Abstract Agent

God is a very abstract concept. Religion’s job is selling you on God. Metaphysical marketing, if you will. The marketing of abstracts and afterlives comes to mind as I slowly consume the pages of Mencken’s Treatise on the Gods. Regardless of your faith or lack thereof, we all agree that God is beyond human conception, which makes most religion a null program since its first job is to conceptualize God. Its second job is selling God, which in the realm of selling abstract products has been both the biggest project and one of the most successful. The success of religion comes from thousands of years of refined marketing, segmenting the market into a few million different sects, and following Seth Godin’s advice to agree with what people already think. Marketing new products into new markets is a bit like preaching to aborigines — they (the buyers/infidels) have no idea what … Continue reading

Hulu Dancing

I’m glad I don’t watch feminine hygiene product commercials these days. Not that I ever enjoyed them. They just often plopped into television programs that might have had a significant female audience. In the desperation that is mass advertising, marketers know that a great deal of the ad spend is utter waste, such as when pitches for FDS appeared in my bachelor pad. The folks at Preparation-H realize that they sell to a specific demographic, and a growing minority at that. For every anxious prospect reached via a network television show, they are selling to twenty people who are suddenly slightly disgusted. Though you can reduce misspent budget by pouring through demographic viewership data, there is always a great deal of zero return in mass media. Thankfully mass media may be dying. Ubiquitous broadband allows for individualized content and advertising targeting. This is nothing new — that was the original … Continue reading

Social Referral

Social media is an ad hoc referral system gone horribly right. Referrals are primarily a means to building business, brands and bucks. Ask my dentist (to whom I would gladly refer anybody). He is maniacal about soliciting his patients to make referrals, and he gets them.  He knows that patients move away or die (hopefully from old age and not botched dental surgery), so he is constantly refilling his demand chain for crowns, fillings and laser whitening. Referrals occur in every business, from your neighborhood dry cleaner to multinational technology companies. The larger the organization, the more it drifts from the quaint and personal sounding “referral” into the more Machiavellian sounding “buzz generation.”  Yet it is essentially the same thing. At either extreme we are asking, coaxing, bribing or begging people to talk to other people about our products, preferably in a positive manner. Which brings us to social media, … Continue reading