The Absolute Truth About Marketing
How will global warming affect your marketing plan?
“It don’t feel any hotter to me.” US President George W. Bush is reported to have said this when asked about the threat of global warming. Did he say it? Does it matter? It’s what he thought for a long time, until earlier this year when he admitted that global warming is a fact.
After the Tsunami, Katrina and Larry, global warming is now real because people believe in it. It has entered the Common Mind, so now marketers must deal with it. What opportunities and challenges lie ahead in a globally warm world?
For a start, the car companies are turning defence into attack by promising to plant a tree for new car buyers (to offset their polluting behaviour). They think they are safe responding to the superstition that trees will save our skins – superstition because in certain conditions trees are net emitters of greenhouse gases. They should guard against the day that the debunkers in the popular press reveal that one.
Until that day you can offer consumers the illusion that they are doing something good for the environment by promising to plant a tree for them. They get the same warm fuzzy feeling American consumers get when they separate their garbage into recycling categories, despite the fact that it’s pointless now that refuse management techniques make separation after collection simple and easy. More superstition. Like hanging garlic around your neck to ward off vampires.
Water saving devices will become popular, with low water use washing and dishwashing machines fetching a premium as water prices skyrocket. Swimming pools will seem like an extravagance. Lawns and gardens could become the preserve of the rich and famous. The rest of us might pay to watch grass growing.
The dire predictions of green activists have the sea advancing inland – shifting the beach at Bondi 150 metres. This will play havoc with property prices, pleasing those who did not pay for a waterfront home but might get one, and devastating those currently enjoying waterfront views.
Wind and other non-coal generated power should increase in popularity, with consumers likely to be more willing to pay for green power. Hybrid cars could take a slice of the market, putting Honda and Toyota out in front. The hydrogen cell vehicle, whose only emission is water vapour, could become economically feasible.
But perhaps the biggest shift in consciousness could be made in the perception that, given they were right about global warming, the greenies are right about everything else. This might not happen overnight. But global warming is going to get worse before it gets better. What would life be like in a Green World?
De-industrialisation would follow the depletion of energy sources if we were to cease using oil and coal and were unable to switch to nuclear energy. (The USA has enough coal to burn for 250 years and considers it a matter of national security that they be able to burn it.) The global economy would contract as transport and distribution systems wound down through lack of energy. Economies would have to become more localised and crafts and cottage industries flourish.
The reduction in earning power for the average consumer would see discretionary dollars disappear and, combined with reductions in use of petrochemicals and plastics, would bring communications technologies into an ice age. The computer era would become a page in history. The same shrinkage of consumer spending and taxable incomes would see many services that provide personal security and wellbeing scaled down, such as law enforcement and medicine. Security issues could see the emergence of medieval walled cities (an expansion of the gated community concept) and private armies (as seen on the streets of US cities). A Mad Max scenario.
Unlikely? If global warming speeds the depletion of the natural resource base on which agriculture relies – superdroughts and massive erosion of topsoils – the house of cards we call modern civilisation could disappear as quickly as the Mayan cities did, abandoned almost ovenight and left to be consumed by the forest.
Now nothing ever happens according to the way things are predicted. But perception is reality. If the market believes in a likelihood, it effects the way people think and act. Books like Jared Diamond’s Collapse, Tim Flannery’s The Weather Makers or The Revenge of Gaia by James Lovelock are well-researched and convincing and scare the hell out of readers.
Whatever happens, global terrorism and global warming together means it is a very different world we’re selling into.
Email marketing mistakes
We make a lot of mistaken conclusions about email. The truth of the matter is this: spam works. If it didn't work, there wouldn't be any of it. How do I know? Because they can count the replies... Junk mail works or there wouldn't be any of it, for the same reason. (What I want to know is, how do they know about the size of my penis? And the Viagra?)
The vast majority of cold-call email I receive is spam. Some of it I like. I never open it tho, just laugh at the headings, many of which must be written in Azerbejani or Russian, then translated into Moroccan and then into English.
Here's a selection of my favourites:
"you 2 small" (To the point.)
"You think you need a crane to lift your dick?" (If I was that big I wouldn't need all these enlargement pills.)
"aAre you tired of your fr1end bragging about having wonderfuI sex every
night?" (I don't have any friends. my dick too small.)
"Make her worship you!" (After all, the only thing a woman wants is a good rogering.)
"Ejaculate like a porn star!" (I am a porn star, you fools. My screen name is Buck Naked.)
"You always wanted to use your penis as a billiards cue." (No. It wasn't me. I'd settle on using my penis as a penis.)
Then came the evidence that the Russian mafia, which sends out most of this stuff, had kidnapped a country and western songwriter:
"Make her scream from the surprise ˆ of your new gigantic size. Try Virility Patch Penis enlargement pills."
"Your dick is your visit card, so
make it big and make it hard. Tr y Advanced Gain Pro Penis Enlargement Pills"
Imagine trying to fit this into your pants: "Virility Patch Penis enlargement pills will make your penis as long as the
river Amazon." (Try getting that past the Advertising Standards Council.)
When all this failed, they got personal:
"For your wife‚s last b-day you gave her a vibrator because of your hopeless Erectile Dysfunction." (Are they watching me?)
But my all time favourite, with a propositon that is every man's dream:
"With our Soft Cialis Tabs you can have sex:
With anyone you want.
As long as you want.
As often as you want."
(I'm having trouble believing this.)
Why don't respectable companies and big brands use spam, if it works? (Because they can't find someone to write copy like that.)
Web site optimisation: fire your ad agency
WHen an ad agency does direct marketing they often forget the basics. It's not that they forget them. They never learned them.
