Catch and Release Marketing

The world doesn’t require another marketing metaphor, and that is the exact reason why I created The Catch and Release Marketing Framework, because it’s unnecessary. We shouldn’t be forced into changed perspectives, we should choose them.

A few points before we get started:

1 – Easy to find, easy to buy, and easily thought worth it. The marketing mantra behind Catch and Release Marketing. All of the following advice flows through this mantra. It is unassailable advice and applicable to every vertical and industry, so please feel free to ground your strategic focus in this faithful bit of evergreen marketing advice.

2 – Another fundamental principle behind Catch and Release Marketing are the 6 Ethical Principles of Marketing by George Brenkert, which are:

  • Autonomy
  • Freedom
  • Justice
  • Trust
  • Truth
  • Well-Being

Marketing is an anxious profession because “best practices,” even ethics, are seemingly in a state of perpetual flux.

There is typically no standard for marketing activities beyond maximizing value and diminishing costs, which is why the Brenkert principles are more than just ethical woo-woo; when strategically applied, they alleviate marketer anxiety, respect consumers and eco-systems, guide planning, and direct resources and budgets to the tactics that sustainably expand opportunity, awareness, and distinction in your marketplace.

3 – Most marketing and business advice, while trying to be helpful, makes marketers and biz owners feel like shit. Too much marketing advice today is about passion, loyalty, and fanaticism, and the examples extolled are usually from the top 1% mega-brands. For the 99% majority of garden-variety marketers working across every vertical and market-size imaginable, this toxic advice cannot and never will apply to our nuances, niches, and network effects.

It’s my hope that this framework, while giving reliable and well-researched business advice, gives grace to marketers and takes pressure off the business owners that feel “less-than” because of all the highlight reel hustletology that surrounds us about brand loyalty and purposeful passion.

Marketers shouldn’t be made to feel bad if they fail to start a revolution with their brand. Simply selling something well, is good enough. The less puff, bluff, and guff around this stuff, the better for all of us.

“People don’t need gas-burning vehicles, they need transportation. They don’t need a watch, they need the time. The items that create wants & desires come and go, but the wants and desires never go away.”

– George Brenkert

“It took millions of years for man’s instincts to develop. It will take millions more for them to even vary. It is fashionable to talk about changing man. A communicator must be concerned with unchanging man. With his obsessive drive to survive, to be admired, to succeed, to love, to take care of his own.”

– Bill Bernbach

Step 1 – The Marketer and The Brain

The first step to the Catch and Release Marketing Framework, is to appreciate how the human brain actually functions in regards to stimulus, learning, and memory. If you know how information is imprinted and stored in a brain, you’ll create better marketing and messaging.

BRAIN FACT ONE: Your brain does not switch between active and passive, learning and non-learning; it’s recording everything. All the time.

Because your brain is an alarm system as well as a university, your limbic system is tracking your surroundings, even while your conscious brain is not. In case something leaps out, or a twig snaps, you have to be able to respond quickly. Why is this important?

Most marketers believe the only purpose of advertising is to drive direct response, but there are other important functions for advertising, like price elasticity and maintaining market share or share of voice. There are several ways an ad might directly, or indirectly, impact an audience, outlined in this brilliant graphic from Stephen King (not that one.)

Since a human’s brain is constantly recording, effective advertising does not have to be directly responded to, necessarily. Research on the mere exposure effect, that encountering something makes you familiar with it, and that familiarity makes you like it more than you did before you encountered it, has shown how advertising can have a latent and low-level impact. 

Consistent, low engagement, well-branded advertising that is passively experienced can be impactful, particularly if there is an emotionally triggering component that tags/associates the experience with memory. Notice I didn’t say compelling facts, research, call to action or unique selling proposition, concepts that are believed to trigger interest and rationality. That’s because…

BRAIN FACT TWO: Your brain does not separate rationality from emotionality, in fact, instinctive emotional responses shape our rational behaviors. 

There is a common misconception that there are two different types of brains inside us, the rational brain and the emotional brain. Descartes famously separated the two, but Gestalt research and neuromarketing science have proven that rational complex thought is formed out of emotion. There are also more dendrites flowing from the limbic system to the frontal lobe, than vice-versa – meaning, on a physical level, emotions and base feelings flow to rational/complex thought.

Our thinking around how to build memorable experiences in marketing is stuck. We’re stuck in ‘brands transmit/people receive rational messages’ mode, when we need to be thinking about deeper ways to communicate and connect to the human brain through associations and passivity.

Humans tend to remember emotions and forget facts. And the stronger the emotion, the stronger the memory. Is it your hope to be rationalized, or remembered by your audience? Remember the mantra; easy to buy, easy to find, easily thought worth it.  

Marketers would be shocked to find out how hard consumer brains work to ignore EVERYTHING. But if marketers paid attention to the way THEY walk through a store or search for solutions, they’d recognize a huge portion of their potential options are cognitively blinded, perforce.

Imagine the psychological benefit to marketers and brands if they operated from the perspective that most people do not want to see marketing and advertising at all, in fact they actively ignore and disregard it?

MARKETING FACT – The goal of advertising/marketing is to first get noticed and then build and refresh memory structures through relevant associations, not convince an emotional and distracted audience of the rational/unique merits of a product. 

BUT JAKE!? I’m in B2B marketing! It’s different! 

Look, I hear you. You think because your product or service is complicated, and the target decision making audience you need to reach is isolated in an ivory tower, and impenetrably logical, that this all can’t apply to you. 

In a very real way there are differences in B2B, because unlike choosing the wrong granola bar, employment can be endangered by poor, uncalculated, or unvetted decisions in B2B. However, since we’re attempting to be logical, we should recognize what recent research from Ehernberg-Bass tells us about the total addressable market ground reality for B2B marketers;

Add in the statistic of the average lifespan of a tech start-up, which is 8.5 years, and the prioritization of marketing will become clearer; In order to grow, you have to stimulate future demand at the same time you capture existing demand.

The only way brand marketing can ever take off is by building a proper runway for memorability. Walk backwards from “The Close”….people won’t buy your brand unless they’re convinced, they aren’t convinced because they have no brand preference, they don’t know if they like you or not because they aren’t even aware you exist.

So along with short term campaigns that educate the audience and activate sales, long term campaigns that create affinity, preference, and mental salience help generate broad category awareness to help close sales faster, more often.

Wiemer Snijders has written brilliantly about the “differences” between B2C and B2B marketing, and how creatively approaching branding is a distinct advantage, as well as a scientific imperative, for B2Brands. This next fantastic passage perfectly summarizes the Catch and Release Marketing framework;

“It’s all about people buying and people don’t change much. We are still working with Homo Sapiens version 1.0; a cognitive miser, emotionally dominated though rationally capable (in short bursts) and forgetful. This crowded mind needs reminding, steadily, whether it’s about your industrial ducting, electricity supply or chocolate bars. The easier it is to get a place in that memory, the more chance you have of growing, one light buyer at a time, a few of whom will become a bit more loyal, but only for a while, but that’s another story.” 

Step 2 – The Marketer Gets Consumption

The second step in CNR marketing, is to accept consumerism and the mathematically proven power laws of loyalty and influence. Thanks to industrialized consumerism, we are surrounded by more stuff than people.

Look around you. How much of these items are you loyal to? You have loose affiliations and passing relationships to these objects, they signal certain things about you, but loyalty to objects doesn’t define you. Does it?


Marketers will gladly flatten their fellow humans into consumer behavior categories and branded loyalty silos; but if someone told us brands and consumption patterns define our lives, we’d reject them outright as dismissing our complex nature.

If a marketer is in consumer-mode, you’ll say loyalty is a very small part of your life. If the CEO is near, you’ll make up some shit about brand intimacy and how consumerism is central to identity. In a way, we’re right about loyalty and consumerism – but we’re not being realistic.

Among all of the objects surrounding you, it may be true that there are a few brands you are “loyal” to, but the mathematical reality that there can only be a few favorites needs to be perennially at the forefront of thought. 

There will always be fewer loyalists than generalists, and loyalty can shift; what looks like favoritism might be a fluke response curve to a fad, loyalty could be laziness or inertia, habits can appear like devotion.

Is loyalty something marketers should depend on? 

Loyal Flush

Loyalty is an abstraction of a complex set of behaviors. Loyalty is not as dependable for growth as acquisition. The laws of Buyer Moderation and non-binomial Direrchlict have proven that loyalty can only ever mathematically exist in small, precious amounts, and research from MIT has proven that loyalty metrics, such as NPS, have no bearing on anything other than the direct questions posed; recommendation means recommendation, not an indication of future purchasing power or lifetime value.

Even more importantly, recent research from Ehernberg-Bass has shown that changes in customer satisfaction scores have no association with changes in business revenue! 

Cram this simple truth about NPS into your brain: Recommendation intention does not predict loyalty, and NPS does not predict growth.

Loyalty is a wonderful thing, but it’s a mathematical anomaly. Buyer moderation and the concept of NBD is succinctly phrased by Wiemer Snijders as, “a few buy a lot, and a lot buy a little.”


This is another pan-industry, well-researched, irrefutable marketing science fact that can gird your strategic loins. Catch onto the idea of light buyers, and release your grip on loyalty.

You want loyalty from people? No, you don’t – you want more money/yield/gross. One of these perceptions makes you feel like shit, one makes you feel like a cult leader; it’s no wonder where we put our hopes, and no wonder why we’re treated like dopes when the loyalists fail to multiply in droves.

THE HOOK – Marketers hoping to expand their market share must be mentally and physically available and attractive to ultra-light category buyers, and cannot depend on growing through customer loyalty, which is a welcome but arithmetical anomalous abstraction, not a strategic action item.

