Marketing Is Not An Ego Massage

Richard-kind-spin-city

Marketing is not an easy profession. It is actually pretty freaking hard.

The job of a marketer is to persuade people that they need something. Or someone. And then sell it to them.

How easy is it to...

Get a 4-year-old to eat carrots?

Get into Harvard?

Get a job?

Get married?

Get someone elected?

Get someone to literally buy whatever it is that you sell?

All of these things involve marketing. And if they were so easy, we would all be rich, happy and retired.

Yet the most popular misconception about marketing - after the belief that we are all a bunch of liars - is the idea that it is "all about the message." 

Meaning that if you can only find the exact right thing to say, your audience will believe you.

As if people are so stupid.

Believing that marketing is "messaging" is really just a form of ego massage.

"I am wonderful, here are the reasons, now I've succeeded in marketing to you."

A better way to think of marketing is like listening actively and then responding.

"How are you? Tell me about it."

And then when the customer has told you, and told you, and told you...you validate what they've said.

"I hear that. You feel ---. You want ---. Let me see what I can do about that."

And then you do it.

While it is true that people often can't articulate what they want, it is also true that they don't want you to "message" them.

Marketing is listening. It is ego-free.

If you do it properly, the audience pays you to listen.

If you do it the wrong way, you are talking and talking and their minds are a million miles away.

Think about it, and good luck!

___

Photo source here

"Giveaways" Build Buzz - "Discounts" Look Desperate

Brother_can_you_spare_a_dime

There is a 7-Eleven near D.C. that accommodates about 12 parked cars. 

The other day there were maybe 25 vying for spots, in the middle of the day. 

This wasn't the A.M.'s commuting rush when people fight for the last sugarfree Red Bull or gratefully scoop up the last "taquito roller."

We had absolutely no reason to be there.

Except for one thing: The Good Witch of the Convenience Store had waved her magic wand and today was Free Slurpee Day.

My kid, nauseous from a long bus ride home, reminded me. "I need something icy," she uttered sweatily. "They're giving away free Slurpees at 7-Eleven. Can we go?"

We pull up to the parking lot and the scene is unbelievable. It's like a state fair. People streaming in and out as happy as can be.

Inside, the Slurpee line is snaking from the machines, around the lottery counter, around the fruit and sandwich shelves, and even out the door.

What are they waiting for? A FOUR OUNCE cup of sugar water. A mini-portion.

And they are thrilled!

That day, by strategically using a little generosity, 7-Eleven made some happy memories for a lot of people in the community. 

And that is why a giveaway builds buzz.

Just like it does in Starbucks and Dunkin' Donuts and every other establishment that tries it.

So why don't discounts work the same way?

The short answer is that discounts look desperate. And they ruin the brand.

Macy's is an excellent example of taking a venerable, respected brand with a deep heritage - decades of loyal followership - and trashing it on the altar of constant sales.

(Al Ries calls this "discountitis.")

Every five minutes, it seems that Macy's got a commercial on TV telling you to "shop early" and "save big."

Go into Macy's and the discount signs are prominently displayed, "40% off" this and "75% off" that.

I used to look at the Macy's star and think, wow, that is a classy logo.

Now I look at the star and think, wow, is that a degraded brand.

There is a Target around the corner with the same brand colors.

I am starting to think that their discount-designer merchandise is exactly the same as the Macy's merch, which used to be pretty high up on the scale.

On a broader level, it has to do with displaying strength versus displaying weakness. Nobody wants a ticket on a sinking ship no matter how pretty the view from the upper deck:

* Wal-Mart, though it isn't known for its giveaways, is an incredibly successful brand because it starts with the "lowest price" offer and sticks to it. The customer walks out and feels victorious for having made the trip. (Although commodity brand strategies are extremely dangerous...I wouldn't want to be them.)

* K-Mart, which gives me the impression of being forever one step away from bankruptcy, is an incredibly shamed one because nobody wants to remember that they are wearing a top from the last-ditch-$1 discount rack.

If you want to make people feel good about your business without detracting from the value of your goods or services, give a small amount away once in awhile. It makes you seem generous. Part of the community. A friend.

If you want to seem like a company flailing while it drowns in quicksand, offer deep discounts.

Financially a giveaway and a discount may cost you the same thing.

But in the long-term, you can only enhance your brand by offering customers a sample. While you will most certainly destroy it by giving away the store.

Good luck!

____

Photo source here

10 Signs It's Time To Slow Down (Personal Reflection)

Yesterday I did a crazy thing. I actually went for a walk with a friend. And I only checked my smartphone 3 times.

The whole thing was totally inefficient. We didn't really walk anywhere because she had her kid. And the kid kept wanting to get out of the stroller and do things like pet dogs and get big heavy rocks from the creek bed. Which my friend then had to put in the stroller basket. Making it weight about five thousand pounds.

