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Marketing Mistakes Defined

Posted On: 2005-11-10Length: 20:53

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Out of all the successes I've had in my short stand as a marketer, and for that matter, in life, it's the stupid things that I've done that seem to bear the most resonance. Missed opportunities, you know, bad judgments, silly comments, things how I wish I could take back. You know what, if we're lucky the mistakes we make don't affect our lives for too long. Slowly, gently they give way eventually to the tide of progress and our genuine intention to be better than we were before. Not everything in our lives comes up roses, though. In fact, part of being young is also being stupid and making hair-brained mistakes that we lament time and time again even though we know no one will remember them in a week's time. We've all heard, it's OK to make mistakes as long as you don't repeat them. What happens though when you do repeat them? Or even worse, when the mistake manifests itself in a whole different way? Like instead of a joke falling flat with a coworker, it falls flat with the chairman of your company. That kind of bush-league mistake kills us more because we know we could have avoided it. However, the excitement of our situations, the exuberance that comes with life, the giddy, carefree high of living, breathing ambition every day of your life as if it's some grand renaissance story of valor. In that excitement we will make mistakes. We will make them for reasons ranging from inexperience to missed perception, down to the satisfaction of our very own egos. Guys and gals, let's face it, the stupid things we do hurt more than any of the physical pain we might encounter in our lifetimes. That might be an overstatement for some, but for the ambitious, it's just a part of the game. So, today I want to take a focus back a bit. For the reasons that we make mistakes that we do, the ways in which we recover, and the marketing tactics we thought were good ideas at the time. Speaking of which, if time provides us with one thing in perspective, it's that more can be learned in our mistakes than anything we might learn in college, or in any of our classes in the world. So ladies and gentlemen, submitted for your consideration, the 20-Something Marketing Forum is proud to present episode number 15, aptly named "The Stupid Things we Do."

Rise and shine 20-somethings. It's time for the 20-Something Marketing Forum with your host Jared Degnan.

And hello and welcome to another self-loathing edition of the 20-Something Marketing Forum, an informative, entertaining podcast focused on marketing and life as a 20-something professional, darling with the realities, and of course the drama, of the modern workplace. I'm Jared Degnan, chief contributor of the forum, and first off, I want to welcome all the new listeners, as well as the folks who have well, been with us for some time. I do appreciate you taking the time to listen to the show. I know there's a lot of podcasts out there. And I want to let you know that in the next 20 some odd minutes I am going to do my damndest to bring you a perspective on marketing and the modern workplace that you can't find anywhere else. Speaking of which, as a quick reminder, you can find out more about the things we talk about here on the podcast as well as connect with like-minded young professionals by logging on to 20somethingmarketing.com. That's two zero something marketing dot com. Registering and of course ensuring you have the right feed. And just as another reminder, check your iTunes show notes, guys. If you see that it tells you to get a new feed, please just help me out and change your feed by going to 20somethingmarketing.com, and click on subscribe via iTunes. I would be ever so much appreciative. My cardiologist and my masseuse of course would be eternally grateful as well. The fact of the matter is folks that I've got about 30 people who are still on the feed, and you know what, I love you folks, but for the love of Pete, please just do it and let me stop these rants.

