Via Sue Unerman @SueU
Ask most secondary school aged kids how to prevent scurvy, a disease they will have had little contact with and they will tell you, with Vitamin C.
The use of ascorbic acid, or at least citrus fruit that have high levels of one of the few vitamins our bodies don’t manufacture, has been known for centuries.
In 1747 James Lind undertook one of the very first-ever clinical trials in which he proved the power of citrus fruit in curing sailors of scurvy. And from the late 18th Century it became routine for British sailors to be administered lemon juice while at sea.
But something weird happened at the end of the 19th and in the early 20th century. We forgot this.
When Scott attempted his ill-fated expedition to the South Pole between 1911 and 1912 the presence of scurvy was all too real in his men. Many fell ill to a disease that had been effectively cured over 100 years before. This on an expedition fuelled by the latest scientific thinking.
Science had forgotten how to cure scurvy, blinded by a whole host of new and fashionable thinking particularly a belief that the cause was rotten meat. It took until 1932 for Vitamin C to be clearly identified and nutrition put back on the front foot when it came to scurvy.
This story seems beyond belief. That a simple truth identified (if perhaps not fully understood) years before should be swept away by fashion and fad with disastrous consequences. But that’s precisely what has been happening in marketing. In the face of technological disruption we are forgetting the way that marketing works.
This phenomenon has been best documented in a recent article in the FT by Ian Leslie that should be required reading for any one in marketing. In particular he references Byron Sharp’s work in trying to re-establish the laws of marketing before its too late.
So what is it that we are forgetting? What marketing truths do you routinely hear being ignored, contradicted or compromised? Here are my top ten marketing truths, many of which are drawn directly from Professor Sharp.
- Seeking greater penetration is almost always the winning strategy rather than attempting to shift average weight of purchase.
- Light buyers are your most valuable customers not loyalists. Virtually every brand needs more light buyers.
- Buying is the desired outcome from marketing not engagement, participation or conversation. We are obsessed by the wrong metrics.
- People never care enough about brands to want to be followers, friends or fans. Not at a scale that is commercially useful.
- Brands need to ensure their mental availability but its fanciful and hideously expensive to remain ‘always on’ and few people want them to be.
- Targeting is not the holy grail of marketing. It’s helpful to a point but rests on assumptions about human behaviour that are unpredictable and misleading.
- Wastage is under-rated. One way or another wastage is a conversation with tomorrow’s customers.
- There is no earned media. With a few highly notable exceptions, for most brands, all media is paid for media.
- There is no one way advertising works. Any campaign can work in many different ways and often in ways that were not explicitly intended. And a great campaign will improve all your metrics.
- Advertising works best with the consent of people. Consent that is best built when advertising is helpful, enjoyable and interesting. The digital inventory of today is destroying this consent day by day.
Don’t succumb to fashionable thinking and theories that lack any evidence of effect. And instead remember the timeless wisdom of this business. Because let’s face facts, rotten meat may not be very good for you but does not and has never caused scurvy.
“One of the most salient features of our culture is that there is so much bullshit. Everyone knows this. Each of us contributes his share. But we tend to take the situation for granted… Why is there so much bullshit? Of course it is impossible to be sure that there is relatively more of it nowadays than at other times. There is more communication of all kinds in our time than ever before, but the proportion that is bullshit may not have increased. Without assuming that the incidence of bullshit is actually greater now, I will mention a few considerations that help to account for the fact that it is currently so great. Bullshit is unavoidable whenever circumstances require someone to talk without knowing what he is talking about. Thus the production of bullshit is stimulated whenever a person’s obligations or opportunities to speak about some topic are more excessive than his knowledge of the facts that are relevant to that topic. This discrepancy is common in public life, where people are frequently impelled whether by their own propensities or by the demands of others to speak extensively about matters of which they are to some degree ignorant. Closely related instances arise from the widespread conviction that it is the responsibility of a citizen in a democracy to have opinions about everything, or at least everything that pertains to the conduct of his country’s affairs. The lack of any significant connection between a person’s opinions and his apprehension of reality will be even more severe, needless to say, for someone who believes it his responsibility, as a conscientious moral agent, to evaluate events and conditions in all parts of the world.