A note about consumer income level and loyalty: I would be remiss if I didn’t mention that there is research that finds consumer income levels appear to have some impact on preferences and behaviors. The study roughly showed that:

  • Lower income consumers were more likely to be Loyalists and that they value low price, fair treatment and caring staff.
  • Middle-class consumers value a convenient shopping experience as well as VIP benefits.
  • More affluent households tend to be Roamers and look for unique products, status, incentives and VIP benefits.

Also worth noting that ‘lowest price’ ‘good value for money’ and ‘quality of product’ were far and away the top factors driving loyalty at all income levels. 

Understanding how income affects the factors that drive consumer loyalty and engagement can help guide your customer retention strategies. But it also helps if we remove our heads from our Brand Bibles, and recognize the fact that most people simply want a good deal on stuff that doesn’t suck, more than they value a trusted, purposeful, blah blah blah. 

QUALITATIVE RESEARCH NOTE – It is critical to understand your clients & customers as much as possible before you try to apply any persona or growth framework. The single best way to understand your clients and customers is to have telephone conversations with them, ask open questions and actively listen to answers.

Humans generate reality through exchanging ideas, not examining patterns in a vacuum.


Step 3 – The Marketer and The Fish

A lot of marketing advice aims to establish autocratic relationships with consumers and the marketplace, not autonomous ones. 

The Catch-and-Release Marketer believes consumers want autonomy and don’t live to consummate a relationship with brands.

Consumers can be reeled in with hooks, they can be captured, measured, and monetized, but they belong to, and will ultimately return to, the river.

The Catch-and-Release marketer genuinely believes that there are always more fish in the sea, because, there really are. No matter your market size, industry, or vertical, this graphic applies to you. 

Planning Fact – There will always be more clients who don’t know you and you’ve failed to reach & catch, than “loyal” ones you’ve engaged & held onto. 

While it’s good to retain “loyal” customers, it’s more important, and more impactful to the bottom line overtime, to operate from a catch & release mentality and prioritize new acquisition and reach, over loyalty yield and retention. 

The Catch-and-Release marketer understands the consumer is autonomous and is not sad when clients move on, indeed Catch-and-Release marketers anticipate it from the beginning because that’s what consumers do; consume and move on.

If you are lucky to be in business long enough, the amount of clients you’ll have had and lost will be greater than the ones you’ve held onto since the beginning; that is natural and good.

The Catch and Release Marketer does not pine for love from the wild creatures called consumers. They create an environment which welcomes them, respects and treats them kindly like the important asset they are, with an open-exit mentality, not a zero churn policy.

Catching new fish may seem more expensive and costly, but what is the cost of recreating and maintaining an aquarium or a faux-natural ecosystem that’s designed to capture and hold “loyal” fish indefinitely and for your own maximization, not their benefit? 

The cost of failing to run a closed-off loyalty aquarium for your customers has to be significantly higher than maintaining an adjacent-eddy of value they can swim through, give a little and gain a little, and be on their way, right? When it comes to loyalty programs, why are consumers signing up? It’s not to deepen their relationship with the brand and content – it’s to snag deals, today or later.

Worst of all, if you don’t run the loyalty program as a growth center, which remember it contains wild, emotional creatures, then it’s YOUR FAULT. The arbitrary acceptance of marketing is an externality that is absorbed by marketers, not the indifferent marketplace. If they didn’t loyally love it (indeed, most consumers are not looking to fall in love with a brand, and remember NBD), it’s our fault. 

This quest for personalized, loyalty-inspiring marketing is a recipe for mental imbalance/anguish. Why?

Quick tangent on Mimetic Theory…

The Marketer and Mimesis

“Man is the creature who does not know what to desire, and he turns to others in order to make up his mind. We desire what others desire because we imitate their desires.”

– Rene Girard

Originating from the French historian and philosopher of social science, Rene Girard, the mimetic theory of desire is an explanation of culture and human behavior and it’s one of the more groundbreaking social insights of the 20th century. 

The name of the theory is derived from the philosophical concept mimesis, which carries a wide range of meanings. In mimetic theory, mimesis refers to human desire, which Girard thought was not linear but the product of a mimetic process in which people imitate models who endow objects with value. Girard called this phenomenon mimetic desire.

Mimesis makes the goal of marketing much more simple – In order for your product or service to become popular, people need to see *other people* using your product or service. 

Another point; if mimesis is a factor, marketers have to recognize that personalized advertising and hyper-targeted marketing is counterproductive at the strategic level, resource-draining at an operational level, and potentially psychologically damaging at the personal level. 

MIMETIC MARKETING TIP – Obsess about being seen, not how you can create obsession from behind the scene.

Another reason mimesis is important, is that it undercuts another big premise in modern marketing; that people want personalized ads. 

On top of this, studies from Dentsu Aegis and Sephora have demonstrated that contextual ads outperform ads based on behavioral targeting.

It’s silly to dismiss the related digital advertising concepts based on personalized data, like retargeting, as useless – indeed these can be powerful branding tools. We should seek to improve the manner in which we perceive the effectiveness and measure the use-cases for personalized vs broad messaging, and always err on the side of autonomy. 

The Marketer and The Empathy Gap – I would be remiss in my duties if I failed to acknowledge that there is a massive gap in what marketers and advertisers perceive to be mainstream values, and what the actual mainstream values are.

Look at the imbalances between adland ‘s perception of mainstream values, and mainstream values!? Advertisers are underestimating the value mainstream society places on things like Universalism, Tradition, and Benevolence and drastically overestimating the emphasis of Achievement, Power, and Hedonism. 

This gap in understanding has drastic effects on the impact of marketing and advertising.

If marketers are pushing a cognitively dissonant framework on customers, there is a significant chance that such messaging might cause a loss in market share, simply because the schism between purported value systems is so unnecessarily exaggerated by marketers. 

There’s also the psychological toll such misconceptions can place on the marketing team. If you are expecting/anticipating/messaging a target audience that values hedonism and striving for power, while in reality they value those things much less, it makes it seem like it’s YOUR FAULT for not turning customers into hedonistic power hungry super achievers. 

ON DIVERSITY – The best way in which advertisers and marketers can correct this issue, is by having more diverse staff (class, race, gender) and viewpoints in agencies and on campaigns. I wonder if a diverse advertising team that looks and thinks like the audience, might naturally lead to more effective and widely accepted work?

The Marketer and The White Whales

By now, we have established that marketers wrongly believe their growth exists in a loyalty-obsessed world where a few white whales can float the whole operation, when in reality it’s the majority of the “small” accounts that keep the lights on. Maybe it’s time we took our hands off our Moby Dicks?

We brag about netting huge accounts, but we’d be embarrassed to admit the outsized client is creating a “eggs in one basket” scenario; so why is it the “smart” strategy to get more loyal whales, when there’s way more fish? It’s a trophy hunter mentality, and it’s unsustainable. 

The Catch and Release Marketer prefers to mitigate risk, secure cash flow, manage capacity, and foster creativity and innovation. They can achieve these things by focusing less on netting whales, and more on netting weight.

A diverse and expansive customer base is stronger than one filled with loyal whales. 

A diverse customer base includes; Anchor Clients, Seasonal Clients, Opportunistic Clients, On-Going Small Accounts.

The way Buyer Moderation works, is that on-going small accounts make up the bulk of the clientbase, with a few anchor accounts bringing in big bucks. However, high customer concentration, particularly high value accounts, creates reason for concern.

With a diverse clientbase you mitigate the financial risks, secure multiple pathways towards profit, manage effectiveness and energy levels, and different clients require different innovative go-to-market strategies, a diverse client portfolio guarantees work won’t be stagnant and rote but engaging and creative.


Step 4 – The Marketer and The River

The River

The consumer journey is never linear. “The consumer is in control” is a marketing philosophy *not* created by consumers, nor is it one they adhere to. It’s a total scapegoat mechanism for rudderless marketers, which ends up ensnaring them in their own dreamcatchers.

The externalities of marketing strategy should be designed to be absorbed by the generally disinterested/disorganized/non-linear marketplace, not by the marketer. 

Pathways to purchase will always be non-linear, read: chaotic. One of the latest marketing metaphors to help map out the customer journey, the Hankins Hexagon, does a very good job of illustrating the non-linear pathways consumers might take. 

Rather than existing adrift in the messy middle – effective marketing strategy is all about increasing probabilities that you’ll be chosen, and keeping as many potential customers “in-play” 

“We should be thinking over lifetimes, not campaign windows or quarters.”

– Thom Binding

The Catch and Release Marketer has lures, decoys, bait, and nets in the water, maximizing their chances to catch the interest of slightly more fish at measured expanses along the river.

The marketer’s goal is more fish to catch and release, not “happier” fish in the tank. And, you think that sounds sociopathic, until you pour the hot sauce of marketing science on your plate… 

Customer Satisfaction ≠ Zero Churn

According to customer satisfaction research by Professor John Dawes from Ehernberg-Bass, dissatisfaction is NOT the principal driver of churn. What!!?

In one study, Bolton, a telecomm company, reported an annual churn rate of 30%, yet their customer satisfaction was on average 4.3 out of 5! Plainly, with such a high average score, most customers who left must have actually been satisfied, so satisfaction was not the principal driver of churn.

Think about it in your own world, for real. If you are handed a satisfaction survey, even if you decide to fill it out, how often is it 7-10 all the way down?

So then, are customer satisfaction scores worth anything? Yes, in regards to product and service, but no in regards to forecasting financial growth. 

“The effect of customer satisfaction on business revenue should therefore occur via bolstering (or at least maintaining) a customer’s likelihood of repeat-purchasing a good or service from a provider, or staying with the provider longer.”

Another amazing insight Prof. Dawes illustrates in this paper, is the omitted variable bias that can creep into customer satisfaction/loyalty research if the customer’s past behavior is not known, which is often the case.

“If past behavior is correlated with future behavior, and with current satisfaction, then not measuring it will inflate the effect of satisfaction of future behavior. Despite the intuitive appeal of attitudes as a driving force for behavior, there is considerable evidence that it could be the other way around: behavior drives or reinforces attitudes.”

