As we know, there are plenty of niche products that actually embrace a sophomoric approach to their marketing. Usually this is a product targeted towards young men. They sometimes engage in a sexism not seen since the 60’s. The spots are supposed to be tongue-in-cheek. Think about the new-ish Dr. Pepper 10, trying to avoid the stigma of a diet soda but still depicting itself as a reduced calorie refreshment. They chose the 80’s action movie stereotypes to make a loopy attempt to pass themselves off as a macho option to diet drinks. (“I’m manly enough to handle 10 calories!”) It’s a grey area for launching a product, to be sure, but at least the campaign doesn’t offend anyone.

Old Spice was fairly successful when Mad Men was just breaking as a hot entertainment topic by producing a series of spots featuring Bruce Campbell. Campbell, a B-Movie Icon and co-star of the long popular Burn Notice, spoofed up the smoking jacket wearing, smug, hero of old. They were fun but the appeal to a younger audience probably didn’t materialize. Old Spice has since moved to Terry Crewes as a spokesperson and taken things in a more outrageous vein to bring in that younger market share.

So, for the most part, we expect a certain attitude in marketing in regards to certain products and we acknowledge or ignore them depending on where we fall in the net they are casting. I think we agree that frat boy humor integrated into your product marketing is not something that would be seen in something aimed at women exclusively or a general audience. Then why would you decide it was exactly what’s needed in promoting your ice cream product?

Apparently Klondike thinks so. They have a nationally televised spot where a husband has to listen to his wife describe her day in order to win a Klondike Bar. It’s played up to the hilt in a way you probably haven’t seen since Al Bundy trudged on-screen in Married With Children. (With a history that goes much farther back though.) I’ve seen this spot elicit a chuckle from some men and universal groans from women. Why would you alienate half or more of your potential customers? They’re not trying to say this is a niche product from the company just for men. It’s part of their overall and somewhat long running series of “What Would You Do For A Klondike Bar?” media spots. They are usually outrageous but bring about a smile at best. Merely an impression garnered so that when you actually see the product you’re hopefully more enticed to pick one up. For the company to actually get more than a cursory reaction to a spot is probably rare and of all the ones to have show up on people’s radar.

“Any publicity is good publicity” is not a reality any longer. (Just ask BP or Rupert Murdock.) While Klondike is hardly in any trouble, it’s enough of a tipping point to show a sales shift. Do you want to be the one to own up to having a treat enjoyed by a general audience passed by merely because your competition didn’t offend half the population? There are places you can be edgy or even sexist. Ice cream is not one of those places.

When I make a statement like that I mean that people (and by extension business entities of all sorts) have memories longer than your current message/campaign. They remember your position on an issue that affected your industry and they remember how adversity and prosperity were handled when they arrived at your doorstep. These are not the things of messaging and campaigns. These get to the core of your corporate integrity. This is what resonates with other people.

The actions taken when these events occur do more to define a business and its leadership than any campaign. Examples both good and bad would include Tylenol and BP (British Petroleum). Tylenol’s initial troubles were met with taking their product off of the shelves. They put people ahead of profit. (It only made business sense, so don’t think they were overly altruistic. Although others later would fail this test. See:Firestone) BP’s handling of their massive oil spill in the gulf was not something anyone should emulate. If anything, their recent spate of commercials trying to reinvigorate tourism to the gulf remind people of their lack of responsibility. People in that area that have already had to close their businesses because of the spill have nothing to smile about.

So, when events conspire with, or against, a business, they may wish to bring the marketing team in to consult instead of just hiring spin doctors. Evidence of responses are recorded more thoroughly now than ever before. Choose wisely grasshopper.

Seth Godin recently had a blog post titled “Fifty is the new thirty“. In it he validated his claim by offering up evidence of longer life spans and career activity. The point he made was that those that follow demographics were still ignoring older consumers, instead choosing to accept stereotypes perpetuated by those very same erroneous statistics. Bottom line: businesses that use age demographics to base their marketing on were missing out on potential customers by outright not addressing them.

If your marketing is based on psychographics this would not happen. Psychograpics targets Needs/Wants/Fears/Desires. It is attitude and viewpoint oriented. It can be used to inform and shape impressions of a product or service. There is no age or gender boundary. (Unless, of course the product/service is specifically designed that way.)

Pull your head out of the demographic rut and widen the marketing approach. Nobody succeeds by limiting themselves right at the beginning.

When the economy tanked a new synergy was born in the office. Controllers and accountants smiled as marketing cut down and integrated with other business office processes.

First, let me be clear: Marketing has to prove its worth in a business environment. Whatever metrics a business uses to qualify success has to be embraced by marketing as well. A direct correlation has to be made between a program or strategy and what impact it makes on the balance sheet.

But, the methods employed to get to the impact can’t be boxed in. Offices are great for regimented tasks, which are the backbones of businesses, however, marketing is not a regimented task. Ideas may strike at any time and an environment that encourages them should be striven for. Considering there are always deadlines, the constant flow of ideas should be of paramount importance. Professionals know how to cultivate the space in their head and still touch base with their immediate superior.

Just because the CMO is attending more meetings involving financing and IT infrastructure doesn’t mean that everyone in marketing should be handcuffed to a desk and fluorescent lighting. That’s what labor hierarchies are for. The CMO is depending on the marketing manager who is in turn depending on project managers. While these people are creative, they have to look at bigger pictures and provide direction. Any of these will provide valuable insight at a spitball meeting to hash out details. At some point it will fall to someone to actually make something though and that person needs the freedom to bring their A game.

It’s possible to have it both ways in marketing. Creative and business accountability, (Which can actually bring about more freedom if used correctly in proving wins for the department) it just may mean management does a little extra juggling.

To give you an idea of what the most creative people sometimes go through to produce works that have been proclaimed genius, take a look at this:

This just goes to show that any business cannot afford to depend on just one technology or social media strategy. (Yeah, even if it’s Apple.) People forget while they are waiting for Steve Jobs to run the world that there are many that will take his products/platforms and run with them. Sometimes counter to what has been established. You can never stop looking for new marketing channels or delivery methods.

Publishers are going to have to take a page from the social media strategy used by advertisers now. Engage your audience. You can’t monetize the content. Use the content as a magnet and categorize that audience with demographics and psychographics. Use this as the basis for approaching advertisers and fixing rates. It works for broadcast and has for decades. Hulu seems to be doing a good job to translating it to an online experience. As well, there’s a nice industry in some major cities for free weekly newspapers, both as a published and online entity. (The published versions have been in existence since the 70’s, so I’d say there’s a good track record for giving your publication away and still making money.)

This Tract is a site that used Census data from 2000 (currently) to give the demographics of neighborhood communities. Great data for marketers trying to target areas for specific products and/ or services.

Gapminder screen capture

Gapminder Chart chock full of goodies

Gapminder is a site with tons of potential info for Marketers following international trends. This would enable one to also make educated guesses as to the future. Check out everything on the site and be sure to click on the ‘how to use’ button on the graph to get the most out of it. Happy hunting.