Trust Me. I’m In Marketing.

Trust isn’t what it used to be, because there isn’t much left. A report by Richard Edelman surveys people from countries around the globe to see who they trusted or not. Trust in government is low, but then again no sane person really trusts that much concentrated power. Trust in the media has plummeted as alleged journalists have removed their masks to expose their unmade partisan and ideological faces. Only businesses and NGOs (non-governmental organizations) score above the 50% mark, and they do so with no margin for error. Who the heck is this Trust fellow? All relationships are built on trust. If you don’t believe that, go buy a candy bar and think about the layers of trust incorporated in a simple purchase. You trust the maker of the candy bar not to poison you, which means you trust their trust in agricultural and chemical suppliers. You trust the … Continue reading

Believe This

Try forcing a stranger to believe something they have never heard of before, or to abandon a belief they have held for years. Odds are you will fail at both. “Belief” is understanding without knowledge, facts or proof. Yet humans have many complex belief systems firmly rooted in air. This is not inherently bad. Beliefs guide actions, and if beliefs are noble, then good things occur. But beliefs are also firmly rooted in the mind – trying to uproot beliefs (at least in the short term) is like trying to pull a redwood tree out of the ground with your bare hands. Belief systems are important to humans and to marketers. For humans, belief systems are shortcuts to understanding life, the universe and everything. The belief doesn’t even have to be correct as long as it provides a person with a grasp on their perception of reality. This is one … Continue reading

B2B Lust

It is possible to create a passionate desire in the minds of B2B technology buyers, but beware of lustful nerds. Humans, including IT people, are of two minds, namely the practical and the desirous. We all need and want things, even in our daily jobs. Back when I was running big iron for a national retailer (my pre-marketing guru days), I had a boss who had a messianic drive to convert all of IT to UNIX. I took fiendish joy in finding the precise moments to demonstrate why it was, in the short run, foolish and extravagant, thwarting his sundry attempts to drive my proprietary platforms into non-use. But I did save the company millions in unnecessary short-term costs, so I don’t feel too bad. My boss had UNIX lust, and it overrode his objective thinking. This is a major part of consumer marketing – generating irrational desire for products. … Continue reading

Problematic Problems

Nothing is as insidious as staring so intently at a problem that the solution is obscured. Back in my IT guru era, I once wasted an entire day staring at a single line of code trying numbly to figure out why the program was misbehaving. It was a simple syntax error (switching between Pascal and C can be tricky), but the problem was about my looking for logic errors when the more simple and likely syntax mistake was staring back at me. Marketers have wasted a lot more than a day by doing the same thing. Long ago, I had a near-client who insisted that the right go-to-market strategy for his company was 100% commitment to social media marketing. He came by this conclusion due to the success of another person who marketed a different technology using the same approach. The problem was that the successful person was selling to … Continue reading

Vague = Valueless

“The very first law in advertising is to avoid the concrete promise and cultivate the delightfully vague.” Perhaps in mass media, 30-second-or-less advertising, this applies. But not in the real world. Most communications need specificity. This counts double in social media, where messages are limited by technology and providers (like Twitter’s 140 character cut-off) or by the scavenger nature of most social media consumers. Vagueness leads to disinterest, which leads to an inattentive or diminishing audience, which leads to a not-for-profit status. Treat each outbound communication like it was your only chance to talk with the intended audience, and make it mean something to them. If the communication is designed to lead them to more communications (i.e., a Tweet and link to a content page), then make sure the terminal content has meaning too. … 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

The Only

Melissa Etheridge | audience, reach, differentiation

“There may be 300,000 of you … but I’m the only one.” Melissa Etheridge said that to the Woodstock ’94 audience (I know, I was there) as she was wrapping up her song titled “I’m the only one.” Though her song was about romance, it was also about marketing. Two directly related themes are wound-up in this quote: audience reach and differentiation. It doesn’t matter if you are a book author, software vendor or rock star. Each of us has an audience. To this audience we present something unique. Only once there is a sufficiently large audience and an undisputed differentiation will mass appeal (or even strong niche appeal) be possible. Take the case of a fitness book that landed a $1,000,000+ advance publishing deal, which in that industry is completely unheard of. Core to the publisher’s decision was that the authors had established audiences (or as the book biz … Continue reading