Becoming a Great Marketer: Invention vs. Upgrade
For background material to this article, we encourage you to first read “Viewpoint: The ‘invention illusion’ means new rarely is new” published last week on BBC News.
This week we’ll be presenting a model for identifying and reporting on inventions, innovations and the like. What makes something new, or can anything really be considered new at all?
Maybe any talk of inventions is mere fancy. Is it really truthful to say that anything today is really an invention? Maybe it is just a modification or update on a previous version? But as we will explain, it all has to do with a company’s willingness to benefit people in some new way. The innovation is in the new ways that this “old” invention can now benefit people.
Of foremost importance is to be truthful, especially in advertising. If this product doesn’t do what the marketers claim, then this is wrong. But if it does, then all the more so, the benefits should me made known to the world. But we need to keep things in the proper context, and not presume that these are new inventions exist without some history to them.
There is a question on what to do with those marketers who don’t want to admit the past? The best marketers are those that first make an admission (e.g. that this new product is just an updated version), but then proceed to details the reasons why it is still important to buy it. They are not pretending that this smartphone or tablet didn’t exist before in another form. The distinction is with regard to the anatomy of the upgrade, and how these new features can better peoples’ lives.
MARKETERS CAN BE TRUTHFUL
We need then a revolution of good, truthful marketers. While every marketer says they have something to say, the public increasingly only wants to listen to the truthful ones. People are tired of the false claims and promises. Instead, we’d all rather listen to truthful statements from people we trust. These marketers are also some of the most connected people you’ll ever meet. Not connected in terms of having large followings, but connected in that they are a people person among marketers. They really care about steering people in the right direction. The question then is not whether there is innovation, but rather which marketers should I listen to? Which ones are saying innovations that ring true? There is a famous marketer that once titled a book “all marketers are liars.” He later recanted, and amended it to read that “all marketers tell stories.” As we will explain, the first statement was probably a better start. But instead of how it was written, we would have worded it is “all marketers either tell the truth, or the opposite… “.
Marketers that don’t acknowledge the past are also extremely forceful in their claims. Aside from being untruthful, this forcefulness also tends to push people away. Another factor that pushes people away is pride. If a marketer thinks of themselves to be the best, even if their claims are truthful, their advice is still seen as something pushy. They should never think of themselves as being these great marketers. The moment they think themselves to be great is also the moment when they think of themselves as some innovation. They, like the products they market, should focus on the benefits. How they are benefiting others. Similar to smartphones, tablets, etc… they are not the first marketer to have ever existed on the planet.
MAVENS, SALESMEN AND CONNECTORS
There are three things needed to become a great marketer:
The first is that they are always keeping their eyes open to good stories (like a photographer who goes around with their camera). This is what people call an intuitive marketer. Not simply that they have smarts, but they intuitively sense what’s going on in the world. This is what Malcolm Gladwell refers to in The Tipping Point as the Mavens:
“Mavens are “information specialists”, or “people we rely upon to connect us with new information.” They accumulate knowledge and know how to share it with others.”(Wikipedia)
The second is that a marketer should be a happy, friendly person. Someone that people are naturally attracted to. This is what Gladwell calls the Salesmen:
“Salesmen are ‘persuaders’, charismatic people with powerful negotiation skills. They tend to have an indefinable trait that goes beyond what they say, which makes others want to agree with them.” (ibid)
The third is that the marketer acts quickly and in a proper way. He sees a news story, and he writes or speaks about it. His take on the story should be quick because he has a readership waiting to hear and benefit from what he has to say. But his take should not be too hurried as to be inaccurate. Both speed and accuracy are needed. Gladwell calls this third quality Connectors:
“Connectors, are the people in a community who know large numbers of people and who are in the habit of making introductions. A connector is essentially the social equivalent of a computer