I wrote this posting initially for Seth Godin’s new Triiibes. Still am not sure about the triple-i, but I would imagine it has to do with the need for the focus on I (sounds a bit like Anthem I suppose—if you don’t get it it, read the book; it’s one of my favorites). And my photo is now updated, thanks to help from Mackenzie at Ning.
There is a lot of idea-sharing and befriending activity at Triiibes. This is likely to be reduced after Triiibes is open to the general population, but right now everyone feels like they are in an exclusive club and perhaps are collectively justifying its initial exclusivity.
One of the things that has impacted me is that while there, I noticed the perpetuation of some of the isms of yesteryear that work together to cheapen and marginalize marketing. As a result of these parochial viewpoints, I have put together this protestation.
An argument needs to be made for marketing. First of all, not to defined as what is marketing, but rather, what isn’t. Marketing is not
Many of these are used in marketing, and it is important to know how they are used; some should not be. But that is not marketing. A marketer should not be a promoter or blogger or designer only. A marketer should be a social scientist. A marketer should be a creator (not just a creative).
Marketing is not the steps you take to sell a product, it is not how to always try to extract a premium from customers by having the best brand, it is not positioning a product to hold a new place in a customer’s mind.
Marketing is about creation. Marketing is about people.
Tribes, or brand communities, or evangelists are closer to what marketing is to be about, but these are simply descriptions of a something far deeper. A contrarian Laura Ries was convinced last year that she was predicting the demise of the iPhone. After being woefully mistaken, her risk-taking ended as she covered herself this year by saying because of the added functionality of GPS and 3G access, the phone would actually be a success. Her stumbling statements are indicative of the narrow-minded and not cross-applicable viewpoints that she inherited from her “marketing” heritage.* These and like theories pervade the marketing field. If this happens, do this; it worked for Starbucks. Until we realize that the world doesn’t work for us like it works for Starbucks. How about Apple…
Whether by luck or thought, the really great brands are successful because of something more primitive, more tribal. It has to do with communities. Star Trek fan boy organizations get it more than Starbucks (obviously with their recent mistakes and flailing strategies). The iPhone’s success had much less to do with whether the phone was a convergence or divergence product and more to do with the cult-like allegiance to the brand. And the allegiance has little to do with coolness as much as it has to do with connectivity and exclusivity. It has to do with how a community is formed. They have their figurehead and their artifacts. In fact, the worst thing that can happen to Apple is not necessarily bad customer service (which can disconnect the community and cause them to reform elsewhere); it is if more Zunemeister-types start trying to encroach on their space. I am mostly serious; look at the comments about him on the referenced posting. It is one of the reasons Triiibes is so popular: exclusivity, connectivity, and membership.
It’s not about demographics or psychographics; it’s about studying how people work with people to communicate, move objects, and start movements. It’s more anthropology than financial analysis or sales pitches. If you want to learn how to talk to a group, you will learn more by watching them in their personal and social environments than you will through surveys and focus groups.
If we want marketing to be where art and science meet, we need to stop acting like hucksters and charlatans.
*I have spoken of these fallibly short-sighted theories before.