Saturday, November 03, 2001
Here's a question I don't know why I'm asking a bunch of guys, but here goes. I've been thinking lately of what the Internet means to me as a mother... especially in that it is merging work and home in ways no one ever anticipated... In an article I'm working on for a women's pub, I consider this:
"While it's not for everyone, teleworking offers women a way to merge work with home, and home with work, in an interesting--and often bizarre--way. With the advent of the Internet, physical distance and asphalt highways no longer separate work life and home life. Instead, within the networked landscape of the Internet, individuals, businesses, and customers are seamlessly connected. Technologies like Instant Messaging--which allows my clients to pop up urgent questions, and the occasional good joke, on my screen in real-time--erase distance. Here is there, and there is here, all at once. For many, this infringement of corporate life into the home is unsettling. To my family, and to me, it has been a blessing.
In a daily hyperlinked state of being, I jump between reading "I Spy," writing articles on e-business hubs, playing with our new "Bob the Builder" walkie-talkies, browsing the latest marketing theories on the Web, and teaching my daughter her numbers and letters. (She's quite a typist to boot!) It's clearly not the life of choice for everyone--but it can be especially appealing to new moms as they weave their way through the challenges and options motherhood sets at their doorstep."
So here's the question: Will other chicks get this? Will anyone care? And, do you guys know of any research on this Net-powered work/life convergence? In my mind these days, I don't really "work" anywhere. I see myself as a little node on this vast network--I'm not "at home" or "at work." I am just "on." I have a voice, therefore I am. Of course, I do my job and the paycheck comes. But more and more, that work-for-pay agreement has become just one of many outputs of my new hyperlinked existence.
And, if I am at the tip of a trend, I think it is a trend that will power the Gonzo model. Look at what's happened since I read the book and embraced its philosophies. You used to search up "jeneane sessum" on google and get one pathetic search result--my "unsubscribe" from the Acid Jazz list. Is that any kind of legacy to leave your kid? You know: "Jeez, she was a really hard worker, and she made lots of business people famous, but what did she ever DO...?" So, since Gonzo, I search my funky ole self up on google, and guess what--I've bumped onto a second page of search results. I'm "becoming" someone--a bonafide online voice. ... It's going to be this way. Especially as "terrorist" warnings urge us to go ahead live our lives, but expect that we may be obliterated on our way to work. I don't know. I'm outta here. Blog on, dear friends.
Friday, November 02, 2001
lifeless. sterile, barren, brain-dead, the lights are off, nobody is home, and the dog's run away
I think the point that Chris makes is that we now have the means, the motive, and the opportunity to engage in actual conversations with real people. That's enough for a conviction in 28 states.
This may be the death of many marketERS - who just don't wake up before the 16 tonne weight falls on them - but it could be the rebirth of MarketING
Something that offers useful insight into not just the readily measurable statistics on the current state of the market of interest, but enables you to inform yourself about what your potential customers are thinking, what they want, what they're getting from your competitors and substitutes, why they value it, what's missing from it, what they hate about it, etc, etc,
by actually talking and listening with them directly
Jeneane: Has anyone ever told you your name just doesn't roll off the keyboard? Took me 3 goes to get it right.
"Getting it Right" is important. I'm into my empathy and compassion phase for the week now, so I'm wondering what it's like to have your phd in general psych, your MBA from Harvard, and your 16 years worth of ad agency whoring (sorry, career excellence), and be told by some gonzo nobody who posts to a website in Uzbekistan that you and your whole industry are just completely fucked up beyond repair.
Not even good enough for landfill.
Give toxic waste a bad name.
Might be faintly amusing to the more bohemian types, and let's face it, marketing is nothing if not bohemian.
I liked your gonzo mirror, but I most appreciated the examples you gave of clients that actually liked the output from your gonzo marketing think.
I like to think that given ONLY the theoretical concepts that we're talking about they'd probably shudder with horror and politely ask you to leave - but! - faced with the reality of superior output, they just might let you hang around to make a difference, and might even spark up some interest in how you came to produce such material.