That last sentence is where things start connecting; emotions drive logic, behavior drives attitudes, we mimetically move with the waves of consumer culture. This is natural. This is Catch and Release. 

SO WHAT GOOD IS NPS, ANYWAY!? – As a tool to improve services and products, NPS is a fine and useful measurement. However, NPS metrics cannot be relied on as a financial predictor of growth or loyalty.

Step 5 – The Marketer and The Lure

By now we’ve established the biological basis for how brains work, how customers and the rivers they swim through behave, and how businesses should perceive, value, and leverage their relationships, we can discuss HOW to apply this and actually catch more customers.

I share the belief that innovation and creativity are the last true advantages in business. I also believe that creativity is not considered “serious thinking” by the business world and it’s the last thing they think about applying to their serious problems, hence “The Cheap Genius Theory”

In my Marketing Metaphorest series, I write extensively and exhaustively on metaphorical approaches to marketing, and two metaphors stand out as applicable to Catch & Release; Mousetraps and Nutrition.

The mousetrap marketing metaphor relates to Catch and Release in a few ways:

  • The job of an exterminator is to catch as many mice as possible, not meet their personified needs individually. Marketers are obsessed over targeted sales personas, rather than obsessed about hitting sales targets. By widening your strategy to include consistent penetration into category audiences, you’ll ensure the supply chain.
  • Since Mimesis is a thing, mice do what other mice do, so one way to bait them with cheese effectively, is to attract them via exposure to other mice eating that piece of cheese. Mousey see, mousey do. Once again, we should obsess more about being seen, not just manipulating personalized loyalty algorithms behind the scenes.
  • And lastly, when baiting a trap, always leave room for the mouse. You never fill up the trap with just cheese. So for us marketers that means, less “WE” in the copy, more “YOU” – marketing has to be relatable, not just bull.

Nutrition, as a marketing metaphor, can help us tactically prepare for Catch and Release Marketing. Like balanced nutrition, a healthy marketing “diet” should consist of activities and practices that fulfill short-term energy demands while increasing brand longevity. Marketing strategy should be a diverse mix of brand growing fundamentals and foundations, and sales activating campaigns and quick hits.

Foundations – Solid 4p framework, great experience, good CRM, strong branded assets
Nutrients – Physical presence/availability – merchandising, search/SEO 
Fundamentals – Mental availability, funnel content, low-engagement awareness
Campaigns – Events, webinars, lead gen, ads 
Boosts – Direct response, gated content
Quick Hits – Discounts, viral videos, paywall content, buying mailing lists

Every marketer and vertical will necessarily have differing definitions for the above framework, but the main point is to metaphorically illustrate that a diverse set of tactics, with the strategic goal of balancing short term activations with long term brand growth initiatives, can keep you strategically focused.

In Summary

The main purpose behind Catch and Release Marketing is giving marketers grace by keeping it simple – be easy to buy, easy to think of, and easily thought worth it. That’s it.

Because of well-meaning but wrong-headed advice, the modern marketer (who would never tattoo a logo on their head) is stressed out because die-hard loyal customers haven’t tattooed their client’s logo onto their heads. We’re out of touch with mainstream values, we base our strategic assumptions off false premises around loyalty and growth and market penetration. We’re eager to collect the wrong kind of market research and even more eager to develop wrong forecasts and predictions off of it.

There’s got to be a better way.

Catch and Release Marketing is your ticket to creating campaigns free of cognitive dissonance, engineering strategies based on research, and implementing effective tactics that successfully operate in the real world. 

Catch and Release Marketing starts and ends with holism. Respect the way human brains operate, appreciate how humans function in society, acknowledge the empathy gap and aspiration window, understand how communities are formed and fed, and finally master an ecological conceptualization for how supply chains ethically connect producers and consumers.

Catch and Release Marketing means to catch the attention and memory of the marketplace, and release the notion of loyalty as a growth opportunity. As gingerly as we reach out to catch customers, we should just as easily release them – this is the only way we’ll be able to catch more. And there’s always more fish in the sea.

Abundance, not scarcity. Autonomy, not autocracy. Ethical actors, not edge lords. Consistency over loyalty. Strategy over tactics. Peace over passion. I hope this metaphor helps and finds you well.

Happy fishing!

The Catch and Release Marketing Takeaways

1 – Easy to find, easy to buy, and easily thought worth it.

2 – Autonomy, Freedom, Justice, Trust, Truth, Well-Being – operate with ethics, always.

3 – Don’t take marketing too seriously; selling stuff well is good enough.

4 – “A communicator must be concerned with the unchanging human.” Bill Bernbach

5 – Brain Facts! a) Your brain does not switch between active and passive, learning and non-learning; it’s recording everything. All the time. b) Your brain does not separate rationality from emotionality, in fact, instinctive emotional responses shape our rational behaviors.

6 – The goal of advertising/marketing is to first get noticed and then build and refresh memory structures through relevant associations, not convince an emotional and distracted audience of the rational/unique merits of a product. 

7 – Mimesis is powerful! Obsess about being seen, not how you can create obsession from behind the scene.

8 – Mind the Empathy Gap & The Aspiration Window – Research has proven there is a gap between what marketers perceive to be mainstream values, and what those aspirations actually are. Get to know your ACTUAL customers by ACTUALLY communicating with them, then you might make some marketing that ACTUALLY works.

9 – “a lot buy a little, a little buy a lot” – remember the laws of Buyer Moderation and NBD

10 – Marketers hoping to expand their market share must be mentally and physically available and attractive to ultra-light category buyers, and cannot depend on growing through customer loyalty, which is a welcome but arithmetical anomalous abstraction, not a strategic action item.

11 – There will always be more clients who don’t know you and you’ve failed to reach & catch, than “loyal” ones you’ve engaged & held onto. Open it up. 

12 – Focus less on netting whales, more on netting weight. 

13 – Pathways to purchase will always be non-linear, read: chaotic. Catch and Release Marketing is all about increasing probabilities that you’ll be chosen/considered/remembered, and keeping as many potential customers “in-play”

14 – Customer satisfaction does NOT mean Zero Churn, nor does it equate to WOM.

15 – NPS is BS in regards to forecasting. As a tool to improve services and products, NPS is a fine and useful measurement. However, NPS metrics cannot be relied on as a financial predictor of growth or loyalty.

16 – Focus on catching and holding attention. Release your grip on loyalty, open up to more opportunity. 

17 – THE MARKETING GOLDEN RULE: Do unto consumers, that which you would gladly do unto yourself. 


“Marketing Ethics” by George Brenkert 
Three Rules For More Effective B2B Marketing from Marketing Week
Ehrenberg-Bass: 95% of B2B buyers are not in the market for your products
“Descarte’s Error” by Antonio Damasio, 2005
“Consumer Society” by Jean Baudrillard, 1970
Info on Rene Girard’s Mimetic Theory
“The Advertised Mind” by Erik DuPlessis, 2008
“Eat Your Greens” by Wiemer Snijders, 2018
How Brands Grow” by Byron Sharp, 2010
Loyalty stuff from MIT
“Do Customer Satisfaction scores link to business revenue over time?” by Prof. John Dawes
Buyer Moderation
Low Engagement Model and creativity in B2B by Wiemer Snijders
“Marketers are from Mars, Consumers are from New Jersey” by Bob Hoffman
Do people really want personalized online ads? 
Hankins Hexagon on Marketing Week

The 2,000 Year Old Marketer

HOST – About ten days ago, a plane landed at Denver International Airport. The plane came from the cradle of civilization, the Middle East, bearing a marketer who claims to be over 2,000 years old. He’s spent the last six days in a marketing hospital. He’s here with us today to discuss the past, the present, and the future of marketing.

Direct Response

2,000 Year Old Marketer – Most marketers are ashamed to admit that a ton of “direct response advertising” in the past, was done with swords. Conversion rates go up when you pull a sword out.

HOST – I would imagine so. Any other ancient advice about direct response for the modern audience?

2kM – If you really want to study hard selling conversion tactics, take a look at the Spanish Inquisition….(stunned silence in audience)

HOST – That is considered a human rights atrocity now, you realize?

2kM – Sure, even back then it was atrocious, but the conversion rates were un-Godly.

HOST – That’s barbaric, we aren’t like that anymore, conversions are figurative, not religious or forced through violence.

2kM – So do marketers do any blood sacrifices?

HOST – No.

2kM – Blood letting?

HOST – Definitely not.

2kM – Alchemy, magic?

HOST – No, no, there’s no magic at all in marketing today.

2kM – Well, maybe that’s the problem?

Organic Social

HOST – How do we know you’re a 2,000 years old marketer?

2kM – Because I’ve been waiting that long to make a sale off organic social.

Account Based Marketing

HOST – What is your thoughts on account based marketing

2kM – I think every marketer should be able to count.

HOST – No, no, account, like a –

2kM – Like a duke or a lord, right? A count.

HOST – No, listen – account based marketing is a type of marketing that deals only with certain accounts or groupings of prospective customers.

2kM – What makes one group more special than others?

HOST – High value accounts, well, these are men of means, they are prepared to do business, they wear a certain type of clothing, drive a certain type of…horse.

2kM – Why wouldn’t you sell to everyone?

HOST – To save resources, you only want to be visible to and directly engage with those that have the most means. Not everyone in the market is prepared to buy, so why bother shouting at everyone all day?

2kM – That day. But what about the next, and the days and weeks after that?

HOST – Only the worthy accounts need to hear our message; they will see us as the right choice for qualified buyers, and respond to our calls when we make them.

2kM – How will they recognize your message or anticipate the worth of your offerings, if they’ve never heard of you?


HOST – So what was marketing like 2,000 years ago?

2kM – It was a lot more in your face.

HOST – How?

2kM – Attention. In the ancient marketplaces, the art of grabbing and holding attention was a respected part of the trade. Marketers today are struggling with this.

