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made you think!

Aaron Sagray points us to www.dontclick.it.

All Marketers...

It takes a real man to change a worldview

Craig Knight points us to Welcome To Charles Atlas Ltd..

Atlas (not his real name, I’m guessing) was in the right place at the right time with the right message. Before he came along almost a hundred years ago, the idea of bodybuilding was largely unknown. You spent your life trying to get lucky enough to avoid physical labor and exercise, after all.

The success of efforts like his makes many of us believe it’s easy to change the way the world thinks about an industry. It’s not.

Retail Alphabet Game

John Dodds points us to the Retail Alphabet Game, which has been around nearly as long as me, though I never saw it before.

Part of the surprise of the game is that when it’s easy, it’s really easy. Most of the time, it’s impossible.

I think this tells us something insightful about logos, though I’m not certain what it is.

I also think it tells us something even more insightful about names and experiences. I won’t forget, probably ever, the horrible way a flight attendant called Sigma treated me on a Northwest Airlines flight on Monday, but I honestly can’t remember their logo. And thirty years later, I still remember the incredibly nice people at the Cleveland Airport Hilton, but yes, I admit, it might have been a Sheraton.

Big companies don’t hesitate to drop a fortune building and then repeating a brand image. But that little umbrella over the T in citibank (that’s a hint for edition 4, folks) has zero emotional resonance.

One more riff on the 4 curve titles

Abhishek Singh writes:

A is the ‘ideavirus’ curve. Ex: Myspace, Ideas that really take off like ‘The Long Tail’, ‘Big is the the new small’.

B is the ‘Flavor of the Month’ curve. Ex: Social Networks that are the buzz for 1.5 weeks.

C is the ‘Blogs’ curve. An idea that has tremendous potential but takes a few years to hit the mainstream and become a force.

D is the ‘Idea before its time’ curve. Ex: Thin Client PCs in the late 90s.

3 million emails for $500

An anonymous reader wants to know what he should do.

" They’ll send it out on their servers, so blacklisting of our email servers isn’t an issue. (We’ve gotten burned on this in the past.)"

A trusted vendor offers to spam millions with no blacklisting. What to tell the boss?

Hey, just because you can do something doesn’t mean you should!

In parts of Montana, you can probably drive 150 miles per hour and not expect to get a ticket. Doesn’t make it less stupid.

Email marketing is not about what you can get away with. Email marketing is about treating people with respect so that they will listen to what you have to say. So you can build your brand. So you can tell your story.

A no brainer as far as I’m concerned.

Google, video and podcasting

John Battelle talks a bit about how Google is about to offer video hosting combined with video meta data combined with Google payments. Which means that you can upload video and charge for it. John Battelle’s Searchblog: News: Google To Launch Online Video Playback This Monday. It still needs a subscription, not a pay per view, model.

This is exactly where I see podcasting going. If there was an easy and cheap (and possibly subscription based) way to pay for podcasting, there’d be a dramatic increase in the quality and quantity and accessibility of the stuff available for a listen.

It’s pretty much true that you get what you pay for.

Shark Attack!

JawsAn innocent 14 year old girl lost her life just off the Florida panhandle the other day. That’s tragic news—it always is when something like this happens.

But why the panic?

Why the front page headlines in New York (no sharks here)? Why the emergency orders and the closed beaches?

Last year there were 30 shark attacks in Florida. This is fewer than the number of people killed by deer accidents (not deer attacks) in the United States. Fewer than the number of people killed in just a few hours of Labor Day traffic. Yet you don’t see people paying money to see movies about killer deer, or fretting about driving to see Aunt Sue.

Shark attack is like cancer. The phrase alone gets you to sit up and take notice, to have a sharp intake of breath, to hope that everything is okay.

Cancer kills about as many Americans as heart disease, but we react completely differently to news about a friend or a colleague with one disease or the other. We ostracize smokers but few people are serious enough about heart disease to become vegetarians… very different reactions to similar disease-causing lifestyle choices.