When you get ready to buck the system then you'd better be right. A few of my managers over the years have been persuaded that it's easier to ask for forgiveness than to get permission, but the unspoken message was always clear: "Only when you're right!"
I've had loooooong experience with having to wait for time to prove me right during my working life, so I know what that's like. Like playing a round of golf, you have to endure great eons of disappointment and frustration to achieve that one shining glorious moment of complete beauty as the ball sails straight up the middle of the fairway, bounces once at the edge of the green and drops into the hole.
Much like sex, I suppose . . . . . . . .
Lighten up, yeahhh! Great fucking ideas, ideas about being fucking great, ideas that are fucking great, ideas about great fucking, whatever.
"not congruent to creative thinking" - nice phrase Jeneane. You know that the internet exists because the Department of Defence recognised that their centralised command and control heirarchy was their greatest weakness?
Talk about a totally unexpected and wholly unintended but very revealing piece of self awareness!!
Don't worry about it jen, the marketing industry usually follows the military by about two millennia. That's why they had amazon women with enormous breasts selling empire building to Roman legionaires while the admeisters have just got around to using them to sell cars to bohemians like me.
Don't get too depressed, your time will come.
Chris: Rock on, Tommy. Mark Knopfler could beat his guitar over my head and I wouldn't complain.
. . . much
Thursday, November 01, 2001
Oh yeah... and I meant to stick this here too. It's sorta kinda maybe the plan for the next book. I guess I been listening to a lot of Dire Straits lately. Telegraph Road seemed to fit the ideas in a fairly uncanny way. And then there's that guitar...
I guess I should at least say hello, as Jeneane seems to be convinced by my silence that I've contracted anthrax. Well, no. But I hear the Kirkus review of Gonzo that just came out was almost that bad. Ah shit. What're ya gonna do?
What I'm doing at the moment is listening to Dire Straits' old album, Making Movies, which I bought specifically for the tune Skateaway. And to hear Knopfler play just about anything. Man.
...the music make her wanna be the story
and the story was whatever was the song what it was
rollergirl don't worry...
Speaking of voice, Marketplace Morning Edition responded to my prodding by putting mine online. Look for the October 25, 2001 RealAudio clip: Tess Vigeland Interviews Chris Locke About SPAM. So that's what I sound like. Tess is great to work with. I wish they'd air us just rapping before and after the actual taping. I turned on the radio this morning driving home, and there she is doing the news. I got back to the terminal and there was email from her about our segment for next week. Very strange.
Had lunch with this guy from the University of Denver B-school who has invited me to give a talk in Vail in early December. Two days in the lap of luxury -- and room service too! Winning through worst practices. You know.
Hey, I got nothin here tonight. Like I said, just sayin hello. Blog on...
I'm so glad you guys have joined this little gathering. I'm really enjoying being a blogeur, but thought I should pipe up so you'd know I was still alive.
I was lounging around google tonight, looking for an intellectual high. I found something Chris (yes, it's the third-person for you, now) wrote in Jan of 1996, or in Net-years, the bronze age. It cast a fascinating light--at least for me--on what has happened within the communications business over the last half-decade. Here's what I read in Chris's inaugural editorial for the Net Editors section of internetMCI.
"Interestingly, one sector of the economy most attuned to this change is the advertising industry itself. Last summer I visited the offices of Chiat Day, one of the major ad agencies in New York. The first thing I encountered there was a mural painted across the reception lobby wall that read, in foot-high letters: Advertising is Dead. At the same time, Ogilvy & Mather was publishing -- directly on the World Wide Web -- its six principles of advertising on the net:
1) Intrusive e-mail not welcome.
2) Internet consumer data not for resale without the express permission of the user.
3) Advertising allowed only in designated newsgroups and list servers.
4) Promotions and direct selling are allowed, but only under full disclosure.
5) Consumer research is allowed with the consumer's full consent.
6) Internet communications software must never hide concealed functions.
And of course Messner Vettere was hard at work for its client, MCI, on creating a web version of Grammercy Press, a virtual world illustrating the changes business organizations are likely to experience as they come fully online.
