Not All Interruption Marketing is Bad

While recently browsing some business books at the local Barnes & Noble, I noticed something stuck in the middle of the book I had just pulled off the shelf. Was it an insert placed there by the publisher? No, it was a business card placed there by a hapless wannabe entrprenuer with the answers to my financial dreams:   

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“Earn more money than you ever thought possible…this is not MLM…take charge of your future…Act on the wisdom of the immortal Napoleon Hill…Call me to find out what this amazing business is and…”                     

My immediate reaction was one of personal offense for intruding on my simple act of browsing a book, coupled with disbelief over some fool actually expecting to realize some business from a small but nonetheless particularly annoying act of interruption marketing, one-way marketing that depends on getting people to stop and pay attention to the message.                      

Interruption marketing can range from traditional media advertising, which might briefly entertain a viewer, but is usually quickly forgotten, to obnoxious actions like sticking business cards into books or getting rudely awakened from an airline nap with an in-flight announcement of a Carribean flight offer, as experienced by David Meerman Scott.

With the widespread acceptance (deservingly so) of Permission Marketing, the innovative marketing approach devised by Seth Godin, it is tempting to dismiss all interruption marketing as not worthwhile at best and downright bad at worst. So can interruption marketing still be effective in a Google search, Permission Marketing, New Rules of Marketing & PR world?   

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The Product Marketing Manager as a Plate Spinner Extraordinaire

Fellow marketing blogger Daphne Rose recently posted a smart, quick read on the seven characteristics of a great marketer. Of the seven characteristics Daphne Rose noted, I really liked the analogy she drew between product marketers and plate spinners from the legendary Ed Sullivan Show. I am old enough (barely old enough – honest!) to vaguely recall watching plate spinner Erich Brenn in 1969, available in this YouTube video:

Daphne Rose commented, “Like the plate spinners on the old Ed Sullivan show, GMs are gifted time managers. It’s second nature for them to keep everything in motion – successfully.” I agree for the most part, except that time management is not inate, it is/can be learned.  Reflecting further on the idea of the product marketer as a plate spinner I came up with some more observations beyond time management I hope you enjoy and ring true to you…

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The Power of Critical Thinking in Marketing (or: Devil’s Advocate, Get Thee Behind Me!)

I read a great blog entry entitled Critical Thinkers vs. Critics by Mark Logic CEO Dave Kellogg. (Quick aside: Any blog by a CEO/Chairman/Founder that is regularly updated and features plenty of wisdom, wit and insight is evidence that company has a competitive advantage in leadership. Good on you, Dave.)

Dave Kellogg raises the important difference between a “critic,” a person who criticizes everything, generally without proposed solutions” and a “critical thinker,” a person who attacks ideas in the spirit of making them better, and who can hold both sides of an argument in their head at once.”

Point very well taken. I’d additionally define a critical thinker as someone who will also not allow herself/himself or others to fall victim to “paralysis by analysis.” Even more importantly, by virtue of being unafraid of taking a hard, unbiased look at issues and listening to others’ opinions, concerns and doubts, and in fact welcoming such open discussion, a critical thinker is also an optimist by nature.

I like how Dave assesses the level of critical thinking applied in the crafting of successful marketing positioning (emphasis added):

Critics “attack” other people’s ideas but not their own. Critical thinkers “attack” everyone’s ideas, especially their own. For certain disciplines (e.g., marketing positioning) one of my primary tests is not to examine the substance of a proposal, but instead to examine the critical thinking in the process that led to it [for example, reviewing a marketing proposal recommending a new company tag-line]:

  • How many other tag-lines did you think of?
  • Why didn’t you pick tag-line 3?
  • Did you consider tag-lines based on the higher-level notion of satisfaction?
  • What’s the argument against the tag-line you’re proposing?
  • What are the direct and indirect competitors tag-lines and their relative strengths and weaknesses?

As David Ogilvy once said: “good writing is slavery” (see page 33 of Ogilvy on Advertising). So is good positioning. And it comes from critical thinking and plenty of it.

I think delving into the multiple meanings of Dave’s word “attack” is important here, too.  A critical thinker will indeed “attack” an idea much differently than a critic. There is a world of difference between “attack,” as in how a critical thinker will “earnestly initiate” a rigorous debate of an idea, in such a comment as, “The European sales team will have concerns about the time they will need to devote to the new product. Let’s work out how we can address that concern and ensure they will have time to complete their deals in the pipeline,” versus how a critic might truly “attack,” as in, “beat down,” an idea with a discussion-dampering remark:  “Oh, the European sales team always marches to their own drummer. Mark my words, they will ignore the new product. I’ve seen it before.”

Dwight Schrute-A good example of an office criticHow to effectively deal with the “critic” is addressed in author Bruna Martinuzzi’s article on optimism, which she kindly allowed me to republish on this blog. Bruna accurately identifies the behavior of the “critic,” aka “devil’s advocate,” as symptomatic of general pessimism, which can discourage critical thinking:

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