Prepaganda Promotional

Every politically aware person knows about propaganda, but few know preganda. Surprisingly few marketing people know it either.

progaganda-and-marketingPrepaganda (sometimes called preganda) is designed to prepare an audience for new thinking, or to convince the audience of something that might not be entirely true. Politicians love to persuade the public that they have deep adversaries on a topic even when their alleged opponents agree with forthcoming legislation. Such Prepaganda makes the politician look strong and ultimately victorious while hiding crony capitalism or undesirable relationships overseas.

Marketers occasionally need to do something similar, though for more rational and honest reasons. Prepaganda prepares a market to accept new thinking, and as we all know, unsupervised customer thinking can be dangerous. Marketers often need to get buyers to think differently about their problems, strategic directions, solutions and what they perceive as valuable before a product can be accepted.

Back when Linux was popular with techies, but not with IT management, Silicon Strategies Marketing helped SuSE Linux with some executive prepaganda. We studied what IT executives wanted to achieve, then echoed all that back while tying it Linux as a solution set. We had to prepare executives to first articulate their universal end objectives, and then to believe Linux was a viable alternative. Only then could we approach CIOs and CTOs to sell the stuff.

Prepaganda can backfire, so it is best used only when necessary. The more common moments in product evolution when prepaganda is necessary include:

New markets: Changes in markets, technology or demand create entirely new markets. Buyers do not yet know they are part of a new market, and so the new market as a whole needs to be educated. The energy industry had to be educated on fracking and ethanol.

New tech: Any new technology is magic until buyers understand it. Smartphones, being expensive portable computers, needed market prepaganda, which Apple provided.

New value: Value is not always apparent to buyers, and prepaganda helps. When cameras were first added to cellphones, smartphone makers hired actors who went onto the streets of urban centers and posed as tourist, handing their phones to locals and asking to have their pictures taken. Videographers captured the “ah-ha” moment and used it to demonstrate the value.

How you use prepaganda is as important as the prepaganda itself. Not every method is appropriate for every combination of market/tech/value and the audience. PR works well for many or most combinations, but really requires have good newsjacking opportunities. Social media has proven viable for many memes, but influencing influencers is tricky. For new value and new markets, locating adventurers (innovators and early adopters) and using them (directly or indirectly) can propagandize the masses.

Just don’t leave it to chance. Prepaganda is part of marketing communications, and must be integrated along with all other outreach.


Speak up! What are your thoughts?

Your email address will not be published.