Another stereotype bites the dust. Somehow, these are not the same agencies that brought us the endless news of washday miracles and drop-dead models lounging across the hoods of Detroit's latest. What exactly is going on here?"
I don't know about you guys, but I found this r-e-a-l-l-y depressing. The reason? We've been backsliding for five years. In the early days of Net acceptance but before nirvana, we were obviously onto something. We understood this was all an amazing new experiment--we didn't pretend to have all the answers, have the Internet "solved."
Look how much more real we we were... Check out the voice used by the agencies Chris mentions above. They were "onto" something, without being into themselves. They were energized by possibilities, not exhausted by reality.
In 2001 we are officially afraid to be wrong. To admit we don't know. To accept that the Net is not ours to own, capture, and grab the mindshare thereof.
So instead, too many of us spew spin like a bad carnival ride, hiding from the truth rather than having the boldness to say to customers, "We don't have all the answers. But let's get to know each other and we can come up with some great fucking ideas."
Today is the day of positioning. Plugging square pegs in round holes until they fit--or else! We have become consumed with the need to "define," "own," and "solve."
This trend is not congruent with creative thinking. In fact, it kills creative thinking.
Can you see a top ad or PR agency today stating that advertising is dead--or more timely, brand marketing? No. We pretend that we've got it together, like a bunch of money addicts that need a good 12-step Greed Anonymous program. Is it panic? Terror? Resession-denial? Paranoia over the maturation of the Internet and business's inability to categorize and segment it? (Message from management: If they're paying us all this money, we'd better know about this Net thing by now!)
I guess it's all these things. But tonight I have a new mantra: "Lighten up." No more killing innovation by looking so desparately for answers. It may do us all well to go back and look at the stuff we were doing before what are now the good old days. Maybe we can unearth some worst practices and toss a little risk into the equation... and some reward too. Gonzo style.
Very soon I hope to be reading a book called "The death of market research" Any offers?
Most market research is designed to avoid the human voice - slice up the experience and put it into boxes to dole out to nervous executives who don't really understand what is going on.
They take the information and feed it into the Sausage Machine and lo and behold! Out pops a new marketing campaign.
It is not that the idea behind market research in itself is bad. Of course, we all want to know what motivates people. It is just that most of it seems to measure responses and sidestep the nasty fact that it is PERSON that is giving the responses.
Of course as a member of the medja I don't have to deal with these canvassers so often:
"Would you like to answer a few questions on Lim-O glue, sir?"
"Sorry, I am a Journalist, you're not allowed to speak to me."
It's true. I am on the list of 'not applicables'. What is all that about? "Please don't speak to someone who might disturb the normal distribution curve?"
It isn't because I'm gifted. The same goes for all marketing/communications people. Can't give an opinion.
Just testing the new blogBuddy and looking at my post. Funny how you start out to say something reasoned and measured, strong yet subtle, and end up with a crazed rant like that.
It occurs to me that listening is not the same as market research, and that speaking to someone, conversationally, is not the same as advertising. An obvious but necessary truth.
Surprise, I hear you mutter, the dimwit gets it. But this is really the crux of the matter, isn't it? Doesn't classical marketing actually consider market research to be a synonym for listening and advertising to be a synonym for speaking? Rather than as inadequate substitutes for these essential elements of human interaction?
Doesn't this major league misconception explain the massive disconnect between marketers and their markets that Chris is on about? Isn't this the source of the cognitive dissonance that arises when one observes marketers trying so hard to be nice, but just absolutely pissing you off?
Have you ever sat in an executive meeting and heard "Where's the market research?" and wondered to yourself if anyone, ever, just did something because it made sense? Just because they'd listened, cogitated, questioned, listened and cogitated some more, and then just did what came naturally from that?
Aren't the people (and companies) that do this the ones that stand out? Like Apple in their early days, or with their blueberry notebooks, or like the people that make and sell Viagra. Hey - they KNOW what we want! Because they're horny PEOPLE, too.
