It’s good to be king

The Times and other outlets have been running a spate of stories about executive pay. CEOs who walked away with $100,000 a day paychecks, CEOs making millions of dollars at companies in trouble, CEOs with jets and houses and limos… It’s like being a king, instead of having a job.

Marketing used to be like that (and for a few lucky brands, it still is). The folks at the Apple iTunes store are like kings, deigning to receive a long line of supplicants who want to do business with them. I would imagine that the producers at Oprah feel the same way… People in the lobby, their backs bowed from carrying a sack from a land far away, traveling miles by donkey…

Kings receive payments all out of proportion to their incremental contributions. Mass markets pay their leaders handsomely. So marketers often set out to be kings, and often act that way from the start.

The thing is, if you market like a king, you’re no longer likely to see results. Kings like to bark orders, wear crowns, eat at banquets and behead their critics.

The thing is, marketers are now peasants.

If you market like a peasant, always a supplicant, always aware of your low station in life, you’re more likely to earn attention. Yes, you need the confidence and perhaps the bearing of a king. But the best marketers today appear to be those that accept the fact that they have no birthright, they weren’t awarded the right to attention. And, who knows, over time, they might earn their way up the ladder–to king.