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

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

Distilled Desires

“Our software is the greatest thing ever. It is disruptive and something that will make your employees happy!” That is not an exact quote, but darn close to the opening paragraph of every landing page created by newly minted marketers at Silicon Valley startups. Like most web fodder from such shops, it communicates nothing. In our infobesity age, humans have learned to scan at a nearly subconscious level. Gone are the days when a one-pager would actually be read by a prospect. People glean information based on gut-level reaction to keywords, images, colors and social indicators. In short, they read headlines. Hence, if your headline does not grab the reader’s attention in the first five seconds, the odds of them investigating further approaches zero. That headline value propositions are hugely important is not new, nor are the steps to creating them. But the urgency has multiplied. Ignoring the process for … 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