Nuclear weapons have killed a tiny fraction of the number of people that unethical marketing has. It’s time we realized that there may be no more powerful weapon on Earth.
This statement really took hold in my mind. Is marketing the most powerful weapon in the world? Seth Godin is a marketer so how do I know if he is lying or "telling a good story"?
Marketing stories can have a nearly instant impact, and that impact can be felt for decades. Paul Prudhomme created a story about redfish that made the fish a staple in restaurants around the country – and came very close to causing its extinction.
I checked on this and found it to be true. Here’s a link to the article in the NY Times. Granted this is only one source, but the NY Times is a reputable source of information in many regards. After one example, I’m not completely convinced. I’d like a more recent example.
Coke and Pepsi created a story about corn syrup, and this myth is causing the premature death from heart disease and diabetes to millions of people.
This is an example that really hits home. I’ve heard that this is true, but how do I know it’s not another marketer telling me a good story so I’ll buy the more expensive organic and natural food and beverages? This issue I found to be less conclusive since companies could stand to lose millions and possibly billions of dollars if corn syrup is indeed found to be bad for you. In fact, the corn refiners have set up a website dedicated to the "Truth About High Fructose Corn Syrup". An article at BoingBoing.com concludes that high fructose corn syrup is bad for you, but is it true or is it something we want to believe because being healthy and green is a fad (I hope it’s not a fad, but only time will tell) in the US now? Here are some other resources for this particular subject:
The point of this post was not to state that redfish or corn syrup is good or bad. I wanted to reemphasize that Seth Godin’s point is that marketing is a real weapon. We are constantly bombarded with marketing.
Seth Godin has two questions to ask a marketer in determining whether you should believe the story that the marketer is telling you.
1. If I knew what you know, would I choose to buy what you sell?
2. After I’ve used this and experienced it, will I be glad that I believed the story or will I feel ripped off?
Are there any other recent marketing examples that you feel may end up hurting people?
photo by Giginger
Other articles you may find interesting:
Am I going to target houses or people?
With houses, you are looking for ugly houses. With people, you are looking for ugly situations. In a sense, I’m going to target both: people because people sell the houses (duh), but I’m also targeting houses that are within my “farm area”. Although I feel targeting people is a better “bang for the buck”, marketing to a house is the only other way to target a farm area besides marketing to non-owner occupants (which I am also doing, but I’ll get to that later). There is a need for goals, a plan to achieve the desired results, and focus. If I am looking for vacant houses all over town, it’s difficult to not get overwhelmed and thus, being focused is a must. If I put a comprehensive plan together and STICK TO IT, I’ll stayed focus and I WILL achieve my goal.
photo by Torres21
What people and houses am I targeting?
I am targeting people that may need to sell a house. Again, duh. There are many groups of people that might need to sell a house: those going into foreclosure, people transferring jobs, getting a divorce, people who have inherited a property, and landlords who may not want to be landlords any longer. From these groups, I have decided to target people who have inherited property. Reason being that there is motivation to get rid
of the property in exchange for cash from the inherited “estate”. Most heirs already have a place to live and do not want to deal with the responsibilities of an extra house. A lot of the inherited property, which we’ll call probate property, is often loaded with equity which means more potential profit for the real estate investor. Because heirs typically have little to no money involved with the house, any money they receive is basically “free”. And because another of the aforementioned groups sometimes falls into the probate
category, by default I am also targeting non-owner occupants – or as I like to call them, landlords who wish they weren’t.
What is my farm area?
My main farm area is the South Hills neighborhood in Fort Worth. There are many reasons I am targeting this area. For one, it’s central and easy to get to and from. I personally like this aspect of the neighborhood, but it is also desireable for prospective buyers and tenants. South Hills sits on the outskirts of the TCU (Texas Christian University) area, which is one of the most desireable in Fort Worth. The homes are older and a lot of them need repair. It is also safe and well established. You can drive through the neighborhoods and most of the lawns are well-kept. This is also not a neighborhood that most of the investors I know target. The downsides are that there are not a lot of people selling in that area. A lot of people enjoy this neighborhood, live there a long time and rarely decide to move so it’s difficult to find houses for sale. That’s where I hope my direct marketing will come into play. In essence I will plant seeds that will hopefully flower into phone calls and real estate deals.
So, how am I marketing to them?
I will use direct marketing in the form of postcards, letters and door-hangers in six week cycles. For probate property, I plan to send postcards the first and second weeks. I will then send letters on the fourth and sixth weeks. For the non-owner occupant houses, I will market to them once a month. I’ve picked a few areas and will keep my number of non-owner occupant houses to around 700 to keep my advertising costs in check.