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Big & Rich – A Thank You

Most people give me flack about my love of country music. I grew up in a very small town and if you’re from a small town then you know that country music and classic rock seem to be staples. Enter country duo Big & Rich.

They’ve taken this genre by storm. They’ve integrated current events, hip hop culture and common vernacular into their funked up country. Along with Gretchen Wilson, Toby Keith and the onslaught of young country stars, they’ve brought back the idea of music as a mouth piece for whats actually going on in regular people’s lives – not just the common celebrity troubles (really?) of being rich and driving expensive cars to expensive places with expensive people. Its to the point where I don’t even bother listening to pop or rock stations anymore because nothing speaks to me. With the exception of Timbaland trying to single-handedly save these boring genres, I’m content with my country music.

Remember when music spoke for something? In country radio, its still does. What a way to market a genre that used to get a bad rap. No pun intended.

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Diddy Done it?

I dont know how I really feel about Diddy (Sean Combs) parlaying his business saavy into a CMO campaign. I understand that he is a brilliant marketer when it comes to his clothing line, fragrances, and of course, music. But, now that Diddy’s taken on marketing for Ciroc vodka, one of the ways he’ll intend to bring fame to this brand is mentions in hip hop songs. What up wit dat?

If youre an artist, have some credibility. Dont be the first to step up to push liquor commercials in your art – or the art of others you manage. Its one thing for mentions to appear in music because they are a common part of the culture, but for you to specifically lace your hip hop with promotional drops of names is by far the biggest marketing travesty I’ve heard of in a long time.

But then again, I guess you have to get while the gettin’s good.

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About Face on Facebook?

After reading this weeks installment of Ad Age, I’m finding I’m doing a double take on how I think about Facebook. I’m wondering if they can keep up with all the hype surrounding marketing to their social graphs. People seem to think of this as a ‘magic bullet’ theory on reaching the masses. I hope they all don’t drink the kool-aide.

Consumer marketing has no real place in these networks. There. I said it. Unless these groups can find a way to be useful or sponsor usable widgets, I dont see it happening. The real value of the social graphs is to see how consumers discuss brands and how companies can (gasp) make products better. Reach consumers in a conversation they actually want to be a part of. Not pushing more banner ads or ‘click here’ collateral.

Social marketers already know this. They know these networks are fantastic in building awareness and communities of conversation around topics and barriers to behavior change. Consumer marketers – the good ones at least – also know that online social networks like Facebook will ultimately serve one purpose for them – brand building. Not brand building in the sense of creating loyalty or building visibility, but more so creating a venue for healthy conversations between a brand and its community of users. Healthy meaning frequent two way communication with room for those who are anti-brand and that ultimately helps create new ways of relating.

Bottom line – if people want your product they can buy it. They’re already talking about it – why not be a part of that conversation?

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T-Shirts, Pencils and Backpacks

I’m getting used to fighting the idea that the Marketing Department at my non-profit organization is more than just freebies (see title). I know people are not used to having a MD here, so confusion is bound to run rampant. Its OK though, I know its my job to educate. With patience.

Also, I’m finding a lot of non-profits don’t seem to understand that tactics need a strategy. Its nice to have your logo on a t-shirt, but whats the ultimate response? Web traffic? Phone calls? An influx of clients?

Further, in social marketing – or basically, the marketing of non-profits – your mission should be more than traffic. What does traffic ultimately prove beyond awareness of your service? It doesnt prove that more students are going to college and graduating. It doesn’t prove that more people are donating to saving the whales. It doesn’t prove that more people are basing their political votes on their awareness of Darfur.

These things need to be made priority, not an afterthought.

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College Access Marketing, Social Marketing and ‘Haters’

I never wanted to be a marketer. As a child, I wanted to be a ballerina. A singer. A MTV video director. Never the ever hated marketer. Never.

Now, I find myself in that role. Having never considered the career of marketing, I also never knew about the hatred people have for marketing and those who are a part of it. As I encounter it in conversations at work, with new people I meet and fellow marketers, I realize this hatred comes from the fact that many so called ‘marketers’ are practicing (sales) marketing in a very traditional, boring and wasteful way. Obviously, people in this new media world of web 2.0 and prevalent viral marketing hate them. But they are not me and my fellow marketers.

You see, I am in a world of a clean version of marketing. Call it social marketing. Call it college access marketing. Basically any form of non-profit awareness, buzz building and behavior changes (for the common good!) is where my people fall in the marketing world. We don’t ‘sell’ – per se. We bring to light ideas that people already have within them. Barriers that they don’t know there are ways to overcome. We provide this insight and help find ways to go beyond what people have typecast themselves into believing is achievable for them. We do this in a variety of ways that reach people where they already are. We provide information in a way that people use, that is easy, and that is different.

But, isn’t that what marketing really is? Someone should tell those other guys.

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