Not All Marketing Advice was created equal.

The problem with so much of the quickie marketing advice doing the rounds on the internet is that it is marketed as generic, one-size-fits-all nuggets of info. It’s shipped in classrooms, videos, conferences, and in one-on-ones. So many of the people who are, mentally and spiritually, in the same boat as I am aren’t working in the marketing department for huge conglomerates with a history spanning over a century or more, but starting up shop from scratch. To us kind, the 4Ps and Qs don’t make practical sense. Here’s probably why.

Microsoft’s been in the news for all kinds of overhaul lately. In the spirit of its prevailing image, it is a sign of communicating reassurance to the consumer base when a video like this is made. In the video, Natasha speaks of efforts toward understanding the customer’s decision-making process better. She highlights the phase of evaluation and product research as the most important part of the ‘considered purchase’ process.

I am going to take the liberty of using an analogy here – that of comparing the purchase of a product to dating. When a girl gets asked out, she probably agrees to the first date because she genuinely likes the guy. This is akin to landing the potential customer’s ‘to-research’ list. If the girl’s pretty, vivacious, and can hold her own, then the guy isn’t going to take any chances but to be on his best behaviour, and the girl does not expect any less. Being on one’s best behaviour on the first date is a hygiene issue, as are the ‘tech specs’. Sure, the gadget’s got great memory, and is available in different colours, but I live in a metropolitan, and there are plenty of eligible bachelors hawking the same biodata. If you have got any game to take it further and clinch a long-term relationship, then you can’t just BE a great catch, but also BE SEEN as one.

Now unless she is an extremely strong-minded individualist, in which case you have just got to be yourself and pray, much like how she isn’t going to need advertisements to walk into a shop wherein billing will take longer than her ‘purchase’ per se, the girl’s going to ask her best friend for an opinion. Keep in mind that the best friend’s not the one with butterflies in her stomach, and doesn’t have your ruggedly-handsome face etched in her thoughts to be distracted from hard facts. Besides, it is her life’s goal to talk your love interest out of the relationship if she spots even the first of red flags. In short, this is probably the geek who won’t buy your product, but doles out advice that is much sought after. Floor him! When in doubt, refer to the Taylor Swift song where she likes the guy even more because he manages to smooth-talk her dad, and get her friends drooling. Essentially, this also saves her the effort of convincing them that he’s a great catch by doing it himself.

In economics, we speak of such a phenomenon as Duesenberry’s relative income hypothesis. You aren’t doing too bad in life if you have a cozy bachelor’s pad in ‘town’ (as opposed to the suburbs), unless your neighbours are a row of sprawling farmhouses. Therefore, when you get sized-up, it is against a pre-determined benchmark. To land the first date, you may be the knight in the shining armour, but to continue in the relationship, there had better be substance on the inside as well. More importantly, it had better be vouched by the best friend.

But hang on: are you the new guy in town? Nobody knows much about where you came from, and where you went to school before. You have been shy, and simply showing up in all the classes at school, much like how tech-startups do the rounds at conferences and exhibitions. You can’t possibly be impressing the best friend when you are going for your main squeeze, because your intentions are going to be in question then. Instead, if you want to get your social life rolling, you have gotta pick a girl who is typically- a) willing to take risks, b) be outspoken while defending the underdog. If you are the new kid in school and want instant results (and you don’t really have much time because your VC is shoving prom down your throat in the very near future), then the strong-minded individualist chick ought to be your sole customer base. Seth Godin explained targeting the early-adopters when he discussed sliced bread (and I am not going up against that and pretending like it was my idea first). Basically, it means you need to bed a special kind of geek, even if it means doling out a freebie at a Coding marathon.

So, in essence, before you get your hands dirty on the field, you had better spend some time in self-introspection while attempting your homework. Good luck spreading the word!


2 thoughts on “Not All Marketing Advice was created equal.

  1. Pingback: Who in the world are the early adopters? | Risk-taking. Soul-sailing.

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