UX Magazine

Defining and Informing the Complex Field of User Experience (UX)
Article No. 12 December 15, 2005

All Salmon Swim Against the Current

Howard goes against the trend somewhat and announces the possible appearance of what he calls "Retro Marketing" . In a world where going against the current is what everybody tries to do it becomes terribly important to take a step back and evaluate (instead of simply reading and nodding) how the new world of marketing is being forged. Advertising is dead , marketeers lie , and such new mantras are often being perceived as absolutes. Howard rightly thinks that this too could very well change. Hence the "retro marketing" concept.

“I find myself wondering if the "new era" of marketing is quickly becoming the cluttered noise that it is hoping to rise above. The latest “Fad” based on a few case studies where a different approach proved successful.”

The thing is that basically people love fundamentals, big concepts, and omnipotent ideas that replace/fix everything that came before. It’s much easier to latch on to something that will "change your life" than something that will “make your life a little better over the years”. This is how telemarketeers sell stuff and it’s how Seth Godin sells stuff. “All marketeers are liars”, etc…

You’ll notice that every one of these gurus loves to be what can only be called a fundamentalist. You can’t sell yourself as a “well, it depends on the situation” type of guy. A few days ago I read on a blog (I forget which one) that “airport billboards don’t work”. Never? Really? The last time I landed in Heathrow I selected Vodafone as my mobile network because of one. The fact is you can’t turn “simple common sense” into a book, you can’t make “eh, it depends…” sexy. What sells are things like “fire all clients that aren’t exceptional!” or “make everyone the boss!”. The world doesn’t work in absolutes but it sure loves to listen to them.

My least favourite Seth “I refer to him a lot” Godin book has to be The Big Red Fez (“How To Make Any Web Site Better”) specifically because it talks in those absolute terms. Throughout reading it I kept thinking things like “well, not ALWAYS but it works sometimes, if placed there, made smaller, or redesigned to look like this”. It didn’t work for me, it was targetting the lowest common denominator and trying to give answers which would suit most of the people most of the time. Ironically for Seth, much of the advice wouldn’t make the websites outstanding, it would just about work, band-aid. Which isn’t bad, or useless for that matter but just that. To become outstanding requires a lot more, even doing some “Retro Marketing”.

The best one can do is look around, pick some good ideas and let his/her good judgement do the rest. At the end of the day it isn’t meeting Tom Peters or reading a Seth Godin e-book that’s going to make your business succesfull, it’s you and the things you figure out before everyone else does.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR(S)

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Alex is CEO of Sideshow , an award winning creative agency. You can read his blog here.

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I agree with this one.

You have to go with your gut and judgement. Use the information to help you make a good decision.

I never thought about “it depends author” vs “this is how you do it”. In retrospect, I guess I really wouldn’t have enjoyed the books i’ve read from “experts” if there were a lot of ifs involved.