Marketing basics include telling a story, being remarkable, having a strategy, creating a frame of reference, making an emotional connection, creating a hunger and what might be termed ‘marketing at the edge’.
The cusp of change
‘Marketing at the edge’ takes place at the cusp of change. It’s that point where differences are maximised e.g. where the new is contrasted with the old, where the drab is contrasted with the exciting, where the predictable is contrasted with the unfamiliar. Wherever there’s contrast or change there’s emotional turmoil which marketeers can exploit. We’re all marketeers, so we know how it’s done.
We wear the sexy dress or suit to stand out from the crowd and in that momentary emotional turmoil flirt and tease
We brew coffee and bake bread when trying to sell our house, creating an emotional contrast between the street and the warmth and comfort of our home
We react to our kids’ temper tantrums in unexpected ways and whilst they’re off-balance, confused and in turmoil at our actions sell them a different point of view or a different outcome …
There are countless opportunities for marketing at the edge …
The latest variation on a car is paraded on T.V. The name badge is slightly reworked and in the customer’s mind the old car has emotionally already been superseded and all they need to do is rationalise their desire …
The glamour model lines up a bunch of carefully selected but ordinary women wearing her latest range of outfits. After a few moments she takes centre-stage, strutting her stuff, and the contrast becomes apparent. In the emotional turmoil she’s created her brand looks even more desirable.
A fruit supplier has a surplus of small apples that contrast unfavourably with larger, more delicious-looking apples but they sell like hot cakes once the message on the packaging has positioned the product emotionally in the heads of parents as ‘bite-sized, healthy snacks for children’ whereas ordinary apples are just – apples.
How do we create contrasts and change when there is no contrast or change?
Lying and cheating …
Traditionally, creating contrasts is done through deviousness. Politicians drip-feed half-truths about each other to the press in order to create differences that can be exploited; trash reality show hosts manipulate the damaged people on their shows to create clear contrasts between THEIR values and those of their ‘guests’ ; identical soap-powders are differentiated in adverts by pseudo-scientific gibberish; petroleum companies spend a few pounds on ecological activities and proclaim themselves ‘green’ compared to their competitors.
Even the most commoditised products CAN be differentiated. ANY perceived difference can be exploited – for example, cat food boxes at my local store are plastered in big letters proclaiming that they’re made of ’10% less cardboard.’ And no doubt in a few months time they’ll be bigger or smaller or a different colour or aimed at a different age group of cat altogether, even whilst the content stay exactly the same.
We’ve also been conditioned by marketeers to think of ‘new’ as desirable (it wasn’t always that way). The mere fact of launching or publicising a product therefore creates a brief contrast between the ‘new’ product and the ‘old’ product and allows for ‘differences’ to be highlighted and exploited …
For products that aren’t commodities there are endless opportunities to create contrasts between yesterday’s product and today’s product and between one product and another. Pricing (high or low), demographics (young or old), distribution (only available in certain stores), timing (seasonality), new flavours, new colours, new features – the list goes on and on.
Change can be created with little effort and can always be exploited.