Like GonzoMan, the new species in interactive marketing: he says what he means, he means what he says, he tells it like it is, and he puts his own money where his mouth is. He speaks to you like a human being, treats you like an autonomous intelligent individual, like you have something to say worth listening to, and you have something listening that is worth speaking to.
Aaaah, the novelty value alone is priceless.
P.S. Chris, I bought your feckin book today from Amazon, I hope it's as good as I say it is . . . . . .
Wednesday, October 31, 2001
Having just read through most of the thread to this point, I've been struck by the Kotler ideas about consciousness levels. Although I have some reservations about the idea of "levels" as he uses them, I can only agree that some people do it better than others (no matter what "it" we're talking about).
I often work with telecommunications operators, who are somewhat (in)famous for saying things like, "well, we invested in 3 million lines worth of broadband internet access for residential customers but so far we've only got 37,000 lines." They often have a complaint attached to these statements about the incompetence of their marketing people. I don't work in marketing officially, but I've successfully marketed myself for 20 years now.
This sort of thing bothers me, and I think is relevant here, because it seems to me to be a huge marketing failure.
Firstly, it is a failure to LISTEN. If there aren't 3 million people out there waiting to snap up your product, at your price, with the characteristics that make it uniquely yours, then you haven't been listening!
You've probably been listening to analysts, pundits, commentators, and experts, but you haven't heard your (potential) customers. If you had, you'd have offered them something you already knew they wanted badly enough to pay you for it, wouldn't you?
Secondly, it is a failure to LISTEN. Hang on, I said that already, didn't I? Seemed worth repeating. Are you listening?
Thirdly, it must surely be a failure to understand. In spite of institutional deafness, there are people out there screaming for service, begging to be allowed to hand over their hard-earned in return for what you have. Not only are you not listening, but when the noise finally intrudes to the point where it cannot be ignored, you don't understand what is being said. As an example, when I use my broadband internet connection at home I am not buying SPEED, that is just what is required to give me what I really want, which is my TIME. What I am purchasing is my time.
If you don't understand WHAT your customers value and WHY, then you have two huge problems. Finding out the WHAT may help you temporarily, but unless you know WHY you will always be vulnerable to substitution, never understanding why your customers are leaving you for someone else. You will never be able to anticipate.
Fourthly, even assuming you may have actually listened a little and understood a bit, if you're still struggling in the market then your market probably hasn't heard from you the things that would tell us that you have listened, that you have learnt, and that as a result, you've concocted something that we actually want.
It is at this point that the concept of a VOICE becomes interesting. Many potential customers would have read the complaint, which in itself implied that it is the customers who are too stupid to realise what great guys you all are. What else would they have made of it? What else did they hear in your voice? You don't know, do you? You have no idea. Not only that, but it hasn't even occurred to you to wonder, has it? Let alone ask . . . . .
Here's a clue: When you talk about your business in terms of "lines" - then you've missed the boat. It isn't the lines that pay you, it isn't the lines that want ADSL, it isn't the lines that generate traffic, it isn't the lines that have these sorts of conversations - conversations that you might learn something from if you took the time to listen.
You have 37,000 customers - that's 37,000 PEOPLE - who somehow or other managed to fight their way through all the obstacles you put in their path to become your paying customers. You can have them be your unpaid (indeed, they pay you) but most valuable and highly productive marketing weapon, or you can piss them off.
Which one seems more likely?
Finally, it astounds me that an apparently educated and experienced business person would talk about take-up of a service without even mentioning the price and considering what the elasticity of demand might be. In isolation from these considerations, the current take-up is meaningless. Discussing it in such simplistic terms only implies that you're a simpleton.
On a bit of a tangent, I've often heard the pundits talk about how profitable or otherwise web-sites are. Anyone here ever had a website pay them money? Ever had a website buy anything from you? You get the point, I'm sure. Preaching to the converted, no doubt.
Brings me back to the air travel saga. I wonder what goes through the mind of someone who organises a marketing campaign like that, spending all the money that that implies, and then resources the mechanism for actually realising income from it, on the implicit assumption that the campaign will fail to generate any significant traffic!
