Thirsty Marketing

By on April 18th, 2013

I’ve been watching Season 6 of “Mad Men.” As fans know (and to boil it down to almost nothing), the show is about the history of advertising (the 50s, 60s, and 70s, so far) as seen though the eyes of copywriters and account pitchmen. The premise that the world can be moved by groundbreaking ad copy may have been true at one time. Unfortunately, some marketers don’t seem to realize that time has passed. Here’s the deal.

In 2013, consumers really have “heard it all” (about one million to seven million times per year, according to Yankelvich Research). No wonder, in this heavy laden content world, consumers both recognize and loathe being talked at and down to.

A case in point: Overuse of the term “community.” Look folks, I’m your customer, not a member of your self-anointed community. True, I may love your product design and functionality (iPad) or treasure the incomparably customer-centric way you do business (Amazon). But I’m really just an Amazon enthusiast/fan and an Apple user (Note: Once upon a time, when the Mad Men were young, I used to be part of the Apple community because it was a community …  but that’s another story).

A second case in point: The co-opting of genuine customer service by the telecom industry’s la-de-da marketing (or is it their NON-marketing) C-suiters. Have a problem? If you call in, you’re sure to get recorded messages like these:

“Please hold; your call is very important to us.”

or

 “A customer service executive will be right with you.”

You’ve got to be kidding me, Comcast. Your customer service “executives” are paid a pittance. The big bucks go to investors and lobbyists who haunt Congress for de-regulation favors. We all know this. Get real .. or we’ll get you. Lose your grip on that monopoly and you’re done. We will remember.

We’ve been hearing about “authentic” marketing for quite awhile. It matters … a lot. But too many folks with something to sell, sell us short. We’re getting even .. On message boards and Twitter and Facebook pages and Yelp. And here’s an even bigger threat to “fool me twice”: the sharing economy. Here, from an article in The Economist, check out what is, perhaps, the most successful peer-to-peer sharing scheme yet.

 “LAST night 40,000 people rented accommodation from a service that offers 250,000 rooms in 30,000 cities in 192 countries. They chose their rooms and paid for everything online. But their beds were provided by private individuals, rather than a hotel chain. Hosts and guests were matched up by Airbnb, a firm based in San Francisco. Since its launch in 2008 more than 4m people have used it—2.5m of them in 2012 alone. It is the most prominent example of a huge new “sharing economy”, in which people rent beds, cars, boats and other assets directly from each other, co-ordinated via the internet.”

This! Your house and mine, now competing with one of the most price-aggressive, stable industries in the world: hotels!

It’s not quite over yet, though. Here  are a few positives for combating cons and intrusions while retaining the marketing edge and dealing with/cashing in on/exploiting the trend to peer sharing:

1. Do be authentic. It’s okay to be funny (Mayhem is) and brilliant copywriting still builds customer goodwill (brought to you by “the most interesting man in the world”). But don’t even try to cover up the truth.

2. If you have loyal customers, you already have the makings of your own “shared economy.” Group pricing? Hosted information roundtables? Shipping/logistics packages? None of these are brand new, but maybe you have a twist to add. Consider the possibilities.

3. The world is rearranging its parts, which suggests new partnership opportunities. For example, who would have thought that hands-on construction worker types– or realtors, for that matter — could so successfully partner with artsy-heartsy interior designers? The Property Brothers, that’s who… and they are cashing in.

4. Customers are both voting with their feet and screaming as they head for the exit. Voting and screaming. This could work.

Stay thirsty, my friends.

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