The contemporary proliferation of bullshit also has deeper sources, in various forms of skepticism which deny that we can have any reliable access to an objective reality and which therefore reject the possibility of knowing how things truly are. These ‘anti-realist’ doctrines undermine confidence in the value of disinterested efforts to determine what is true and what is false, and even in the intelligibility of the notion of objective inquiry. One response to this loss of confidence has been a retreat from the discipline required by dedication to the ideal of correctness to a quite different sort of discipline, which is imposed by pursuit of an alternative ideal of sincerity. Rather than seeking primarily to arrive at accurate representations of a common world, the individual turns toward trying to provide honest representations of himself. Convinced that reality has no inherent nature, which he might hope to identify as the truth about things, he devotes himself to being true to his own nature. It is as though he decides that since it makes no sense to try to be true to the facts, he must therefore try instead to be true to himself.”
As Yogi Berra said, “You can see a lot just by looking.” Keep your head up. Look. Be curious. Notice what is actually happening around you. Really notice. Listen. Listen to your clients. In fact, listen to everyone. Everything starts with awareness. Being alert. Being awake. Tuning in to the frequency. It’s a perpetual choice to both stay aware and raise your level of awareness. Our future, growth, innovation and success start with the thousands of eyeballs of our team members. That’s you.
If a company does one big thing better than their competition, it becomes fairly easy for their competition to level the playing field: they can just imitate that one thing. But, if a company does thousands of little things better than anyone else, they become nearly impossible to imitate. We call those thousands of little things “inches.” We’d never be able to foresee all the things that should be noticed or improved. Instead, we drive a culture that motivates our team members to find the inches we need all around us. We are all empowered to find the opportunities to make an impact everywhere; one inch at a time, these inches all add up to greatness.
Urgency is your inner compulsion and drive to get things done in a timely, yet thoughtful, manner. On this team, we return all phone calls and emails the same day. We’re on the lunatic fringe. We’re obsessed with answering inquiries ASAP. Not just to clients and partners, but to each other! There’s no other way, and no other option. Urgency motivates us to ensure we communicate all news fast, both good and bad. We take care of things, especially our clients … NOW!
Clients don’t care how much you know until they know how much you care. Could it be any clearer? A great company is built one client at a time. If you AMAZE every client every chance you get, then they are satisfied and so are you. There’s no feeling good around here because 90% of our clients were satisfied. Every client means 100% of our clients, and not some of the time. Amaze them EVERY TIME. No exceptions. No excuses!
Our never-ending mission is to find a better way for every process and everything we touch. If it’s good, let’s make it great. If it’s great, let’s take it to an even higher level. Don’t settle for less. In fact, don’t settle at all. Finding a better way is not something we do on the side or when we get the time. Rather, it’s a key priority for every one of our team members. It’s our passion … our way of living … our obsession. We don’t just work IN our business – we work ON our business.
It’s critically important that we live the culture of YES. This does not mean that every single idea, question, suggestion or recommendation will ultimately be met with a big thumbs-up. It means that we respond to all curiosity with the mindset of YES first. Our bias is to the YES side of life. This is in stark contrast to the too common approach of an automatic NO to any expression of an inquiring mind. Saying NO is easier, but the status quo is not our favorite state. We live in the land of growth, possibilities, ideas, innovation, positive impact and results. The only path to that place is through openness to the unknown. So YES before NO, and NO only if we have done the work and exhausted all the potential of YES first.
We’ve found it’s not always skill and long hours that lead to greatness. It’s also the ability to ignore the noise. Noise could be from naysayers, something going wrong, sun in your eyes, ball took a bad bounce, dog ate your homework, someone cut you off on the way to work, etc. A lot of things that seem serious at first glance turn out to be noise. Will you allow it to keep you from winning? The noise may fluctuate in volume, but your determination to press on in spite of it (ignore it!) will make all the difference to you and our Family of Companies.
There is no place at our company for typical corporate arrogance. WHO is right (or WHO is wrong) is irrelevant and inconsequential to WHAT is the right decision or best outcome for the issue at hand. All decisions should be made with a single motivation: the right or best decision for our clients, team members and company. Think about how much a company compromises itself by basing decisions on WHO is in favor or against something instead of WHAT is the best and right decision. The WHAT trumps the WHO in our shop.
There is no “they.” We are the “they.” One team. United. All in the mission together. No corporate barriers. No boundaries. Just open doors, open minds and an open culture rooted in trust. The leadership within our Family of Companies trusts you. We trust you to make decisions, and, if you make an honest mistake, it’s OK! We trust you will learn from your mistakes. It’s a foreign concept to most organizations, but for us, it’s crystal clear.
Perfection is not the goal when it’s time to make a decision. Focus instead on constant improvement and innovation. Over-analyzing can kill an idea and make you miss an opportunity. Don’t fear failure. If our environment did not tolerate failure, then innovation would die, creativity would die, and eventually, so would our business.
