There’s an unwritten rule in every industry that says “We all go to market the same way.” It’s a dumb rule and I’ve been preaching against it for 35 years. I wish I could say I wrote the book on the subject, but Marty Neumeier beat me to it. More on that in a moment. (more…)
Last Saturday, I jumped in the truck, turned on the radio, and there he was… the local DJ with the used car dealer urging me to “Come on down right now for free pizza, a chance to spin the wheel, and drive away in a certified preowned, like-new car with zero down and no interest… ” I had to laugh.
You know the routine. You’ve heard it. Maybe you even responded to it. But did you really buy a car because there was free pizza? Did you really believe today’s offer was a “once in a lifetime” deal?
No. You bought the car because you needed a car and you found the car you liked at the price you found reasonable. The advertising just happened to connect with you at the same time you had a need or interest.
This is where so many marketers get lost. They confuse communication with selling and adopt a “used car salesman” approach to their communication. It’s dangerous territory. When you communicate “buy now”… especially on a major purchase… you diminish the value of your product or service and, more importantly, you insult your potential customer.
To start with, people are not stupid. If you assume they are, you will treat them that way and they will know it. On the other hand, if you treat them with respect, they will respond with respect. Your message IS your brand, so choose your message carefully. You don’t have to tell people to “buy now”, “call today” or “apply now”. The more you do, the more you act like a commodity. The more you act like a commodity, the less respect your brand receives in the marketplace.
The used car salesman has an image because he acts like a used car salesman. Don’t be that guy.
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Wherever Steve Jobs is perched as he watches the latest twists and turns at Apple, you know he has to be laughing. The idea that people are upset when they sit on their very thin, very light phone and it bends is too funny for words. It’s almost as good as the countless people who have dropped their phones in the toilet and act like it’s someone else’s fault that they are trying to multi-task in the john. Seriously, people. Don’t mess with your phone when you are messing with your mess. It’s just not kosher.
PC users might be used to sloppy product introductions and instructions that don’t make sense. Mac users, on the other hand, do not suffer fools lightly. So, when we open an iWork document and we get a message that says to upgrade to Yosemite, we expect Yosemite to actually be available for download. When it’s not, we start to miss Steve. It’s this kind of insane attention to detail that made the Apple brand synonymous with user-friendly, common sense, plug ‘n play operation.
Sure, we have now downloaded Yosemite and it’s working beautifully, just as we expect. Meanwhile, the damage is done. A tiny spec of rust on an otherwise shiny brand. It will not be the end of Apple any more than a bent iPhone will be the end of Apple. All it means for now is some of Apple’s raving fans aren’t smiling. And that means Steve isn’t smiling.