Content Marketing vs. Traditional Advertising

custom-content-council-stat

According to the Custom Content Council, in 2012, 68% of CMO’s will be increasing their budget for content marketing. While big and small companies alike are seeing the shift, smaller companies are devoting a higher percentage of allocated budgets toward content marketing:

  • 34% of a company’s advertising budget with ten or less employees goes toward content marketing.
  • 26% of the advertising budgets of companies with 1,000 or more employees is going to content marketing.

blurbThere are numerous reasons for this shift, and one of them is that technology has changed consumer behavior. Consumers today aggressively search out information about your industry online. According to Ryan Northover of Hatchd.com, before making a purchase decision, consumers now search out 10.4 sources of information vs. 5.3 back in 2010, when just 30% of consumers had Smartphones. This is rapidly changing the face of marketing and creating the necessity for content systems that engage, inspire, educate and inform information seeking consumers.

Here are 5 compelling reasons why you need a clear and robust content marketing strategy today, in comparison to traditional media advertising :

1. More Trusted 

A Nielsen survey of OECD consumers found:

  •  Only 10% said they trusted messages from display advertising.
  • However, 90%  said they trusted brand recommendations from friends or users they trusted online.

2. More Lead Conversions

Traditional advertising methods are generally directed to a broader audience, while content marketing’s  ‘narrowcasting’ strategy focuses on a smaller, core group of potential, high quality consumers. As a result:

  • Content marketing can convert 30% more organic traffic into high quality sales leads, according to MarketingSherpa (See case studies here)
  • Content marketing is aimed at high value customers who will return for more content.
  • Content marketing produces 3 times more leads per dollar than SEM and costs 30% less, according to Kapost & ELOQUA (ebook here)

3. Greater Influence Over Consumer Decision Making

A study by McKinsey Consulting shows that consumers are already well along in the sales process when they engage directly with a brand. Traditional advertising aiming for brand recognition may occur far too early in the sales process to make a difference at a critical juncture in the decision process. Additionally, heir search is more focused, targeted and active. According to a Roper Public Affairs study cited in Forbes:

  • 80% of business decision makers prefer to access company information via a series of articles over advertisements.
  • 70% of decision makers said content marketing made them feel closer to the brand.
  • 60% said content marketing helped them make better purchasing decisions.

4Enhanced SEO and Social Media Effectiveness

Search engines are steadily improving in delivering the right information to seekers of content. And as today’s search engines heavily weight relevance, social sharing and link buzz, the more engaging, shareable and targeted your content is, the better your SEO rankings will be.

Content is also the basis of social media strategy, because compelling content is what drives consumers to engage with your brand on social networks.

5. Greater ROI

Expensive paid advertising campaigns typically only run a few weeks. Content can last for a much longer time, which enhances your return on investment. Revisions in content marketing can keep it relevant even longer. Content marketing can also generate earned media because users and media outlets may share your content to many more users, potentially producing millions of dollars in free brand exposure.

“Content Is Queen”

Because good content marketing aims to help, inform, inspire and entertain a more skeptical, engaged and demanding audience, it is not experienced as a pressure pitch or disruptive. This is why major brands are heavily investing in content marketing. This helps brands capture mind share and position themselves as leaders in their category.

But if content is queen, it also demands to be treated as one. Content strategy requires many months of planning and strategic development to build the most effective content platforms, inventory and engagement streams.

Overcoming the Challenges

According to a Marketing Profs & Content Marketing Institute study in 2012, the top 5 reported challenges are:

  • Producing enough content: 29%
  • Producing the kind of content that engages: 18%
  • Lack of budget: 14%
  • Lack of buy-in / vison: 7%
  • Lack of knowledge, training, and resources: 6%

Overcoming these challenges requires ownership, consistency and measurement.

1. Ownership: Some committed organizations have appointed a Content Marketing Officer to drive these efforts and to be accountable for their success. As companies are slowly but surely becoming their own media, they will have to appoint an Editor in Chief responsible for overseeing this part of Marketing, and managing internal as well as outsourced resources.

