Thursday, February 03, 2011

Let Me Be Your Bucket of Cold Water

A local marketing group I'm part of on Linked-In is discussing how to make a video "go viral." I'd weigh in with my point of view, but the seriousness with which they are tackling this subject lets me know that I would once again be the bucket of cold water guy to this group of "professionals" who are every day trying to take on "important" issues, discussing them in the most banal and nauseating terms, all while getting in plugs for their own experience and awesomeness. Yesterday they were talking about how to best "leverage" social and mobile within the new high speed rail trains and stations that are someday going to make traveling to Tampa from Orlando a little easier. I pointed out that the thing won't be done until 2015, if we're very lucky, and to even discuss apps as they exist today in relation to 2015 would be like putting all your ad dollars in MySpace five years ago. As the thing nears completion, maybe we can look to Europe or Asia and find out what they're doing. I was quickly and politely dismissed as "short-sighted" by some "executives" with very serious and professional profile pictures. This has always been my problem among marketers; I tend to tell them they are full of shit and they tend to exclude me from their games. From what I can tell, Linked-In is becoming an incestuous cesspool of blowhards all blowing one another. No one speaks real, they are all there to impress, land consulting or speaking gigs, get jobs and tout how important they are. I realize it's not Facebook, but the masquerade is not something I enjoy. 

Seriously, it's 2011. Are marketing professionals still talking about how to make something "go viral?" Didn't we dispense with this notion a few years ago? It just points to the sinister (or perhaps simply clueless) nature of so many in this business. They approach marketing as "How can we fool you?"

Forgive me if you've heard this before, but here is my marketing philosophy:

Let's not talk about "engaging the consumer." Let's not talk about "maximizing the customer experience." While we're at it, let's avoid a discussion about "interacting with the brand." Let's make it simpler. Let's talk about something else.

Respect. And honesty.

We've lost it. Or maybe we never had it to lose. We still think we can pull the wool over the eyes of our audiences and somehow smooth-talk them into acting. And if we can't smooth-talk them, we'll baffle them with big words and giant promises that are cleverly covered by the legal department with fine print denoted by an asterisk.

People sense it. They know it when they see or hear it. And believe it or not, the principles of Respect and Honesty can even be applied in the most shameful advertising known to man; Direct Mail.

There. I've just given away my secrets. I guess you won't need me now for creative consulting.

(I'm actually holding another couple cards up my sleeve, but really, those two are the Aces.)

Or maybe I'm just in the wrong line of work.

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  • I agree. I get really tired of all the catchphrases and hyped up concepts.

    We brainstorm a ton of ideas on a daily basis where I work (marketing) and as we solve for leads, awareness, or pushing a thought or idea onto our market, we end up solving for elements that include the respect and honesty you reference.

    Unfortunately, those two items aren't hyped enough for leadership to get behind. Instead, "striking up a conversation" or "being transparent" or perhaps even "delivering value, value, value" come into play.

    In short, a lot of the ideas that stand on a foundation of respect and honesty are stymied, or transformed into mutations of what could have been.

    It's difficult to sell effectiveness when it seemingly is sourced not from the latest marketing flavor of the month, but out of the golden rule. Weird huh?

    Just my .02. Keep fighting the good fight!

    By Blogger andrew, at February 3, 2011 at 12:40 PM  

  • Heh. Right - what you said, especially the part about respect and honesty. When you say that to certain people in the ad game, they kind of cock their heads with that quizzical expression you used to see on the RCA dog.

    There's nothing wrong with being clever, of course; but unless your core message is a sound one, no amount of cleverness will help. It just comes off hollow.

    Oh, and anyone who uses "leverage" as a verb should have his tongue eaten by rabid marmots.

    By Blogger warren, at February 3, 2011 at 5:46 PM  

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