I am fortunate to make a strong connection with a brilliant marketer and interactive systems expert over in Poland earlier today. Tomasz Sucheta is a student of the Regis McKenna. Though I come from another school of thought, I agree with lots of what Regis teaches, especially his focus on relationship building. Personally, I always make it a point to take what others say with a grain of salt and use best-of-breed systems rather than any single approach, but Regis teaches what can easily be considered a complete approach to modern marketing.
In one of the latest Digital Symbiosis articles, Tomasz Sucheta quotes some of Regis McKenna’s most inspiring words. The premise of this abstract revolves around the infamous hype machine that modern marketing has become. Here’s a quote directly from Mr. Sucheta’s site:
“Hype dominates the very idea of marketing, and despite some vibrancy, much of marketing has become obscure and even ridiculous. Thanks to the deafening noise of hype, we no longer know what is real, what is effective or what common set of principles should guide the marketing process.”
This quote is essentially the driving force behind my Two Guys & A Pencil initiative. I strongly believe that there is so much hype floating around that consumers no longer know what to believe and, so, they become even more hesitant to make buyer decisions. I find the massive hype efforts to be the equivalent of several people screaming at the top of the lungs at once. Deafening noise indeed. No one wants to listen to that!
A key word in that McKenna passage is the word principles. If you ever read any of Stephen S Cohen’s books (if not, visit Amazon NOW), you can see a common thread. That common thread is principle-based leadership. Many companies today do not say anything that appeals to customers because they lack principles to make their message authentic. As Seth Godin always says, all marketers are liars but their lies need to be authentic before they can be effective.
The notion that marketing is, in major part, all about lying is controversial but, if you really delve into what Godin is saying, it just makes sense. Almost any marketing message is, to an extent, an embellishment. These lies have to be supported consistently throughout every point of contact. When you say you offer excellent customer service, you have to manage your marketing through staffing and support efforts or else your lie loses all authenticity.
When companies rely solely on hype, they may get the customers immediately but, in the long-run, they’ll lose out on return business and the possibility of leveraging a more natural market; that is, getting people to do that spiffy viral and word-of-mouth marketing that seems to be all the rage these days. In this same article, McKenna cites a growing focus on tactics over strategy. He could not be more right. Hype is a quick-fix solution and the many things that support the hype machine are mostly isolated instances.
Real marketing is not a single event or campaign but, rather, something that consistently resonates throughout your entire organization and all your points of contact. Just saying that you are something isn’t enough. Expensive ads and street teams should support an existing, ongoing marketing effort, not replace it. The true power of presence lies in efforts that drive other efforts, the constant momentum that creates self-propelling stories and not just short-lived buzz. For many companies today, this is a hard lesson learned. There are many quality products and services out there but that means nothing without a vehicle to move those products and services. Marketing is that vehicle.