Believe In What You Market

I must have watched the video in my last post about a dozen times now.  The one thing that astounds me is how every single musician is so obviously invested in the production of a WORLD CLASS product.  You can see it in the (otherwise placid) pianist and bassist, and it’s obvious in the JOY that the singer and violinist are getting when they hit their notes perfectly.   Perhaps I’m just an old fuddy-duddy, or maybe mainstream artists don’t get this much pleasure about producing perfection, but I would MUCH rather watch this sort of music video than one with “high production value.”

It reminds me of when I was Product Manager/VP Marketing  at Maximizer in the ’90s.  I didn’t just chant the mantra about how great our software was.  I KNEW IT TO BE TRUE.  If I could have been standing in every aisle in every Future Shop in the country when somebody was looking at shrink-wrapped contact management software, no-one would EVER have purchased our competitor.  A 90-second chat with me, along with the (semi-maniacal) look of certainty in my eyes, would have convinced them that I was NOT dishing bulls**t.

It’s the same with the musicians in the video, and it’s the same with Steve Jobs, and it’s the same with the Dalai Lama (or insert your religious leader of choice here).  They all KNOW they’re giving you the straight goods, at the highest quality possible.   And you can see it in their eyes that they’re doing it for YOU, not themselves.

That’s quality marketing.

(But it requires a quality product.)


Beck Covers INXS

I don’t usually (ever, come to think of it) post music videos.  However, I came across this cover of Never Tear us Apart from the INXS album Kick, which was my favourite record of the late ’80s.  Cranquez-vous los speakeros and enjoy this.

I don’t know any of these artists, but I love the singer.  Of course I’ve heard of Beck, but lately I don’t get to listen to much new music that isn’t manufactured in the factory where Disney clones their teenage TV star/singer/dancer/movie heart throb automatons (I have a 9-year old daughter).

My favourite bit is the violin taking the place of the sax riff at the start of the bridge.

Apparently this group is in the process redoing all of the album – more at  A quote from that site that explains the whole project and removes the question that I had about why her lyrical slip at the beginning of “we all have wings,” was allowed to stay.

Record Club No. 4 is here…! Joining in this time we had three of my favorite bands— Liars, Annie Clark and Daniel Hart from St. Vincent, Sergio Dias from the legendary Brazilian band Os Mutantes, as well as RC veteran Brian Lebarton, just back from the Charlotte Gainsbourg tour. The record covered this time was 1987 blockbuster ‘Kick’ by INXS.  It was recorded in a little over 12 hours on March 3rd, 2010. It was an intense, hilarious, daunting and completely fun undertaking. Thanks to everybody for being there and putting so much into it. Many classic moments, inspired performances and occasional anarchy. We’ll post the songs consecutively in the album’s original sequence. First one up is “Guns In The Sky.”  [Bolding is mine.]

[Update]  Sorry – I just can’t get enough of this.  Watch from around the 2:00 mark as she finishes the second chorus and her voice echoes out.  Then the scene changes to her viewed from her left, with the other vocalist in the background.  As the violin player hits his “power chord,” the guy rips off his shirt and the girl makes an expression like, “MAN!  THAT IS GOOD!

That Benny Franklin Fellow Knew a Thing or Two

As regular readers know, I look no further than the Moncton Times & Transcript for all the knowledge and wisdom that is required to succeed in today’s world. One of their regular features is, “Quote of the Day.”  This space usually offers some sage advice from dead people, although the occasional live person is tossed in to mix it up. The quote from a couple of days ago caught my eye. It was:

“If you would persuade, you must appeal to interest rather than intellect.” – Benjamin Franklin

Of course, (good) marketers have known this forever.  Recent examples of ideas that were marketed poorly – and thus reviled, even though they seemed to make rational sense; were the NB Power sale to Hydro Québec (since abandoned) and the City of Dieppe French signage bylaw (since adopted).  They were discussed in this post.

To reword Ben’s musing so that it applies more to marketing, I would say, “If you wish to persuade, you must appeal to peoples’ emotions rather than their rationality.”  And most effective and time-tested way to grab an emotional response (and thus persuade someone), is to tell a story.

