The other side of the story

March 8, 2005

There is really no good reason not to love blogs. They offer a great opportunity to connect with others, spread your ideas like a well-tuned meme, and ensure your own little corner of posterity. They are clearly manifest destiny, the cure for cancer, the sex without regret, the ice cream without calories, the BMW for a Chevy price. You get the idea, blogs solve all ills, especially when it comes to marketing. Yes, connecting with your customers is now as easy as a blog entry. No more worry, no more fuss.

If you read Scoble, you certainly are seeing this particular view of the universe. Now, I am obviously dramatizing for exciting special effects here. It is clear that Scoble, and many others, realize that blogs are not the cure all for marketing from now until the end of time. But, hidden in their rhetoric is indeed a belief that nirvana has arrived and marketing has just been waiting all this time for the advent of the blog.

I beg to differ.

Marketing is an evolutionary process, and one that has refined its tools and techniques time and again. Getting close to the customer, whether through marketing or other direct methods (e.g., the Fuller Brush Man) has been core to what businesses have tried to accomplish since the first gold nugget was exchanged for a nice piece of leather to wear to thong-night at the cave fire. This is what companies strive to do: get closer to the customer so that they can sell them more stuff.

Oh, did you miss that part? You get closer to the customer in order to SELL THEM MORE STUFF. You might think you get closer to the customer to make a friend, have a good time, generate good will, find a buddy for golf, or learn about nice expense account restaurants. But, ultimately you do all this to SELL THEM MORE STUFF. Businesses, of the for profit kind, are about selling things for more than they cost to make or acquire. This is the beauty of capitalism. This is the beauty of marketing as a discipline that results in SELLING MORE STUFF. Whether it be blogs or a key with a sign board on the street corner, the “relationships” being formed are ultimately about an exchange of a fungible good or service for something else of value. Usually that means money.

It always amuses me when the latest and greatest innovation in marketing comes along (remember 1-to-1 marketing? remember the Internet?) and claims to have created a fundamental shift in the way the world works. Perhaps that is true. Perhaps it is simply spinning the ongoing capitalist conversation in a new direction. The people that buy your stuff are smart and they know when you are having a real conversation versus a marketing conversation. They know, in fact, that you really just want to SELL THEM MORE STUFF.

I am all for blogs, RSS feeds, and telepathic puppies (except for the kind that make me do things against my will, like that Shi Tzu down the street that made me put my socks on my hands…). I love technology and the ongoing evolution of how we communicate with each other. As a marketer I will leverage every tool in the arsenal to ensure my message gets to my customers and sticks in their heads. I am all for deep engagement. I do it all for one simple and noble reason: SELL THEM MORE STUFF.

Mind the hyperbole, boys. My blog is another tool on my belt, but it is not holding up my pants.

Are you buying?

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One comment

  1. Great post, Norman. I think your comment “I’m all for deep engagement” sums it up for me. You’re right – “selling” something is the end and marketing is a means towards it. I think there are some blogs that are structured and published for more pure information sharing, but in the context of corporate blogging, I think you’re dead on. Now if a blog is a vehicle for, say, capturing customer frustration or fleshing out some features for that new widget – great, is what I say.

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