I came across a really interesting AdWeek piece by Joseph Jaffe, Crayon's ringmaster (the visual is dueling Jaffes: real world and Second Life versions). The piece is called "Marketing's big bang theory - why so many campaigns that begin with a sizzle end with a fizzle."
These excerpts lay out the gist of his argument:
"Marketing today is like a spectacular fireworks display. Short-lived and breathtaking. Unforgettably forgettable. The Macy's July 4th fireworks display might as well be the Super Bowl. (Take the test: Can you name 10 brands that advertised in this year's big game?) All our efforts seem to be front-loaded into launching with a bang. In order to break through the prototypical clutter, we have to take over our prospects' lives, leaving no stone unturned, nowhere to to hide.
"Today, we all chase the elusive and marketing-weary consumer with the blind ambition of buzz or viral success. We spam bloggers with form e-mails, use shock tactics to get millions of pimple-faced teenagers to Digg, rate, refer or spoof us. And when all else fails, we resort to sex, babies, bunnies or puppies in order to entice the suspecting public to remember us for all the wrong reasons.
The one thing we don't do, however, is stop for a moment to listen; to respond; to join the conversation already in progress."
This brings a couple of thoughts to mind for me. First off, coming from an agency that's firmly grounded in relationship management, it's hard for me to think about marketing that doesn't build a customer relationship. Why else would marketing exist? But I agree with Joseph that so often we're tempted to do just that - to get caught up in a tactic or idea and forget what we're ultimately trying to do with it. When we put the customer first - focusing on adding value to his/her life, not just providing a temporary fireworks display - that's when we succeed.
I admit it, it's harder to brainstorm sustaining tactics. The "kickoff" stuff is usually so much more exciting and frankly enough of a challenge in itself. Plus, clients love getting excited about the up front stuff and get bored in maintenance mode (agencies do too, frankly).
But what happens after the initial buzz wears off is where a campaign really proves its mettle. Specifically - how do consumers get involved? how can they share it? what keeps them coming back for more? What's the value we give that warrant this return, repeat engagement? It's much more than a big bang.
The listening part is also of huge importance. We get so excited about telling the consumer our news - hey, we're new and improved! it's a limited time offer! check out our rent-a-celebrity! It's harder to remember that if we stop to listen for a moment we might learn something that will help make the marketing better or more interesting. We're all Type A personalities convinced we're right and look good up on a soapbox; it's hard to remember that consumers expect to replace us up on the pedestal these days.
Good food for thought, Joseph!