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« Busker's dilemma (busker's delight) | Main | Underextended »

A marketing lesson from the apocalypse

If you're reading this blog, then the world didn't end, at least in my time zone.

How does one market the end of the world? After all, you don't have a big ad budget. Your 'product' is something that has been marketed again and again through the ages and it has never worked. There's significant peer pressure not to buy it...

And yet, every time, people succumb. They sell their belongings, stop paying into their kid's college fund and create tension and despair.

Here's the simple lesson:

Sell a story that some people want to believe. In fact, sell a story they already believe.

The story has to be integrated into your product. The iPad, for example, wasn't something that people were clamoring for... but the story of it, the magic tablet, the universal book, the ticket to the fashion-geek tribe--there was a line out the door for that. The same way that every year, we see a new music sensation, a new fashion superstar. That's not an accident. That story is just waiting for someone to wear it.

And the some part is vital. Not everyone wants to believe in the end of the world, but some people (fortunately, just a few) really do. To reach them, you don't need much of a hard sell at all.

Too often marketers take a product and try to invent a campaign. Much more effective is to find a tribe, find a story and make a product that resonates, one that makes the story work.

That's the whole thing. A story that resonates and a tribe that's tight and small and eager.

I hope you can dream up something more productive than the end of the world, though.

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