My name is Saul! I'm an award winning Word of Mouth Marketer, Professional Speaker on the subjects of Social Media, Customer Service and best of all... Word of Mouth. I collect Air Force One sneakers and think you should hire me... (as a consultant) to teach you how to get your company doing interesting things!
the smartest man in the world.

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Photos from the Drupal Conference in San Francisco, CA 2010

Sunday, Aug 08, 2009

I don’t want to be thought of as a Marketer anymore.

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I was in San Francisco last week for work and took a few minutes out of my schedule to catch up with friends Sarah and Julie. We chatted about a bunch of things like what we where up to and personally and professionally and somewhere in the conversation I had a revelation.

I don’t want to be thought of as a Marketer anymore.

I came to this conclusion after explaining to my dinner companions that I am constantly explaining to people what exactly my job is because of my non-traditional title, Head of Magic.

I have been calling myself “H.O.M” for a couple years now because I like the mysteriousness, and because I’ve never seen myself as a marketer…or at least what being a current day marketer has become.

Ok…so this is the part of the post where I say “The opinions expressed in this blog are mine alone and do not necessarily reflect those of anyone else including friends, family or my employer“.

With that out of the way I am going to stick my neck out and say that present day marketing has become all about “cost per clicks” and the super sexy concepts of conversion rates and ROI. Now even I know these things are crucial to a companies growth so there is a point to them but and in no means am I saying these things should be ignored BUT marketing used to be about “fulfilling a promise” and “delivering on an experience” and that IMHO is getting very lost in the quest for increasing your companies conversion rate by an 1/8 of 1%.

It just seems like companies no longer care as much about making a connection with a customer and are no longer building their brands around the idea of delivering on an experience or promise but are making brands more transactional and disposable. Creating customers experiences isn’t always tied to a direct revenue stream but does have an overall effect on the bottom line of a business but without that direct link to revenue it is being pushed aside for a rainy day.

One of my business inspirations is P.T. Barnum and I know this “shift” from marketing being an art to a science would make him a little crazy because more than anyone P.T. understood the concept of experience…and sure he had an advantage of not living in the digital age where word would spread that some of his promotions were nothing more than an occasional hoax but he still understood that people are looking for something different…and a great example is that of the Cardiff Giant.

For those not familiar with the Cardiff Giant story here is the real quick version, a cigar maker named George Hull hired a sculpture maker to carve him and artificially age what appeared to be a giant fossilized human. Hall buried the carving on his brother’s farm and waited a full year for it to be discovered by a hired crew, unveiling it with great fanfare and huge profit as a museum piece. Not realizing it was a hoax P.T. Barnum tried to purchase it to add to his museum and when Hall refused to sell it Barnum had his own giant built and presented it with even more fanfare than the original Cardiff Giant saying his was the real one…and for you historical buffs it was this experience that the Quote “A sucker is born every minute” came from BUT it was actually George Hall who said it and not P.T. Barnum.

P.T. Barnum believed in giving people more than their money’s worth and in the example of the Cardiff Giant he was doing that by adding a more interesting story to the same hoax that George Hall was offering…and you can say that this is a bad example because the whole thing was a scam but the people who came and paid to see the Giant were transported to a different world and left with a new life experience not that different from going to the movies now a days (and to take this further going to the movies and finding out there are 3 Asteroid films at the same time) remember this all took place in 1850.

P.T. would always say “Without promotion something terrible happens… Nothing!”

So if you are in the position to spread messages and create hype around a product, service, event or just about anything your should be creating a great story around why people need your item or attend your event and promote it the way P.T. would. Go crazy and have fun because people will notice that more than ever because less and less people are taking the time to do it this way.

No one understood hype/promotion (or dare I say Marketing) better that P.T. Barnum. So much so that when he was in failing health he gave permission to the newspaper to announce his passing a few days before he actually died so he could watch how the news spread and what the public reaction was. I love that story and this is what I aspire to be…not dead, but always trying new things and not resting on things that you know will work…and that in my opinion is much more than a marketing person so when I am asked what I do for a living I am going to keep telling people I make magic.

…and if you are wondering what I do that is P.T. Barnum worthy I invite you to keep your eyes open for an national event on August 25th to showcase that hopefully will make the Barnum and Bailey Circus look like a petting zoo.

  1. Hey Saul,

    Great post and super relevant.

    I think the secret is that an environment or strategy where both types of approaches (experiential and response/metrics based) are used is really ideal.

    If you aren't connecting with and delivering great experiences to your customers then you are missing out on the best opportunity to extend and engage your customers in your brand and your business. And that's gold. It's also a heck of a lot of fun.

    At the same time, if you ignore opportunities to deliver better business results through testing, measures and optimization then you are missing out on smart business moves and opportunities to grow.

    So, as you say, it's not really one or the other – just that both are super critical. And I could not agree more.

    Thanks for this!

    – Mitch

  2. Great post Saul.

    Half way through article got me thinking of a give-a-way to send to alpha testers of a web application I will be starting to code in a short while. it's so new it's still in the planning and wireframing stage.

    I figured I can sell cheaply/give any extras to other new users once the application is live. This way they all can gather information when they have it and can later place in application. This would be for those with no cell phone or internet connection.

    Awesome article as usual.

  3. Saul –

    Love this post of yours. I am of the opinion that "Sales" and "Marketing" is more about ROI and profits. Although these are important, customer satisfaction and experience are equally important.

    If we have to continually sell our customers on why they should do business with us then we're missing the boat.

    We should be able to offer our current clients such an amazing experience that they become our sales force.

    Keep up the great work Saul!


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