2. Consistency: It takes consistent efforts to build a captive audience through the creation of  a body of content worthy of the attention of search engines and of your target audience. Understanding what content types and what channels create the most engagement and generate leads takes consistent effort and experimentation. Generating interest and engagement for your brand, products and services requires a commitment to sustained and continuous investment in producing various types of content on a regular basis. By way of illustration:

3. Measurement: Naturally, the defined success metrics (KPIs) will vary according to the market, media and product. However, the ROI of content marketing is generally defined not by generic Web activity metrics, but  by a sales conversion funnel.

A typical conversion funnel could look like:

Step 1: user lands on homepage
Step 2: user reads a blog post
Step 3: user reads a product or service page
Step 4: user fills in a contact form

Defining performance in terms of web activity such as overall visitors and pages views of a website won’t reflect performance as much as much as measuring how many users start at step 1 (arrive on a landing page)  and progress to step 4 (conversion).

Takeaways: As shown above, the realities of today’s markets demand that a very focused and robust content marketing effort is put in place for an organization to position themselves as a thought leader, differentiate themselves in a crowded market space, and  reach the buyer at the critical stage in the purchase decision process to make a difference and drive conversions. Since companies are struggling beneath the weight of the sustained effort needed to become thought leaders through content marketing, investment in dedicated resources is increasingly recognized as indispensable.

Related Post:

Most Hated Advertising Slogan:

smuckers slogan

Best Selling Jam!

jamSmucker now owns the No. 1 brands in coffee, jams and jellies, peanut butter, and cooking oil.

According to Fortune, the secret of Smucker’s success is keeping it in the family.  Contributing editor Marc Gunther fills in the blanks: here’s a synopsis of Marc’s article:

Since Ohio farmer James Monroe Smucker began selling apple butter from the back of a horse-drawn wagon in In 1897, the company has had five chief executives, all named Smucker.

Sales have skyrocketed from $632 million in fiscal year 2000 to $4.6 billion in 2010, as the company acquired iconic brands Jif, Crisco, and Folger’s and profits grew from $36 million to $494 million. Shareholders have received a total return of 309% over the past 10 years, compared with -15% for the S&P 500.

Their secret ingredient? Al Yeagley, a vice president who has been with Smucker for 36 years says:

“The real secret is the family. They treat people the way you want to be treated. It’s the old golden rule.

In fact, Smucker ranked No. 1 on Fortune’s list of Best Companies to Work For in 2004.

Brand Integrity

According to Richard Smucker:

We’re really all about managing and marketing brands.

Smucker’s family-friendly values are its brand, its philosophy and its practice. Smucker won’t buy TV commercials on shows with violent or prurient content. It sponsors the birthday greetings for centenarians on NBC’s Today show. And, moreover, Smucker spends more than industry rivals on advertising and promotion. Its slogans are as iconic as its brands:

  • “With a name like Smucker’s, it has to be good”
  • “The best part of wakin’ up is Folger’s in your cup”

Ascending the Brand Pyramid

Smucker wasn’t always as brand-centric. It originally focused on buying jam and jelly companies in Brazil, Britain, and Australia and producing fruit for products like Dannon yogurt and Kellogg’s Pop-Tarts.

The company undertook a sweeping strategy review in the mid-1990s, involving top executives, middle managers and factory workers, and shifted its focus to brands. Smucker understood that “real money in supermarkets is made in the middle of the store, where processed foods and well-known brands reign supreme.” Richard Smucker summarizes Smucker’s brand-focused strategy:

To own and market No. 1 brands, sold in the center of the store, in North America

This drove the company to numerous acquisitions including:

  • Jif
  • Crisco
  • International Multifoods (including Pillsbury and Hungry Jack)
  • Folger’s

Businesses that were inconsistent with the company’s core were sold, including its ingredient businesses, overseas operations, and weaker brands. For instance, on the theory that Smucker can have an impact on what Americans eat for breakfast and lunch (PB&J), but not at dinner, it kept Hungry Jack pancakes and syrups , but sold off dried potatoes. Coffee has become the company’s biggest segment.

