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All Marketers...

The Billion Dollar Water Story

Chris Busch writes:

Take Evian ?? origins in the French Alps, mountain aquifer, special bottling process.  Feel fresh, young, and beautiful with Evian, the original beauty product.  The story tells of the Cachat Springs located in the quaint town of Evian-les-Bains on the southern shore  of Lake Geneva in the Haute Savoie region of the French Alps.  Suddenly I’m having a European experience through the bottle of chilled water I just procured at the c-store with the filthy floors.  I feel healthier.  I’ve redefined cool.  It’s not just water, but water from the French Alps.  It’s superb water.  Beyond all other waters.  I feel smarter.  I look better.  You’ve lifted me out of my mundane, middle-class existence.  Thank you, Evian.  I love you.  I need you.

And for those that are missing the point: hey, it’s just water.

Of course, it’s not just water. You can solve your thirst problem for free. You buy bottled water because of the way it makes you feel, because of the impact the story has on your mood, not because you need the fluid.

All Marketers...

Who’s Your Daddy?

I was going to stick to one post a day, but this stuff is just too good.

Waye Yeager points out that who your great great grandfather is just a story. It’s a good story, a powerful story, a story that opens doors and creates all sorts of advantages. But it doesn’t have a lot to do with who you really are, does it?

HSC Advisory Council

The Tolstoy Rule

All marketing failures are alike; every marketing success is a success in its own way.

Stop looking for case studies and templates and rules.

The quantum nature of remarkability is simple: stuff succeeds today because it’s worth talking about. Things are generally worth talking about because they’re new and interesting–and once something is talked about, it is neither new nor interesting any longer.

All marketing failures are boring. Most are self-centered.

Marketing successes, on the other hand, are remarkable in their own way.

The ever-worsening curse of the cog

Our story so far:

Since you were five, schools and society have been teaching you to be a cog in the machine of our economy. To do what you’re told, to sit in straight lines and to get the work done.

In the early factory era, there was great demand for trained cogs, the cogs even had unions, and cog work was steady, consistent and respected. There were way worse things than coghood.

Over the last decade or two, that’s all gone away. I found this via Gizmodo: dottocomu: Clocking on with King Jim’s QR code clock and it’s a perfect symptom of what I’m talking about. It’s a clock that puts up the time in a camera-readable format, making it easy for the factory supervisor to automate time in and time out via cell phones.

More important than the device itself is the thought pattern it represents:
1. cog labor is a lowest-common denominator activity
2. if cog labor gets expensive, automate it
3. if you can’t afford to do that, move it somewhere where it’s cheaper
4. if your competition does that, figure out how to measure and semi-automate your cog labor to make it cheaper still

The end result is that it’s essentially impossible to become successful or well off doing a job that is described and measured by someone else.

Worth reading the italics twice, I think.

The only chance our country (your country, depends where you live), your economy and most of all, your family has to get ahead is this: make up new rules.

People who make up new rules continue to be in very short supply.

All Marketers...

What is the truth?

Have you ever been abducted by a space alien?
Reporting in the prestigious Psychological Science (as seen in this month’s Scientific American) reports that it doesn’t matter whether the victim was really and truly abducted by a space alien (and who knows what sort of Walmart-induced otherworldly liberties were taken), the psychological effects are identical. Patients hearing a script recounting their alleged horrors experienced identical response to soldiers and others suffering post-traumatic stress syndrome.

In other words, if someone believes something is real, then the effect on them is the same as if it were real.

Psychophysiological Responding During Script-Driven Imagery in People Reporting Abduction by Space Aliens

Leaving ET aside for a second, this is a profound (if obvious) result. What we experience is far more driven by what we believe than by what the objective truth may report. Stories come first. Authentic stories hold up under scrutiny. Manufactured stories dry up and fade away. But stories come first.

The power of habit

It’s easy (and dangerous) to underestimate how powerful the habits your customers–consumers and organizations, both–fall into.

Tim and Nina Zagat, founders of the eponymous survey, could eat anywhere they want to. They could eat anything they wanted to. They could probably even do it for free. Yet, according to  The New York Times > Dining & Wine > Heavenly Fish and Tuna Melt: Notable Names Dine In, at least once a week they eat old fashioned NY chinese food from the very same restaurant. And they’ve been doing it for years and years.

Worth a thought the next time you convince yourself you can get people to change just because you’re better.

All Marketers...

Malcolm Gladwell’s Insight

We all know about The Tipping Point: (gladwell dot com / books.)

Most people, though, have missed the key teaching from the broken windows theory. This is a crime prevention idea that says that if a neighborhood is filled with small signs of community disrespect (litter, broken windows, etc.) it’s way more likely to have violent crime. If you clean up the little things, the crime rate goes down. Malcolm talked about how well this worked in NYC.

Well, here’s the latest: it turns out that it doesn’t matter at all what the neighborhood is like. New research just published says that what actually matters is what the people who live there think it’s like! The absolute ranking of the neighborhood doesn’t matter. The truth of the neighborhood doesn’t matter! What matters is the story that people tell themselves. The story is the truth.


In a note from American Express (in response to my email to them):

Due to unusually high volume, we will respond within three to four business

How long, I wonder, has the volume been unusually high? How come American Express doesn’t have a plan for dealing with this spike?

We’ve all heard this excuse when we’re on hold. Personally, it doesn’t make me feel any better. I don’t say, "Oh, they’ve staffed up with plenty of people but this particular moment is an exception so I’ll cut them some slack."

What’s missing from the cost benefit analysis is pretty clear: a customer just took the initiative to call in, to do business with you, to pay attention. And the company, just to save a buck or so in excess capacity, makes this eager person just sit and wait.

Surely there’s a better way.

Before & After, the magazine worth reading

John McWade is a hero of mine, so I’m really excited to discover that Before & After, the magazine for graphic design is now available for free*, online, in the convenient PDF serving size.

You really need to check this out. The way you say something matters, and John completely understands that.

I’ve learned more from my charter subscription than I have from almost any other magazine.

*free if you’ve got the print subscription, I’m told. I do, but you probably don’t. You should. It’s worth it.