Brains on Fire: shushing the creative inner critic

What comes to mind when you think of the word …marketing?

Perhaps a dude in a suit hovers before your mind’s eye, or the mob of flashing web banners and Twitter headlines?

Whatever you thought of, probably you didn’t think of art.

Yet the 2010 book Brains on Fire: Igniting Powerful, Sustainable, Word of Mouth Movements by the self-titled marketing company, challenges the idea that marketing lacks artistry. I’m not talking about PowerPoints by art majors or ad taglines penned by disillusioned writers. I mean art for art’s sake.

To be fair, Brains on Fire is a marketing book – and an innovative one, at that. The authors recommend that we kill slogans and campaigns. Instead, they teach how to grow organizations in a meaningful, organic way by engaging the communities around. And they use the word “passion” a lot. Continue reading

Nine Reasons Why Marketing is Similar to Dating

1) Marketing is about seducing customers into buying something and making them loyal, forever and ever.

Well, that’s an easy one.

2) It costs 5-10 more to get new customers than to retain old ones.

Dating is no exception. The minimum date fare is a coffee or a drink, and often a steak dinner, with drinks. And appetizers. And dessert. Many go out on dates at least once a week, turning into months and even years. Tradition dictates that the man pays. In return he often doesn’t even get a “thank you,” not to mention anything more tangible.

But the ladies incur indirect costs, too: makeup, hair, clothes, waxing, facials, allegedly mood boosting  yoga, self-help books, staring at rocks in the middle of the desert. The costs compound to way more than a beer. All just to show up looking sexy yet mother-approved (wife in the kitchen, slut in the bedroom sort of thing), interested yet not desperate, adorably quirky yet not psycho.

Trolling for new customers is expensive for everyone involved. Commitment is cheaper.

From Saturday Morning Breakfast Cereal

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Book: Positioning: The Battle for Your Mind

Once in a while, something comes along that changes the way you look at things. It might be a movie, a book, a person you meet on the train (or, for the late Steve Jobs, allegedly dropping acid and the resulting Apple, with “Think Different”).

Two texts, specifically, blew my mind when I studied literature.

The first one was a social anthropology article by Clifford Geertz: “Deep Play: Notes on the Balinese Cockfight.” The guy went to Bali, checked out some rooster fights, and came up with the theory that what you are is what you do. The Balinese reaffirm their identity by betting on rooster fights together. Simple, yet liberating, isn’t it?

The second was an iconic feminism book, at the time when I, brought up with the old school Soviet, wasn’t comfortable with using the “f” word. Sandra M. Gilbert and Susan Gubar’s Madwoman in the Attic exposed the reductionist portrayal of female characters as either “angels”

Uploaded to Flickr by AlicePopkorn

or “monsters,” in Victorian novels.

Uploaded to Flickr by Leo Reynolds

Created by predominantly male writers for centuries, a woman could exist on a page either as a docile wife & womb or by going nuts/turning into a witch, and cast aside.

Similarly, Positioning: The Battle For Your Mind by Al Ries and Jack Trout, written in the 70s, changed the way I view communication. Continue reading

Mister, have I got a sale for you!

Although tattoo-free, I’ve always fancied myself a little off the beaten path. Someone who goes through a goth phase and picks an impractical major in college and grad school. Someone who tosses around words like “energy” and “being in one’s space” and believes plants have feelings. Corporate America has always been as distant as Iceland, minus the appeal of Bjork. Never have I planned to one day find myself in Washington, suit-shopping, and working on a  practical degree. That’s why my new Integrated Marketing class is a little tricky: it’s about marketing. Continue reading