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Forget the four Ps

D. Murali

MARKET research is dead. Thus begins, with a shock, the first chapter of Gonzo Marketing by Christopher Locke, a book about winning through worst practices. `Irreverent, penetrating, profoundly simple, and on-the-money', is how the blurb describes the book that has been around for some time now. And the intro has a warning: "While few corporations seem to realise it, the entire edifice of global commerce is collapsing already — under its own top-heavy weight. And this is happening at the very moment business is crowing loudest about its own gross tonnage: the biggest media mergers, biggest advertising budgets, biggest aggregation of eyeballs. In short, the messiest, `massiest' mass-marketing morass the world has ever seen." And if you want to know why Locke wants market research dead, rather than alive, it is because it works against creativity. Read on:

  • Companies talk about branding products, but what mass marketing is really about is branding people — stamping product impressions onto as many forebrains as possible, as many times a day as possible. The product is boring? No problem. Get a bigger hammer to drive the message home. Not so with the Net. It's possible to spend days and weeks online without ever seeing an ad. Many sites have no sponsors, yet are drawing an audience.

  • Markets are not stymied. They are not as confused as many companies nostalgically continue to wish they were. In the digital age, markets are rapidly becoming smarter than the companies that pretend to serve them. Faced with a broad array of choices, potential buyers are turning to the only source they trust: each other. Typical exchanges take place through e-mail or online message boards.

  • Gonzo marketing isn't really about marketing at all. At least, not the kind that mutters forgetfully about the 4 Ps of product, place, price and promotion. Since the Web came along, place no longer matters, the right price is often zero, and the first rule of promotion is to never talk about the product. But if that's the point, then `marketing' is probably the wrong word for the programme.

  • Businesses are tired of being perceived as heartless. There's only one catch: they are heartless. While it's true that many individuals involved in business enterprises might love to feel they are giving something back, they can only do so within the corporate framework if they can prove the ROI on such gifts.

  • Even for the high-latency MTFTTB (Mean Time From Tail To Brain) dinosaurs, the message is slowly sinking in. Business is tired of playing the clueless bad guy. People are tired of working for and buying from clueless bad-guy businesses. The gonzo model is a way that companies and Internet communities can begin to work together in genuine partnership.

    Can turn traditional ideas on their heads.

    Book courtesy: Wiley; www.wiley.com

    CatalystBooks@hotmail.com

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