When there’s a decision to be made, there are three possible outcomes:
1. You make the right one – Great!
2. You make the wrong one – Hopefully you learn something valuable from it.
3. You make no decision – You haven’t made the right one, and you haven’t learned a thing.
Always make new mistakes. Make decisions.And, when you believe that roast is pretty much done, pull it out of the oven.
Nothing significant in this world has ever happened without someone believing in it first. It’s only the passive observers of life who say “I’ll believe it when I see it.” We take the opposite approach, and lead with our hearts and minds. We know the truth: If we truly believe in something, we can – and will – affect the outcome. If we believe in ourselves first, we dramatically increase our odds of success. If we believe it can happen, then it will.
We don’t need to have all the answers before we take on a project or launch a new and innovative idea. We have faith that when it comes to some of the details, we’ll figure it out along the way. If we wait to cross every “t” and dot every “i” before proceeding with an idea, concept or improvement, then we wouldn’t make much progress at all. It’s our belief in each other and ourselves that gives us the confidence to find new solutions to keep us moving forward. Sometimes a game-changing project will be held up because of a small detail that doesn’t matter. Should we solve for the exception and delay the launch of a project that could otherwise make a huge impact? No! Instead, we take the roast out of the oven and figure out the exception as we go. That’s how we roll. We know that building something new or creating something special is messy, and that greatness doesn’t always come in nice, tidy packages. This is an advantage, not a hindrance. As long as we continue to love the idea and trust the process, then we truly believe we’ll figure it out.
You will always invest your time somewhere doing something. As long as you are alive, it’s not a choice whether you invest your time or not; the only choice is what you will do with it. Time, not money, is the most valuable commodity of all. Time can never be replaced. Never trade significant amounts of time for small sums of money. How will you invest the 31,536,000 seconds you are gifted each year? Choose wisely.
Money and numbers are a measurement of actions. They are neither the ends nor the means. Ironically, the vast majority of those who chase money will never end up with much of it. Instead, chase the skills that will make you great. Those who are motivated by building, improving and developing unique skills, trades and knowledge are the ones who acquire wealth. Become an expert. Pursue your vision with uncompromising passion, and become the best. Numbers and money follow successful accomplishments. Become great at something or build something great. Chasing numbers and money first will leave you chasing your tail.
Your uncle’s advice, “A penny saved is a penny earned!” is the worst financial advice ever given in history. Choose to value your time. Invest it chasing pennies, and you will find pennies – and pennies never add up. Invest it in ideas, improving your skills, innovation, developing your talent, design, marketing, and technology, and your return will be more than just pennies. Stop wasting your time with the silly pursuit of pennies. Instead, invest your valuable time creating dollars. The choice is yours.
Tying the threads and leveraging ideas and connections within our Family of Companies is what it’s all about – that’s eating our own dog food. The basis of all wealth is found in the strength of the relationships you make. Create them. Seek them out. Build upon them. Be loyal to them. If your level of awareness is high, you will find an endless amount of “dog food” around you. The more you give to these relationships, the more you will get from them. So start giving – now.
Sometimes the “intellects” of the world believe that if it’s too simple, it can’t be good. Nothing could be further from the truth. Simplifying things in this fast-moving, complicated world isn’t just good – it’s GREAT. Simple design. Simple process. Simple communication. When we communicate with others, we cannot assume they know exactly what we know. You are you, and they are them. We must start at chapter one, not chapter five. Simplicity doesn’t just clarify; it creates wealth in the process. Because if there is anything in this world that everyone can agree upon (outside of the “intellects,” of course), it’s that simplicity makes things better for everybody. That’s why simple is something we strive for in everything we do. All day. Every day. It’s as simple as that.
Ideas are fundamental to who we are. We encourage them. We love them. But ideas alone don’t mean much. It takes both ideas AND execution to make things happen. Great ideas get you to the 50-yard line; outstanding execution gets you into the end zone.
The high road is not a shortcut. Stick to the highest standard of integrity, without compromise. Character is what you do when no one is looking over your shoulder! Doing the wrong thing is never worth it.How can you go wrong doing the right thing? Remember, eventually three things always come out: the sun, the moon and the truth
The kindle was the digital answer to books and thankfully the book industry seems to be fighting back.
The mp3 killed the music industry as we knew it, but the revolt in vinyl is still strong. The story and experience of the medium is as important as the message.
Written by user: AnathemaMaranatha
I enlisted in the US Army in 1966. I was completely innocent of racism – I had racist attitudes, sure, but I had no idea I had them. My father, a Colonel in the Air Force, had done a kind of top-down de-racism of our family modeled on President Truman’s desegregation order to the American military in 1947. No more of that shit. Race is irrelevant. All men are equal. End of discussion. Get it done.
