There is a small, nay large, industry that makes claims like:
“consumer behaviour has changed radically”
“marketing doesn’t work anymore”
And yet then presents nothing more than a repackaging of the orthodoxy.
For example, Seth Godin’s “Purple Cow” says that marketing is “broken”, that advertising could once turn a sow’s ear into a silk purse but has lost its effectiveness due to clutter and ad avoidance. This is spite of research that shows advertising continues to perform as well as ever (1) (2) (3).
So says Seth, companies need to adopt his radical new marketing strategy which is…wait for it…. to produce remarkable products and market them in remarkable ways. Wow. I don’t remember my old Uni textbooks saying anything like this, they only used words like “great” not “remarkable”. What a step forward in thinking.
Seth’s a great story teller, his books are entertaining. But it is a sad reflection on our discipline that these best sellers are so shallow.
Professor Byron Sharp. July 2011
(1) Jamhouri, O., & Winiarz, M. (2009) “The enduring influence of TV advertising and communications clout patterns in the global marketplace”, Journal of Advertising Research, 49(2), 227-235.
(2) Rubinson, J. (2009) “Empirical evidence of TV advertising effectiveness”, Journal of Advertising Research, 49(2), 220-226.
(3) Hammer, P., Riebe, E., & Kennedy, R. (2009) “How clutter affects advertising effectiveness”, Journal of Advertising Research, 49(2), 159-163.
Footnote – Above I argue that Godin’s contribution to marketing theory is to merely replace words like “good” or “great” for “remarkable” so I had to laugh when I read this note in my dictionary about the word “remarkable”:
Properly, remarkable should not be used as a synonym for good. It is value-neutral and means only “worth being remarked upon.” Actually, what’s really remarkable is how many words, like this one, have lost their specific meanings as they’ve been corralled into the sterile confinement pen of synonyms for good, notably fabulous (literally, like something in a fable), fantastic (like something in a fantasy), wonderful (fills you with wonder), incredible (not to be believed). You help restore the richness of the language when you use these words in ways closer to their original meanings.