The most effective marketing, said my professor Michael Edmondson in Philadelphia last fall, is by word of mouth. Pinterest utilizes this theory well, as do Facebook, Twitter, and StumbleUpon. On Pinterest you can virtually thumbtack everything you love; which, quite simply, markets what you love to the world. It’s totally marketing, even if the primary purpose of this thumbtacking is not to market, but just to safekeep the brilliant things you find.
When you post a status, picture, or link on any social networking site, you are marketing yourself to the world. Did you realize YOU are the Director, Manager, Head Honcho of Your Personal Marketing Department?
I’ve witnessed people who are born advertisers. What does Malcolm Gladwell’s book The Tipping Point call them – mavens and salesmen? In Purple Cow, Seth Godin coins them sneezers and early adopters. Godin says this about the rising ineffectiveness of traditional marketing solutions: “As consumers, we’re too busy to pay attention to advertising, but we’re desperate to find good stuff that solves our problems.” He talks about how good advertising of a remarkable product will reach the right niche through reaching the right sneezers. Then everybody’s enthusiasm catches like wildfire.
Godin is right – we are desperate to find the good stuff. Sneezers we know do this all day long. And we love these people – they save us wasted time and money by offering honest evaluations to help us make choices.
My friend emailed me recently saying she loved the movie “Salmon Fishing in the Yemen.” Her gentle, sincere praise of the film planted a little nudging in my noggin. Really, that title sounds like one of those fishing shows on PBS that you never, ever, ever watch and makes Judge Judy look like a triple Oscar-winning thriller. A few weeks later, a girl at work told me, “I want to see Snow White and the Huntsman.” “Me too,” I responded, “also, I want to see Salmon Fishing in the Yemen.” Then she laughed at me. When she asked, “What’s it about?” I said pathetically, “I can’t remember, but a friend told me it was good.”
Isn’t that enough? Most of us will buy the hummus at Trader Joe’s, if someone recommends it enthusiastically enough – and often, just a few positive words will do the trick. How much convincing do we need, usually? We trust our friends. We trust people we love. Yeah, sometimes they’re wrong, but don’t you trust total strangers on the internet who review everything from albums to zoos? Do you check out Yelp before visiting a restaurant, the Amazon reviews of a book before purchase, or rottentomatoes.com before viewing a movie? I know I do. Just as we constantly market, we constantly listen to the marketing of others – others who may live next door or across the ocean.
Having said all that, I’ll admit I’m not usually a pushy marketer. Often, I am not even 100 percent sure of what I like, much less what I like enough to recommend to other people. For me to say, “You’ve got to try this!” I have to be utterly, entirely sure of the quality, convinced of the worth, swept away by the value, pretty darn dazzled.
This boils down to me marketing things to do with food a lot. Food is good. And dessert. Cake. Cupcakes.
But I market things that are important to me, too, things so important that to not share them would be extremely unfair… like if I found a diamond tree in the forest and proceeded to seal my lips with duct tape, and filled my arms with those sparkling beauties… and never told a soul what I’d found.
With that lovely image in your head (A diamond tree…ooooh, picture a diamond tree in the sunlight after a rain shower. I like that.) let me offer to you a heartfelt recommendation – gently.
Picture me holding a bouquet of the sweetest-smelling flowers, yellow and pink. Picture me holding out a homemade pie, or a chubby, laughing baby you just have to hold.
There’s a lot of books in this world.
I’ve just read the most life-changing, intelligent, thought-provoking book. Now – take a deep breath. It’s for anyone seeking to find your purpose in life. It’s called The Good Life, written by Chuck Colson, who recently passed away, and it’s a masterpiece.
Before you say, Oh good grief, here we go again, Brooke is making me feel uncomfortable with her religious talk and her blabber that everybody needs Jesus, before you close this window on your laptop, before you start to wish you’d never subscribed to my blog, know that I do not recommend things lightly. Especially when it comes to things related to faith. A plethora of resources are out there, both terrible and excellent. I would not tell you to read this book without being utterly convinced it might astound you.
This book astounded me.
Chuck Colson, in a journalistic manner, similar to the manner in which a lawyer might bring a case before a judge, brings up the questions he believes everyone asks, whatever the heck you believe about life. He does not assume his readers claim any specific worldview – only that they probably seek the answer to the question “How do I live a good life?” Colson does not start with a Christian worldview. He writes from a wide vantage point in a thoughtful, well-researched, anecdotal style. He tells his story about the Watergate scandal and his own disgraceful involvement that sent him to prison and took away his voting rights for life. He tells how he lost his hard-earned lawyer’s license, and after his prison experience, began a prison ministry that has reached thousands and thousands of people, and for which he had intense passion until his death.
BUT this book is NOT Chuck Colson’s biography, although he incorporates many stories from his own life (his memoir is another book on my reading list, Born Again). Colson goes beyond himself to consider history, philosophy, pop culture, and the stories of people whose lives help us understand how to live the good life – as well as the greatest story of all time: the gospel, the story of Jesus Christ, and how God’s grace can turn a dark, depressed life into one full of abundant life, purpose, and joy.
In the spirit of today’s mass outbreak of sneezing marketers online, in the belief that the best marketing is by word of mouth, this is a book you should read. Considering used copies start at a penny on Amazon (and the library has it for free), you have no excuse but to tell me it’s not worth your time.
And in that case, I’ve just sneezed and told you it is.
So what are you waiting for?