HOST – Well naturally, there is too much content out there, attention is fractured across channels. Pinning down the audience is a mess. 

2kM – Isn’t this where all your data lakes and warehouses kick in?

HOST – I suppose they should, but it’s not that easy.

2kM – Don’t you have performance data on what types of messages absolutely work? Your computers should have the formula for grabbing and holding attention?

HOST – We use data for different purposes. Marketers don’t have to be in your face, bold and brash; in fact, this is a waste of time if you aren’t selling to people who will buy today. We use data to respect the larger audience, make rational promises only to engaged personas with targeted messaging that speaks to the sensible parts of people and causes a direct response we can measure. Data increases our chances of success.

2kM – No, over-interpretation of data increases self-awareness and limits attention grabbing potential. Because of all the “performance data” modern marketers are too shrewd and keen to avoid scrutiny and a spotlight, so attention becomes unachievable and unfortunately seen as a liability really smart people avoid. So marketers mint less copper into the clang of the bell, thin the fonts on the sign, mumble in the corner, and “hate to be a bother, oh by the way” until sundown….

HOST – Marketers today don’t need to get everyone’s attention. We don’t need to be appealing to anyone else other than the people that match our in-market target profile. Data again increases our chance of success. We reach them with rational messaging that gets a response. 

2kM – Marketers today want to be rationalized, more than they want to be remembered. Maybe data is to blame, but that’s a strawman argument, which was originally called a scarecrow argument, but we changed it in the 200’s because of Pope Zephrinyus, who was woke AF. 

HOST – So is the secret to getting attention shamelessness? You just wear loud colors, clang a bell, and use large type and active language on your signs? People prefer not to do business with clowns.

2kM – How is Ronald McDonald doing, anyway?

HOST – Ha! I suppose pretty well. But most of us don’t sell hamburgers. We sell extremely complicated things that require a ton of content creation and consumer research.

2kM – Can you put all that complicated stuff into a jingle? Something peppy?

HOST – I’m afraid the marketplace has changed. People don’t pay proper attention like they used to.

2kM – These are the same researchers you just spoke of? Maybe marketers stopped valuing the audience’s attention properly?

HOST – I think many folks just want to skip the nonsense and get to the point of things. A lot of old advertising trickery is just creative flim flam and easily dismissable. People want to know what’s in it for them, nothing more. 

2kM – Think about it this way – there are only a few ways to rationalize the benefits of a product, but there are a million ways to irrationalize the benefits. If the marketplace is as competitive as you say it is, and consumers are as distracted as you say they are, wouldn’t rational promises be the LAST thing a marketer would choose to shout out? It’s obvious what software or soap is supposed to do; but what does it make you feel like, what associations does it conjur, what invisible magic can you bring out of the irrational, illogical realms – that’s the sticking point. That’s your differentiation, distinction, the memorable way you grab and hold attention. 


HOST – Let’s talk about influencers.

2kM – Guzuntight!

HOST – No, influential people, celebrities, well known people

2kM – Oh, sure sure – Typhoid Mary, Caligula, Machiavelli, Genghis Khan

HOST – Well, not so much those types of figures, less menacing…

2kM – Caligula was a great entertainer. That barge. If you remember being on Caligula’s party barge, you weren’t on Caligula’s party barge. 

HOST – Ah, so were there any local merchants during Caligula’s time, that made it their goal to get their wine, honey, plain cake on the boat? To be seen on Caligula’s boat must be a noteworthy achievement?

2kM – Buddy, when you’re five papyrus’ to the wind, taking a ram’s horn up the back in a public orgy, you’re not really taking notes.

HOST – Point…taken.

2kM – Literally. For me, the problem with influencers, is the imbalance of interest. Caligula’s influence and interest matters more than any product or brand on his Pleasure Boat. It’s never “what’s the product?” it’s always, “what does Caligula think?” There is almost an influential force field emanating from Caligula that blocks a clear recognition of the products.

HOST – So then what about celebrity endorsements?

2kM – An advertisement featuring a celebrity endorsement is better than using an influencer.

HOST – Aren’t these just the same thing as influencers, only less effective because the addressable audience is so large because everyone knows them?

2kM – That’s the exact reason celebrity endorsement may be more effective than influencers. There’s less distraction.

HOST – Less brands to compete with?

2kM – No, less dildos flying about – remember, this is Caligula’s Party Boat – the influence may cut deep, but anything that happens on that orgy boat is not shareable or useful outside the orgy boat.

HOST – Surely there is some overlap – what we do in private can influence our public behavior.

2kM – For you maybe, for everyone else it’s a matter of signaling that they are keeping up with The Jones, which, having been alive this long, I met the original Jones’, lovely people.

HOST – Back to influencers and the orgy boat, I mean pleasure craft.

2kM – With influencers, the addressable audience is comparing itself to desires and decisions made by, in this case, one horny dude on a pleasure craft that is literally cut off from land, from reality. There is so much emphasis put on the influencer’s opinion and thoughts, that there is no room for anyone else to think for themselves, let alone think intently about a brand or product.

HOST – The audience is waiting to like something, or hate something, because of Caligula’s outsized influence on their reality. 

2kM – Exactly. Endorsement is effective not because we see a vaunted figure behave one way, or use one product, it’s because we see an audience of “other people like us” engage in a particular way in society and shared spaces. This is culture. This is how influence in a marketplace works.


HOST – Let’s talk about personalization. 

2kM – I don’t like to monogram anything, feels too Henry the 8th, you know? You really want to keep your head about that stuff.

HOST –  Not you personally, but other people’s, persons – making marketing personalized to individuals, this is possible now with computers, you know?

2kM – Really?

HOST – Oh sure – You can track who buys a product, you can find out where they live, you can gain access to their habits, net worth, and daily routines.

2kM – Ok?

HOST – You can send thousands of people personalized communication wherever and whenever you want.

2kM – Wow. 

HOST – Even better, once you can keep tabs on every customer you have, you can make them happy and address their needs at an individual level.

2kM – This sounds crazy.

HOST – Craziest part – Once you know them, they know you know them, so they never leave, and will always repurchase and buy more from you. You don’t have to spend money finding new customers. You can surprise and delight them at every unique turn in their life long journey.

2kM – So no more advertising needed?

HOST – Well, not really, but essentially…yeah! It’s exciting. 

2kM – And how do you keep track of all the information and preferences of these customers?

HOST – That’s called data, and it’s all kept in something called a CRM tool – Customer Relationship Management – it’s a computer.

2kM – A computer? Some kinda astrolabe?

HOST – Yes, no. A high powered piece of software and probably some people to run it.

2kM – Sounds like it involves elves. Right? So – Imagine traveling back to a busy ancient marketplace in Mesopotamia…

HOST – I can smell the spices!

2kM – Right – and in order to sell effectively to people, we’d have to track them, put stickers on everyone who buys,

HOST – A great idea!

2kM – Sure. We also have to know where they live, what they do, what they like, and surprise and delight them whenever they show up at my stall, and, even at their house, unwanted, especially on Black Friday?

HOST – Yes. It sounds like a ton of intrusive work, but if you had the information, there would be no other competitor, they would always choose you.

2kM – What if someone rolls into the market with my product, but at a crazy lower price?

HOST – You can offer incentives and discounts to match for certain customers that seem like they might try the competitor, but the real loyal ones will stay with you.

2kM – Why is that?

HOST – Because of the personal touch, you are at the top of their mind and your product is deemed superior.

2kM – If we followed everyone around with stickers and specials and monogrammed sweaters, did we spend all our time and energy on making our product better for every customer, and even future customers? 

HOST – Well, I suppose it doesn’t really matter what future customers think, as long as the customers you currently have love you, that’s all you need. 

2kM – I dated Cleopatra for a while, and believe me – Just because they love you and they let you call them by their first name, doesn’t mean you’re irreplaceable. Incidentally, Cleopatra’s first name was Patty. Patty Cleopatra. 
HOST – That’s odd. 

2kM – What’s weirder is this – I told this same personalization scheme to Jesus while he was writing the Bible!

HOST – Oh, sure!

2kM – I’m serious. Back when Jesus had the first draft done he handed it to me and said, “take a look, tell me what you think?” And I read it and, my God does he talk about himself a ton! It’s just his name everywhere. So I asked Jesus, “what’s the point of this book?” And he says, “I wanna start a religion.” So I tell him, “if you want people to pay attention and be loyal, you gotta put their name in this book.“

HOST – Well, actually, I don’t think that’s how that would work.

2kM – What do you mean? I told Jesus, “Hey man, you’re the hero here, but listen – Rather than share a single version of the Bible, you personalize the story for the congregation, replace your name with every congregation member, and hand out individualized Bibles! There would be no way to secure more loyalty and faith.”

HOST – Besides this idea feeling sacrilegious, what you’re describing is just not how people get inspired by stories or any kind of content.

2kM – What do you mean?

HOST – The personal connection people make with loyalty inspiring content, doesn’t come from a story that features us directly; it’s much more powerful to craft an impersonal story with indirect features the audience can see themselves in.

2kM – Oh…that makes sense….so what were you saying about personalization?


HOST – How do we know you’re really a 2,000 year old marketer?

2kM – I’m still waiting for Hubspot to turn a profit. 

USP (Unique Selling Proposition)

HOST – Yessir, a lot has changed in marketing in the last 2,000 years. ROI, USP, LTV

2kM – OMG, LOL, love the abbreviations. 

HOST – No, no, no – those are acronyms, Return on Investment, Unique Selling Proposition –

2kM – Now there is a silly idea.

HOST – Which one?

2kM – You see – you had to ask! Unique Selling Proposition. What is it?

HOST – It’s a widely accepted theory, made famous by Rosser Reeves building off Claude Hopkins, that in order to command a marketplace of common goods, a competitive brand should establish a unique selling proposition in the minds of the consumers, something distinct.

2kM – We tell people what to think?

