Posted On: 2005-08-10
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There's a great quote from David Ogilvy of Ogilvy and Mather. He said, "If you try to persuade people to do something or buy something, it seems to me you should use their language, the language in which they think." Now I went shopping this past weekend, it seems to me like everywhere I go, there are marketers that want to sell us something, not in the language in which we think, but also in the language based in the way they think our best friends think, the way that the object of our desire thinks, even in the way the million strangers who seen or interact with us each day think. This goes way beyond things we would normally buy, but sometimes consumers do it anyway in an effort to be hip. People, is it just me, or does this sound a lot like peer pressure? To that, and for us as marketers, just say no.
Up and at 'em marketing fans. It's time to save the world. You're listening to the 20-Something Marketing Forum.
This week's show, battling the hip factor. Peer pressure marketing.
Greetings marketing fans, and welcome to another exciting edition of the 20-Something Marketing Forum. An interactive, entertaining podcast focused on the needs of overly ambitious 20-something professionals who want to save the world one marketing campaign at a time. I'm Jared Degnan, chief contributor to the 20-Something Marketing Forum. I want to thank you for tuning in, and if this is the first time of listening to the show, we're all about the new generation of marketing here. Young, intelligent and dealing with all the fun things that makes working full time in your 20s, well, so gosh darn fun. Today's podcast is all about how and why social perceptions and social interaction translate into peer pressure golden marketing, and ways in which we as 20-something professionals can harness these forces for good rather than evil.
To start out with, let's look at why social interaction is the perfect, if not the most powerful marketing medium. We are, by our youthful nature, very social creatures. We eat together, we hang out together, and more than likely, we end up dating each other. Today you don't have a group of friends, you have an urban tribe. You don't have a best friend, as you do five of them. If you're anything like me, you're on the go, head spinning, pavement pounding, and very, very aware of what other people think of you. In social settings we take cues from each other in what it takes to fit in. Every once in a while, though, a daring person will step out, do something different, like wear an outfit outside the norm, and then have to come back to the group for approval. If the group approves, that person's social standing is advanced and the group will end up wanting to emulate that person's standing by mimicking their behavior. If you're beginning to think this seems a bit like a National Geographic special, you're not kidding. The consequences of making a wrong move as judged by the group are equally as severe as the weaker lion that fails to win the alpha male's mate. That individual has to sulk back into the background, or even leave the pack, setting a dangerous precedent. Don't be unique or else you will have to fend for yourself.
Now in school we're taught, don't worry about what other people think of you. If everyone jumped off a cliff, would you do it too? Well folks, in this day and age, marketers can make that cliff look pretty good. TV, radio, magazines, you name it. The average American gets exposed to anywhere from 240 to 3,000 advertising messages a day. Some of them are of course, positive and funny. But there are a ton more out there aimed directly at 20-somethings that use the idea of peer pressure marketing and the hip factor to hawk anything from booze to clothes to electronics. To add a nice little twist, marketers are known as one of the top elements of consumer trends, being portrayed as the hip, fashion-forward set from which all trends naturally flow. So that begs the question guys, which came first? The fashion or the product. Take a company like Abercrombie and Fitch, for instance, they make money selling clothes based on a very sexy image. The message is clear. Buy a ripped, off-color crappy pair of jeans from us and the hotties prominently displayed when you walk, in, yep, they will all be yours. Fail to buy our clothes, however, and your friends will laugh at you and you will be doomed to play out the rest of your days desperately seeking attention through alternate, more dorky means, such as your very own podcast. There are too many examples of this to list, but as we get older the pressure to be "with it" doesn't subside. In fact, it just usually ends up getting more expensive. Now it's electronics, briefcases, and even more expensive clothes. So, what's wrong with fame, fortune and eternal happiness? Isn't that the point of marketing, to make people take action based on perceived outcomes? Of course. But what are the side effects of this?
