Confession of A Marketer Part One

Just like John Perkins came out from the closet and relieves his past doing in a book entitled “Confession of an economic hitman”, I’m going to do the same only with a different context.

In a very brief summary, Perkins wrote about his job as an economic hitman, negotiating lucrative deals that benefits his employer but the deals always has a catch. The catch is that his employer gets more than enough and the host country usually gets… Well, less than nothing or at least just enough. The way Perkins did his job back then is to use advanced negotiation and communication skill, combined with advanced financial knowledge to literally cheat the host country to sign up deals that actually do harmful things for them.

Now, I used to be a marketer and putting myself up to Perkins level is absolutely stupid… I do however worked like him, putting up communication skill to make people believe what I said and do what I wanted them to do. In my country, marketing is a branch of communication major, where applied theory of communication is all too relevant. In advertising 101, it is said that what we do in daily life is marketing in itself. When we talk, we brought about tone and manner, with a message to convey explicitly or implicitly, and we expect the person that we talked to respond in ways that we have anticipate so we can reply accordingly. The last sentence alone is the most basic form of marketing, and that is just one part of our life. What we wear, what we eat, where do we go, who our friends are, where we live, all reflects our status. Status, something that we wanted people to perceive us, same like many brands wanted and formed perception of their selves. BMW “The Ultimate Driving Experience”… Is it? I heard and read Ferrari cars offer the best driving experience of any car/brands… D’oh, given Ferrari unified product portfolio (all Ferrari cars are semi professional racing cars).

By creating false assumption to garner intention and perception, marketer basically lies as their daily job. Why said marketer lies as their daily job? Well, it’s very simple… What would you say to your boyfriend/girlfriend’s parents? You will say something that impresses them, something that you did or currently do but you exaggerate it through the roof. Basically creating a false assumption, or true to some extent. It’s not necessarily lying, but what is that term again… When you are not telling the whole truth? White lies? Well, there are many type of lies but it is still lying.

Some marketer even abuse the concept of marketing in the sense it became no longer relevant to the product. I have the best example for this. In my country there’s a local notebook company with the name of BYON. As a newcomer how could they garner attention from Indonesian IT consumers who are easy to sway by international marquees? They have to be innovative, have to be different… But what they sell is just old plain notebook, the same as multinationals brand who already established strong brand image in the country. With a strong barrier to entry, what does the marketer at BYON did? They create a perception that their notebooks are “upgradeable”, and they use Indonesian record museum (Indonesian version of Guinness book of record) achievement frequently.

Are BYON claim about their products as upgradeable is true? Well, to some extend yes, but basically they are just claiming what other national/multinational notebook brands already capable of. It’s what we call in marketing term as preemptive claim, claiming something that is already common but never been claimed. I’ve wrote up about preemptive claim here. For that I have nothing to say about BYON because they are just practicing common marketing effort. But then there’s the record setting claim… This one I really don’t like… They set a record as being the first notebook that uses gold and diamond on the cover… What the hell… What the hell… Then they set another record, about creating a Christmas tree using BYON notebooks. Does the record settings are relevant to BYON products which are mobile computing? Big fat NO.

Record settings supposed to be relevant to the product. Honda for example, in Indonesia they set a record of using 1 liter of fuel to travel an average 70 kilometer (43.5 mile); now that’s relevant even though how that fuel consumption number is achieved through questionable ways. Then, there’s Suzuki Shogun, a small bike that claimed a record (noted in Indonesian record museum) of being run through racing circuit for 24 hours non stop, now that is dead relevant to the product. How BYON abuse their non relevant record setting claims to me is very non sensical. If I could humbly offer a record setting claim that is good for them is about battery longevity. They could use a high capacity battery and they could sell this battery to the consumers at premium price because it has that “record setting” status.

There’s this one book written by Budiman Hakim, creative director for Macs909 (Indonesian advertising agency) entitled “Lanturan tapi Relevan” or loosely translated to rubbish but relevant. In that book he wrote about advertising is a simple thing of acknowledging one unique selling point of a product/brand how small it is and blow it sky high to achieve the desired result. For those who are new to advertising/marketing world in general, I recommend you read this book because of its light approach to the subject. The man was my former employer and although he doesn’t remember me, I learn quite a lot from him.

This entry is actually my reason for making this blog. I want to share with the world about advertising, and marketing in general from my point of view. It is not rocket science by any measure, but still, a lot of marketer doesn’t adhere to the basics of marketing. Instead they use complicated brand/product perception creation through unorthodox methods. Remember guys and gals, do not, I repeat, DO NOT take “thinking out of the box” too literally. When you have objective and direction you are in “the box”… It’s thinking on the boundaries without going over that is most important.

I used to want to name this blog the confession of a marketer… But that’s just too melodramatic.

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