HOST – Indirectly. People are precious about their individual routines, prefer unique things, handcrafted for them particularly.

2kM – Lemme ask you a question about cowboys – what was their favorite drink?

HOST – Well, I suppose it would be whiskey, some kind of hard liquor. 

2kM – You’d be right. And now, think back to the late 1880s, Dodge City, Kansas – a chaotic atmosphere, literally the Wild West. Now, how many saloons serving whiskey do you think they had in this small town, of less than a thousand people?

HOST – Probably one or two?

2kM – There were six. And each of them had the same whiskey on tap. Why were there so many saloons selling the same whiskey?

HOST – Well here is an example of a failure to develop a USP – if one of these establishments sought to corner the whiskey, and be the best in town, the competitors would have to scramble for different spirits, try to establish their own USP. It’s a good thing really. Diversifies the marketplace.

2kM – But these cowboys aren’t developing a taste for Moscow Mules or pina coladas – they want whiskey. They want the whiskey the other cowboys are drinking. And there are six saloons because of the natural churn rate of customers – saloons lose and gain bar flies from each other, they are 86’d and then welcomed back in a cycle across the establishments, and the fact that they can get the same whiskey here, as over there, keeps them in the town, and in the seat, and in market.

HOST – So what is the lesson?

2kM – Thinking a USP is the key to a successful product that customers love, misses the reality of why customers are in a marketplace to begin with. There can be MANY of the same types of establishments, and the fact that they are COMMON is the reason why they are FREQUENTED – Consumers, people, everyone loves to NOT THINK and would rather make decisions accordingly. What if a Common Selling Proposition is more appealing than a Unique one?

Fame / The Crowd Is In Control

2kM – It’s amazing hearing about the future, but I’m glad that certain fundamentals don’t change. 

HOST – Like what?

2kM – Like fame. Marketers still think being famous is important…right?

HOST – I think it’s become more scientific, thankfully because of all the information we have access to – marketers and consumers behave differently now, they do the research on which product or brand to choose. Consumers are more savvy than ever.

2kM – Ok then – If everyone does their own research, then there should be hundreds of distinct brands in the top of every category, based on the fact that one consumer’s research and experience is not homogeneous with another, and people seek to have their individual needs addressed. Right?

HOST – Kind of. The marketplace is much bigger, but there are still dominant brands.

2kM – Why is that?

HOST – Because a conglomerate or a huge brand can outspend, outadvertise, and outshelf competing brands.

2kM – Then why don’t they buy up ALL the shelf space? Why leave any room?

HOST – I suppose to leave room for options?

2kM – Do you think that’s a choice they make?

HOST – Then it’s a question of stamina.

2kM – A functioning marketplace has consumer-side dynamics that can’t be 100% dominated by conglomerates. Consumers may be in control, not as savvy researchers, but as an easily distractible force unto themselves, looking for what others are looking for – the human is a social animal, when in crowds or communities, we have a logic that inspires individuals to make choices that align with peripheral vision, not direct line of sight. We gravitate towards things we recognize, not things we rationalize.

HOST – In a way I suppose that’s true, but it still doesn’t explain fame, or category domination by one brand.

2kM – Then reverse the question – does everyone choose a dominant brand because they rationalize it and research it?

HOST – No. They choose it because it’s there.

2kM – And, they choose it because they don’t have to rationalize it. They’ve seen it before, it’s recognizable in their mind. We parse the present moment’s decisions through our memories, not via an actuary table that calculates the odds of an improved future version of ourselves.

HOST – I think I get it – if the marketplace was a brain, the goal is to be in easy-recall memory, not in their analytical brain?

2kM – Precisely. This is why fame and recognition amongst crowds can cut into conglomerations. This is something marketers were taught 2,000 years ago, because some of the first really effective advertising came out of China, from a guy that played the hell out of the bamboo flute, sold a ton of candy because of it. Great jingles. And this was 3,000 years ago.

HOST – This is all well and good, but marketers today have to do a lot more than stand up and play a flute to be noticed. 

2kM – But didn’t we agree that the goal is to be recognized, not noticed. 

HOST – Yeah, what’s the difference? The crowd is distracted either way.

2kM – I thought you said they were savvy? Why don’t we throw some research on them? Surely, they’ll notice a really good webinar? Look, the point isn’t fame – fame has it’s roots in rumor and report, reputation & recognition among the commoners. This is where creativity is a distinction, in messaging, in price, in product, in placement. If you focus on generating fame and memorability, you may find doors opening more easily and more often. If you focus on generating a ton of convincing research, you may find your doors closing sooner than you’d like.

Efficiency VS Effectiveness

2kM– Things are so different these days, but marketers still have to deal with werewolves, right?

HOST – Well, not really, werewolves aren’t real – one of the benefits of science and history is that we can gather facts and so we’ve proven werewolves are just a myth.

2kM – So marketers don’t believe in myths anymore?

HOST – No – we have to report on things with metrics, strategize and be data-driven. Marketing is too expensive to rely on myths, so we have tactics to focus energy for consistent outcomes. Channel specific campaigns, targeted audiences, personalized cadences, keyword content; none of these are silver bullets, but they might help you kill a werewolf or two, figuratively speaking.

2kM – Why would you want to kill a paying customer?

HOST – It’s just a figure of speech. We quest for silver bullet fixes to make sure and fast work of execution, it’s about optimization, efficiency is the goal.

2kM – But what about effectiveness? What if a marketer’s goal was understanding larger forces at work, how to be effective, not just efficient, on the chosen channels?

HOST – What are you saying? 

2kM – Marketers seem to be always searching for silver bullets, but they’re never interested in the full moon. 


HOST – I assume you’ve noticed how fast things move in the marketplaces of today, I wonder how that compares to the pace of ancient marketplaces?

2kM – About the same.

HOST – *pfft* Come on now! The internet, telecommunications, peer-2-peer networks, credit and banking, there have been massive improvements to the speed of business. 

2kM – But there hasn’t been improvements in effectiveness, just efficiency.

HOST – Again, I’d disagree. A/B testing technology, for example.

2kM – You have to test the differences between letters now?

HOST – No, between two things, concepts – When you come up with ideas for an ad or a tagline, you used to have to commit to one, and ignore the potential of the unused ideas. With A/B testing you can separate audiences so one group sees tagline A, and another sees tagline B.

2kM – So you say two different things to people at the same time?

HOST – You can test thousands of different iterations. And what’s best is test groups don’t know they are being tested, nor would they ever compare thousands of different messages.

2kM – So the total group lacks a shared experience, on purpose?

HOST – Yes. It’s brilliant, because you take the results and use the winning idea on the next campaign or iteration.

2kM – Why not test it again? Forever?

HOST – You certainly can, but there is a point where you should aim for consistency.

2kM – When is that point? When should you retest the A/B and C D results?

HOST – Well I guess around 6 months?

2kM – So every 6 months, what you say or sell might change appearance and be slightly unrecognizable, and that’s the point?

HOST – In a way, but there still needs to be consistency – testable, iterations, endless optimizations, that’s what is possible these days.

2kM – Right – I knew a lady once, in a marketplace near Cairo, had one sign, one tagline, and never changed it for all of the 50 years. 

HOST – With A/B testing she could’ve improved her performance significantly.

2kM – She was a massive success because she figured out what worked and left things alone. She owned her corner, she commanded her spot, and her presence became a tradition.

HOST – Traditions change, they have to be challenged.

2kM – Says who? The community? Everyday people that perform the rituals and are held together by tradition? They want to change things every 6 months?

HOST – People are drawn to what is new, they ignore things they’ve seen a bunch of times.

2kM – I’d say people are drawn to things they don’t have to consider, tradition establishes this in daily life. Tradition is just a series of unchanged behaviors; the goal of a marketer is to tap into, understand, and become a part of these behaviors. By flip-flopping the messaging and packaging and brand, there is no ACTUAL consistency being perceived by the marketplace, and there is no commitment from the marketer.

HOST – So testing things is bad?

2kM – Not necessarily. Experience and time are their own laboratories, everything gets tested in the end. I think your A/B testing leads to homogeneity, not distinct harmony. There is no style in a lab environment, because the germs aren’t left to marinate on the petri dish; everything is sterile, testable, fungible, uncommitted to and up for debate. If modern marketers practiced patience and consistency as much as they practiced on their campaigns like patients, then patterns and data sets which reveal natural style, strength, and stamina would be easily evident.

Marketing to Vulnerable Populations & The POSMarketer


Emotions, Conversions.pngMarketing – it’s everywhere! Advertisements and sales pitches surround us like birdsong in the forest. In general, people have come to ignore ads and some can’t even see them, becoming “ad-blind.”

So it’s no surprise that Waze has snappily announced the launch of special geo-targeted ads that will pop up inside it’s mobile-navigation app, as potential customers drive by determined locations. The possibility to convert users of the app is too good to pass up – What could possibly go wrong? marketing, advertising, social media marketing, emotional intelligence, POSMarketing, distracted driving, WAZE

Erika Lehmkhul is a Visual Designer with Waze, and she suggests that the success of an ad on their platform lies in its creativity, and the clarity of its design. Opting for the simplistic look of billboards, Waze suggests to advertisers that they keep it simple – “When you eliminate clutter and distracting elements, your ad can shine.”

What a load of dangerous bullshit.

US traffic deaths are on the rise for the second straight year, and along with high speeds, no seatbelts, and driver impairment, distracted driving is quickly becoming the main reason for accidents and fatalities on the road.

“It’s not just talking on the phone that’s a problem today,” said Jonathan Adkins, executive director of the Governors Highway Safety Association. “You now have all these other apps that people can use on their phones.” 