And now you know why with a name like Smucker’s, it has to be good.

image

Saving to Keep Up With the Joneses

In the Wall Street Journal, Carolyn T. Geer highlights recent surveys of investors by entities including T. Rowe Price and ING.

The Question: Does the knowledge that your friends and neighbors are saving more than you cause you to boost your savings?

The Answer: It works, but the effectiveness varies very much with the approach.

The “Lake Wobegon Effect”

People have a natural desire to avoid being average and ordinary. This phenomenon is known as the “Lake Wobegon Effect,” named after a fictional town created by writer and radio host Garrison Keillor, where:

All the women are strong, all the men are good looking, and all the children are above average.

The question is for financial consumers is: Will consumers be more inclined to maximize their 401(k) contributions or increase their insurance coverage amounts if provided peer comparisons?

What the Studies Show

Matt Fellowes, founder and chief executive of HelloWallet, which works with employers to provide financial guidance to their employees via the Web and mobile devices, confirms that peer comparison is one way that economists and others are attempting to modify financial behavior. He believes that cluing investors in on their peers’ financial decisions can influence the decisions they make about their own money, if you show them convincingly that what they’re doing doesn’t meet the norm, but “it doesn’t work for everyone. It’s not a silver bullet.”

According to an ING study of U.S. consumers:

  • More than half of respondents say they would be motivated to save more for retirement if their sagings didn’t measure up to those of their peers.
  • Yet one-third say they would not be motivated to save morel.

Why the mixed results? Apparently, the approach can be quite effective if done right, but the wrong approach can also be demotivating. Stanford University economist John Beshears and colleagues say that when some employees are told of their co-workers’ higher savings rates, they are actually less driven to save. But the companies that have studied the effect also say that the approach can be fine-tuned to avoid demotivation, which I will explain below.

Marketing Applications

Web-Based Tools: ING has created a free, Web-based tool that lets investors measure themselves against others on a range of saving, spending and personal-finance matters called INGCompareMe.com. Deb Dupont, director of the ING Retirement Research Institute, conducted a test market of the concept with employees of several of its retirement-plan customers, that yielded the following results, which were promising enough to launch the tool:
  • 21% increased their contributions or joined a plan.
  • HelloWallet members showed similar results, according to Matt Fellowes.

The Right Approach: Two Important Variables

The right approach needs to take into consideration two important variables:
1. Don’t Demotivate: Fellowes explains that you must be careful not to use “shock and awe” tactics that demotivate consumers:

We’ve tried: ‘You are $5 million behind on your retirement savings! What is your problem?’ But emotionally what happens is people shut down and move on.

2. Don’t Set The Bar Too Low: One problem with peer comparisons that reference  average workers is that it can set the bar too low.

To strike the perfect balance, “HelloWallet has reframed the issue for consumers as follows:

You are making $5,000 a month now. In retirement, you’re only going to be making $2,000 a month, based on your current savings rate. On average your peers will be making $4,000, but the very best savers among them will be making $7,000.

This highlights what the best, most financially healthy people in a peer group are doing and provides a more realistic target, while piggybacking on the natural desire to avoid being ordinary.

Assisting Complex Financial Product Decisions

Having applied this approach in product comparisons, I have found that the approach can be a valuable aid in helping consumers make complex financial products. In particular, I find that when presenting consumers with their choices, it is even more helpful to include not only a comparison to average consumers but a “best practice” comparison. For example, employers considering an employee benefit program can be shown what kinds of benefit plans their most successful competitors are adopting. Individual consumers considering a plan of insurance can be shown what kinds of options successful peers have chosen.

Choice Architecture: Marketers and sales professionals can improve the effectiveness of their approaches by making use of an effect known in behavioral economics as “choice architecture.”

Marketers and sales professional should be aware of certain behavioral tendencies that tend to impede decision making involving complex insurance and other financial products.  Consumers are reluctant to make a switch to a different insurance carrier or among different plans when the choices are complex – something known as status quo bias. Inertia, or the tendency not to change, is especially significant when choices are complex.

