Archives for posts with tag: Conversation


You’re at a cocktail party, engaged in a conversation. Suddenly, you get interrupted by someone. He’s making an effort to take your attention away from your conversation. Since you’re polite person, you pay attention for a period of time, mildly annoyed and always the thought in mind: How can I get back to that initial conversation and make the intruder go away?

20 minutes later, you wander around, looking for new people to engage with. Interesting pieces of a conversation get your attention, an interesting social object people gather around, something worthwhile to give attention to. Slowly, you get drawn into the conversation, to be fully engaged within a few minutes.

There is a huge difference between taking away attention and giving attention. When we take away attention, it really doesn’t belong to us. We didn’t earn the attention, we just grabbed it. But when you give attention to something, it becomes part of our being. The attention was earned, thereby freely given, and this creates a feeling of belonging and ownership.

Bad marketing takes away attention. It uses every trick in the book to get my attention: Headlines, hidden ‘Close’ buttons, pop-ups increased volume when the show switches to advertising. Bad marketing knows it has to revert to these tricks to get any attention. It’s the kind of angry attention an annoying intruder deserves. Bad marketers have no other choice. That’s the only way to get in front of people. Bad marketing is based in fear. And everyone knows it. Bad marketers get really defensive when they are challenged.

Good marketing earns attention. It draws you in, it makes people give away their precious time to engage with the marketing product. It’s a story well told. It’s an insight revealed. Good marketing is based in confidence. Confidence that we don’t need cheap tricks to get your attention. Confidence that we will deliver a marketing product that adds value.

Bad or good marketing: Both get the attention they deserve.


Image: Courtesy of Music Philosophy

I’ve seen hundreds of laundry detergent ads. None of these ads affected my purchase behavior. Why? Because I don’t have a laundry detergent problem.

I’ve seen tons of American beer commercials. I’ve never bought one of these brands. Why? Because I don’t have a beer problem. (Meaning, I don’t drink any mass market US brands.)

Good advertising helps people solve problems. Gives them concrete reasons to buy this specific product/service. Explains them why this tomato sauce tastes better, why this computer works better, why these jeans make you look nicer, why this service is more convenient or tells me why this product gives me more value. There are just a few categories where people want to connect on an emotional level with brands. These are mostly frivolous purchases, things that make you feel better (or worse in the long run): clothes, liquor, soda, cigarettes.

In these categories, brands need to build emotional connections because there’s no real problem to solve. And there’s no real difference between a Pepsi and Coke. After all, it’s just carbonated sugar water. A good reason to spend a lot of money on branding. And emotional connections.

That model doesn’t work for problem-solving products. Still, many brands try to apply the emotional connection model to a problem-solving brand. And believe in joining the conversation and building connections with their user base.

Arguably, most people don’t want to talk to a brand. They just want to get their specific problem solved and move on. Just ask the people using self service kiosks in supermarkets, retailers and airports. So, decide in what business you are in. If your goal is to solve problems for people, the best thing you could do is making your solution even better. Let other people do the talking.

Actually, just speak.

Wednesday, June 23, 8 am PT, 11 am ET

A conversation with Gail Collins, Internet analyst at BGC, a firm with $1.2 billion in revenue and offices in 19 cities. His coverage includes GOOG, YHOO, AMZN, EBAY and others. Every Wednesday at 11 am ET, Gail hosts an investor conference call.

In this week’s installment, we will talk about Facebook as the next chapter in targeting failure, lessons for business leaders that can be learned from World Cup, the difference between efficiency and effectiveness and the problems with digital marketing. Should be an interesting hour and I hope you can join us.

Please register here to the dial-in number. Hope you can join us.