We laughed at the bikers who complained that the stroller was getting in their way. They are so neurotic, we said. Ha ha ha. 

And then I realized that I am the biker, usually. Always rushing. Time to take a break, at least once in a blue moon.

You don't need to be a genius to know that rushing can get you into a lot of trouble. 

We think that going fast saves us time. It does - in the short term.

Long-term it leads to headaches. Not in order of priority, some examples:

1. Death or disfigurement from a car accident

2. Painful struggle with a troubled child suffering from substance abuse, social trouble, too-early sexual behavior, etc.

3. Getting fired or alienating someone at work due to making a careless mistake that insults someone; writing a harsh email; or speaking rudely

4. Computer crash due to a virus obtained by carelessly clicking on a link; theft of personal data

5. Waste of one's creativity by doing everything else except the thing that one is uniquely talented to do (write, paint, make music, etc.)

6. Choosing sides on an issue incorrectly due to jumping to conclusions; misjudging a person based on first impression

7. Wasted money due to rushed purchases - clothes that don't look good, don't fit, etc.

8. Weight gain and illness from eating junky, processed convenience food, not exercising, etc.

9. Supporting the wrong side of a social or political issue, or misjudging due to jumping to conclusions

10. Being elderly, unwell and sad because you've rushed through life and missed out on all the stuff that mattered.

The most important thing of all of course is losing touch with one's spiritual side...our purpose in life. What gives it all meaning in the first place.









I wrote this blog to give myself some advice; hope it is helpful to you too.

Hope everyone has a nice day, a slower day, a peaceful one.

Good luck :-)


__

Photo credit: Me











10 Signs It's Time To Slow Down (Personal Reflection)

Path

Yesterday I did a crazy thing. I actually went for a walk with a friend. And I only checked my smartphone 3 times.

The whole thing was totally inefficient. We didn't really walk anywhere because she had her kid. And the kid kept wanting to get out of the stroller and do things like pet dogs and get big heavy rocks from the creek bed. Which my friend then had to put in the stroller basket. Making it weight about five thousand pounds.

We laughed at the bikers who complained that the stroller was getting in their way. They are so neurotic, we said. Ha ha ha. 

And then I realized that I am the biker, usually. Always rushing. Time to take a break, at least once in a blue moon.

You don't need to be a genius to know that rushing can get you into a lot of trouble. 

We think that going fast saves us time. It does - in the short term.

Long-term it leads to headaches. Not in order of priority, some examples:

1. Death or disfigurement from a car accident

2. Painful struggle with a troubled child suffering from substance abuse, social trouble, too-early sexual behavior, etc.

3. Getting fired or alienating someone at work due to making a careless mistake that insults someone; writing a harsh email; or speaking rudely

4. Computer crash due to a virus obtained by carelessly clicking on a link; theft of personal data

5. Waste of one's creativity by doing everything else except the thing that one is uniquely talented to do (write, paint, make music, etc.)

6. Choosing sides on an issue incorrectly due to jumping to conclusions; misjudging a person based on first impression

7. Wasted money due to rushed purchases - clothes that don't look good, don't fit, etc.

8. Weight gain and illness from eating junky, processed convenience food, not exercising, etc.

9. Supporting the wrong side of a social or political issue, or misjudging due to jumping to conclusions

10. Being elderly, unwell and sad because you've rushed through life and missed out on all the stuff that mattered.

The most important thing of all of course is losing touch with one's spiritual side...our purpose in life. What gives it all meaning in the first place.

I wrote this blog to give myself some advice; hope it is helpful to you too.

Hope everyone has a nice day, a slower day, a peaceful one.

Good luck :-)

__

Photo credit: Me

Why Google+ Is More Dangerous Than Facebook From a Privacy Perspective

In my opinion, Facebook is no more trustworthy than Google when it comes to data privacy. 


The difference is that if you are a typical Google user you've plopped a sea of data onto their servers that makes FB look tame by comparison.


Look at all the data that Google users store on Google's servers...do you really want to create a public profile for all the world to see that is linked to the following? 


* Google Docs

* Gmail (imagine all the email sitting in your inbox, sent folder, the trash)

* Checkout (your purchase history if you used a Google shopping cart, linked to your credit card)

* Contacts (usually combine personal and professional)

* Social connections ("direct" and "secondary")

* Phone calls (if you use Google Voice)

* Photos (Picasa web albums)

* Calendar

* Tasks

* Blog, website, site analytics

* Web search history

* Chrome sync (if you use Chrome and sync your passwords)

* Google reader - the stuff you read

* Bookmarks

* Google group membership

* Music

* YouTube (your favorites, your comments)

* Google Buzz

* Google Mobile


Of course we're all going to use Google+.


All I'm saying is, use it smartly.


If you want to de-link your personal data from your public profile, create a dummy account that does not house the kind of data your personal/regular Google account houses. 


Good luck.

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