether that was good thing.

In a fast-moving world knowing what your industry did five years ago may have some value, but it's definitely a diminishing asset. Knowing how things were done five years ago is of questionable value, especially if your industry is declining and/or you looking to get new customers. On the other hand, being able to determine why it's declining is invaluable.

If you want to be successful, look at what successful marketers do and adapt it to your industry. Not the other way round.

4) Celebrating the deal.

Finally, there was a lot of discussion and back-slapping about the deals and partnerships they'd each negotiated with various third parties. These all were apparently "good fits" and destined to provide great success in the future.

Doing the deal isn't enough, even if your bonus structure might suggest otherwise. That's just the beginning of the work that must be done to ensure that they have a successful outcome for your business. When that happens, you can celebrate and look for the next one. Not before.

I'm sure there was more I could have learned from these guys, but unfortunately I had reached my destination.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Shouldn't Marketing Speak With One Voice?

Where I questioned Coke's lack of local distinction last time, today I'm bemused by what I perceive to be Old Spice's defensive localisation.

The ad above is one of a series that has appeared recently. This one refers to jet fighters and punching as designators of the manliest man in town, another cites monster trucks and tool boxes. To me, the tone of voice is completely at odds with the intelligent wit of "the man your man could be" that is also airing here.

It's much more aligned with the status quo of the marketplace and seems to be designed to appeal to (or more precisely not alienate) the traditional Lynx/Axe customer.

But, unless you're the market leader, your marketing must surely be designed to change your world in some way. A status quo in which you're floundering is exactly what you're fleeing and any hint of trying to sell your product in the same way the competition does should be avoided.

Tuesday, September 07, 2010

The Coke Laziness Machine.

You've probably seen the video above. It was posted in January and has over two million views on YouTube. A UK version was apparently launched today in the hope of repeating the viral trick (though it appears to have been online since early July and as of this morning had not managed that feat, having only been viewed 3,000 times).

I don't get it. There are no media regions in the digital world and thus think global, act local must mean more than repeating the same stunt in different countries and posting it to the web. If it's interesting the first time, then it will have spread and "we" will all have seen and have no interest in seeing it again. Or am I missing something?

Monday, September 06, 2010

How Marketing Is Really Seen.

Overheard on a train:

We'll give the marketing agency the message and image we want to convey and we'll just get them to make it look nice.

Thursday, September 02, 2010

Make It Obvious.

Many people think that the art of the headline is to attract attention. Well, the one above ticked that box for me but when I delved deeper, I discovered that the noise was emanating, irony of ironies, from a "marketing" company upstairs (read phone sales training company) and that the closure was voluntary, not enforced.

The art of the headline is not just to attract attention. It must also impart information and lead to something that doesn't disappoint.

Addendum: If you utilise multiple meanings in your heading, then you must deliver on all of them. This is advanced practice and should only be attempted by experts.

Wednesday, September 01, 2010

Make Marketing Relevant.

Before enjoying an epic of epic-ish epicness last night, I was assailed in my cinema seat by a horrible advertisement featuring inane vox-pop proclamations extolling the wonders of cinema.

That's right, my enjoyment of the cinema experience was diminished by an advertisement preaching the joy of the cinema experience to people who were already sitting in a cinema!

The screen real-estate was there, the audience was there and the had an ad, so the marketing geniuses decided to throw them all together. No doubt because there was no incremental financial cost and it would gain eyeball attention. It took me back to the bad old days when magazines would call up an old colleague to tell him that he'd paid for space in their next edition and what did he want them to run in it. His answer was usually the same tired old ad he'd run in the previous edition.

Advertising opportunities may be abundant, but to undervalue them like this is to reveal a failure to comprehend that the scarce and thus valuable element in the equation is your audience's time. That is and always has been finite. If you make them waste it, there will be a very real cost to you. Even if you can't see it in your budget.