Ok. Enough with the sorry state of my ego. Let's talk about yours, shall we? Uh, mistakes, goofs, errors. We all do them. The question is how the hell do we stop doing them and learn from them? Well, since I'm the one with the mic and this apparently ain't Oprah, I'll go first. You know how I mentioned that after my little business trip, maybe about two podcasts ago, I got very excited about the good job that I did. And what I got was what certain members of my family would deem too big for my britches. I said something stupid, thought it was funny, and my mom who just got an iPod and promptly called me from the store to ask me how to subscribe to the podcast, is saying right now, "I told you you weren't funny." And of course my boss is just shaking his head going, "why the hell did I hired him?" Ok. So well maybe it's not that bad. But what we're seeing here is a lapse in judgment of the first degree caused by, frankly, an unrestrained ego. And you know what, it was crying out for attention at that point in time. And you know what, because I love you people, I'm man enough to admit it. Because I want to be liked, because I wanted to be running with the good old boys, I opened my big fat Jewish fagulah mouth, and not for the good reason. So I made a mistake. Luckily though, my coworkers and my chairman of the company already know, as my dear football coach once put it, "that boy ain't right." Now before you guys ask, yeah, I was a manager not a player, deal with it. I still lettered. Ok. Back on topic. I made this mistake for one of two reasons that anyone makes a mistake. And I distill that to ego or misinformation. Now because misinformation is the less harmful in my opinion, let's kind of distill that first. The three ways you can make a mistake via misinformation are, number one we think we know it already, and then of course that kind of fades back into ego, but we'll talk about that later. Two, going too fast to check the facts, like we get a piece of information and we just assume that it's right. And then of course bad sources of information, which actually kind of fed into what happened here. I got some bad advice from someone who I shouldn't have listened to. Anyway. Misinformation mistakes are basically relatively easy to correct. You simply slow down and consider the source. Even when we think we know it all already, especially when we consider ourselves the source of that information, you have to kind of take a step back and say, who's the source that I'm hearing this from, and if it's from yourself, chances are you don't know as much as you think you do. And I think that's kind of one of the biggest pitfalls of being a 20-something. Because we do think we know it all. Well, you know what, sometimes that's good, sometimes that's bad. But whatever.

Ok. So now on to the more interesting aspect of making mistakes. Ego-based mistakes. Ego, ah yes, ego. What monster of inner self that wreaks havoc upon the surest of souls. Damn! I don't know about you guys, but I'm on an eloquent streak today. So I guess you can't hope to talk about ego with the least, without at least mentioning Maslow. Now, unless you were asleep in psychology, you should remember Maslow as the guy with the triangle pyramid shaped thing that essentially explains needs. Now according to Maslow, mankind's needs are built on each other in a way that basically means that we're not satisfied after we accomplish or indeed fulfill a need. But instead we have to move upwards to another one. And it's, the way that he puts it out, it's essentially a hierarchy of needs, with things like physiological, safety, belonging, and esteem making up the bottom tier of the pyramid, this second tier is kind of like the need to know and understand and be aesthetically pleasing. And then finally it's transcendence and self actualization. Each of these things of course we move up higher and higher until finally we achieve a state of spiritual creaminess, or at least as Ace Ventura used to say, but the idea here is that mistakes happen, or at least ego mistakes happen when we do something to satisfy those needs, i.e., satisfy our egos. And when an action trumps common sense, that's what I'm talking about. That's when we do something stupid. We know it's wrong, but we just need to fulfill certain needs for certain reasons. So we feel valued, we need to feel important. We need to feel actualized. And sometimes we try too hard to accomplish those things. We neglect common sense and many, many times restraint, as I might have mentioned, my fun little allusion to an email to your chairman of the board that was an attempt to be funny, but ultimately it's just you trying to be endearing to your chairman. So I think that kind of illustrates the ego-based mistakes. But it's really kind of funny, because I mean, how do you correct something like that? I mean you don't. I mean, can you shove your ego in a closet any more than you can shove your sexuality in a closet? And I know there's a lot of people who are going to fight me on that. But the fact of the matter is that ego is a part of who we are, and to really kind of segment that section of ourselves off and say it doesn't matter would be completely naïve of us, though we can say with ego-based mistakes we can slow down and understand why we make them. Kind of do a spiritual gut check. Why are you making this, why are you making this choice? And it's kind of funny because I relate this all back to humor.

