Restricted Brand

censored content google facebook twitter

FULL DISCLOSURE: I am not a Republican, Democrat, liberal or conservative. Hence, this article is non-aligned. Are Facebook, Twitter and Google corrupting their brands by being socially underhanded? Of late, both Facebook and Twitter have been publicly accused of censoring non-left-of-center content. Now Google admits to blocking advertisements due to Google’s perception of social desirability. In each instance, these corporate goliaths, which together control the flow of most online human interaction, either admit to or are accused of filtering legal content based on their perception of what should or should not be. The new media is aping the old media, and runs the risk of the same fate. Regardless of if you agree or disagree with the filtered content, the troubling aspect is that large corporations are deciding what content their users should and should not see. Outside of endangering activities (e.g. terrorism, child porn, congress convening), the Internet has … Continue reading

Buzz Kill

Why is everyone talking about Kim Kardashian’s rump and not your disruptive, world-changing app? So many startup marketing plans are based on building buzz, yet achieve none. The reason is that founders believe their own hype. They see the intrinsic usefulness and beauty of their products and believe that everyone else will too. Based on little more than this borderline egocentric outlook, startups rarely get people talking because they missed the point about why people talk. People talk to one another out of personal motivations. Seth Godin once presented a monstrous list of why people share ideas, which gives you a clear idea of why the motivations of your communications conduits are more important than your features and benefits. People talk about products because … Continue reading

Honesty is one of the better policies

A young immigrant entrepreneur is quoted as having once said “You want to lose all of your customers? Lie to one of them.” Like most axioms, it is a battle hardened truth that the next generation enjoys ignoring, just as the previous generation did (and no, that is not an intentional dig at one of the elder presidential candidates, though this shoe fits snugly). All relationships are built on trust, including the primal relationship of commerce. Where our immigrant entrepreneur zeroed-in on reality is the all-and-everything mechanics of integrity, branding and markets. His conclusion was that if you lied to one customer, he or she would communicate to your others. This 20th century businessman, who landed in America before the First World War, understood buzz marketing, or at very least negative buzz. Give one person a reason to disbelieve you and soon everyone will. When members of an industry routinely … Continue reading

Prepaganda Promotional

Every politically aware person knows about propaganda, but few know preganda. Surprisingly few marketing people know it either. Prepaganda (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 … Continue reading

Marketing Truthiness

Honesty is one of the better policies. While recently chatting with a legendary Silicon Valley CEO, we spoke about his company’s documented culture. The first two pillars of their shared ethics were honesty and integrity (which go hand-in-hand). In his semiconductor industry, honesty and integrity are occasionally vague terms, yet his company has thrived by dealing with employees, suppliers and customers with rather unshakable decency. More marketers should follow his example. Like politicians, some marketers have found creative ways of distorting the truth. Eschewing outright lies, they lean more heavily upon vague generalities, measured over-selling and promising support that never fully materializes. This short-sighted approach produces short-term results with long-term ruin. Marketing dishonesty can lift revenues. People will buy products on a false promise, but only once. If a marketer wants to bump this quarter’s numbers, inaccurate promotions can shift a few fence-sitting prospects into the “win” column. But the … Continue reading

Maddening Messages

Want to drive your competitors insane (assuming they are not already)? A recent thread exploded on a CMO web site asking the basic question “What do you do that drives your competitors crazy?” Most of the answers were pap, lazily resting on vague superlatives such as “listen to our customers” and “being honest”. I chimed in (of course) with my favorite “poisoning the well”, which does not imply spiking competitor water coolers with toxic substances. Marketers tend to focus on one key customer stakeholder persona. They put 80% or more of their effort into recruiting the job title they believe will cause a company to buy their product. This is not a bad strategy, but when you have two or more competitors grooming the same stakeholder, getting their attention becomes increasingly impossible. If you are coming from behind, it may be useless. The counter strategy (and a good primary strategy … Continue reading

Marketing Expectations

Marketing sets expectations, creating a gap between customer desire and results

Your customers expect what you tell them to expect, and what you don’t tell them to. Outbound marketing is largely about setting customer expectations, which we do through branding, messaging, feeds-and-speeds lists, pricing and so much more. After encountering a product, customers have gut-level sets of expectations. Drive past a posh French restaurant and a dirty taco truck, and you have two completely different expectations concerning your culinary experience. Where bad and good buzz begins is when you set one expectation and deliver another. Set expectations low and deliver high, then people sing your praises everywhere. Invert the expectations and results and you likewise invert a customer’s public reaction. Marketing is responsible for defining those expectations, and presenting most of them (every employee who interacts with customers is also responsible, and great CEOs make sure they all set the right expectations). Marketing defines the brand – a primary expectation-setting tool … Continue reading