Dec

14

I've been on Victor's wonderful lists for some years now and regularly read disparaging comments about promotion and marketing of this or that product, service, etc. as if the very act of promoting one's goods or services is in and of itself evil and denigrating. How do specs imagine that things are sold? By magic? Do you think that the stocks in the companies you trade would be worth anything if these firms and their affiliates didn't do all they could to promote their goods and services in the most cost efficient and results-oriented fashion? Do you really think that things get sold on advertising placed in declining newspaper and magazine circulations? Why wouldn't one turn to the internet, be it email or banner ads or whatever, where that is clearly where the action is? Or should goods and services not be promoted but sold only on the basis of gatekeeper reviews in these (declining circulation) vehicles? Should GE not promote their light bulbs or refrigerators actively but only in-store (by buying product placement shelf space) or through vetted reviewers such as Consumer Reports? Do you really want a world where gatekeepers determine what is promoted to you, and then tell you what to think about it? I don't — keep those spam mails coming from Nieman Marcus and zappos.com!. One would like it if only the best rose to the top, magically, with no promotion (of course, then your newspaper subscription would cost a lot more, and you'd pay for all tv, including local stations or your tax dollars would support such, or the Amazon discount wouldn't be as generous) but all firms would save a bundle in time and money. But this is not reality and it's never been the case. In time, the best survive but in the short run the best promoter wins (and the two are not mutually exclusive). Promotion is necessary and I'll go as far as to say it's not even a necessary evil. Promotion is good and long live promotion. With the internet it is an increasingly level playing field that anyone can join. People are inundated daily with messages from the stop sign on the way to work to the song in their head. They have a million things to do and see and read. The most effective promotion is not magazine or newspaper or whatever advertising (and I would suggest that it is ultimately the least effective because we've conditioned ourselves to ignore it) but promotion that reaches out and touches you. It may touch you by repetition, it may touch you personally, it may touch you by its outrageous message. But it must touch you, and often more than once. If you got the message the first time and responded, great, it was a message you were open to. But millions of other people might not have received the original message, or may not have been open to it at that moment. Jim Cramer is brilliant for his keen sense of promotion. Whether you buy what he is selling or not, millions adore the manner in which he delivers. Madonna is not the most talented singer in the room but she packaged herself in a way that reached out and touched people personally. She and Jim Cramer got our attention; the only difference is how they did it, but it was, at heart, extremely self-promotional. Before them there have been no shortage of savvy and aggressive direct mail marketers who have achieved great success by such promotions. The best promotion will hit you over the head like a Jim Cramer commercial, a Madonna sex video, or a repetitive email message. The best promotion is the personal touch. GE trying to sell you a fridge will lead to 0 sales which is why they bring in celebrity stand ins. Sony trying to sell the Justin Timberlake album will get 0 sales which is why Justin gets out there and self-promotes. The 'tude that the good and worthy (or successful) shouldn't promote because it is beneath them or tacky is exactly the attitude that has the libertarian party ranking somewhere below the Green party and Ralph Nader. No promotion = no attention and that is a ticket to failure for anyone or any business trying to sell something. I can well imagine any number of dead artists who achieved "success" after the fact who would love the opportunity to come back and have another go at the promotion thing. Even the rich and famous promote, and heartily. How do you think they got so rich and famous? By hiding? Whether Madonna or Tom Cruise or 'insert famous hedge fund manager names here', they all promote.


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