It makes me think that Frank Zappa had the right of it, when he said, "People, we is not wrapped tight!"
Kotler might call it "consciousness level zero".
I've been none too keen about getting on a plane lately. Then tonight came--the amazing one-day fleamarket on airfares. $31 one way to all of your favorite east coast and mid-west destinations out of Atlanta--from Toledo to Fort Myers.
I'm reading this thinking, Hey, for that price I'll fly. Okay? I can do it. Go home to Rochester, through Buffalo of course, and see the family and friends. For less than $70 roundtrip, I'll get on a plane. Yah, I need to see my Aunt. And my brother. Let's do it...
And then I see it. A dream vacation at a fan-fucking-tastic deal. "Grand Bahama Island, Bahamas." I'm saying, HUH? $62 round trip to the Bahamas? Terrorism be damned--toss me in a window seat and give me a stiff one. Sunshine here I come. Buffalo? Who said Buffalo? Family? What family?
Off I go to airtran.com to book my vacation deal of a lifetime. Hmmm What do you know. First few attempts are bringing all the fares up at their normal $700-ish and climbing prices. What's up with this? That's no good. I click the sale link again, get to the reservation link--was careful not to book on those dreaded fridays and sundays when the fare didn't apply--and still, the same high fares.
I'm Stumped. Well, let me go back to the homepage and try that again. Huh? Ught oh. Things are getting worse. The server's down. Or not responding. Odd messages come up - Sorry, our server is not responding. If you'd like to make a reservation, click "here". Okay. I'll click "here". ERROR.
Well, heck, no wonder--at that rate, everyone in Atlanta is online booking their flight to Toledo. Surely, though, no one spotted that Grand Bahama's deal. I'm just going to have to call them. I'll pay the $36 one way and do it over the phone. Throw caution to the wind.
So, for the next two hours, I press redial after redial after redial. Busy. No-go. Argh. I'll just keep trying.
With portable phone in one hand and DSL-powered laptop in the other, I look up the resort where we will stay... maybe forever. The only all inclusive resort on the Island--Club Viva Fortuna. What a hot name--I am SO packed. Even has a kid's club. Look at that fucking BEACH!
I try with no luck to find out through the site what it costs to stay at my paradise, but can't, and having no idea what resorts on the Grand Bahama Island cost, I call my new Bahamian friends at Club Viva Fortuna. They sound so happy there. I can see Vivienda's face now. She tells me there's lots of availability in December. Call back in the morning for reservations. How much? I was afraid to ask. $75 per adult per night. All inclusive. Drinks round the clock. Beach galore. Eat, drink, forget about "The Evil Ones." All for $150 a night. Kids stay free. I had found my paradise! Nothing standing between me and Vivienda but a bottle of sunscreen and airtran.com.
Just to be sure I'm spending my $75/night wisely, I sneek over to google and search up some reviews on the place. Aside from the occasional ants in the room and geckos in the closets--which upset a few of the guests--it sounds like heaven. Everyone said their children had a blast. The occasional "rude waitstaff," sure. Isn't there always? I'm not swayed from my new favorite vacation spot.
In fact, I'm more determined than ever. This is IT. Get back on the phone to airtran and do my redial dance. For another hour. Damn! What is UP!? Play with the home page. Trying to get in on a gimme. Nothing.
Meantime, my brother in law calls. Yeh, man--you can get from Boston to the ATL for $74 round trip--come on down! We jump over to delta.com (running the same special under a different marketing promo cover and WITHOUT my favorite Club Viva Fortuna destination) and click-click through all the steps, no time flat, we even get to pick his seat online. Bada-boom - James, we'll see you in January. Thank you for choosing delta.com. A thing of beauty. Why don't they fly to my Club Viva Fortuna? Why? What do they have against Grand Bahama?
Now I'm back over to airtran.com, trying to click my way in the back door, through some secret someplace no one else knows about. Come on baby.... contact us... no... help... no... back round the front door again and into the 36-city special..... and..... error.
If you have a lousy sale, shouldn't you be ready for people to TAKE YOU UP ON IT???
