Everything You Need To Know About Marketing You Learned in Kindergarten


This picture is a nice letter I received from my insurance company. They sent along some coupons that I can hand out to friends. If my friends sign up, I get a $10 gift certificate to a restaurant. No one called me, no one talked to me, they just sent me old-school spam. I'm not against direct mailings. They have a time and a place, but engaging current customers to be evangelists is not something you do with direct mail.

I wouldn't have called out this poor example of marketing except that I've seen so much of it lately. I've been up to my eyeballs in SEO these last few months because I've had to study it for some of my upcoming ventures. The question everyone in almost all the SEO forums keeps asking is "how do I get people to link to me?" But then they never like the answer. They want a magic bullet. They want some trick that gets their message in front of people without putting any thought into it. If you want to get linked, write something interesting. Give something of value. Make something worth talking about. Share something with the community.

Sometimes I think marketers need to return to kindergarten. They need to be taught about sharing and about relationships, because in a world where listening to marketing messages is like drinking from a firehose, they need something special to stand out. They need a relationship. To get that relationship, they need to share something. It's not a one-way street.

I get dozens of PR releases every week. Some are interesting, most aren't. What is worse is that most of them attempt a personal pitch using what is obviously an email template. I keep waiting for someone to accidently send one that says

Hi {$Blogger},
I've been reading {$Blog} for quite some time…

Oops. Sent that too quickly.

When will these PR firms get it? If they want the blogosphere to talk about their clients, they need to get their clients involved in the blogosphere. If they want to have any credibility at all, they need to get involved in the conversation, or at least do something worth talking about.

Companies see a successful industry portal and they think hey, let's build our own portal so those people will come here. (Ok, it was lenient to call that thinking) Why the hell can't they just go participate where the customers already are? I just don't get it. We grow up, we go to B-school, and we have to stop being real. It reminds me of Tom Hanks in You've Got Mail. He says to Meg Ryan "it's not personal, it's business." And she responds with "What is that supposed to mean? I am so sick of that. All it means is it's not personal to you, but it's personal to me, it's personal to a lot of people…whatever else anything is, it ought to begin by being personal.

And that's why 9 out of 10 businesspundits recommend relationships over magic bullets.

  • The thing about those “magic bullets” is that they seem so, well, magic. You now, like no work and great results. Relationships, on the other hand, take time and effort. They’re messy. And besides, they’re great for long term competitive advantage and profitability, but we don’t see those magic results quickly. Alas, Rob, we are a short time horizon, magic-seeking species.

  • In marketing as in politics the magic bullet is “sincerity”… just figure out how to fake that and you’ll get to the top.

  • I just read a statment yesterday (where I read it escapes me at the moment), but it was “The only place success comes before work is in the dictionary.” Pretty apt saying for someone to think of when they are looking for the magic bullet.

  • I think you hit the key here – it’s about “value”. For example, that direct mailing piece is useless. Why would I spam my friends for my own personal gain? A good example of a piece is the coupons I get from Children’s Place (a children’s clothing store). They send 3 15% off coupons – supposedly one for me and the other 2 for friends. This is great WOM advertising, because any mom friend would love a coupon to the children’s place, and it doesn’t require them to sign up for anything. Your example – those people suck.

  • How Jeniffer Lopez got famous? Is she a real good singer, dancer or even talker? Has anyone remember where her knowledge came from? This might be a not good example but Marketing is just becoming like this. Even TV shows, they try to market every waste they find.
    Anyway Marketing is good when it is for good and with a real great aim, not as article said “make your friend to buy it and you will receive your reward”
    i am not agree with to do the fake part, to fake is a smart choice, but not in long term. you can not fake BMW for a long time.
    Anyway I think Marketing should be done by educated people who are also honest. Market something beneficial not just everything. Maybe you will make money from it but is it worth doing it? fake?…. Think about it.