Other studies show that by reframing the choices for the consumer, you can help guide decision making for consumers facing complex decisions in selecting better plan options.

Implications For Financial Marketers

The implications for companies in crowded markets such as insurance and investment products and services are great. It can mean steering consumer toward decisions that will ultimately save them and the company money and improve consumer outcomes.

Companies like Progressive Insurance, for instance, use comparison shopping tools to differentiate themselves in a crowded field as a more consumer-oriented and trustworthy choice. Their “name your own price” message conveys that the consumer can save time comparison shopping through the use of their online tools. Their perky spokesman, Flo, and her price gun personify consumer values such as friendly, good spirited personal service and a personal touch. This is all intended to break down consumer resistance to switching companies, and has generated incredible recognition.

The response to these advertisements demonstrates that the message can generate strong brand associations with core consumer values that can be illustrated in sensory terms.  But an important question remains – how to turn brand recognition and leads into conversions?

In other words, once the consumer reaches out to their local agency or makes an online query, how can the sales professional better parlay this into a consistent consumer experience that results in conversions to more profitable product lines and cross selling opportunities/share of wallet.

This is where choice architecture can be vital. In providing comparisons with other carriers, the sales professional has invaluable opportunities to more effectively clue in consumers on their peers’ financial decisions and influence their buying decisions.

Related Articles:

For more information about how behavioral economics can help guide consumers’ buying decisions, with research results from Sibson Consulting, reference my related articles below.

Online and Offline Marketing Are Merging

According to New Media and Marketing.com, an online survey of 1,500 holiday consumers conducted by market research organization Ipsos OTX and Google conducted show that that online and offline shopping are merging into a new consumer buying process.  According to the study,

  • 51% of surveyed consumers intend to research a product online and visit the store to buy it.
  • 32% plan on researching an item online, inspecting it in the store, and then completing the transaction online.

The study attributes this largely to the comfort consumers now have about buying online, including the convenience of shipping and not being greater faith in credit card information security, and the desire to make a more educated purchase. Increasingly, rather than go to the store to get educated, they want to go to the store already educated.

The Growing Role of Social Media

The study finds that consumers are seeking recommendations, but social media adds a personal touch to support a buying decision:

  • 24% of consumers will turn to social media for their holiday shopping this year.
  • Only 11% will rely on blogs or message boards. Although both sets of

It Depends on the Product

This doesn’t apply for all products, including everyday groceries and impulse items, where few consumers would bother to do extensive research.  The rule of thumb:

  • The higher the cost of the product the more time online or the more the product requires a change to behavior the more time they will spend researching it online.

Companies like Target do merchandising well, and should continue focusing there. However, for products like those offered by Apple, the web presence is integral, and Apple’s website is ranked one of the top eCommerce sites within the US.

This infographic from Infoys shows  the strength of offline marketing and how an offline strategy can run in conjunction with an organization’s online marketing efforts:

You Have To Pay To Play

Pamela Vaughan  of Hubspot writes a post titled Facebook Rolls Out ‘Promoted Posts’ to Extend the Reach of Your Page’s Content. It explains Facebook’s new tool that enables you to extend the reach of your Facebook page’s organic content through Promoted Posts. This is a paid offering that allows page admins to promote recent posts and extend their reach beyond the normal exposure they’d get in fans’ news feeds.

Why is it offered? According to Ms. Vaughan:

Traditionally, the reach of the organic content you post to your Facebook business page has been limited by the scope of Facebook’s EdgeRank algorithm. In other words, when you posted an update to your page, that update would only reach a limited number of your fans’ news feeds, because Facebook’s algorithm ranks and shows content based on the likely interest of a given user.