Then a lightbulb goes off. No. you don't think. no. couldn't be....
A few bucks more, but yes. Travelocity.com was working just fine. No errors. Same price plus a couple of bucks more because they have a web site that works. Take me through the process, Kenneth. So we set out. When do you want to depart - heck, any day--let's say November 13.
Sorry, no availability for that date. (then why was it BLUE when I went to book it? Blue is good. Grey is bad). Oh well, at least they have plenty of other dates. You can travel between now and February 13th. Something must be left.
But as I click my way through every week from November to February, one by one, availability magically disappears, blue turns to grey, and Club Viva Fortuna is again but a dream away.
I try to call airtran a few last times, just so I can hear a stupid call center shmuck tell me the terrible truth. That I am never going to get to Club Viva Fortuna. But the line's still busy. You tell me those phones aren't sitting on the desks while the whole lousy bunch of them tip-tap their fingers on their special keyboards, sneaking in that secret airtran.com backdoor and booking their own trips to Club Viva Fortuna.
So I'm back over to delta.com. Where it all began. And with the same flawless navigation, I click my way through to the $74 round trip vacation (including taxes and all those other crappy fees) that looked so good before I ever learned about Club Viva Fortuna. And the ants. And the geckos.
Flying into Buffalo in February... what could go wrong?
Tuesday, October 30, 2001
The basic point is that most executives aren't capable of writing a shopping list, let alone anything else. This is not to be nasty to them - I have a grave difficulty with Excel spreadsheets and calculators, but I leave all that to them. Would that they could do the same with communications.
My best practice so far has been to stick to them like a nasty smell and nag them endlessly, while at the same time intercepting any dubious messages and helpfully rewriting them before they miss their targets. All done with a smile on my face and a red pen gripped tightly in my fist. or should that be with a red face and a smile gripped tightly in my fist...
But to get back on track, I haven't read the book, only the first two free chapters. I am going to be working from home for the next three months so I am ordering - honest Chris.
From cluetrain: "The good news is that almost all of us already know how to talk like real people. It’s just a matter of pulling that fat axe from our skulls."
Mine's almost out. And that has to ripple out to the businesses I think for, write for... doesn't it?
Andrew--hello to you too. I know. I know. Really. Maybe I'm just telling myself that it is helping because I have to write these petty little client deliverables to get a paycheck. But I don't think so. Last week I had to edit some articles from a, shall we say, important blue-chip client---maybe the bluest chip of them all if you get my drift. I didn't just correct the stupid stuff. I could have done that, billed a couple hours, and sent it back.
Instead I took what is in my business kind of a risk (hey, it's a boring life, but it's mine.) I tore them apart and gave them a whole new voice--post-gonzo-reading is different than what I would have sent them back before. I did more than make them make sense. I took out the corporate speak. I took out about 20 references to the client and turned these things around into something that would at least talk to customers at their level. They weren't pedantic corporate hoopla anymore. That's what I meant about the Gonzo mirror.
I'm not pretending this will change the world, but you know what, both of the client contacts emailed me back--they loved what I did. Sometimes it's not that companies don't want to get rid of the bullshit, it's that they've been standing in it so long they don't know there's fresh grass right next to them.
Bob the Builder - yes he can!
Thank you kindly for the invitation to write amongst your blogginess...Do tell Gentle reader, shall I obtain a copy of "Gonzo...." ? Do I need to be an informed participant or will my random rants, raves and observations suffice? As a matter of fact, I am interested in the GONZO marketing strategy. WHERE? huh? I mean, is it a Barnes and Noble thing? Please remember I am stuck out here in the Swamps of Joisey.
And what about Dick Cheney warning us to becareful (I like the word compounded...BECAREFUL should be a word...I'll write the decendents of Daniel Webster. Did you know they live in Monclair NJ.?) What up with that? Okay gasoline prices have dropped, so you know they did something..and now something is gonna happen.
Has anyone actually laid eyes on Dick Cheney? He remindes me of the wizard in the wizard of Oz...behind the curtain telling the scare crow, the cowardly lion and the tin man what to do....if it wasnt 5 am I might even make analogies...alas...I need java for that activity.
ciao for now...Angela
Thanks for the invite. Right, let's get into it...