  • Surely, Waze knows that in a growing number of states, its illegal to use a handheld GPS device in a car.
  • Surely, they must also be aware that every year, about 421,000 people are injured in crashes that have involved a driver who was distracted, and the alarming increase in distracted driving fatalities in 2017 alone.
  • Surely, Waze is using it’s influence as one of the most downloaded navigation apps in a grand attempt to address the dangerous vulnerabilities of cellphone addiction, which is at epidemic levels amongst all drivers.
  • Surely they know that pop-up ads on a navigation app would be distracting. And surely they know that we are all vulnerable to the random notifications we get from our phones. And they have to know that distractions in a car usually end like this. . .

(Photo by Steve Nehf/The Denver Post)

Marketers traditionally take pause when advertising to kids, the elderly, or anyone not able to cognitively understand the underlying purpose of an ad. These populations are considered to be “vulnerable.” The audience behind the wheel of a car is certainly not able to cognitively engage with advertisements, and they should be classified as a vulnerable population.

According to “Marketing Ethics,” by George Brenkert, “Marketing directed towards vulnerable populations should be aimed at lessening or removing the vulnerabilities, not self-profits.”   

Waze has yet to address its role in distracted driving and the accidents, near-misses and fatalities associated with this epidemic. Neither Waze, nor its parent company Google, have any initiatives or safety campaigns to educate the public on distracted driving or cellphone addiction. And, with a recent partnership with Spotify, which allows use of both the Waze and Spotify apps AT THE SAME TIME WHILE DRIVING, Waze demonstrates that generating ad-revenue from its 50 million-deep user-base is the only topic they consider valuable. And why not, that’s how you make money!

But imagine what they could do if they launched a nationwide campaign to end distracted driving, if they developed proprietary safety features that made using the app less dangerous, launched events to educate new drivers on the dangers of distraction, provided online resources on safety behind the wheel and partnered with National Highway Traffic Safety to engineer distraction proof roadways and intersections in towns across America. If they did that, what’s the worse that could happen?

Bottom line – Waze pushing distracting ads to cellphones inside a moving car is a blatant disregard for safety, its unethical, its a manipulative marketing move to grab cash out of eyeballs that might soon fly through a windshield, and its a classic example of some POSMarketing.

For more insights on ethics, marketing, and POS – Follow me on twitter – @POSMarketer 


Emotions, Conversions, and the POSMarketer

marketing, advertising, social media marketing, emotional intelligence, POSMarketing Emotional Intelligence, the latest buzzword to fly through marketing’s living room, has all the promising language of a meaningful progress in the march towards moneymaking – and none of the ethical foresight, or foresmell, to realize the manipulative sh*tstorm it unleashes on the world.

The marketer-drones swarmed towards “emotional intelligence” during Advertising Week Europe at the beginning of April, and why not? Who wouldn’t want guaranteed conversions based on an unparalleled understanding of the hidden realms of customer intent? Who wouldn’t want to know how to use emotional channels to drive “user engagement,” sell more products, create desire for services, or to enhance a site’s “stickiness/addictiveness?”

Sensum’s CEO Gawain Morrison believes emotions drive every decision. He believes that brands are headed towards forging relationships with their consumers vs. simply selling a product. Sensum is an “emotions-based software company” that has founded it’s success with huge brands across the world, by measuring, reporting and driving ad campaigns all based on emotional intelligence.
marketing, advertising, social media marketing, emotional intelligence, POSMarketing
Sensum believes that the core of a relationship between a brand and a customer is centered around emotion, so to understand the reasons behind purchase behavior, loyalty and even enjoyment with a brand, that business has to understand it’s consumers on an emotional level.

Imagine a world where immersive and responsive advertisements read your facial features and adapt to your apparent emotional state. Imagine a totally immersive horror movie attuned to your fears, drawing on an experimental emotional response database. Sensum has already been working on these concepts, and their work unlocks deep, impactful marketing insights and applications.

However, any marketing effort that’s based on triggering and gaining response on emotional levels, should be carefully monitored for any ethically questionable use outside of the marketplace. I wonder if Sensum is worried about this…

“The changing shape of the media landscape, from audience participation to the blurring of media lines and boundaries, offers up a wild range of opportunities to people and companies able to experiment in this space.”  – SENSUM640px-Paris_Tuileries_Garden_Facepalm_statueGiven the current state of media manipulation and mistrust, the proliferation of fake news, digital ad-fraud, the government-sanctioned sell-off of private user data by Internet Providers, and the hyper-targeted ability to covertly mine emotional data from social media to use in selective ad campaigns that can influence society and even swing election results – the above quote is a slap in the ethical testicles.

On a personal level – emotional intelligence is an important concept to cultivate. Building a comprehension of emotional signals & responses, and then using this to strengthen connections with another person seems psychologically-sound, empathetic, humane, real. However, we should be clear on one thing. When emotional manipulation is used on a personal level, against someone’s best interests or wishes, it can have extremely negative effects on a relationship and can damage trust irrevocably. Furthermore, emotional manipulation is not only deplorable, it is essentially against Article 22, 26, & 28 of the 1948 Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

marketing, advertising, social media marketing, emotional intelligence, POSMarketing

Our Emotional Wheel of Sales Opportunities

So when a business chooses to collect emotional intelligence from a chosen group (usually covertly), and then analyzes this for patterns, and engineers information and ad campaigns designed to subconsciously effect and slightly nudge someone’s cognitive ability to make decisions in one direction or the other – how is this not viewed as emotional manipulation?  How does the normal marketer, escape the feelings of being a POSMarketer?

I’m not here to throw sweaters on all the strippers inside the nightclubs of the free-marketplace, I’m just here to ask questions –

Can we learn about our customers, but ethically pursue research that isn’t covert and is understood clearly by the participants? Should we pursue ad campaigns that seek to remove emotional vulnerabilities, rather than prey on them? And can the value we provide to our customers or target audience be so abundantly clear, that we pull them in, rather than push ads out?

I’ll close out with some choice words from Tamsin Shaw, in her NYTimes review of a behavioral science book, “The Undoing Project”  – 

We are living in an age in which the behavioral sciences have become inescapable. The findings of social psychology and behavioral economics are being employed to determine the news we read, the products we buy, the cultural and intellectual spheres we inhabit, and the human networks, online and in real life, of which we are a part. Aspects of human societies that were formerly guided by habit and tradition, or spontaneity and whim, are now increasingly the intended or unintended consequences of decisions made on the basis of scientific theories of the human mind and human well-being.

The behavioral techniques that are being employed by governments and private corporations do not appeal to our reason; they do not seek to persuade us consciously with information and argument. Rather, these techniques change behavior by appealing to our nonrational motivations, our emotional triggers and unconscious biases. If psychologists could possess a systematic understanding of these nonrational motivations they would have the power to influence the smallest aspects of our lives and the largest aspects of our societies.

So what kind of marketer are you? An ethical marketer ready to take action on behalf of protecting our marketplace eco-systems – or are you a POS?

Advertising/Marketing Industries Have Civic Responsibility To Fight Fake News

When Interactive Advertising Bureau President & CEO Randall Rothenberg called for an industry-wide commitment to fight “Fake News” at an Annual Leadership Meeting in Hollywood, Florida in January of this year, the response from the audience was mixed.

randall rothenberg marketing blog ad-fraud googleRandall Rothenberg went on in his truly inspiring speech, to elaborate the important role advertisers and marketers now find themselves playing. He outlined the myriad ways algorithms, big-data, and the eco-systems that prop up digital advertising, are ruining the exchange relationships of information online. And he suggests to his audience, CMOS and ad agencies representing some of the top companies in the world, that they need to help bring the change, or suffer the consequences of an eroding trust in the digital landscape.

Looking back now, Rothenberg’s speech takes on a Nostradamic hue of prophecy.

Marketers and advertisers have unwittingly taken public discourse and the connected community of the Internet into a navel-gazing, filter-bubble filled, truth-destroying, civilization-shaking, death spiral. And to pull out of it, we have to realize our place in the cockpit, and understand how we got here.

Entertain me – what’s the worst that could happen?

A group of our marketing and advertising colleagues working with the Data and Marketing Association literally stood up and cheered as they were on hand to witness Congress, then the Senate, then the President, peel back Obama-era protections/regulations, allowing ISPs to access and distribute consumer data, browsing history, in-app messages, and emails, to third-party companies for profit, all without consumer consent?

Getty Images marketing social media

The interested parties have struck a deal – people love relevant ads!

When the vote passed the Senate, on March 23, 2017, we heard this from Emmett O’Keefe, SVP of Advocacy at the Data and Marketing Association:

“Today’s vote in the Senate and expected approval in the House signal that our nation’s top policymakers recognize that our current system of responsible data use works.”

The trust was apparently so overflowing, and the data of the marketplace was handled so responsibly, that the same day, these US companies followed the lead of brands in the UK, and pulled entirely out of Google & Youtube digital display advertising agreements, resulting in a loss of hundreds of millions of dollars for the digital ad giant….

  • AT&T
  • Beam Suntory Inc.
  • Dish Network
  • Enterprise
  • FX Networks
  • General Motors
  • GSK
  • Johnson & Johnson
  • Nestle
  • PepisCo
  • Starbucks
  • Verizon
  • Walmart

These companies, “unknowingly,” were buying programmatic ad-placements that were being paired up with hateful content on Google & YouTube – a Snickers pop-up under an ISIS beheading, or Nazi propaganda brought to you by Mercedes. Truth be told, digital ads have always been placed wherever they can be, and who cares where they go cos they are cheap as dirt! You got the impressions/clicks/views – digital advertising, accomplished. So we spend a few bucks on digital display ads – What’s the worst that could happen?

One of the Managing Directors at Edelman PR, Gavin Coombes, has a quote that sets us up perfectly for the next slippery slope we need to slide down – – –

“As Internet-based communication has become used more often and by more people, we have found ourselves in the paradoxical circumstance of more information arguably leading to less understanding. The “echo chamber” – identified in the latest Edelman Trust Barometer as a major factor in feeding fear and distrust of institutions – is a phenomenon that reached a tipping point in 2016 and with potentially epochal implications. And, seemingly, without warning.”