Promoted Posts now increases the percentage of fans your Facebook page’s organic content reaches, but only if you pay for it – a new strategy to monitize Facebook. However, Facebook isn’t revealing exactly how much more that percentage is. They will only say this:

Your promoted posts will be seen by a larger percentage of the people who like your Page than would normally see it. It will also be seen by a larger percentage of the friends of people who interact with your post. – Facebook

How It Works

For a fee, you can promote a post on your Facebook Page, including status updates, photos, offers, videos, and questions. This generatse sponsored stories that get delivered to  desktop and mobile news feeds, rather than the right-hand sidebar where ads are normally displayed. They are seen by people who are already fans of your page and friends of people who have liked, shared, commented, or claimed an offer from the promoted post.) These promoted stories are marked as “Sponsored” in news feeds, and run for up to 3 days after the post is  created. The tool is reportedly being rolled out to all Facebook pages that have at least 400 fans.

Uses for Promoted Posts

Promoted Posts can help marketers get more exposure for organic Facebook content, since, according to Facebook, fans spend 2x more on average than non-fans. Ms. Vaughan recommends this form of paid offering for the following purposes:

  • Posts about lead-gen marketing offers such as ebook landing pages.
  • Posts about marketing events such as webinar or live event registrations.
  • Posts about specials, discounts, or Facebook Offer coupons to drive in-store or on-site ecommerce sales.
  • Posts about new product or service launches.
  • Posts about important company news and other updates.
One of the advantages of this is that Facebook ad Manager provides robust tracking tools to measure the success of your efforts, which are explained in this post.

promo stats

promo stats 2

Hubspot provides detailed instructions on how to use Promoted Posts.  Facebook has also produced an overview video at https://www.facebook.com/help/promote.

Many Voice Objections

Many object to the slick and surreptitious manner in which a supposedly free social network is being monetized. Here are some of the criticisms people are raising:


This comment appears on the Yoga for Cynics Facebook Page:

Facebook is now pushing administrators to pay to promote every post/update from their page. In an attempt to make page administrators pay for “promoted posts,” Facebook will now only let 7% of you receive each update we post, meaning that now, in order to receive all our messages/posts, you must do the following:

1) Go to the Yoga for Cynics page. Note how clever and insightful the contents are.
2) Hover your mouse over where it says “LIKED” and click on “ADD TO INTERESTS LISTS”

By doing this, you will be able to see all of our posts in your news feed.


Bonnie Sandy provides the following frank feedback to Ms. Vaughan’s article:

Am I the only one that takes issue with an algorithm that controls your post views, followed with a package to have those post appear higher! Brooklyn hustlers have nothing on these guys! That just sounds like highway robbery.

Facebook…turned off the features that allowed us to communicate with [fans] then changed [the] algorithm so a 28-30% interaction is now down to 7% (overnight) now the ask to Promote post… seriously! –


Tony Argyle writes:
The fact that Facebook already censors information to page Likers because of what they deem ” relevant” is unacceptable – now they are suddenly prepared to make it relevant because you’re prepared to pay them?..and it appears to not even be pay per click. We’re about to discover less and less people will see anything on our pages until Facebook gets money. The fact that, in many cases you’ve already paid for a Facebook ad to generate the Likes doesn’t seem to stop Facebook from charging – a Like will soon be practically worthless.

 Bars4Bikers writes:
I noticed this yesterday, and I have a huge problem with it. We’ve all worked hard to get our “likes” and now Facebook is saying that they’ll let more of the people who already like our page see our posts for a fee? If it would impression on people who don’t already like the page, I could see where it would be great. This is extortion.

And Lee of the Buddhist Humor Page writes:

Last spring people saw their exposure rates plummet from 20 – 30% down to 7% due to the newsfeed algorithm changing. So under the old model, you posted a status update and if you had 1000 “talking about” regulars, you could pretty much expect 200 – 350 of them would see that post. Now, it’s capped at 70 unless you PAY.

Conclusions

Facebook’s IPO offer didn’t inspire much confidence, and their business model as an advertising platform has raised questions. I have already called attention to a little-known problem with their pay-per-click model – a problematic algorithm that in effect overcharges for clicks that have little or no expected engagement or conversions. The lack of fairness and transparency means that you should closely evaluate the return you are getting from your Facebook marketing.