Well, to begin with it forces upon humanity an idealistic, perfectionist, unhealthy view of what these products accomplish. Take liquor for instance. We've all seen the very sexy commercials where the cute guy gets the cute girls by buying them a Bud Lite. Now, I'm not a straight dating expert, but if a guy came up to me and offered me a Bud Lite, I would tell him to get his cheap ass over to the bar and buy a real drink, and then talk to me. Actually, now that I think of it, I probably wouldn't. I'm too desperate at this stage. The point is, those ads equate alcohol with success, and people are starting to notice. Let's take an example from England, shall we? Hallowood International Distilleries, a Liverpool-based spirits company, recently got bitch-slapped by the UK Advertising Standards authority for its racy ads for Lambrini, a wine cooler type beverage featuring buff young men surrounded by very beautiful girls. The ASA said, and I quote, "this advert is in danger of implying that a drink may bring social/sexual success because the man in question looks quite attractive and desirable. If the man was clearly unattractive we think that this implication would be removed. This does not mean that we are banning attractive people from alcohol advertising." Well, in a move of utter marketing moxy, Hallowood rolled out a brand new ad campaign calling for fat, bald middle-aged golfers to be the new poster boys of the Lambrini brand. The catch, to avoid going up against the ASA again, the CEO erected an ad in his back yard, facing a very well-known British golf course, which of course played host to the British Women's Open. What does this teach us? Nothing. Absolutely nothing. The point is that the Brits are catching onto something that everyone is catching onto. Those ads encourage underage drinking. Ads, radio, supermodels, any way you cut it, we propagate the myth of perfection by showing humanity pictures of beautiful people getting what they want, whether it be sex, money or fame.
I mentioned earlier about the average American seeing 240 to 3,000 advertising messages per day. Every time we see a perfect body, a cool cell phone or even a happy person, it forces upon us an image that we ourselves are imperfect. That then translates into our social interaction. You see it on the playgrounds and in the meeting rooms. Sometimes despite the fact that we should know better, we make snap judgments based on how we view ourselves and the people around us. Because that's the way that we've been hard-wired to do so. We hear everyone tell us to moisturize, get in shape, buy the cool toys and we'll be happy. No matter how much we have, though, it's still not enough.
In current events we hear a lot about the Bush administration using fear to advance its agenda. Let me tell you folks, fear works. It's like fast food. It's cheap, it's easy to come by, and ultimately it serves to get you only more addicted. The same thing happens in social settings with peer pressure marketing. We as marketers can be guilty if only inadvertently of playing on people's fears. Fear of not being liked, fear of failure, fear of complete and utter social humiliation. The same thing happens in a B2B setting, maybe not as sinister, but it can have the same side effects of resentment and alienation. You can leverage peer pressure marketing of course to create that burning platform necessary for a company, or a decision maker within a company to actually buy something. This is usually done by dropping names of current users with whom the contact wants to socialize or be associated with. You can also interweave elements of peer pressure marketing to jump start things like participation levels. Certainly in the association world, it's very common to get a member or a client to participate in a program by showing them that someone else is going to be doing the exact same thing. The funny thing is that it's apparently a very common parenting practice. I know on a personal level there are certain members who I talk to who getting them to participate them in various programs is like getting kids to eat their vegetables. In fact, I actually have a conversation that I taped just today between myself and a client.
No, I don't want to attend the conference?
Are you sure? Little Timmy from Acme will be there. He says he loves to go to the conference.
But, but, Timmy's a poopie-head. He didn't want to play with me at the last board meeting.
Well, then. Maybe Timmy will just have to go by himself and he can eat all the ice cream.
Ice cream? I want to go to the conference.
Ok, sweetie. Whatever you want.
If you think that's scary, you should see my impression of trying to get a press release approved. The point is, though, how you use peer pressure is very dependent on what kind of running platform you want. To distill that even further for the truly geeky marketers, like myself, there are two types of peer pressure marketing. The first of which is associative. That's where you're playing on the client's needs to be like someone, such as my deranged conference setting example. We can also have competitive peer pressure where they want to perform better than someone else. Example. A product pitch noting that someone is using one product, and your product is going to be the one to beat them, thereby increasing the need to take action.