Humor is extremely, extremely subjective. And especially when you're talking about marketing. There are a ton of instances in which I think what I write, or what I say is funny as bloody hell. And this podcast is a testament to that. However, if I'm the only one laughing at it, it doesn't help. It doesn't work. If you're the only person laughing in the room, then you're probably only doing it for your own needs. To feel funny. To feel liked. To feel needed. Now, I don't know if this has any bearing on what you guys do on a day-to-day life, but I mean, something tells me that most of you guys have actually experienced this in one form or another. Now, quickly going back to that larger statement of how do we prevent these mistakes. And, like I said, it's hard not to repeat some of these things. I mean, over and over and over again, we'll do the same mistake and you know what, we just won't learn from them. And the idea here is kind of take a look back every day and ask yourself, what did you do right, and what did you do wrong? And honestly, it's that little voice inside of you. It's that little Jiminy Cricket that says, don't do it cause you're doing it for the wrong reason. Don't do it because you don't have the right information. It's a self-restraint that keeps us in tact and that self restraint that some of us have to develop. And I mean, it's tough. But I mean, take this little exercise for example. Before you do anything, think it out in your head and/or if you're writing an email, you're writing a letter. Save it for about 24 hours, and then go over it. Kind of, sometimes time allows us that perspective that says, ok, we're doing this for the right reason, we're double checking this. And it honestly allows common sense to creep in. And I know it might be simplifying this all the hell, but the fact of the matter is that, I mean we make some stupid ass mistakes out there folks. Let no one be so brave as to believe that they don't make mistakes from time to time. However, it's important though, as I admit it to be able to say it to yourself. To be able to say to someone else, you know what, these are my mistakes. I own them. So, that's, I mean I think a good primer for our discussion on mistakes today. And I think what we'll do is we'll leave it off right there. So what have we learned? We've learned that mistakes can be repeated. They shouldn't be. But that's it all a matter of knowing why you make the mistakes.

And welcome back everyone. As you can probably tell by the content and the topic that I have chosen this week, I am not having the bestest of best weeks here. A lot of mistakes are being made and the number one rule to kind of keep going through that and keep yourself from totally falling into despair, is keep going. So what I'm going to do is speed through a couple of really cool pieces of news you can use, as usual. And then I'm going to wrap it up really quickly this week with a new thinner, more effective version of the game plan. So, let's start out with a great story from the Orlando Business Journal.

The Orlando Business Journal is reporting that Sea World is now changing up its marketing tactics. That's right. Busch has just announced that it is going to relaunch the Shamu brand as the new brand of the theme parks. Now that might sound familiar if you've ever been over to Orlando before, you probably know that Shamu has been a big feature for Sea World for some time now. But the classic killer orca has not been re-invigorated in about 15 years. In fact, there's about seven or eight different orca whales that actually play Shamu and his little counterparts at the show. But they want to be able to "make them live beyond the show." The communications director says. So the revamp includes everything from Shamu-based merchandise to a brand new set of brides and a new multi-million dollar production that includes dancing by the orcas. It's almost like a Cirque du Soleil meets Waterworld. They've got moves called Unity, Back at ya, Share the Joy and Passing the Torch. Ok. So, in the light of mistakes here, let's talk a little bit about mistakes that I think Sea World is currently making. Now keeping in mind that these guys are much better and much more experts than I am. Just speaking purely on branding renovation. There is branding renovation and then there's bastardization of purpose. Well actually it'd be bastardization of porpoise for this one. Ok you guys can throw, like you know, rotten grapes at me later. But anyway, the point here is that Sea World was built as a theme park to promote awareness and conservation of sea life. There's something inherently wrong with turning that concept into a Disney-esque concept. Yes it sells. But it can not sell itself as the true purpose that it had originally evolved into. Now I know that Sea World had kind of revamped its logo with a very cool Indian-esque Shamu, and that was great because it talked about the heritage of the area, the heritage of the orca, and why people wanted to come and see it. So in that note, let's talk a little bit about the mistake of not being yourself. It can really be tough, as a 20-something marketer to try to not make mistakes, but at the same time to, I kind of keep your own voice. And something really weird happened to me today. I was at the gym and I happened to be wearing one of my old HRC t-shirts, and HRC for those of you who don't already know, is the human rights campaign, and it is a gay lesbian lobby group here in Washington DC who I interned for for about a year. And a guy came up to me, someone who I thought was basically checking me out the entire time, kind of an older gentleman. But he's like, thanks for wearing that t-shirt. And to me it was like nothing. I just wore it because it was ratty and because I needed something to wear to the gym. But to him it was making a statement. It wasn't representing something that I was thinking about, but it did represent something to him. And that's where I think Sea World is going wrong. They're not representing themselves as they should be. I don't care what situation you're in folks, the biggest mistake you can possible make in my particular perspective is to not represent yourself. Yes, make damn sure that you close your mouth when you're supposed to. But do not, do not, DO NOT compromise who you are.