They don't like them when they do learn them, because the rules of direct marketing often contradict the rules of advertising.
The same is true for online and offline. You can tell a website designed by an ad agency - go to a few of them and you'll see - their own sites. Elaborate flash designs that make you wait while you admire their creative brilliance. Wankery. The online agency understands the principle of ACCESS. People visit websites for access to content and information. You come to the Opera House for what's on the stage. Not for some bullshit performance by the doorman.
This is not an ideological divide. It is a paradigm shift. There can be little understanding between people operating under different paradigms because the past cannot understand the future and the future cannot talk to the past in terms it will understand. Online is different to offline as direct marketing is different to advertising. If you want results, seek specialists in each field.
Fast Eddie loves little kiddies
EDDIE DRESSED LIKE HE WAS IN MIAMI VICE FOR HIS TV APPEARANCE (I wasn't quick enough with my camera to capture his sartorial blunder for you)
Tip for today: try not to look like a hoodlum when you run child care centres.
Another gobsmacking performance by an Australian “business leader” on TV last night. A Current Affair did a hatchet job on ABC Learning Centres, the 900lb gorilla of the Australian child care centre industry. According to the report, ABC is a bully in the playground and doesn’t look after the kiddies. The main charges were: 1. using market power to suppress competition and buy up or destroy small independents; 2. refusing to discuss with a parent why their child’s arm was broken at one of their centres; 3. refusing to take responsibility for the actions of their employees.EDDIE
ABC’s “CEO Global”, one Eddie Groves, fronted the camera as the spokesman, dressed as Dan Johnson from Miami Vice – black T shirt under a black coat, 80’s hairstyle (Eddie must be from Queensland’s Gold Coast where this look lives on), and a machine gun mouth that spruiked right throughout the segment. His shareholders and other board members must have been shaking in their slip-on shoes.
Eddie did not take a back step. Agreed ABC was “very competitive” when asked was it overly aggressive. Denied it had done anything wrong. And revealed he has a thin grasp on the responsibilities of a company when he said ABC was not responsible for the actions of its employees or what happens to one of the kiddies as a result of employee negligence. EDDIE'S BOARD. NOTE HIS BOOTS.
Eddie confirmed the viewer’s suspicion that ABC are guilty as charged. Eddie, what possessed you to wear the Miami Vice look?
We find a clue on ABC’s website. Eddie also owns a basketball team. The Brisbane Bullets. And only 2 of the people on his board are child care people. The rest are hardbitten businesspeople. And ABC Aquisitions - the division that takes over the little independents - is described as the 'engine of ABC". And - laast clue - Eddy wears cowboy boots.EDDIE WEARS COWBOY BOOTS:NICE LOOK
Though I've never heard of him, he is described as being "renowned as one of Australia's business leaders". He is also described as having "industry acknowledged skills in acquisition strategy, centre location and design, business development, and corporate strategic planning." But not childcare itself.
Nice job, Eddie. You get the Stan Zemanec Award for Self Foot Shooting for this week.
2GB or not 2GB
Mistake #2006: Don't move. Radio as a broadcast medium is going to die a low, agonising death. In the 5 or so years since the industry revamped and brought in the current leadership and change the name and logo of the industry association, radio's share of advertising revenue has shot up from around 9% to around 9%. It is still a creative wasteland and most radio advertising stinks in the ears. The reason for its inevitable death is that young people interested in new technology are not interested in radio. So radio promotions by stations for the young become more outlandish and tasteless, and programs for the aging baby boomers and their parents become more extremist or bland. The industry is desperate.
Case in point:
A bus stop poster for 2GB says: "Change someone's mind. Air your opinion." (LOL) For the uninitiated, 2GB is a whitebread AM radio station in Sydney, Australia which exploits the anxiety of the over 60s to generate advertising revenue. As such, it is a mild form of hate radio, carefully disguised as 'common sense', but big on bigotry. It's leading light is Allan Jones, a former speechwriter for right wing prime minister Malcolm Fraser (now a lefty), who chose radio because it gives him the power of a major political leader without the need to share the microphone with opponents or opposing views. This is why I choked on the propaganda line "Change someone's mind". There is no freedom of expression on 2GB, only the pre-digested views of Mr Jones and his band of imitators. They only let a dissenting voice throuigh on the lines so they can ridicule and humiliate them. Their aging and increasingly irrelevant listeners think in lockstep with their radio heroes. What makes Jones dangerous is that he has extraordinary intellectual horsepower and oratory to boot. He could perform miracles insolving the problems besetting mankind were he not so ideologically rusted onto a world view that sees the white bread middle class as the master race and anyone below them or not homogenised into a white bread "Aussie" is the source of all our problems. His worldview was dominant among the white warriors at Cronulla who 'cleaned up the Lebs'. He could entirely understand how they felt. Mr Jones and his ilk choose radio because of its peculiar psychological dynamic - it is a medium that works at the most personal, initmate level. Listeners can grow emotionally dependent on their radio relationships. Hitler discovered radio and used it to amplify the Numerberg rallies, to bring all of Germany to kneel at his feet. Goebells said the Nazis would not have succeeded without the power of radio in carrying the Nazis 'spiritual' message into the hearts and minds of the German middle classes. That was then. This is now. Digital radio is not due for release in Australia until 2012. By that time iPod and Internet applications will have engulfed the space it was to fill.
So, Radio. Remember the words of the famous thinker whose name escapes me just now: "If you always do what you've always done, you'll always get what you always got." 9%. And with the Internet debuting at 6%, look out. That's where the techsavvy next generation of spenders the ad spenders are after will cluster.