Dreamy Guys and Gorgeous Girls

I was responding to a friend’s request to provide some “marketing” advice recently and it compelled me to write about the experience.

I place “marketing” in quotes because, as my friend’s questions symbolized, there is a pervasive lack of comprehension (ignorance, to be precise, although it’s a little judgmental sounding) about marketing. When a vast majority of people ask me about “marketing” advice, what they are really seeking is tactical, promotion “how to’s” and marketing communications techniques.

But in the spirit of being helpful, I usually try to do two things when such advice is sought. First, I try to respond to their perceived promotion needs. Often, I start by providing them the list below, from the classic college textbook on marketing by Philip Kotler – $170 new, but worth every penny. 

While it’s not an exhaustive list, it’s still an eye-opening one when people see it, because so often they are focused on (a) SEO/SEM and (b) social media – which is kind of like saying 60-plus years ago “I’m focused on TV.”


  • Print, broadcast, e-mail and web
  • Packaging – outer
  • Packaging – inserts
  • Mailings
  • Catalogs
  • Motion pictures
  • House magazines
  • Brochures and booklets
  • Posters and leaflets
  • Directories and databases
  • Commons and reprints
  • Billboards
  • Display signs
  • Point-of-purchase displays
  • Symbols & logos

Sales promotion

  • Contests, games, sweepstakes, lotteries
  • Premiums, gifts and free- or shareware
  • Sampling and downloads
  • Fairs and tradeshows
  • Exhibits
  • Demonstrations
  • Couponing
  • Rebates
  • Low-interest financing
  • Entertainment
  • Trade-in allowances
  • Trading cards, stamps, badges
  • Tie-ins

Public relations

  • Press kits
  • Speeches
  • Seminars
  • Annual reports
  • Charitable donations, including pro bono services and in-kind product
  • Social impact ventures/investments
  • Sponsorships
  • Publications
  • Lobbying and advocacy
  • Identity and other brand media
  • Search engine optimization

Personal selling

  • Sales presentations
  • Webinars
  • Sales meetings
  • Direct marketing (including telemarketing, direct mail)
  • On demand or click-to- Chat
  • Incentive programs

The second thing I try to do is provide a quick reminder as to what the discipline of marketing really involves, versus marketing communications or sales-marketing promotion.

Without trying to be a jerk about it, I try to explain that using the word “marketing” as shorthand for promotion is like using the word “elephant” when what you really have in mind is the wet nostril of its trunk. Not entirely inaccurate, but a poor choice of terms for what the proverbial pachyderm is all about.

The chart at the beginning of this post, from Pragmatic Marketing, is usually a pretty handy reference for driving this point home. That is why they remain, in my opinion, the standard for professional education for the field of marketing, especially for high tech businesses. 

Not to stray too far off-topic, but occasionally I’ll have someone tell me that the simple metaphor for “marketing” they use is one that you’ve probably read, which relies on a range of male pick-up lines for the illustration. The version I’ve seen circulating for more than a decade usually starts off with “a guy going up to a gorgeous girl and saying ‘you know, I’m great in bed'” or “‘you know, I’m rich; you should marry me.'”

To focus just on the Kotler marcom categories and to give it my own reverse spin, the metaphor goes something like this: 

You’re at a party with a bunch of friends and see a handsome guy…the man of your dreams. One of your friends goes up to him and, pointing at you, says, “You know, she’s rich…you should marry her!” That’s Advertising.

You’re at a party and see your handsome, dreamy guy. You get up and straighten your skirt, you walk up to him and buy him a drink. You take his arm, laugh (not too loudly) at his attempt at a joke, offer to pay for the cab ride home and then say, “By the way, you know I’m rich…we should get married.” That’s Public Relations.

You see your handsome guy at a party. You get his telephone number. The next day you call him and say, “You know I’m rich, we should get married.” That’s Personal Selling (specifically, Telemarketing).

You see the man of your dreams at a party. You walk up with your lawyer by your side (if you’re that rich, it’s a good chance it’s Gloria Allred), you hand him a pre-nup guaranteeing him $5 million in a separate bank account – no strings attached – upon return from the honeymoon and say, “In case you haven’t noticed, I’m rich and I really think we should get married.” That’s Sales Promotion.

Of course the typical punch-line is the following: You’re at a party and see your Mr. Right. He walks up to you and says, “I understand you’re rich…will you marry me?” That’s Brand Recognition.

Oddly enough, I’ve found this metaphor to be highly circulated in posts from people in developing countries, although you certainly see it everywhere. Perhaps such an oversimplification and narrow definition of marketing may help to explain why Western marketing technology and marcom talent is especially in demand for growing businesses in developing countries.

They haven’t quite “got it” yet…but, you can bet it won’t be long before they will.

Seven amazing business books: Part 1

A little over two years ago, Steve Jobs famously said “the fact is that people don’t read anymore” in remarks he made critiquing what he believed to be the flawed, digital book business model of the Amazon Kindle.

That may be true, but it doesn’t make the power of the ideas that we consume from the content of a “book” (be it a bound set of printed paper, eInk on a Kindle, or an audio recording narrated to you by the author) any less transformative.  So, with that little bit of personal inspiration, I felt the need to write this post.  With a little more room in the header, I would better entitle it “Seven amazing business books you’ve probably never read.”  You will see why in a moment.

I’ve read many, many books over these past 50 years. Over the past 30, since entering the working world, I’ve read, skimmed, or tossed pretty much every one of the major business books du jour, along with hundreds of others, ranging from Soundview book summary to freebie, author-signed copy at conferences.

In recent years, with the Google-ization of all information, plus a really darn fine community library just up the road from my home, I’ve found myself thinning down my personal library of bookcases full of these business books accumulated over time. (Thank you Half Price Books!)

But, in the process, I’ve culled down to a single bookcase what is my essential personal reference library, including what are, in my opinion, some of the truly undiscovered jewels of business writing. Without further adieu, let me share seven of the most amazing books that I’m betting you’ve probably never read, starting with the first two today and going in the order of most recent to oldest.

Persuasive Technology, by BJ Fogg (Morgan Kaufmann Publishers, 2003) – This modest, unassuming soft cover book, by a Stanford professor, is one of the absolute best references for how human cognition works in relation to (and is influenced by) technology. But, with our increasingly digital society, I would expand the reach of this book to more than technology and say that its relevance is to how one wields persuasion in business, in general.

For example, his section on the attributes making a website more credible or less credible to users is a must read. But, I have found myself going back repeatedly to Professor Fogg’s research and findings on the subjects of credibility, trust, expertise, and different modalities of persuasion, to apply them to other areas of conducting business, beyond technology. I highly recommend it.

The Drucker Self-Assessment Tool: Participant Workbook, by Peter F. Drucker (Jossey-Bass, 1999) – Alfred Sloan may have invented the principles of 20th century management in his work at GM, as we came to learn it, but Peter Drucker literally “wrote the book” on modern management, by codifying those principles.

However, as great a thinker, writer and teacher on business as Drucker was, I have found his Self-Assessment Tool for non-profit organizations (NPO) to be required reading for any NPO manager, board member, or funding providers. In typical Drucker style, it is simple, logical, and unwaveringly precise in its objective, towards making modern NPOs stronger in every way through critical inspection of mission and data-based, public scrutiny of results.

More amazing, never read books to come in the next post.  In the meantime, tell me about your favorites.