What would happen, though, if you took the inverse of peer pressure marketing and made it marketing from the inside out? Case in point, Dove's brand new real curves campaign. They use real women in sizes that much better reflect a healthy, normal body image. The ad sell based on the product's merit rather than resorting to faking a perfect body and making your customers unfairly connect the two. The same idea for B2B marketing. Take for instance success stories. Yes, you want to be like a certain firm. But it's because the knowledge was brought to you in a way that uplifts you, not alerts you to the fact that you are not doing enough. The advantages of this, first it goes to the dedicated advisor model of sales, which we all know to be long-term and very profitable. Secondly, it encourages social interaction for success rather than back-biting and competitiveness. As 20-somethings we want to change things. And we want to make sure that we don't use the same old tactics that have been done before. We're the ones to write the copy. We're the ones to have the courage to bring these ideas forward. My advice, use your knowledge of social interaction, the upper-hand of any 20-something, to push an idea like this forward. Not only because it's the right thing to do so, but because it's something that will stand out as a value added idea in your company and can advance your agenda forward, whether it be moving up or just to gain credibility.
This week in news, well, first of all, Peter Jennings died. Have to take a quick solemn moment here. I have never been in journalism. I never aspired to be a journalist, and I seriously doubt this podcast will come anywhere near being journalistic quality and my friend Val will certainly vouch for that. But Peter Jennings, you really do have to tip your hat to. He was the consummate professional and a model of professionalism that anyone would shoot for. As 20-somethings, we kind of look around us and we look for the people who we believe embody the qualities in which we want to grow up, or we are grown up to be. And I think that Peter Jennings really was a fantastic example of that, and just a model of professionalism and enjoying his work. My only hope for myself and any of my friends and any of you, is that we all aspire to the professionalism and enjoy our jobs half as much as Peter Jennings did. So, to him we definitely salute you, and we bid you a fond farewell, and good luck in the next life.
On to more, slightly more upbeat news. Wall Street Journal is reporting on new interactive magazines, and instead of just doing print advertising, they're now going to be doing interactive advertising and they're going to do an ad which apparently includes flashing headlights from a Jeep ad, and then the Sopranos theme. Now I've seen one of these, and personally I don't read that many magazines. I like to read the newspaper and I like to listen to a top podcast, but unfortunately I'm not that big on magazines. And I've encountered one of these ads before and they're kind of annoying. They insert like a microchip and a small, miniscule, they insert a small minuscule speaker into the magazine itself, and when you open the page, it starts playing. Nothing can possibly get more hideously annoying than this. My question is, when does this start in on the gay magazines? When does Advocate or Out start integrating these? And what would they integrate it? Would they have a Falcon ad for porno videos? You open up the page and it goes, " bounce, wow-wow oh, oh, oh, oh." Ok. That's enough. iTunes is really going to stick me with the explicit marketing there.
Ok, speaking of explicit marketing. Oh my god, guess what just hit the top of the movie charts! The Dukes of Hazard, with her royal highness herself, Jessica Simpson. Now, I know that a lot of podcasters are going to argue with me on this, especially Regan Fox, but I don't give a good god damn. Jessica Simpson to me is awesome. Jessica Simpson is the paradigm of great marketing. She knows what she has, she knows how to use it, and god dammit if her husband isn't hot! Ok, I'm going a little bit too gay there. But I still stand by my assertion. Jessica Simpson has done the most fantastic job, giving herself, quite literally a product extension. I have watched every single episode of Newlyweds. I watch all of her videos. I love her sister. I love her. I have all of her CDs, which again, is a little bit too gay, but I'm still going to go with this here because I'm very excited And as well, I'm halfway into buying her little foamy, tasty whipped creamy, blech cosmetic line, which is just absolutely disgusting, but the fact of the matter is that I think that if you take a single person in this world who can market themselves better than Jessica Simpson, I will give you $5. I just think that she's absolutely incredible, and I would love to be her fag-gag. Or I would love for her to be my fag-gag, rather. So, that will be that. Oh god, this segment sucks!
Speaking quickly of do-it-yourself marketing, as you might have noticed, I have actually debuted a brand new branding campaign for the 20-Something Marketing Forum. I have gotten a logo developed. I've got business cards, I've got letterhead. I'm very excited. As I mentioned on the blog at marketingforum.blogspot.com, my heart is all a-twitter because I love branding, I love logos. In addition to that, I've also been given a little bit of boost from Madge Weinstein and Wanda Wisdom who are playing my brand new promo. Now, I am going to go ahead and play the promo for you guys, even though I know I preached last week about bad theme songs. I really do think that this is a great theme song comparatively for myself, simply because I am not the biggest audio whiz in the world. In fact I am just now starting to use Garage Bin. But I hope you guys can see the audio quality difference between this and Audacity. But anyway, I'm going to go ahead and play it for you and then we'll discuss it afterwards.