Edelman Trust Barometer marketing blog, content marketing, advertising, digital marketing, social media marketing

Coombes goes on to explain that social media operates more like tabloid media, vs traditional mass media – using content that entertains or connects emotionally, rather than content that empirically informs. Users prefer, and come to rely on, a steady diet of things that are happy, sad, funny or violent. This diet is typically filled with people like them and based on info they provide freely. So your social media stream is hand-selected by algorithms owned and operated by the social media ecosystems – always designed to keep the most engaging content in front of you, forever regenerating, endlessly attached to advertising revenue, open to marketers of all stripes.

In 2014, it was revealed that Facebook was able to manipulate users emotions depending on what posts a tailored algorithm allowed onto their “Wall.” Positive posts on a user’s wall were shown to illicit more positive posts in return, conversely, exposure to negativity promoted the sharing of negative material . Facebook performed it’s experiment without any user consent, and since the Terms and Conditions covered the unfettered access to user data, it was all above-the-board. Google and Yahoo both follow this same protocol – provide a seemingly “free” product, observe usage, get as much data as possible, get advertising content, and tweak the delivery to get the “relevant” info in front of the right people. 

The reaction to Facebook’s experiment from the marketing and advertising community was shock and hidden joy. Here they had proof of a proper approach to gaming Facebook – emotions spread, and targeted, relevant emotions triggered at the right time can cause action. Proof that information, if properly placed at the right time, could affect change. Facebook’s algorithms keep it’s growing 1.7 billion user base glued to the platform – showing them whatever keeps them engaged, and not too pissed off – and all the while, user data is shared with anyone willing to pay for it.

So what? Marketers and advertisers get to sell soap to people they know like soap. We might use emotional triggers to get people to take action, but it’s with babies and puppies. It’s all good – What could possibly go wrong?

For those unfamiliar with the rising prominence of the newest and least experienced player to step on the field of international diplomacy on behalf of the United States, Jared Kushner – or how the former real-estate mogul turned dad-in-law-Trump’s campaign around by scaling existing marketing technology and “expertly” manipulated the filter-bubbles and emotional triggers of social and search….

For those unfamiliar with the technology he purchased through Cambridge Analytica, and how that company can provide it’s clients, through their OCEAN targeting, info on users political affiliation, race, gender, neuroticism, conscientiousness, openness and other psychological/emotional triggers……

For those unfamiliar with Cambridge Analytica’s parent company, SCL Group, which, since 1993, has made its name providing “psychological operations” for political campaigns around the world, marketing its services to militaries and state security agencies, providing impeccable, highly- targeted, and politically-weaponized disinformation campaigns to such countries as Pakistan, and Great Britain….

For those unaware of the role of mega-hedge-fund-lord Robert Mercer in funding Breitbart, Brexit, his huge investment in Cambridge Analytica both in the UK and US, his not-so-shadow-funding of pro-Trump media blitzes through the new non-profit media company “Making America Great Again,” and his insane amount of influence in the de-globalizing, anti-intellectual, climate-denying, xenophobic, media-exploding, war-mongering shit show we are currently living through…….

You should look into this stuff. What’s the worst that could happen?

This quote from Professor Jonathan Rust, director at Cambridge University’s Psychometric Centre, can help fit the final piece of our puzzle –

“The danger of not having regulation around the sort of data you can get from Facebook and elsewhere is clear. With this, a computer can actually do psychology, it can predict and potentially control human behaviour. It’s what the scientologists try to do but much more powerful. It’s how you brainwash someone. It’s incredibly dangerous.

“It’s no exaggeration to say that minds can be changed. Behaviour can be predicted and controlled. I find it incredibly scary. I really do. Because nobody has really followed through on the possible consequences of all this. People don’t know it’s happening to them. Their attitudes are being changed behind their backs.”

So what should/can marketers and advertisers do about this?

Looking at the above information, the marketer and the advertiser can see several opportunities. Opportunities for more user-generated data, enhanced abilities to track and deliver personalized ads on behalf of brands, nuanced insight into consumer behavior, ways to sneak our messages through emotional pathways, unlimited access to centralized audiences, and access to an ever-expanding marketplace.

Or are the opportunities aligned with a larger civic duty, not just towards our profit margins, but to our society, our fellow humans?

  • Could advertising, done the right way, save the world?
  • Can we open the conversation with our digital marketing companies about ways we can fight ad-fraud together?
  • Can we hold our marketing and advertising associations accountable for their Code of Ethics, and be active, ethical allies for conscientious consumers?
  • Can we work to protect the marketplaces and technology that enable ethically and mutually agreed-upon exchange relationships from “bad actors” or manipulative entities?
  • Can we not sell everyone’s private data up the damned river, just so we can send them “better ads?”

Whatever your stance on ethics and morality and marketplace logic and free-will, we have to realize that while we’ve been engineering the latest and greatest ways to sell stuff in our marketplaces, we’ve also greased the tracks for a whole host of nefarious players to enter into these spaces, use our marketing technology of demand-engineering, targeted behavior modification, and etc., and these sinister forces are inflicting serious harm to the information eco-systems so necessary to our livelihoods and the continuation of modern civilization.

I’ll leave you with a final quote from Rothenberg, and it’s a perfect ending for this rant of an article, because it’s how he ended his speech, mic drop style.

“. . . now I am asking you to reach higher, and deeper into your own better nature. The values we hold dear – diversity, freedom of speech and religion, freedom of enterprise – are under assault, and digital marketing, advertising, media, and technology companies bear some measure of responsibility. The route from self-interested “standards” to fraudulent ads to blind-eyed negligence to the financing of criminal activities to support for hatred is clear, and it is direct.

What we say here – and what we do here – makes a difference. Please leave this conference with this understanding: You have the power to move fast and fix things. You have the ability to repair our credibility. You have the power to rebuild the trust. Thank you.”

So are you a marketer that is willing to stand up and make the world a better, more trusting place? If you rise to the occasion and exhibit the best of what humanity has to offer, at least in a marketer, what’s the worst that could happen?


The Spectroscopy of Content

WARNING – Huge Marketing Metaphor Ahead.

The Spectroscopy of Content is an attempt to find the connective and underlying structures that all marketed messages share. Whether it’s account based marketing, content marketing, mass market advertising, native, guerrilla, paid, earned, owned, taglines, slogans, calls-to-action; marketing is about humans communicating with other humans.

The Spectroscopy of Content provides an understanding of human behavior, it’s shared triggers and environments, and uses this information, preemptively, to increase the relevancy and effectiveness of the marketing we choose to foist upon the world.

"How far that little candle throws his beams! 
So shines a good deed in a weary world."
        -William Shakespeare - The Mechant of Venice

First – let’s cover what spectroscopy is;

Spectroscopy is a scientific measurement technique. It measures light that is emitted, absorbed, or scattered by materials and can be used to study, identify and quantify those materials. One thing that you need to remember is that “light” is a lot more than just the colored visible light that we can see. – NASA

This is interesting for two reasons –

  1. What we see as plain, white, visible light, actually contains all the colors of the rainbow, plus a collection of wavelengths that we can’t even sense as humans.
  2. Spectroscopy breaks up a complex, noisy signal, such as light, into discrete, constituent parts, provides a glimpse of once imperceptible structures, and brings meaningful data points out of the chaos.

So far, so good. Now, let’s bring this back to marketing. Below, “Content” refers to any marketed message, in any marketing vertical.

Content starts as this solid concept, a beam of light, ready to illuminate the minds of our target audience. The beam is the message, and the message is the beam. Strong calls to action. Tracking is set up. We’ll know what success means and we’ll be able to point to business goals that Content will help to achieve. We fire the solid beam of light into the blackness of Deep Space/The Internet/America’s Living Room.

Now, let’s briefly return to the science of light.

Light is perceived by it’s reflection off of surfaces, and two different reflections are possible – Diffuse and Specular.

The light rays that allow us to see non-luminous objects such as our hands, the floor and the people around us, are rays that have traveled from a light source and then have reflected off of an object towards our eyes. There are two types of reflection: specular and diffuse. Specular reflection sends discreet beams in specific directions. Diffuse reflection sends many different beams in several directions.

So what about our Content? Once our beam of light is perceived by our audience, will they, via the specular reflection principle, be able to understand specific messages or triggers embedded in the beam? Or will the light spread out into a million different meanings, fade into the background – a diffuse reflection of our loaded beam?

Well, didn’t we think about the audience and the affect our content would have on their Mind Prisms? Did we think to analyze our content’s Impact Spectrum?

We require a few more metaphors.

Just as prisms help to break apart light, the interpretation of your content happens in the audience Mind Prism. The Mind Prism is the only medium through which your lighted message is decoded and understood.

Content is not what you think it is – it’s what your audience thinks it is.

Content is not the beam of light you send, it’s the beam of light that is received. And, further complicating things, each Mind Prism is unique and it’s absorption can change with it’s environment – and no two will absorb information the same way.

So in The Spectroscopy of Content, we’re seeking to consciously pre-fabricate the beam of light, knowing what spectral lines need to be absorbed by the audience, amplifying the strength of those wavelengths, and thoughtfully anticipating the myriad ways our Content may be interpreted, or misinterpreted, by the Mind Prism.

Once the light is considered through the Mind Prism, the Impact Spectrum should be analyzed and considered. To explain this last piece – we return to the light. . .

The spectrum from distant stars contain the signatures of the elements that compose the star. Spectral absorption lines in the wavelength of visible light, correspond with elements, present in the stars chemical makeup. There is a Hydrogen Line, a Sodium Line, Magnesium, etc.

In The Spectroscopy of Content, the “absorption lines” reflect the ideas or concepts that are anticipated to hit the intended Impact Spectrum – and we have several different Spectra of Understanding. Below are three versions I’ve created specifically for this piece – but there is room for thousands more!