Related Post

 

, Professor of Public Policy, University of California at Berkeley has written an article targeted at people like me (maybe you, too?) – independent thinking, but cynical thinkers tired of political rhetoric from either side.

Before delving into his advice for us, let’s peer into the mind of a cynic, and show what it is that has turned us into what Professor Reich considers cynics.

Advisory: If you’d like to cut to the chase and see the lessons for Marketing, just skip through to the last section!

The Case for Cynicism

There seems to be plenty of cause for cynicism. For one thing, scholars note that the United States is not a pure democracy, but a polyarchy of ruling elites who believe that we, the voters, are largely ignorant of issues and policies, lack the competence to participate in public life, and do not care to participate in the political process.

Elite Control: One of these elites, Walter Lippmann, wrote In Public Opinion (1922), that a “governing class” must rise to face the new challenges in a period in which the stability of the government was threatened by democratization. According to Wiki:

He argued that distorted information was inherent in the human mind. People make up their minds before they define the facts, while the ideal would be to gather and analyze the facts before reaching conclusions…Lippmann called the notion of a public competent to direct public affairs a “false ideal.” He compared the political savvy of an average man to a theater-goer walking into a play in the middle of the third act and leaving before the last curtain.

Early on Lippmann said the herd of citizens must be governed by “a specialized class whose interests reach beyond the locality.” This class is composed of experts, specialists and bureaucrats. The experts, who often are referred to as “elites,” were to be a machinery of knowledge that circumvents the primary defect of democracy, the impossible ideal of the “omnicompetent citizen.”

Meet the 99%: One isolated quack? Hardly.  An integral part of the power structure, Lippmann was an informal adviser to several presidents, and was presented by President Lyndon Johnson with the Presidential Medal of Freedom. The views of Lippmann and Gabriel Almond produced what became known as the Almond-Lippmann consensus, summarized on the basis of 3 principles:

  1. Public opinion is volatile, shifting erratically in response to the most recent developments. 
  2. Public opinion is incoherent, lacking an organized or a consistent structure to such an extent that the views of U.S. citizens could best be descried as “nonattitudes.”
  3. Public opinion is irrelevant to the policy-making process. Political leaders ignore public opinion because most Americans can neither “understand nor influence the very events upon which their lives and happiness are known to depend.”

Cynical enough? Certainly no more so than a political candidate who represents the interests of the economic elites, but attempts to conceal it by changing his positions to suit the audience. It might be said that these entitled opportunists are are the true cynics.

So What Does All This Have to Do With Economics?

Framing Reality: Austin O’Malley wrote, “A hole is nothing at all, but you can break your neck in it.” The same can be said of abstract phrases like “liberty,” “justice,” “freedom,” “democracy” and the “free market.” Abstract as they are, elites in the defense, energy and other industries readily use these notions to lead our youth into harm’s way in foreign interventions, treating the public as pawns in a game of chess.

Economic Stockholm Syndrome: Ironically, if you are fortunate enough to have a job, and even more fortunate to have a career, the impulse is to forget that you are dispensable and internalize the values of the elite class, a variant of Stockholm Syndrome. Both the Republicans who buy the theory of supply side economics, resurrected in its current form as job-creator worship, and the Democrats who believe that their representatives will pass meaningful legislation that the economic elites won’t get around, are being systematically hoodwinked. This is the result of a two-party system and media that answers to a common corporate agenda, but shapes public opinion around distracting ideological issues that divide people into opposing left/right camps through bias confirmation.

The sound bites you hear from either political camp, amplified by the media and peer repetition, are carefully sculpted to manipulate and distract you from the underlying fact that corporate personhood has trampled individual rights. Economically, you are a manufactured product, conditioned to find secondary reinforcement in shopping for things you don’t really need, but are taught to desire. Politically, you are a rubber stamp for corporate agendas.

Is There a Way Out?