You mentioned how you have been using gonzo-like influences as a mirror to hold up against key messages. To my mind key messages are the worst offenders against human voices. I despair of the tripe written by 26-year-old McKinsey consultants who are trying to force-feed their messages into unwilling workers, stakeholders... whatever.
It is a generally unrecognised fact that people in a change situation (let's face it, that's most of us now) don't want a Why they want a How and When. Concrete facts not corporate bullshit. I dream of the day when corporations talk to their employees like grown ups. Tell them they've been fired because the products aren't selling rather than talk about "prevailing economic conditions".
it is interesting that some companies are trying to get with it by talking to their customers in an adult tone of voice, but don't extend that same respect to their internal audience.
Bob the Builder - can he fix it?
Monday, October 29, 2001
And so I've opened the blog up to the team of folks who said they wanted to party down with Gonzo way back when I started this thing, during the Clinton administration. Anyway, Invites are out. If you didn't get one, that just means I don't like you. Only kidding. If you want to join in the fun, just telepathically transmit me your wishes, send me a sign, drop me an email, or send me $20. (okay, keep your damned money.) Let's start some conversations, or at least some parallel monologues.
Hope to hear from you...
I want to bang on the drum all day
I don't want to play
I just want to bang on the drum all day.
With the 'manifesto' references and emphasis on 'conversation,' Godin sounds like someone who's been eating his cluetrain wheaties: "What marketers are now on the lookout for -- and we're all marketers now -- is something that taps into the invisible currents that run between and among consumers. Instead of talking to -- or at -- consumers, we have to help consumers talk to one another."
Forgetting charges of plagerism from the thoughtcontagion.com guy, and all of the subsequent posts about the article on the Fast Company site, and looking at the article on its own merrit, I still think it falls short of being a 'manifesto'. At its crux, the article says this: A good idea can go a long way. Um. Okay. And?
But then I hyperlink my little brain back to Gonzo, where Rageboy, getting kind of worked up, says this: "Are marketers really naive enough to believe that the same brain-numbing key messages their advertising and PR departments have been peddling all along are suddenly going to go viral?"
Ouch. I'm licking my wounds.
Okay, done. No, not the same messages we've been peddling. Those won't do. But isn't it still possible for those of us "in the business" of crafting key messages to make those messages resonate? Isn't it a baby step that we are beginning to create messages with genuine voice? messages that employees can understand, customers can relate to--and even maybe, if we're ever so lucky, want to talk about among themselves? Please tell me it is. Because otherwise I'm not sure what I'm going to be when I grow up.
But as I hyperlink again to Chapter 6 of Cluetrain, this nugget:
"And increasingly, we value only two qualities:
1.The engagement and passion-for-quality of genuine craft.
2.Conversations among recognizably human voices.
More and more, as I wander around inside of Gonzo, EGR, JOHO, TDCRC, Doc Searls' blog, and other places of voice, I go back to my own craft (okay, so they pay me for it), and I'm weaving these ideas into what I do for clients... into the messages I create for them. (And that's a big part of my job.) For me, Gonzo is a mirror I hold up to expose flaws in my work. And I rethink, re-do, re-think, actually talk to people in these companies, look at what customers are saying. And so, these messages are maturing into something more (I hope) than mind-numbing. Can it change the fact that every fricking company wants to be the 'leading, first, only and best' and other meaningless adjectives that no one believes? No. But at the least, I can contain that stuff within the company boilerplate. And if I contain the mind-numbing same-ol-same-ol in the boilerplate, then maybe I keep it from going viral in the most infectious sense of the word.
Key messages are not boilerplates. In messages, we can weave in some feelings, some voice, rather than generic corporate-speak. At least we can do that much. At the least. But it's something. Come on, give me a reson to get up tomorrow. My sweet child (my reason) has me playing with her new Bob the Builder walkie-talkies now--and I'm not thinking clearly. Gotta run. later.