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Is there Truth in Marketing?

As Seth Godin’s book proclaimed: All Marketers Are Liars!

Okay, it’s a catchy title, and not really true, but the topic of his book interested me enough to buy it, but then again, he already had me hooked after reading The Purple Cow

The idea for this post came about last night when I made a microwave dinner.

Earlier this week, I did some grocery shopping.  I’m training to run a marathon in May — not sure if this is actually going to happen or not due to inherent conflict between the current state of my muscles, tendons and ligaments versus the demand required of them, so while I’ve always been a fairly healthy eater, I’m really upping my game to give my body even more help for the demands I’m placing on it…

So I bought some Ezekiel Organic Sprouted Whole Grain bread and wow, this is some of the best and freshest tasting bread I’ve ever had – and I bought it frozen.  So far so good…

As I moved along the healthy/organic aisles, I chucked a few microwave things into the cart which  seemed really good for me after reading the ingredients.

So last night, I microwave one of these super-healthy entrees, the one below happened to be a bean & cheese enchilada dish, (I know the true vegans or Esseltyn diet folks are screaming that cheese isn’t good for you, I’m not here to debate the merits of individual ingredients =)).  And I quickly pull this thing out after it’s done getting nuked and it happens to land almost side-by-side to the box and I couldn’t help but notice the stark contrast and thought:

 

Marketing Ideal versus reality

Where’s the golden roasted corn?

Where’s the plump, juicy beans?

where’s the luscious, creamy, white cheese?

I’m looking at my wilted, cardboard box bowl, with the red stuff soaking and leaching in, thinking, I wonder when my spoon is trying to break off the crusted red stuff off the cardboard side if this soft cardboard is flaking off and getting mixed in with the goup?  I’ve always heard a little pulp in your diet isn’t bad for you.

And I’m thinking:  What if most things we consumed or purchased had this disconnect?

While I’m no stranger to microwave food and I totally get the disconnect between food marketers versus the actual product, I do wonder why we as consumers put up with these huge disconnects based on what a company is telling us we can expect to receive versus what we actually get.

Shouldn’t a food marketer at least have some little asterisk* that says:

*hey you…don’t rely on the pic that we paid a photographer 1K to shoot and another top chef to prepare the food and got the bowl from Williams-Sonoma — what you get will actually look like pig slop, served in a cardboard box that will wilt and take on a life form all its own, but hey, our ingredients kick butt, we care, this stuff is organic, we source from the best, we throw in lots of groovy and healthy spices, your taste buds will go nuts, and our food will make your body very, very happy, even it looks like slop.

Ya know…if some marketing exec had the guts to actually put a picture on the container that was the actual end result after it getting nuked for 5 minutes, and had some hip slogan, I think I would be tempted to buy the thing based on the novelty of the approach and the fact that I would feel I’m being told the truth, but I guess that would be bad for sales and therein lies the rub…

Don’t get me wrong, I’m not picking on this company, I actually like their stuff, and will buy it again, but NOT because of their photo, but because I think they fill a need I have, but I wonder how other industries would fare if this kind of disconnect happened?

When I lived in Portland, Maine for a year and I worked a few doors down from the local Ben & Jerry’s Ice Cream shop (before they were really known outside of New England), there was no disconnect between their ice cream, their service, their marketing, all the pieces fit seamlessly, and I loved going there and eating their stuff.

In an effort to capture mindshare of a consumer (regardless of industry or product) in a world filled with people who can be or are skeptical, short on time, their inboxes, mailboxes, social media accounts are overloaded with data, information, links, videos, multi-tasking, trying to squeeze in time to grocery shop, feed the kids, feed the dogs, hamster, flowers, mow the grass, pay the bills, stuck in rush hour traffic, running errands, attending a local school event, and every once in a while, doing something fun for yourself….

…it’s often no surprise that given these constraints, there is a whole crop of new-aged fortune tellers, oops, I mean energetic entrepreneurs, (otherwise known as social media experts) who advise on all things on how to connect with your customer), as well as traditional marketing and ad-type peeps who are all proclaiming, some new and some not so new concepts to help business owners and service providers:

  • Be authentic
  • Under promise and over deliver
  • Be transparent
  • Be honest and ethical to a fault, everything else will fall into place
  • Listen to your customers, let them do most of the talking
  • Exceed expectations at every encounter
  • Be proactive, anticipate your customer’s needs
  • When you are wrong, say you are sorry, man up and make it right
  • Know your audience
  • Do the right thing

There are always exceptional folks out there in every field (social media advising, marketing, advertising, branding, website designers), but they are few, far and in-between in my experience

One could easily fill pages of bullets with all things marketing/branding/advertising/social media/service delivery, etc., both new and old.  While the above things make sense to me, and I try to not only consciously incorporate these in my business, but not the mindset where I’m going to bolt these onto my business as some new way to increase my business and satisfy my customers.  Cause…I’m either authentic or I’m not, it’s not like I’m simply bolting on to my psyche the authentic widget for the day.

That said, when I wear my consumer hat, when I read or hear about some generic proclamation I cannot verify, or some statistic is used that is irrelevant or impossible to independently verify, things such as: we are #1, we are the best, new and improved, etc., and my sniff test detects the slightest skanky odor, I shut down and move on as a consumer, cause I don’t have the time, inclination nor the patience if I think someone is feeding me a line or isn’t being totally honest.

Gotta go see what’s next to pull from my freeze to go nuke!

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