Meet Marketing’s Evil Twin: As a Marketer, I continue to focus on honesty, clarity and responsiveness to consumer needs. But, as in any discipline, there is a dark side, and Marketing’s evil twin, psychological coercion is extraordinarily effective. Is there a way out? Wiki notes that John Dewey thought so:

Philosopher John Dewey (1859–1952) agreed with Lippmann’s assertions that the modern world was becoming too complex for every citizen to grasp all its aspects, but Dewey, unlike Lippmann, believed that the public could form a “Great Community” that could become educated about issues, come to judgments and arrive at solutions to societal problems.

So the alternative to cynicism isn’t starry-eyed idealism, but education. This has been a continual focus of this blog. Professor Reich agrees. He writes:

This is for those of you who consider yourself to be progressive but have given up on politics because it seems rotten to the core…Your cynicism is understandable. But cynicism is a self-fulfilling prophesy. If you succumb to it, the regressives who want to take this nation back to the 19th century win it all. The Koch brothers, Karl Rove, the rabid Republican right, CEOs and Wall Street titans who want to entrench their privileges and tax advantages — all of them would like nothing better than for every progressive in America to throw in the towel. Then America is entirely theirs.

Economic Action List

Action as an Alternative to Cynicism: Reich’s alternative to cynicism is to become more involved in politics to create a progressive force that can’t be ignored. Reich suggests a clear set of demands, to include these:

  • Make it our goal to reverse Citizens United, even if it takes a constitutional amendment. And have public financing of elections (including requiring the media to provide free political advertising as part of their commitment to public service).
  • Also break up the biggest banks and resurrect the Glass-Steagall Act.
  • Put a 2 percent surtax on wealth in excess of $3 million. And a one-tenth of 1 percent transaction tax on every financial transaction. And restore top tax rates to what they were before Ronald Reagan became president. Use half this revenue to pay down the national debt and half to make sure every American has a world-class education.
  • Put a tax on carbon, and use the revenues to reduce or replace payroll taxes.
  • Have a single-payer health-care system that delivers care at far less cost than our current balkanized and inefficient one.

Isn’t Politics “the Art of the Possible?

Reich points out that, no matter how rotten the system now is, we’ve done it before:

I remember when progressives joined with African-Americans to get enacted the Civil Rights and Voting Rights Acts. I remember when progressives stopped the Vietnam War. When women finally got freedom of choice over their own bodies. When the Environmental Protection Act became law.

Who would have imagined two decades ago that America would elect an African-American as President of the United States? Who would have supposed gays and lesbians would begin to achieve equal marriage rights? Of course we can take America back. Stop complaining and start organizing.

It Starts With Attentive Research: I suppose I needed that kind of swift kick to awaken me from complacency. What about you? Do you still cling to the artificial and essentially meaningless ideologies used to frame the issues, or do you the research economics outside the box of Fox so-called News and MSNBC to get to the real truths about economics, science and the hidden powers behind the political light show?

The Middle Road Between Idealism and Cynicism Is Attentiveness

Be Attentive: In retrospect, it isn’t me who is the dyed in the wool cynic. The real cynics are the ones who use rhetorical mechanisms of psychological control to promote a concealed agenda. I am just a realist in the face of the ideological canards of supply side economics and libertarianism and the false gods of national defense, finance and energy. I am just barely smart enough to discern that the national budget deficit these interests create is a tactic of control to put forth a false argument for austerity and further the erosion of individual economic initiative.

Engage!: As Robert Reich points out, a vote against a plutocratic candidate isn’t enough;  the corporate corruption is pervasive in both political parties. The necessary second step, according to Reich is engagement:

Step two: Starting Election Day, regardless of who’s elected, commit at least three hours every week to political organizing and mobilizing. Connect with other progressives in your city and state. Help find and recruit new progressive candidates to run against Republicans in swing states, and against conservative Democrats. Support the members of the progressive caucus in Congress. Raise money. Raise a ruckus.

Execute with Rigor: This is where Occupy Wall Street failed. In contrast to the Tea Party, self-interested business leaders coopting an ideologically conditioned, bewildered citizenry, OWS are educated folks who understand economics, yet underestimate what it takes to counter a massive wrecking ball. The lesson in the way that OWS was denied their supposed right to assembly, and that the Tea Party was coopted by corporate sponsors is that these movements have lacked the organization and discipline to engage in sustained roots-based effort.

