We have a surplus of similar brands, with similar brand positioning, similar marketing messages, making similar brand promises, selling at similar prices, with similar quality.

AND

There is a surplus of similar agencies, employing similar people, with similar educational backgrounds, working in similar jobs, coming up with similar ideas, producing similar ads, with similar prices and similar quality.

*Inspired by Kjell Nordstrom

On most of the signup pages for newsletter or membership, you would see a check box for you to decide if you want to receive future email information about the company or products. Some of them are default to yes and users have to click “no” to opt out of receiving emails. You cost me my time and risk annoying me.

Opt out = junk mail / spam

Another example, when you sign up for netvigator broadband, the sales person will convince you to take some free trial services for 2 months, i didn’t want it but he insisted so i said ok do whatever you want. Then 2 months later, they started charging me for the extra services that i didn’t want and didn’t use, they said i had to contact them to cancel the service. I complained and they waived the charges, the decision was made in an instance, they probably get the same complaints a lot.

Why do they keep pissing off their new customers like that? Instead, why don’t you offer the 2 months free trail and then have the same sales person to follow up after 2 months and ask if i want to continue the services and start paying for them?

Just remember this rather inspiring conversation with a cab driver on my way to the airport about the year of the ox.

He thinks it should be called the year of the cow as it sounds more gentle. And I think it should be named the year of the bull, he thinks it sounds too threathening and reminds people of the economic crisis.

But the term “crisis” in Chinese is a combination of the characters of “danger” and “opportunity”, sounds rather exciting to me.

Everyone in the 4As advertising industry is panicking, but now that clients have less money to spend on TVC, outdoor and print ads, they turn to us for digital, viral and word of mouth campaigns that deliver measurable results.

Businesses also realize that only their loyal customers and fans are still spending on them, we help them formulate permission based marketing strategies and build, feed and nuture their tribes, allowing them to find and build products for their customers instead of finding customers for their products.

Would you rather be someone who knows a little bit about everything or someone who knows everything about something?

Do you get the feeling that all the ideas you could come up with have been thought of or done by someone else already? That shouldn’t stop you from doing it yourself if you think you can reinvent and be the best in it.

For those lucky ones who are passionate about a niche, stay focus and become the best in your world. People only talk about the edges. And the best, the fastest, the highest, the biggest, etc get rewarded.

We put up with TV commerical ads because we had no choice. But now i watch video clips on Youtube. I flipped through the print ads on magazines and newspaper in order for me to get to the articles i wanted to read. But now i read the content online or subscribe to the RSS feeds. We now have alternative ways to gain access to information and entertainment without seeing the ads.

We now see more ads than ever, there’s so much advertising everywhere we go and look that our brains have learnt to filter out these ads automatically, we are now able to ignore them without trying to.

More mass products are being introduced to the mass market, more mass media ads are being produced and more new interruption based media channels are emerging. But the more they spend, the less it works. The less it works, the more they spend.

So my answer to this subject is no. But the smart marketers recognize that the traditional approach of mass media advertising is much less effective in this digital age and they now focus their resources on permission based marketing approaches that offer much higher return on investment.

You have my email doesn’t mean you should spam me, you have my number doesn’t mean you should cold call or sms me. You have me watching your free TV channels doesn’t mean i have to watch your commercial ads. I bought your magazine for the articles and your newspaper for the news, not to read your print ads.

Even if I wanted to hear from you before or i didn’t complain before doesn’t mean you have the right to talk to me now.

Either I want to hear from you or i don’t. Either you have my permission or you are interrupting me. But it seems like the more i ignore you the more you try to show up in my face, when i see your ads appearing down the urinals while i’m minding my own business or when you install a tv on the bus to sell me something while i’m trying to take a nap makes me feel like you are stalking me.

Seth wrote the book Permission Marketing in 1999. Below is the key takeaway:

Permission marketing is the privilege (not the right) of delivering anticipated, personal and relevant messages to people who actually want to get them.

It recognizes the new power of the best consumers to ignore marketing. It realizes that treating people with respect is the best way to earn their attention.

Pay attention is a key phrase here, because permission marketers understand that when someone chooses to pay attention they are actually paying you with something precious. And there’s no way they can get their attention back if they change their mind. Attention becomes an important asset, something to be valued, not wasted.

Its been 10 years and most brands are still spending millions of dollars to stalk me instead of earning the privilege to my attention.

Marketers did not invent word-of-mouth, its human nature to tell stories and share experiences (good and bad) with others. Word-of-mouth marketing leverages this very natural behaviour to tell authentic stories about brands and products. Then the consumers tell a few friends about the stories and if their friends go and try out the product or service and they also like it, then they’ll spread the words and recommend to other friends. The long lineup for egg tarts outside of Tai Cheong Bakery is word-of-mouth. Nevertheless, the buzz for most word-of-mouth campaigns eventually fades (except for Google).

Viral marketing spreads quicker, the compounding function is sometimes built into the product (eg. hotmail). The more people use it, the more people see it and then even more people use it, again and again with geometrically increasing power, doubling with each iteration.

Viral campaigns may take the form of videos, musicimages, games, ebooks, mobile app, branded utility, branded content, etc. (Please click on the links to view samples for each category, i’ll be sharing more interesting demos on this blog so check back often!)

Viral marketing is only as good as the idea or concept it promotes and I have seen lots of entertaining ads that went viral but didn’t market the brands or products in a meaningful, tangible way.