Friday, November 30, 2007

Future Markets

Finding buyers in the future may take a new set of skills and attitudes.

It seems one can hardly turn the page of a marketing trade publication or advertising "rag" without finding them trumpeting "virtual worlds" or "wikis" or "social networks" or "user generated content" or some other venue of supposedly heightened consumer openness or susceptibility to a marketing message [an interesting aside: my research into these various venues on the "internet" yielded this tidbit. The word "wiki" comes from several related words in various Amerindian, or aboriginal, tongues such as wiikiyaapi in the Fox language or wikiop in Menominee which denote a structure somewhat similar to a wigwam or tipi (teepee to those of us over a certain age!) - thus a "wiki" is a place where web "denizens" can live - or even their information can reside there. Fascinating!].

Invariably, it seems that the articles attached to these concepts advise the readers to relinquish control of their brands, to engage in conversations with their customers, rather than to lecture them. This seems to be the entire wisdom and promise of the Web "2.0" crowds - brand owners ought not to control their brands, they ought to ride the crest of the waves of consumer whims and fancies wherever they may lead.


I'll say it again. Hogwash.

We here at Jay Standish, Inc. LLC firmly believe in the power of the raconteur, rather than of the relinquisher. Yes, storytelling is alive and well, and at the heart of any strong brand.

Consider this droll little tale:

A young mother (perhaps played by the delicious Parker Posey?) is out strolling near an elementary school when the bell rings for dismissal.

A bright little moppet arrives at Mother's side, beaming seraphically, and asks for a snack.

Mom, returning the child's smile, hands him a Baby Ruth® candy bar and a bottle of Pepsi One®.

"Isn't it sad how President Cleveland's daughter didn't live to see the candy bar they named after her?" asks the boy. "We learned all about it in our history class today." He skips ahead, chewing a nougat-filled bite of his Baby Ruth® as Mom smiles and chuckles to herself.

"Honey, what would you think of getting a Quizno's® sandwich for dinner tonight?" she asks as they arrive at her shining new Ford TaurusTM, they have a pepper bar, you know."

She starts the car, but checks her son's seat belt to be sure it's snugly buckled. "Mom, I'm so glad you got this Ford TaurusTM - I feel so safe when I ride in it with you."

Now tell me (if you can!) that the rich heritage and brand attributes (and even a Unique Selling Proposition or two) didn't come through loud and clear - certainly more so than were we to let our customers (or our detractors!) tell us about our products.

Don't relinquish control of your brand conversation - Steer it!

A brief postscript:
We here at Jay Standish, Inc. LLC bid a fond and nearly tearful farewell to the late, great Evel Knievel, who shuffled off this mortal coil today.
If ever a man lived the Excelsior! life, it was he - it was he indeed.
Excelsior! Jay

Last time, Jay wrote about debts and Thanksgiving:
Irv Levin responded:
"I guess I'm glad you guys are making enough money to forgive some bad debts, but what about the rest of us, Jay? Some of us are drowning in red ink up to our armpits! It's getting pretty bad, and I don't know if you realize ..."

Irv, thanks for the heartfelt outpouring of anguish, ennui, and so forth. I think you'll find a closer reading of the last missive was a celebration of looking generous while actually getting a higher return than might otherwise be realized.
Please go back and re-read it, and calm down, my friend, it's not all gloom and doom, just the vast preponderance!

-- Jay


Josh Tenner said...

Jay, you painted such a moving picture with your words, that I was forced to run across into the States to find a Quizno's restaurant so I could have one of those sandwiches.
Parker Posey is today's "it" girl - and tomorrow's too!

Jay Standish said...

Thanks for the kind words, Josh. The "it" girl is hardly adequate to describe Ms Posey - but thanks for trying!
I see you also found the brand imagery to be motivating. I hope you enjoyed your sandwich: what did you get, a foot-long Italian, perhaps?


Frank MacBreide said...

Wow! Jay, you really are the man! It looks like research is proving you right already.
I already believed you about story telling, but when the ARF speaks, I pay attention. Good on ya!

Jay Standish said...

Thanks for the link to the article, Frank. I'm hoping other members of our little community will click there and see how forward-thinking we are!

Your name seems familiar to me - do I know you from a Television production or something?


Mary Lewis said...

Jay, you seem to be one of the most perceptive brand-sters writing today.

It's refreshing to find someone who still understands brands. One aspect you might want to touch on at some point is how packaging helps define brands - every picture tells a story, you know.

Jay Standish said...

Thanks, Mary! It's good to hear these kind words from someone who is out there on the front lines, practicing what I preach - and having even won awards in the doing!

Your point is well taken, and we'll try to get our collective thinking wrapped around the packaging as brand story-teller concept you suggest. This may take some time, but rest assured, we'll be covering this topic in a future issue!