Does nasty sell?

A couple notes before I climb onto my soapbox.

  • This is not a political blog nor really is this a political post.  I promise.
  • I am not endorsing any of the candidates…they’re just my putty to mold into the point I’m trying to make.
  • Stay with me through the political example to find the marketing truth.

A few weeks ago, I had some of the hottest tickets in town.  The Des Moines Register holds two final debates right before making their endorsement and because of the venue and security — it’s invite only for a 150 or so people.  I missed the Republican debate because of a client commitment but was able to attend (and take my daughter) to the Democratic debate.

In the 90 minutes of usual rhetoric and weasel-wording that we’ve forced the politicians to use so we won’t crucify them later, there were two moments of sincerity.  The first one got huge play on national media.

I guarantee that you saw it.  It was Obama taking a little dig at Hillary about how she’s going to end up advising him.  It added nothing of substance to the debate but it was probably the most played segment of the entire 90 minutes.

On the flip side, this second snippet created hardly a ripple. Very few viewings on YouTube and I never saw it on any national or even local coverage.  And yet, it spoke to the character of the candidates in a very profound way.

The question was directed at Joe Biden and suggested he might be a racist.  What you can’t see on the video is while Biden is responding, all of his opponents are nodding in support of what he’s saying.  At the end, Obama speaks out to defend Biden and ALL the candidates applaud him (Biden). 

That should have been big news.  But it wasn’t.

So what does this have to do with marketing?  Only everything.

One of the truths about marketing is that you have to work twice as hard to earn someone’s delight to the point that they’ll talk about it.  Give them shoddy service or mess up an order and BAM! they’re telling everyone they know.  But do it well — nothing.

You know what the big complaint was about these debates?  They were boring.  No fireworks.  The media wanted blood and when they didn’t really get any — they settled for Obama’s one-liner. 

I didn’t read one commentary that said how nice it was that there weren’t fireworks.  Or how the candidates actually said nice things about each other.

You simply can not go out there and be good.  It will be the death of your business.  It seems as though our world can’t get enough of conflict (check out reality TV) or competition.  But we’ve been so spoiled and catered to as businesses scramble to win our money — that the bar is not at good.  It’s at remarkable.  It’s at "I can’t believe it."  It’s at "I would have never guessed you could…"

That is what we’re up against.  We have to shout so loudly against the nasty, biting wind that we can be heard. 

What do you have in your marketing plan for ’08 that is so remarkable that it will win the attention of your most cynical customers or prospects?  My guess is that you’ve got nothing.  Most businesses don’t go this deep.  So I am challenging you…how are you going to be different?  What stories will people tell about your business in ’08?

Related posts:
Are we playing the wrong role in our stories?
Are you boring your customers?
Start the New Year with a BANG!