Category: Simplicity


The Unifying Theory of Marketing

There are two distinct schools of marketing.

The “Data Is Everything” school – The Scientists.

And the “If You Don’t Get Noticed Everything Else Is Academic” school – The Big Bangers.

I can’t figure if they’re like the Christians and the Jews (both believing in the same god, but trying hard to convince consumers the only real way to get the benefit of the product is with their brand) or like Catholics and Anglicans (both selling the same brand, but trying hard to convince consumers the only real way to get the benefit of the product is with their model).

Based on the conversations we’re hearing over here in the shallow end of the internet, both schools, like the two sides of modern politics, seem to believe the only way to convince non-believers is to take a very black and white view.

It’s no surprise really.

The whole world has become a chaotic scramble for people’s attention.

And it’s hard to write a headline which grabs someone’s attention when the point you want to make is, “It’s a bit of both, a relevant balance, an appropriate dollop of I’m sorry I drifted off when you started being dull.”

(Quick aside. Before anyone writes in and says, “Headlines are so old school, it’s not about headlines it’s about visuals, it’s about the story, it’s starting a conversation with the audience, it’s creating an engaging experience” please, with respect, take your overly pedantic point and shove it up your clacker. It’s the people who make those points who are to blame for the ongoing I’m Right You’re Wrong mess we find ourselves in.)

The answer is simple.

It comes down to understanding the purpose of marketing. (Not purpose-driven marketing. That’s a tactic dressed up as a strategy. Sorry.) What is the purpose of what you’re doing?

Surely the answer has to be, “Creating value.”

You’re either giving people permission to pay more for a product.

Or you’re finding a way to reduce the cost to serve the product.

For the Scientists, the road to value is largely paved with media channels and repetition.

Their path to value appeals to people who love the smell of ROI in the morning. They can see exactly where the effectiveness happens, but can’t necessarily put their finger on the trigger.

For the Big Bangers, the road to value is probably signposted with a panda trying to shag a stuffed cat, paved black and white and smelling of bamboo and tiger wee. Their path to value appeals to people who want to get people’s attention. They can’t necessarily tell you how effective their efforts are, but they can tell you exactly why it’s so-o-o-oo effective.

And, yes, I am treating both camps with an overly simplistic view.

Because they’re worth it.

Marketing is, in theory, a simple game.

Create value.

Maintain value.

Harvest value.

Pick the path you’re most comfortable with. It’s like Bryson deChambeau’s golf swing. It works for him and everyone else can laugh but he’s leading the money list and he’s just won two of the biggest tournaments in the world, in a row.

The two marketing methods.mentioned above can be incredibly effective. And both can be a colossal waste of time and money.

There are other ways.

But, the theory stands.

If you do create value, you win.

If you don’t create value, you fail.

It’s as easy as that.

Money beats sense

I’ve always had an issue with the alphabet song.

A, B, C, D, E, F, G.

H, I, J, K, L-M-N-O-P

Q, R, S (PAUSE)

T, U, V

W, X (PAUSE)

Y AND Z

According to Wikipedia, the song was first copyrighted in 1835 by Charles Bradlee, a Boston-based music publisher, and given the rather (for a simple song) ostentatious title, “The A.B.C., a German air with variations for the flute with an easy accompaniment for the piano forte”.

My issue is with both the metre and the rhyme. They don’t make sense.

The rhyme ends in an “ee” sound.

Which is great for Americans.

But I grew up with the English Zed – an “eh” sound.

So the song always sounded odd trying to rhyme the “zed” with the “Vee”.

The metre, also, seems odd.

1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7

1, 2, 3, 4, 5-6-7-8-9

1, 2, 3 (PAUSE)

1, 2, 3

1, 2 (PAUSE)

1, 2, 3.

It’s all over the place.

It felt like someone was just making it up. To my English and more pedantic ear, the song would be better with a more regular metre and a rhyme on the “eh” sounds (which are more abundant than would seem at first glance).

Consider this metre

1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7

1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7

1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7

1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7

And overlay it with the “eh” rhymes found in f, m, s and zed.
“Eh-f” “Eh-m” “Eh-ss” and “Z’eh-d”

And you get…

A, B, C, D, E and F

G, H, I, J, K, L, M

N, O, P, Q, R and S

T, U, V, W, X, Y, Z

It always seemed like a more elegant solution.

The only thing it has against it is the amount of current usage, the popular acceptance of “The A.B.C., a German air with variations for the flute with an easy accompaniment for the piano forte”, cultural intransigence (people like to be right about stuff, and the alphabet song is ALWAYS sung that way) and the limited desire for change (It’s easier to live with a slight mental discomfort – if there is one at all – than to go through the effort of change).

It would take more money than I have to even try and get people to change, even if the “zed” doesn’t rhyme. To own the mental and physical salience (as Uncle Sir Professor Byron so eloquently puts it).

It’s a question any manager of any brand that isn’t number one in its category must ask themselves.

My solution makes perfect sense, why isn’t anyone else buying it?

And the answer is always one of four.

The incumbent number one owns the mental space in people’s heads.
The incumbent number one owns the distribution channels.
The current market is happy enough with the number one’s products.

Any future market isn’t going to pay me enough to recoup my launch costs.

Something to consider next time someone says to you, ‘I’m giving you $10,00,000 to launch this thing. It should be as easy as A, B, C.”