When Marketing Is Good. . . or Bad

Question Mark

Are your products remarkable?

Jeff Bezos, founder of Amazon.com, has been quoted for saying that “Advertising is the price you pay for having an unremarkable product or service.”  

My friend Andy Sernovitz, the man referred to as the early leader in the current wave of word of mouth marketing, often presents that message at conferences and seminars. I think his exact words are "Advertising is the price of being boring." These are tough concepts for brand marketers to hear and agree with. But it's true. 

For decades, brands and their agencies have been looking for the magic message that we could shout through a megaphone into the unsuspecting ears of the public - a message so compelling that they would rush to the stores (retail or online) and buy our product.  

Things are different today. The public is onto us. They trust their friends, neighbors, even perfect strangers, more than the voice of the brand - far more than advertising and marketing.  Unless, of course, the marketing is really good. 
Start with Why - small

People don't buy what you do,                                   they buy why you do it.

Simon Sinek, author of "Start With Why. How Great Leaders Inspire Everyone To Take Action" says that marketing per se, is neither good or bad. It's simply the way a company speaks to us. What makes bad marketing is in how were being spoken to and what is being said. And there's a lot of bad marketing being delivered these days.

Bad marketing promotes product features, drives transactions, promotes price, and manipulates behavior. Bad marketing is focused on a company's what and how. 

Great marketing comes from a deeper place. A place that focuses on a companies sense of purpose and mission. Great marketing, like great leadership, comes from messages of focused on why.  

Brands, and the agencies they hire for support, that see the edge associated with why will be the winners. They will share their why in stories that offer perspective, inspiration, and values. Great marketing starts with a cause and speaks for a movement. It's easy to share from one conversation to another... person to person and group to group.

For more thoughts on good marketing vs bad marketing, check out Sinek's recent blog entry.  Simple, straight forward, and thought provoking stuff.


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The Fine Print

Rod Brooks (that's me) is VP & CMO of PEMCO Mutual Insurance Company and serves as Immediate Past Chair of the Board of Directors for the Word of Mouth Marketing Association (WOMMA).  It's important to disclose both of those relationships and to be clear that this is my personal blog where I share thoughts and opinions that are solely my own.  Contact me!

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