So, my corollary to Robert Reich’s recommendation is as follows:

Support the next true grass roots democratization movement – one that represents the economic interests of the 99% in the form of coherent economic policies that:

  • Restrain corporate personhood, big energy and defense’s adventurism in the name of national security and a few temporary “jobs,” large agribusiness, big banking, overseas outsourcing, privatization, and other oligarchic power grabs.
  • Empower small enterprise, equal opportunities regardless of class, gender or nation of origin, through federal investment in education, public projects, immigration reform, and meaningful regulation.
  • Insist on transparency – meaning, primarily, an end to the corporate-controlled media agenda, public campaign financing that excludes corporate funding and outlaws distorted campaign rhetoric. Let’s make honesty a requirement for public office, and the cynical political rhetoric of the spin doctors illegal.

In a word, it’s about empowerment.

Applications to Marketing: Empower the Consumer

Thanks for hanging in this long! Yes, this is all leading somewhere.
The mental discipline required to see through the what you already believe, ie. “think outside the box” is what marketers need now more than ever to be better marketers.  It’s easy to get stuck in the Lippmann-eque elitist rut of treating consumers as impressionable masses who need to be conditioned to desire things they don’t really need. But social media has made consumers more empowered today.
The Door to Consumer Democracy Is Now Open: Advertisements and slogans that tell consumers what to think no longer work. They now interact through social media and know how to research products for themselves. The door to consumer democracy has been opened, and there’s no going back.  Today’s marketing needs to respect the integrity of the individual in an age of consumer empowerment. We can no longer frame the issue, and tell them what they want, but have to listen to them carefully and respond honestly and appropriately. They’ve learned to see through spin and rhetoric. Unless we offer them value in the form of information and superior service, they are fully prepared to go to a competitor. The marketer who learns how they think, and what they require will succeed where competitors fail.

ROBERT B. REICH, Chancellor’s Professor of Public Policy at the University of California at Berkeley, was Secretary of Labor in the Clinton administration. Time Magazine named him one of the ten most effective cabinet secretaries of the last century. He has written thirteen books, including the best sellers “Aftershock” and “The Work of Nations.” His latest is an e-book, “Beyond Outrage,” now available in paperback. He is also a founding editor of the American Prospect magazine and chairman of Common Cause.

“I know at least half of my advertising budget works…

…I just don’t know which half.”

Attributed to Henry Ford (and others)

Advertising Does Provide Measurable Results

The now cliched quote “I know at least half of my advertising budget works; I just don’t know which half.” has been attributed to Henry Ford, among others.

But it doesn’t mean that the effectiveness of advertising can’t be proven. It is because advertising campaigns have measurable results that companies spend large budgets on advertising.Of course, like meteorology, marketing can’t be flawlessly predictive. Still, it’s important to recognize that, regardless of the degree of exactitude and the margin of error that exists in all sciences, marketing should also be practiced as a science.

This advertisement generated a record-breaking $30 million for the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals. The commercial became the most successful fund-raising effort for the ASPCA and created a buzz among animal rescue organizations. It also attracted nearly 200,000 new donors to the organization,prompting the SPCA to increase its grant program to smaller rescue groups by 900% (see my link below.)

…But Don’t Overestimate Adverting’s Effect

Seth Goden gives another reason that the expression half my advertising works; I just don’t know which half isn’t right. It overstates the expected results of advertising:

Actually, it’s closer to 1% of your advertising that works, at the most. Your billboard reaches 100,000 people and if you’re lucky, it gets you a hundred customers…

It is true that old advertising strategies are becoming less effective. This is because mass marketing models do not optimally address the new attitudes and behaviors of the socially connected consumer.

As shown in my article 3 traditional Marketing Strategies To Rethink, while TV drives awareness, it is increasingly true that the Internet that drives conversion.