Was fine with me. I couldn’t see any difference between Black and White folks anyway. It was strange to visit my father’s family in Oklahoma – like these people (my aunts, uncles and cousins) had something wrong with them. Wasn’t obvious, but it was so weirdlycasual.
I remember my aunt, who was kind of the family matriarch, catching a glimpse of Sammy Davis Jr. on the TV. She said, “Get that nigger off my TV,” like it was nothing, then went back to cooking. Wut? I wondered if my Dad was going to spank her. She had pretty much raised him when my Grandma called it quits with kids. Dad said nothing and turned off the TV.
How you talk matters. How you don’t talk matters, too. I’m not teaching. I’m just reporting the way it was.
My DI in Basic was a Black man (not unusual), a big man. He actually walked us through the PX system when we got PX privileges. (we got access to microwave pizza and beer at the little PX pizza shops).
I think he did that for the benefit of our Black boots, but he took the whole platoon on the PX circuit.
Sure enough, some drunken NCOs stumbled out of one of the PX’s. They were out of uniform and out of line – drunker than lords. They were not happy to see a sober E-7. They kind of slouched away, but they were talkin’ trash loud enough for us all to hear, lots of nigger-this and nigger that.
We were soldier enough to be pissed at someone dissing our DI. He smiled and turned us around to head back to the barracks. One of the white soldiers couldn’t stand it. “Is that okay? Can they just talk to you like that? Let’s go back and sort them out, Drill Sergeant.”
Our DI made an “on me” signal. We gathered around. Paraphrasing, but this is what he said: “White boy, you have NO idea. No idea. Where I come from they would’ve strung me up for walking on the sidewalk in front of them.” He was talking to everyone, not just the white soldier who had spoken up.
“This is the ARMY! No racists here! No Klan! Three squares a day, and your job might require you to die! But you’ll die like a man, not a dog! I’m a happy man here!
“You think that was bad? Go back home and look around. Go back to MY home, and see how it is! This is the ARMY! I’m in Heaven here! YOU are in Heaven! If you don’t know it, that’s because you were raised by nice people who live in someplace not nice at all. But you NEVER looked, did you?
Some of the Black soldiers where chiming in with churchy “Amens” and “right-on.” Nope. “You Black boys. You think you know what I’m talking about? You don’t know shit! Where you from? Denver? LA? You want to go fight those guys? That’s what you’re here for, to learn how to fight. Gonna teach you how to fight, how to follow orders, how not just to fight, but to win.
“You want to win that fight, with those drunk boys? Be a better soldier than they are. Fight the long fight. Fight to win. Here in the Army, you already won most of it. You just have to be the best, do your best, and don’t be running off to fight some honkey shithead just because he called you a name. Win! All of you! Win this fight! Use your heads, not your hands.”
I don’t know about anyone else, but I was gobstopped. I hadn’t thought about any of this stuff. Over the next decades, I gradually learned how hundreds of thousands of Black soldiers had fought for the Union, and came back home to the Klan and institutional segregation. How Black soldiers from WWI came back to the same shit. How Red Ball Express and Red Tails came back from the first modern War, WWII, to ante-bellum crap, not just in the South but all over the country.
I suppose I should’ve been concerned about the mistreatment of all minorities, but it was the soldiers that hit home with me. Are you kiddin’ me? Is that how you treat someone defending your right to be a racist dickhead? I was ready to march into every city in the US and give ‘em the Truman treatment – straighten up, or else.
Yeah, I know it’s more complicated than that, but I’ve already written too much. Can’t fix those things with force. And for sure, in 200 years, everyone in the US will be a nice uniform light brown, with variations in color thrown in for variety and fun. Then we’ll fuss about something else.
But y’know, some things had to change. Some other things have to change – not later, right now. All this trash talk. I winced when/u/SoThereIwas-NoShit referred to one of his squad members as “The Gook.” I had worked with a Nisei Captain in Vietnam. He was also called “The Gook,” behind his back and not in a nice way.
I dunno. I’m not criticizing /u/Gisbornite. Maybe the solution is NOT to quit using all those offensive names for each other. Maybe it’s to use them MORE, use them until nobody notices, until they stop meaning what they were intended to mean, and just mean nothing – kind of funny, anachronistic epithets that insult no one and nothing. Can you believe anyone even CARED about this bullshit – white, black, honkey, nigger, chink, gook, Mexican, sand-nigger? WTF was THAT all about?
Sounds like Heaven, no?