The new thing to be irrationally frightened of is terrorism. But of course, this isn’t a discussion about rational thought—it’s about worldview. For whatever reason, human beings are hyper-alert to certain things. We’re afraid of snakes and pit bulls, but not three wheeled go kart ATVs.

Awareness of worldview is critical in world affairs and in marketing as well (same thing, if you ask me). Books about dieting sell, but books about avoiding heart disease don’t. Not because one book is inherently more valuable than the other, but because deep down, consumers believe that a book can help with losing weight (turns out it probably won’t) but a book on heart disease is probably not worth seeking out (big mistake).

One thing you can do as a marketer is rail against worldview. You can whine and complain that your service or product is better, pays for itself, saves lives, improves democracies, whatever. Whining, as we see over and over, has little impact.

For a while, an important corporate worldview revolved around quality. You could sell most anything under the cover of a story about improving ISO 9000/six sigma/Deming quality. Then we had the deep-seated desire (and big budgets) associated with the Y2K problem. Like most worldviews, this was a worldview that got there before most marketers arrived at the scene. Smart marketers used the opportunity to start a conversation and then tell a story and sell a product that companies actually needed in the long run—and turned that window into a long-term business. Others just manipulated the system and took the money and ran. Those guys are no longer around.

Same thing happened with web mania. The need to avoid the shark attack of missing the boat pushed change-resistant consumers and corporations to invest in all manner of web stuff. Some companies (like Yahoo!) turned that into a foundation for a real company. Others are long gone.

I don’t think I’m being harsh… I’ve seen far too many great ideas fail to believe that I’m being cynical in this post. You may have the greatest thing ever, but if it doesn’t match a prevailing worldview in the market where you hope to tell your story, you’re invisible.

All Marketers are Liars was probably a dumb title for my latest book (if my goal was to sell a lot, fast). It doesn’t do a good job of matching the worldview of the people most likely to buy it or talk about it. Perhaps I should have called it, “The Orange Kangaroo: How Smart Marketers Tell Stories People Want to Believe.” Same book, different worldview. To be fair, my goal wasn’t to write a sequel, though, it was to change minds–which is a very time-consuming and difficult thing to do.

If you don’t have the energy or the time to change minds, though, what should you do? You need to realize that changing a worldview requires you to get your prospects to admit that they were wrong. This is awfully hard to do.

I think that tapping into a worldview almost always requires more than a new title or a new wrapper or a new ad. I think it requires rethinking the product itself, starting from scratch with the worldview in mind.

If you could start over, what story would you tell?

Various footnotes: On my way through security at LGA today, I saw a display that indicated it was against the law to carry on or pack mouse poison. Not sure why you’d want to do that, but I’m also not sure why it’s a bad idea to have it in your luggage. Could it be the “national security” worldview at work? Also worth noting that in just eight hours, the death toll in Rwanda was equal to the tragic enormity of the losses of 9/11. And this went on for 24 hours a day, for 100 days and almost no one noticed. Because of worldview. Also worth noting that according to Tom Peters, 100,000 Americans check into a hospital every year… and don’t check out. Because of infections or other illnesses caused by the system, not by their condition. There is no outcry, no big budgets. Because of worldview.

More curve names

This time from Bruce Allen

Marketing Catalyst: Naming the four curves of want and get.

A. Hero Curve (what everyone predicts they can achieve)

B. Loyalist Curve (several cash cow products with this curve create a saleable business)

C. Warrior Curve ("true-believers" and evangelists live on this line)

D. Hindsight Curve (only a co-dependent optimist can survive along this line)

Penguin stew

Andrew Tonkin points us to Penguin Remixed –.

A very clever way to embrace, not fight, the creative impulses of your audience. I wish they’d post one of my audio books…

naming the curves

Sam Sugar (SugarBank) takes the first shot:

A – The Joker
B – Marvin (Hitchikers Guide to the Galaxy)
C – Charile Brown
D – Mona Lisa

any other suggestions?