So, let's move. Let's see there's some news out of CNN. CNN of course is replacing Aaron Brown with Anderson Cooper. The gun metal gray-haired blue-eyed hottie from Anderson Cooper 360. He's of course become the media darling since Katrina hit. So, we'll see if that can boost the ratings of CNN versus Fox News. And then again if you want to talk about battling egos, you want to talk about Fox News network versus CNN, I'm actually going to try to get one of my friends, Natasha, on the show who is actually my media expert and she'll help me out, kind of deconstructing CNN and Fox News on a later date in terms of marketing.

Oh let's see, I think that's really about it except for the fact that I do want to go into one particular other element, which is, actually news out of Ad Age.com which is the fact that Leo Burnett agency is dropping the army of one advertising campaign, which of course is all about you joining the army to be an army of one. Apparently that's not working. It is undercutting the army's message that it is a team effort. And with the army missing it's recruiting targets for 2005, by nearly 7000 troops, as to right now, you need to change the message. If you're telling people to sign up for the army because you can be one and only, yep, you'll be one and only dead, folks. And let me not ever try to represent that I don't believe that this, that our troops are doing the best they can over there. I thank God every day for the troops that are out there. And honestly I've got friends who have family members who are out there and I get to meet them when they come back from Iraq, and these guys are just some of the most incredible people, and of course if you live in Washington DC chances are you know somebody from the military. So, it's, to me it's almost like Leo Burnett is making the right choice here, but at the same time you're talking about what's going to work more effectively for an ad campaign. Are you reaffirming someone's self, or are your reaffirming someone's purpose? So if that leaves us with anything for news, guys, it's purpose versus porpoise here. Don't making the mistake of confusing it.

You're listening to the 20-Something Marketing Forum.

All right. It's time to get down to business and once again make the rubber meet the road for today's featured topic. That's right. Hold onto your scorecards marketing fans, because here is your 20-something marketing game plan. Well you know what folks, recovering from a mistake can be a humbling experience, but it can also be an empowering one as well. You know what, like a Phoenix from the ashes of our mistakes, try mapping out your uphill climb by just thinking of one or two value-add project that you might just have on the back burner. These projects are the ones that are anecdotes to the missed steps because they give you air time that you need to recover the positive attention. And it also shows your dedication to coming back stronger than you were before. Think about the projects your superiors just don't have the time for but would love to see done. For instance, articles, newsletters, guidebooks and direct mail pieces. Things you know are needed. Don't ask anyone to get started with it. Just do it. Maybe you're project works out, maybe it doesn't. But it still shows you tried and demonstrates that though you're down, you are never by any account out. The best in any business prove one insatiable thing, folks, actions speak louder than words.

Well folks, this has been your 20-something marketing game plan, and your 20-Something Marketing Forum. As always, I want to thank you guys for tuning in and want to let you know we welcome your feedback, comments or suggestions, online 24 hours a day, 7 days a week at 20somethingmarketing.com, or by emailing me at Jared@20somethingmarketing.com. That two zero something marketing dot com. And I also want to thank you guys who took the time to go to the website and of course clicked on vote for me on Yahoo, and we are in and out of the top ten business podcasts on Yahoo. I have no earthly clue how that happened, but it thanks to you guys. And of course we have topped out and we are busting more than 200 listeners, folks. So I want to thank each and every one of you. I know that there are more than 20,000 podcasts out there, but you guys are listening to the only ones that are focused on the lives of 20-something professionals. Well folks, till next week, this is Jared Degnan. As always, I will catch you on the flip side.

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