Make Marketing History

The views of a marketing deviant.

Monday, September 29, 2008

Deconstructing Marketing Part 1.

Irrelevant use of sultry women will beguile your prospect.

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Button Fly?

As an habituee of achingly hip Shoreditch, I am clearly meant to notice and understand this consciously clever piece of marketing.

But is it really worth it? Isn't this just pandering to the theory of influentials on a postcode basis?

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Change Happens.

You get a letter from your health club announcing they've changed their membership rules and enclosing a new multi-paged rule booklet. You immediately wonder what that means, but you'd have to investigate to find out. You probably don't bother, but a residual doubt remains.

If they had simply sent a list of the changes they had made (in the form of the relevant before and after paragraphs), there would be no suspicion that they were trying to sneak something past you.

Change happens. Change is unnerving. It's also a great opportunity to build trust.

Monday, September 22, 2008

12 Reasons Why Products Outweigh Promotion.


Products address what customers wants - if they don't, they die.
Promotion tries, too often, to dictate what customers need.


Products are discovered by customers and that builds "ownership".
Promotion, in targetting customers, too often removes that potential.


Products are as much the experience of using them as what they do.
Promotion can only suggest or hype what that experience is like.


Products engender passion via tangible results and intangible satisfaction.
Promotion simply cannot do that.


Products generate repeat sales because of all of the above.
Promotion can, at best, amplify feedback.


Products are what customers want.
Promotion is what retailers want.

None of this is to suggest that promotion is futile or indeed that you can't successfully promote a bad product in the short-run. Far from it. But promotion works best when it has something worthwhile to promote, because that very fact imbues the efforts with credence and enables the marketer to believe what they're saying.

To achieve that, you have to start by focussing on the creation of the product/service. Do so and you will find that the marketing themes will emerge almost naturally and will be more authentic and effective because of that. Fail to do so and you will find that nobody's paying attention.

Friday, September 19, 2008

Cheerful Bottom?

Now that's what I call advertising. But does anybody look at banners - other than people in the business (like Kaylen who sent me this).

Bonus link: the website is very welcoming. Or do I mean unnerving?

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Direct Marketing.

A reminder that the obvious can be very effective.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008 - The Illiterate Directory.

I know I'm being pedantic, but it should be Marcus's not Marcus' and for a directory to repeat this error throughout their ad is shocking. As is the ad by the way. But given that they're presumably selling themselves as purveyors of accurate information, why didn't they choose a posh name that didn't end in S and avoid the issue completely?

Monday, September 15, 2008

What Price Authenticity?

Authenticity is one of the great marketing buzzwords of the day, but walking around the preview of the Damien Hirst show made me wonder what we actually mean by that word.

This photograph (taken from the preview catalogue) shows a number of the works being created. On closer inspection, you may notice that the artist himself is not involved in the process. He makes no secret of this and I'm not here to debate whether that makes him an artist or a designer, but it raises an interesting dilemma.

This sketch and many others were exhibited in what was by far my favourite room of the preview show. It seems to me that it is clearly authentic Hirst. It's his sketching, his writing, his imagination and his signature on the front. I'd love to own it but can't afford it.

Oranges and Lemons is the piece that emerged from that sketch. It's got butterflies, manufactured diamonds, his signature (on the back) and it's clearly inspired by his imagination. I'm less sure that it's what I would think of as authentic, so I don't really want to own it and, anyway, I can't afford it either.

Received wisdom would have us believe that the more authentic something is, the more highly prized it is. But there's more to it than that. It's what the customer base determines to be authentic that actually counts and tomorrow we shall see what value is attached to authenticity. The guide price for Oranges and Lemons is £300,000 to £500,000. The guide price for the sketch is £20,000 to £30,000. Are butterflies and manufactured diamonds really that authentic?

Sunday, September 14, 2008

Recombinant Culture?

The mela is a multicultural celebration that is "all about bringing communities together and understanding different cultures." I have attended some which featured the food of many lands as well as their music and dance. Today's fitted that bill too, but its unique apogee was an attempt to bring communities together via that renowned multicultural phenomenon - the Abba tribute band.

Frida's developed a Scottish accent and Agnetha has, well, just developed. But worse than that, they just remind me that imitation is not all that flattering. The mash-ups and collaboration of web 2.0 are great if leading to improvement, but a recent return visit to the Cans Festival suggests that dilution is the more likely outcome. It takes more than effort to be original.

Friday, September 12, 2008

Don't Make The Straight Man Funny.

So here's the second Microsoft ad in very long form and it's funnier. It has more characters and a better script, though I'm not sure what it has to do with Microsoft per se. Yet they still screw it up at the end by trying to get Bill Gates to be wacky (and I'm sure that will feature in the thirty second version). When he's the straight man here, he's funny. But, as with all marketing, when you try to suggest that something or someone is different from how we know them to be, it just gets embarrassing.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Damien Hirst Marketing.