Introducing the 20-Something Marketing Forum. News, commentary and interactive dialogue. This show isn't about over-throwing our bosses or even starting a revolution-it's about finding ways to articulate our vision and drive our ideas for real marketing change. There are a lot of stereotypes out there about 20-somethings, especially in the professional world. We're out to debunk them all.
How do you feel about filing? Just because we're young it doesn't mean our ideas aren't as viable as anyone else's. Changing the world. One marketing campaign at a time. We're all about service here at the 20-Something Marketing Forum. That, and shamelessly promoting our own work. Join us every week and on the web at marketingforum.blogspot.com.
Who's the best marketing you've ever known? I think it has to be Jared. Tips, strategies and commentary served up piping hot with a side of humor for young marketing professionals. Yeah, you know you're doing a good job when your boss thinks your podcast is funny as hell. The 20-Something Marketing Forum. Marketingforum.blogspot.com.
Now, lastly today before we being the game plan, I just want to update you all on how Valerie did last week on her interview. She didn't quite get the job yet, but she did use what we talked about to deflect a very sticky situation. You see, when she arrived at the office she realized that her intended final interview was going to be instead a second interview with her professor who wanted to interview her for a position that was for the position that was right underneath the one that Valerie thought she was interviewing for. She kept cool, answered all the questions using the information she gained from her previous interviews, and came out well, at least she's in one piece. I'll give you an update guys, as I hear them, and I wish you all the luck in the world.
On to today's game plan. Because today's podcast was all about using tactics to better social and peer pressure marketing, the best advice I can give you is to actually go out and do it. So first off, find a project in your office, maybe one that you're on, maybe one that you're not on, and figure out how social interaction, in the form of success stories, testimonials or even positive or affirming advertising can strengthen the value to your contact. If you see a project in your office using fear in a negative way, try asking the project lead if you could take a swing at some modified copy or even sit in on some creative meetings. The point is to use this as extra curricular elements at work so that your ideas are not stepping on anyone's toes, but are showing a genuine interest in learning about the project.
Secondly, design the concept of your burning platform. Think of the Dove advertising campaign, and figure out how, instead of using fear, your burning platform can be one of inspiring your contact to become more energized and more successful. Don't be afraid to be blunt, or for this idea to fall flat. Most ideas like this will be met with at least some resistance because it's against what most salesmen think is proven practice. The point is to slowly introduce the idea of a positive burning platform, enough times that it finally reaches someone's ears and that it makes sense. Third, encourage positive social interaction if you're in the position to do so. Try out some medium-like online forums or even corporate blogs. Lastly, if you're lucky enough to attend client meetings or conferences, try to proactively bring social and interactive marketing ideas to the table. All these ideas are ways to bring fresh air into sometimes stale marketing practices and ways in which you can get involved in the lower levels of marketing practices that you can sue to leverage to get to higher ones. If you do have experience with this, or have any other ideas you want people to know about on the forum, email them to email@example.com. That's firstname.lastname@example.org.
Also visit the site at marketingforum.blogspot.com for more ideas on peer pressure marketing and to leave comments. Well that's it for today's show folks. Thanks so much for tuning in. I hope you guys had a great time. If you have any other questions, please don't hesitate to contact me at email@example.com. That's firstname.lastname@example.org. Also big props to Ethan over at the vision thing, www.thevisionthing.com for some excellent critique. Please go over there, it's a great site. Business process management, process for the people. Great series, Ethan. I think that you're fantastic. And I have to get you on the show sometimes.
Folks, thanks so much for tuning in. If you tuned in for Wanda Wisdom, please support the Wanda Wisdom. She needs a MAC, I don't want to keep listening to that bitch keep on moaning about not having a MAC. It's great to have a MAC. Please contribute to her. I will start hitting you up for money later on. If you do have a couple of bucks, please go to marketingforum.blogspot.com and donate. Podcasting is not cheap, it is not free, and I do put a lot of time into this. This is not saying that you should give me something for nothing. In fact, if you click on the link through the peermedia.com page, you're going to see different contribution levels and what things I will do for you. You can win everything from a small mug to a personal marketing consultation to other unnamed items depending on your contribution level. So again folks, have a great evening, and I will see you on the flipside.