Monday, May 12, 2008

hype vs marketing

Is marketing just hype? Or is marketing, in the best sense, something other than bullying, exaggeration, and fluff?

What is hype? What is marketing? What separates them as opposing concepts?

Hype is any form of pushy sales, where the company wants to overpower, overwhelm, and overcome your resistance to purchasing their product right now.

You, as a potential customer, are not important or interesting: it's your wallet they're after. They don't have time to understand your specific problems and needs, they just assume you could use their product, so they try to clobber you with thought clubs. Beat you into submission. Trick you, seduce you, lure you. Force you or dazzle you into buying their product.

Hype, being product-centric, rather than user-centric, uses "we", "us", "our" instead of "you" and "your".

Hype is akin to frenzy, hysteria. It's fluff in higher gear.

Hype is arrogant, egotistical, neurotic. Hype is grasping, craving, obsessing over converting you into a paying customer, then moving on to the next "conquest". As in romance, the conquest is not treated kindly by the pursuer: customer loyalty and repeat purchases are lost by hype.

Hype is hyperbolic, i.e., exaggeration, partial truth, pregnant with undisclosed downsides. It paints an over-excited picture of the miraculous product, and the extreme proclamations and claims are clownishly coy and patently absurd.

Educated, sober, mature customers don't fall for it. Hype offends the right-thinking person. Hype only works like hucksterism, snake oil salesmen, and cult leaders: they prey on the weak and feeble minded, the young and the senile, the paranoid and approval addicts.

Marketing is sober communication of how a product can solve a problem, or enhance the life, or meet some need, for a customer.

Marketing helps the customer decide which model, color, size, style, etc. is right for him or her.

Marketing helps the customer understand his or her own problem better, which is due to a truthful positioning of the company as a leading expert.

No exaggeration. No inflated claims. No sex appeal. No reaching out to baser instincts. No bedazzling with showy gimmicks. No rush to make the sale and move on to the next victim.

Car commercials are idiotic hype, for example, almost without a single exception. Driving at illegal speeds, with no other traffic, and no pedestrians, or cops, around for miles. Or balloons and hot dogs and popcorn, it's a circus, not a car dealership. You get the idea.

Music band promotions are 98% hype. Exaggerated claims of virtuosos, new directions, unheard-of sounds, giant leaps in imagination, trend-setting stylistics, astonishing lyrical gifts, beautiful crooning...and it all sounds mediocre, exactly like, or less than, what came before.

This topic of Hype vs. Marketing was inspired by a Twitter message ("tweet") from @markdavidson:


My own PR person just told me my passion might be coming across too much like an infomercial. (This is why I retain a PR professional.)


An infomercial is advertising that pretends to be providing information about a skill, industry, need, or how-to topic, but is using the information to trick people into receiving product sales promotions.

Here are my Twitter replies to him:

hype vs. marketing 1

@markdavison - Your PR person may be right. Try to be more enthusiastic about your niche or field, not about yourself or your products.

hype vs. marketing 2

@markdavidson - For me, it's all about being passionate about ideas, and not about my own products, music, or marketing expertise.

Marketing begins with the customer's needs, problems, or desires. Not with the company, product, or sales pitch.

You start with the actual situation and human reality of the customer. You build a gestalt, a complete vision of what the customer wants to accomplish, then present the product in terms of how it helps the customer in a reliable, economical, efficient, satisfying manner.

Or, as in music and food especially, the instant consumables, you give free samples. Let the product sell itself to those with the required tastes, interests, and needs. Talking about music is boring. Let's hear it and have it. Let your fans hear and have your music, for free, abundantly, and they may do you the favor of distributing it to others, and causing a groundswell of craving for more, at any price. The collector mentality.

If you want to annoy people, use idiotic, self-centered hype.

If you want to help people, use smart, altruistic marketing.

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