Adolf Hitler didn’t tell the people of Germany his plans in a rational fashion:  “OK, here’s the deal – we’re going to exterminate or exile some of the hardest working and smartest people in our country, then invade a WHOLE BUNCH of other countries and do the same thing.  Eventually we will be stretched so thin that the whole world (except for a couple of small allies) will be against us, fighting on all sides.  Then we’ll rule for 1000 years!”  Instead he told a story about the destiny of a master race that touched people’s emotions and made them do things they otherwise probably wouldn’t.

Rolex doesn’t claim that their timepieces are any more accurate than other watches.  They talk about craftsmanship and material and tradition – you’re wearing a piece of art (or more accurately, jewelry) on your arm, not something to tell you when it’s time to turn on American Idol.  That story is worth a $4,980 mark-up for some people.

At the other end of the spectrum, Walmart doesn’t claim to have the best selection or the nicest stores or the most knowledgeable salespeople.  They are all about price.  The story that resonates with Walmart customers is that they are being freakin’ geniuses by saving all that money.

So if the way you describe your product or service sounds something like, “it’s the best because of X technical reason or Y competitive advantage,” you may want to rethink it.  You may want to craft a story that arouses an emotional reaction in the potential customer’s mind about how much better off they’ll be when they acquire it.

Go to Harvard, and you’ll end up with a higher-paying career.

Drink a Coca-Cola, and you’ll be refreshed.

Use Axe deodorant, and you’ll be chick magnet.

Vote Obama, and the US will be a better place to live.

And just to state the obvious, the story should be true (unlike in the world of Mad Men, where advertisers make up all sorts of ridiculous claims).  In the examples above, the Harvard one is statistically true, the Coke one is arguably true, the Axe one probably isn’t (I haven’t tried), and the Obama one remains to be seen.

Trade Shows – Why Do We Let the Money Walk By?

I was at a Trade Show yesterday, and it was exactly like the roughly 200 other ones I’ve been at during my lifetime.  Sure, there was a lot of stuff being shown, but there was very little trade going on.  Here’s what Messrs. Merriam and Webster have to say about the practice:

Main Entry: trade show
Function: noun
Date: 1895

: a large exposition to promote awareness and sales of especially new products within an industry <a computer trade show>

Note that they’ve seen fit to include “sales” in the definition.  In my experience, very little sales or sales-related activities actually happen at trade shows.  The reasons for this are manifold, and one of the main ones is, on the surface, nonsensical:  the people usually sent to man the booths at trades shows are salespeople.

Salespeople tend to be hunters, while marketers should be gatherers (or even better, nurturers/farmers).  So a sales person would rather track a mammoth 10 km over the tundra for the 5% chance that s/he might stick a spear in some lethal manner into the beast. Marketers should prefer to stay at home and sow the field, pick the fruit, milk the goats, set the snares, collect the eggs, etc.  Both are viable survival strategies: if the marketer gathers enough protein every day to feed the family, or the salesperson kills a mammoth that feeds the family for 20 days, it’s a wash.

But what if you’re at a trade show, and there’s a HERD of mammoths walking straight up the valley?  In my experience, the salespeople are either, a) not “there” because they’re chasing some mammoth 10 km away (whether on their cell phone, or in some out-of-the-way place like the back of the booth), or b) not engaging the herd because their skills are focused on killing single mammoths; not confining, evaluating, flagging, or tracking entire herds of them.  Marketers (at least good ones) see the herd and think, “How can I pick the best ones to send my hunters after?”

The techniques that can be used to overcome these innate behavioural patterns, and actually make going to a trade show WORTH IT, are discussed in the following recorded seminar.

If you would like to hear me talk for 17 minutes about Effective Trade Show Attendance along with some pretty useless PowerPoint slides (hey – I was working for IBM – they DEMAND useless PowerPoint slides), you can watch this presentation.  You’ll have to enter your name and email, but it loads pretty quickly.