Are we soliciting buyer behavior, are we making someone mad, are we talking about cultural values? Is this a curveball with a mysterious trajectory, a fast pitch in an elevator, or a beachball in a stadium? Does this message leave enough room for the recipient’s ego? Does the Content talk about personal things, or relevant ideas in society? Will this make them think of Church, School, the bedroom, the barber shop?

Before we launch any Content, we have to ensure that it’s light will reflect into at least one Impact Spectra, if not multiple. And although it is true that each Mind Prismis unique, certain concepts like the ones briefly covered in the above examples, work on more basic levels. Humans are unique, but human behaviors and reactions tend not to be.

In closing – The Spectroscopy of Content aims to understand the ways information impacts people on this basic level, and use this information to fortify and empower the messages we send in the future. Whether we’re analyzing various Mind Prisms, or their associated Impact Spectrum, one this remains true throughout this “new” marketing metaphor. . . Our success depends not on how much we put ourselves into our marketing, but by how strongly our marketing considers our audience.

Please let me know if you have any questions or would like to learn more about The Spectroscopy of Content.

Six Marketing Insights from “Miracle on 34th St.”

I recently watched the 1994 version of “Miracle on 34th St.”, and other than being sad I was dissecting a holiday movie for marketing lessons, I was way too happy to discover no-less-than six top-notch marketing insights packed into this Christmas classic. For those not familiar with the movie, a brief synopsis will help. For those who are ready, follow along as I unwrap these. . .

Six Marketing Lessons From “Miracle On 34th St.”

1) Uncover Resources by Changing Perception 

They could see Santa was drunk. The special events director for the annual Cole’s (Elizabeth Perkins) Thanksgiving Parade needed to find a replacement Santa ASAP. So seeing a man that fit the part in Kris Kringle, (Richard Attenborough) she saw an opportunity present itself. Disaster had forced her to see things differently, see the hidden opportunities in the calamity.

That she “resourcefully” picked the ACTUAL Santa Claus is not important here, what’s important is that resources can present themselves if we decide to see things differently. Or when fake Santa gets drunk. But being scrappy and resourceful isn’t just for Elizabeth Perkins.

Marketing strategist Nick Westergaard beats the resourceful drum hard and loud in his book Get Scrappy. By focusing on core competencies, simplifying processes, and taking the customer experience into account, Westergaard shows that our strongest resources can be found when we focus on customers. When we focus on the Allison Janney in front of our face.

Lesson One – in the chimney.

2) Listen To Your Customers, ALL THE WAY

Later in the movie, the Cole’s marketing director is on the floor of the department store, watching the new Santa knock it out of the park. He’s approached by a customer (Allison Janney). She informs him that Santa is sending folks AWAY from Cole’s, to other stores where the toys are cheaper. He starts to walk away to confront/fire Santa, and as he does, the woman says,

“Tell Santa he made me a Cole’s shopper. I’m coming here for everything but toilet paper. Any store that puts the parent ahead of the buck at Christmas deserves my business. Tell Mr. Cole his Santa Claus ought to get a raise.”

The marketing director, rather than admonish Santa for sending customers out their door, chose to listen to his customer, all the way. He ingeniously ascertained from some very direct feedback, that customers want to do business with a company that can help them “get a job done,” not just push product. By sending people to places where they could get the job done, Cole’s marketing director was creating loyalty – and by saving the customer money, there’s more for them to spend loyally at your store. Happily, the “jobs to be done” framework is not just for the miraculous.

Harvard Business School Professor Clayton Christensen and his team have built several successful business strategies using the “jobs to be done” framework. Here is a brief explanation of their work, that mirrors the Miracle on 34th marketing metaphor magically –

“The jobs-to-be-done framework is a tool for evaluating the circumstances that arise in customers’ lives. Customers rarely make buying decisions around what the ‘average’ customer in their category may do—but they often buy things because they find themselves with a problem they would like to solve. With an understanding of the ‘job’ for which customers find themselves ‘hiring’ a product or service, companies can more accurately develop and market products well-tailored to what customers are already trying to do.”

I highly suggest you get amongst Clayton Christensen’s tasty work HERE.

Lesson Two – Good for you = Good for me.

3) Narrow Your Focus

Once Cole’s realized they were dedicated to helping the customers find the best deals, the latest communication tools were made available for every employee to fulfill the current selling model. In 1994 – these tools were phonebooks.

Goods, services, price points, angles, coupons, deals, size, packaging – Rather than focusing on multiple ways to differentiate their company’s assets, the marketing department of Cole’s listened to customers and focused in on one thing – helping their customers “get the job done.” Once they narrowed their focus, they had a collective mindset to sell from, reaching across the entire company, providing a unified vision that every employee could easily understand. The store had differentiated in a powerful way. Once Cole’s concentrated on serving the actual needs of their customers, and narrowed their focus, Cole’s business boomed and the competition couldn’t hang. And this isn’t just restricted to 1994 NYC – this can work in your world too.

In his book “X: The Experience When Business Meets Design,” Brian Solis demonstrates the powerful impact of creating easily understood, company-wide selling strategies. By visually mapping out the experiences of their sales process, businesses were able to see the focus of their sales strategies – providing a clear-cut concept to everyone in the company. One they can easily understand, and use in whatever job capacity they have within that company. “X” is a great, beautiful book on marketing and design, and I suggest it.

Oh, Lesson Three – Oh, Lesson Three – Thy leaves are so unchanging.

4) Crush Competition Through Focus and Service

Cole’s is not without their competitors. Right across 34th St., the greedy mega-chain store Shoppers Express sits like a snake in the grass! Their attempts to thwart Cole’s is made apparent at the beginning of the movie, when we discover that, due to slow sales, Cole’s will be bought by Shopper’s Express at the end of the year. But the competition, who sells the SAME thing you do, who buys the SAME ad spaces you do, who uses the SAME selling strategies, is not prepared for the subtle, two-sided-knife of focus and service.

By embracing this Service-Based Anti-Selling Model sourced straight from Santa’s laptop, and by focusing on solving specific problems based on actual insights from the customers, the idea of competition on a product level or a price level became a secondary concern to Cole’s. How did they do it? To stand out – use your resources, listen to your customers, and use their feedback to narrow your focus on solving specific problems and being super useful – and it works in even the most competitive verticals. And this isn’t just for Santa to slay with…

David Ogilivy, arguably the Father of Advertising, embraced the idea of focusing in on specific unmet needs and then using those to differentiate from competition. He also made sure salesmen didn’t bad mouth competitors – Even if your product or service is far superior, no one wants to listen to you bad-mouth the competition. Focus your sales conversations on your customers’ unmet needs, instead of your competitors’ faults. Here are other ground-breaking sales tips from Ogilvy’s 1935 book on selling Aga stoves.

Lesson Four – There’s More In Store

5) Communication IS Experience

By far one of the most touching moments in the movie, is when a mother places her daughter on Santa’s lap and tells him that she is deaf, and just would like to look at him. Santa takes pause, inhales, and then begins signing to the little girl. She lights up and begins eagerly speaking with him, and tells him what she wants for Christmas. I’m getting a little emotional right now as I write this, because this is the soul of the world; successful communication with others. The allegory here is deep – even when you think someone can’t hear you, or you’re unable to speak – always strive for understanding and connection.

Luckily, the human takeaway is similar to the marketer’s – every point of communication you have with your customer creates the customer’s experience of your brand – and experience is everything. When you clearly communicate with your customers, you create experiences full of value and meaning. And experiences aren’t just for the silver screen….

In “Experiences: The Seventh Era of Marketing,” Robert Rose and Carla Johnson emphasize the coming importance of content-rich experiences. Businesses that can create cohesive experiences across the brand that communicate value to the customer, and communicate it well, are the businesses that are positioned to succeed.

Lesson Five – Create The Vibe, Know The Jive

6) Belief Creates Reality

Throughout this whole movie, the themes of belief, faith, and disillusionment are omnipresent; struggles that affect every character in someway. When he realizes that Dorey doubts his true identity, Santa Claus explains that there’s more to the red suit than she is willing to see.

“I’m not just a whimsical figure who wears a charming suit and affects a jolly demeanor. You know, I’m a symbol. I’m a symbol of the human ability to be able to suppress the selfish and hateful tendencies that rule the major part of our lives. If you can’t believe, if you can’t accept anything on faith, then you’re doomed for a life dominated by doubt.”

The message here is powerful and poetic – Santa Claus becomes real when we choose to believe and have faith in the intangible qualities he represents. We make him real when we believe in the best of mankind. Stuff that in your stocking. So what’s the final marketing lesson?

The sixth marketing lesson of Miracle on 34th St. is that you have to believe in something to make it real – and belief is a choice. When we launch our content initiatives, when we roll-out our new designs, when we reach out for customer insight – we have to consciously choose to believe in the intangible benefits we’re providing. And this ethical-jive-talk ain’t just for the North Pole…

In “Marketing As An Act of Faith,” marketing consultant Pat Sullivan brings this lesson home for in this quote from a well-known book, The Bible – “…faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.” Sullivan continues…“Marketing requires faith in our products or services. If we can’t have faith in them, it’s either time to reshape each product or service so we deeply respect it and can affirm its value — or it’s time to offer other products and services that are more ethical, meaningful and useful.”

To Re-Cap

Let’s quickly review the six marketing lessons in Miracle on 34th St. –

1) Get Scrappy to Find Resources – See the opportunities in front of your face!

2) Listen To Your Customers – Find the hidden gold in customer feedback!

3) Narrow Your Focus – Use customer insights to find their “jobs to be done.”

4) Crush Competition Through Focused Service – Serve solutions, and slay.

5) Communication is Experience – Create valuable experiences through thoughtful communication.

6) Belief Creates Reality – Believe in the value your product or service offers – otherwise the gig is up.

And that’s it.

– For more insights on marketing, Follow me on Social, check the Book Reports, and check out more POS Bloggin!

Merry Christmas!