Today at Sotheby's preview of the big Damien Hirst sale, I noticed that many of the encased pieces such as "Here Today, Gone Tomorow" (pictured above) were bigger than ever. It was interesting then to read Hirst's words in the catalogue.

The horror is them getting thrown away, for any artist I think. You want your work on the wall for people to see. I think that's one of the reasons I put boxes around things, so that you can't fit it in the loft/attic.

Does your product/service have a box?

Tuesday, September 09, 2008

Perceptions Are Illogical.

Changing well-established perceptions is a difficult marketing task and there's been lots of online discussion about the merit of Microsoft's new advertising campaign. But I want to focus on one aspect of the process, the underlying logic of change.

It seems to me that at least one reason why Bill Gates is featured is that someone made the following deduction. Bill Gates is Microsoft. But Bill Gates is perceived to be a hard-nosed business nerd. If we soften the perception of Bill, we'll soften the perception of Microsoft.

At first, that might seem easier than trying to change the perception of Microsoft directly. The trouble is that even if they succeeded in changing the current perception of Bill Gates, Microsoft would still be associated with the old and long-standing perception of Bill Gates. If you want to move both ends of an equation, you have to do just that, move both of them.

There isn't any real need to try to move both ends anyway. Why not just create a new equation. What they want to do is change the perception of Microsoft, so that's what they should focus on doing. The way to do that is not through advertising, but through actions and products that inevitably make customers feel that something has changed.

Friday, September 05, 2008

A Closed Shave.

You assumed I couldn't write another post about assumptions? This is the beautiful new hybrid razor or azor from King of Shaves that I recently picked up from their promotional bus. It's a company seeking to shake up a category and, as I am already a great fan of their shaving oil, I was intrigued to see if their promise that one could Shave Close, Longer, For Less would stand up.

It did, but sadly it would force me to have a goatee, because I found all those areas that a goatee and moustache cover quite impossible to shave. However, they're definitely onto something because shaving the rest of my face with long smooth strokes was a revelation. Fast, soft and incredibly close. I'm not sure if my experience is typical, but if I shaved my legs I know what razor I'd use.

If I'm right, I wonder if they'll start to think beyond their original assumptions and exploit another market in line with what the product does, rather than what they intended it to do. Many companies have done that in the past, but many more have floundered because they were too invested in their original plan.

Thursday, September 04, 2008

Never Assume.

As I wrote in my post about magic, assumptions can easily lead you astray. Take restaurants. It's pretty easy to guess one of the most important aspects of a restaurant as far as customers are concerned and according to this article, you'd be right.

Cleanliness was rated as the most highly valued aspect of restaurant selection among almost all respondents.

But what is cleanliness? In Barcelona you might be surprised to see the floor of a tapas bar strewn with discarded paper napkins and assume that it was a sloppy institution. You'd be completly wrong. The discarded napkins are, in fact, a traditional vote of customer approval. The messier the floor, the better the food.

Never assume that your prospective customers think the same way that you do or indeed the same way as the majority does. Just find out.

Wednesday, September 03, 2008

Padded Bra. Padded Justification.

Talking of giving marketing a bad name. Wonderbra has created an interactive website and poster comprising hundreds of photos of real women and a few celebrities united by larger chest size. Nothing wrong with that. It will garner a lot of publicity. Nothing that original either. It's just an extension of Dove's real beauty theme. But what annoyed me was the creative director's justification.

"Smart brands now know that it is increasingly pointless just to talk at your market. Today it's much more about involving them in the whole process of marketing."

Yes, they'd like to be involved in the sense of being seriously listened to. On their terms and when they wish to be involved. That's common sense. But sticking them in a poster is not involving them in the marketing process. It's barely involving them in the promotion process. Crucially, it's not the sort of involvement that will make them more satisfied customers.

Tuesday, September 02, 2008

Magical Marketing.

There's a magician/illusionist involved here, so we know it's a trick and it's pretty easy to work out how it's done. Like most magic, it's based on false assumptions. The trick works and impresses because the illusionist knows the assumptions we'll make and ensures that we make them.

Efective marketing should also be based on knowing the assumptions your customers will make. Advertising agencies call these insights. Sometimes they are, sometimes they aren't. But, I'm not sure the analogy should be taken all the way. Here, the patsy knows he's been fooled, yet doesn't mind because he went in expecting that to happen.

In some categories, specifically those with a fashion basis, customers are relatively happy to be "tricked". Fashion, however, is fleeting. If your product/service is less transient, I think it's probably acceptable to exploit customer assumptions in pursuit of giving them greater satisfaction, but I don't think that justifies deceiving them. That's where marketing gets its bad name. Any thoughts?

Monday, September 01, 2008

Inside Out Or Outside In?

Interesting that the cover asks "Can America withstand the world's thirst for oil?" rather than consider the unsustainable reality of one country consuming 25% of the world's oil as the source of the problem.

Marketing is not just about looking outwards. Even if something changes in your external environment/market/category, you should never forget to look within.