I met G. Gordon Liddy at Washington Reagan airport today and took this photo of the two of us with my phone. I know, I know, it doesn't have anything to do with marketing but it was kind of fun. Spread the fire. GS
This is the theme of the Keep America Beautiful National Conference. It used to be that environmental sensitivity was the province of a radical minority. No longer.
Green is mainstream. It is becoming a powerful idea around which people are beginning to gather in large numbers. This creates affiliation networks to which marketers can communicate and passions to which advertising messages can appeal.
How does your product connect to this new mainstream environmentalism? Find that connection and you may find new customers. Spread the fire. GS
Tomorrow I lead a workshop on new media marketing for Keep America Beautiful at its annual convention in Washington DC.
They asked me whether I would distribute a handout at my session. I initially said yes. I'd given handouts before and saw how many were left behind to litter the tables and floors. Not this group, I thought, they hate litter. They'll keep it for sure.
But then I reconsidered, I can't hand conservationists all that paper. There's got to be a better way.
Instead of a paper handout I created a blog at www.keepamericabeautiful.blogspot.com and filled it with some of the tools I'll tell them about tomorrow: podcast feeds, slideshows, imbedded video, data collection forms, and more. I also included links to sites with additional tools. Amazingly, The total cost of all this marketing technology including a $150 Flip Video digital camera is just $177 per year!
I plan to give the blog to one attendee tomorrow so they can use it to manage their KAB program.
I also plan to take a photo of the conference during my session and post it to this blog from my phone. Watch for that tomorrow between 10:30 and 11:30.
Honest marketing people will admit that mass advertising tactics have become less effective over the last several decades. They typically attribute this to media fragmentation, or increased "noise" in the marketplace. However, I think a main culprit is something very few people are talking about; increase choice. Here's why.
Ordinarily we are rational beings. We choose by comparing our personal preferences to the available options and select the one with the greatest benefit (utility). It's what economists call "the transaction." It works great when there are very few choices. "You want chocolate or vanilla?" However, as choice increases we must evaluate a greater number of options.
In 2003 alone more than 26,000 new household and food items were introduced; 115 new deodorants, 187 new breakfast cereals, 303 new women's perfumes.
As choice increases we must evaluate hundreds of options just to keep our armpits from smelling. Multiply that degree of choice times all the products we buy or consider and you realize that we must evaluate literally billions of products or choice combinations in order to make the decisions that get us through a typical day. We still know our preferences, but it is no longer possible to evaluate all the options. It's called "bounded rationality" and it means that we only have so much mental horsepower. When the resources required to process choice exceed our capacity, then we are prevented from making a rational choice.
At this point people either give up, like that guy with B.O. that sat next to you on the plane. Or, we employ heuristics (shortcuts) to reach a decision. One of the most common is something called Social Proof.
In uncertain situations we assume the behavior of others as appropriate or better informed copy them. We've all done it. You're at a dinner party and wonder whether to eat the fried chicken with your hands or the fork and look around the table to see what others are doing. We apply social proof to marketing too.
As choice increases, consumers are divided into initiators and imitators.
Initiators: These people, what I call the driest tinder, have a greater interest in an area. Their greater interest leads to increased study which, in turn, gives them greater knowledge in that area. As a result, they understand their options and are able to choose rationally from within the transaction. These people buy deodorant.
Imitators: Everyone else is an imitator. Paralyzed by choice they must wait for others to act before they can follow their example. It's social proof applied to product selection. These people buy the same deodorant as the initiators.
This occurred with The Purpose Driven Life. It sold about 30 million copies in three years to become one of the best selling hardcover books in American history. Initiators participating in 40 Days of Purpose Church Campaign, got the book first. Later, after millions of books had sold, millions of imitators also bought a copy even though in many cases they knew nothing about the book except that it was popular. At that point the book's success drove its success.
I encourage you to learn more about the impact of choice by watching this lecture from Barry Schwartz, author of the book The Paradox of Choice. I also highly recommend the book. It's fascinating, well-written, and vitally important to markters. Spread the fire. GS
"Please leave me alone. Please, please, please. I beg you. I am assaulted by advertising 24*7. Go away."
--Posted by "sismoc" on November 28, 2007 at 11:18 PM PST in response to news that Adobe, in partnership with Yahoo, added contextual advertising to its PDF document format.
Sismoc speaks for many. As marketers we must remember consumers when crafting our plans. We must not burden them with irrelevant messages. Being good stewards of our client's advertising budgets and being good citizens in this modern world demands it.