Friday, December 19, 2008

The New Rules of Marketing, the Air Force, and Dropout/Postgrad gets an A+

My most recent subway read is The New Rules of Marketing by David Meerman Scott.

Being that I have been so critical of the media lately, I thought I would read some behind the scenes stuff and see what tactic marketing will take next. I think Mr Scott has a lot of good points and of course he tells the story from the point of view of the consumer as well as the marketing exec.

(Important note: this book was recommended to me by Dropout/Postgrad, who is a genius, and just dropped an A+ in his marketing class at Columbia University. 'Sup Dropout /Postgrad!)

What he is talking about is how the internet and in particular, the blogosphere, is changing the marketing game. I am so glad to hear this, as I think that the normal tactic of marketing is getting so lame. It's too lame even for words. I could write a post a day about the stupid commercials I see. The old ways just aren't working anymore. I am happy to say that while sometimes it seems like we are getting stupider, I think we may actually be getting smarter. The consumer review system is where it's at. The educated consumer has always subscribed to Consumer Reports, but lately these reviews are more accessible than ever. Interested in that new device that lets you forgo the phone bill and make calls through your internet connection (it's called the Ooma, and I am looking at buying one, stay tuned for a review....). Well, just do a google search and find out what other customers think. Obsessables seems like a pretty good place for this, but as always, Consumer Reports is your go to gal.

What's the catch? Marketing has picked up on this trend, as they often do with trends, and frankly should if they want to sell stuff to their new customers. What the consumer would hope this would achieve is a focus on quality, so that a product stands up to the consumer review system, and largely this is the case. However, if you check back with my last post, I mentioned Wyeth and the load of trouble they are in by hiring ghostwriters to write journal articles that paint their products in a favorable light, you'll get an idea of the direction this can lead consumers. My fear is that we will have fake bloggers all over the internet. In fact, I think we already do. In my search for part time work to make money while I work on my MFA, I have come across unlimited opportunities to write for a blog that highlights a particular product. That's right. You can get paid to fake the consumer review. Not to mention that some blog sites are hiring bloggers to write about widely searched material in order to increase their searchability (their googleability if you will), thus increasing their hits, thus increasing their advertising income, or their sales. What this means for the internet surfer is you have to wade your way through a bunch of crap articles to get to the good ones. I actually read a post on how to get freelance writing gigs that takes you through a step by step guide to searching on craigslist (step 1. go to, step 2. pick your city, step 3. click on jobs, step 3...). Now certainly, this post might be helpful to someone who has never used the internet before, but are they likely to be on the internet at all if this is the case, and if they do get on will they even know how to go to google to get this post? And further if they do learn how to use craigslist, isn't it likely to be from their grandchildren?

Now, I have resisted these opportunities, because I am morally opposed to such fakery, and I get more and more annoyed by the tripe you have to wade through to get to the good stuff, but be on the look out for this. Tim Berry, founder of Palo Alto Software and a member of the blogosphere, posted this piece on recognizing the not-so-authentic consumer review.

David Meerman Scott also has some interesting posts on his blog, largely directed towards businesses who are learning the new ropes of marketing, but interesting nonetheless, especially if you want to know how the internet is being used. Particularly disturbing to me is his post on the Air Force using the internet for recruiting and PR.

Now, I want to be clear: I highly respect the Armed Forces and the risks they take for the protection of our country, and there is no doubt that marketing and PR have always been part of the game for the military, but I think the public should be aware of how corporations and institutions are using the internet. Knowing is half the battle.

Meantime, Check out their flowchart.

I guess, in the end, in the spirit of the rest of this blog, I want you to know what marketing is all about. There are companies out there who use the internet for good, and some who use it for bad. You have a say in this market and you should use it. Keep it real, keep it informed, and stay strong.

Next on my reading list. Paul Krugman. He's a baller.




David Meerman Scott said...

Great post. I certainly agree with what you write. Marketing is indeed changing. As you say, most of it is just lame. But anyone can create interesting things on the web that people WANT to consume.

Dropout/Postgrad said...

Thanks for the shout out Rath. My classmates at Columbia wondered why I was reading the New Rules of Marketing and PR even though it wasn't assigned. The answer is because I wanted to get an A+! And it should have been assigned!

Meerman Scott picks up on a lot of emerging trends, with special emphasis on the merger of Marketing and PR. I think you're seeing the coming together of those functions with the Air Force and Wyeth examples which you cite.

A structural point I'd like to make is that the internet facilitates interaction, whereas previously the only methods that were available to marketers were one-way advertisements or 'interruptions', kind of like pop-ups and TV commercials. People seem to prefer former, which is mostly new. Lots of consumers are naturally naive, less than ideally informed and trusting, and previously no alternatives existed, so that's why the one way and manipulative forms were so heavily relied upon. The preponderance of pop-up advertisements on the internet reflects an attempt to adopt the old methods to a new medium. Those old habits die slow.

As manipulable as the internet can be, the peer review system coupled with the development of resources for discerning consumers will only make the ranks of knowledgeable consumers grow. Once the number of knowledgeable consumers surpasses a certain tipping point, marketers will be forced to become more honest and creative in order to remain competitive with the knowledgeable consumer market. That is when they'll have to focus on making better products rather than generating hype.

I think marketers won't become more honest until the second that it is absolutely necessary. So your blog serves a fantastic function: it develops the resources that are available for knowledgeable and discerning consumers. Consumer education if you will. Its a great way to bring more honesty into the world and hopefully these sorts of actions will lead to the reform of consumerism and capitalism. Hopefully.

Krugman is mad baller.