Traffick - The Business of Search Engines & Web Portals
Blog Categories (aka Tags) Archive of Traffick Articles Our Internet Marketing Consulting Services Contact the Traffickers Traffick RSS Feed

HOME » TRAFFICK ARTICLES » ARTICLE

Everything I Know About Marketing, I Learned from Seinfeld

By Andrew Goodman, 9/12/2003

I've been reading a lot of books about marketing, advertising, and business strategy lately. I thought to myself: what would I write if I was given carte blanche by a publisher? Until recently, I didn't have much of the requisite background. In fact, it could be argued that everything I know about marketing, I learned from Seinfeld. Here are some points I'd make... which I'd gladly flesh out for a six-figure advance.


1. Do the Opposite. This, my friends, is the cardinal rule. When everyone else zigs, you must zag. Is everyone else making slow cars? Make a fast car. Is everyone else making wasteful toilets? Specialize in water-saving toilets that actually work. It's easy enough to confirm.this suspicion through reading the wise business counsel of authors like Ries and Trout on positioning, of course. Best practices? What about worst practices? Although his Gonzo Marketing: Winning Through Worst Practices is a bit fanciful, Locke's on the right track. More recently, in Your Marketing Sucks, Mark Stevens argues that you won't get very far by studying your competitors and trying to do just a little bit better. Instead, he advises, you'd do better taking out a blank sheet of paper and coming up with something completely different. That doesn't mean saying to yourself: "well, everyone's making those salty oily kettle chips, so let's make ours different by making them cherry-flavored." Get off kettle chips, and away from all snack foods. (Exception: unless you start a franchise where you sell a single kind of treat in malls, like New York Fries does.) The space is too crowded and you'll lose your shirt. These lessons can be learned from business gurus, but no one taught it better than George Costanza. Him and Monty Python.


2. "Inventions" Aren't Where it's At. Face it. You probably aren't Thomas Edison, or Hewlett, or Packard. And if you don't have a garage, and live in a small apartment, you should probably get a computer and write some software instead of tinkering around with chemicals and turbines. If it sounds like pushing a big ball of oil out a window might be a foolish idea, then it probably is. About a hundred people lay claim to having invented the Internet, or parts of it. Let's face it, the wealth usually comes from running a company that does a lot of things right. Inventing something is the easy part. So if someone copies your invention, don't worry. It wasn't the invention that was going to make you successful anyway, unless your so-called invention was a business process or a series of integrated tactics that can make a company grow enormously before anyone catches on, la McDonald's, Microsoft, Wal-Mart or (mark my words) DaimlerChrysler circa 2004. Speaking of autos, if all that cool fuel cell technology is so great, then where is it? In a few buses in Singapore? Meanwhile automakers are building ever-larger SUV's and high-margin rear-wheel-drive speed demons not dissimilar to what turned people's crank in the 1940's and 1960's. Who knew? I guess sometimes it pays not to do the opposite, which is, in itself, a way of doing the opposite.


3. People Try to Ignore Ads (Unless They're Right in the Content). I sure hope Pepsi and Hershey and the rest are paying for every impression they're receiving from Seinfeld episodes in syndication, because every time Jerry opens his fridge or Elaine "stops off for candy," this is a product placement viewers actually pay attention to. Incidentally, click here to buy CD's, transcripts, and follow-up Q&A from my recent 80-minute SherpaClinic on how to maximize your Google ad campaign.


4. People Have to Be Sold. Though he comes off as a buffoon, J. Peterman as portrayed by John O'Hurley has the right approach. He knows that "people love interesting writing." His catalogs tell people the story behind the clothing. He tells them what they should be wearing, and why. This principle is true whether you're selling high-margin rear-wheel-drive muscle cars, aluminum siding, cleaning services, or jam. If you're retailing 200,000 different products like Home Depot, some of them are bound to be on the generic side, but the ads do tell people the story of the store, with its helpful, non-threatening associates in their attractive orange bibs.


5. Don't Lose Your Dignity (Unless it's for a Lot of Money). Standup comedy (especially mediocre standup comedy) might be a great way to make an idiot of yourself, but it works for Jerry. Recall Elaine suddenly warming to him when she found out he had "that kind of money." But given the choice between dating an actor who plays "The Wiz" and the same guy when he had his former job as a New York Times fact checker "with a certain quiet dignity," Elaine would have chosen the dignified wordsmith. See the difference? Just imagine Dean Martin as the lovable drunk who just hangs around his neighborhood bar, who can't sing or act, and doesn't have Frank Sinatra for a friend. Hmm, come to think of it, that sitcom would beat the hell out of most of the fall lineup.


6. Franchising, Baby. It's All About Franchising. While they didn't seem to take off, the muffin tops store opened by Mr. Lippman and the make-your-own-pie joint dreamt up by Kramer aren't such bad ideas. If you make the treat simple enough, and put enough sugar and/or fat in it, and get the right investors involved, it'll be in every mall in the country inside of ten years. People just can't resist fat and sugar. I mean, get serious: Orange Julius? Krispy Kreme? The fact that folks are spending half their lives in their cars or in malls escaping from the summer heat means you can pretty much sell them any old crap, as long as it's easy to consume. Hmm, maybe that lets out the make-your-own-pie thing. Go with the muffin tops.


Andrew Goodman is Editor-at-Large of Traffick.com. He does the opposite, and drives a fuel-efficient car. 

 

Speaking Engagement

I am speaking at SMX West

Need Solid Advice?        

Google AdWords book


Andrew's book, Winning Results With Google AdWords, (McGraw-Hill, 2nd ed.), is still helping tens of thousands of advertisers cut through the noise and set a solid course for campaign ROI.

And for a glowing review of the pioneering 1st ed. of the book, check out this review, by none other than Google's Matt Cutts.


Posts from 2002 to 2010


07/2002
08/2002
09/2002
10/2002
11/2002
12/2002
01/2003
02/2003
03/2003
04/2003
05/2003
06/2003
07/2003
08/2003
09/2003
10/2003
11/2003
12/2003
01/2004
02/2004
03/2004
04/2004
05/2004
06/2004
07/2004
08/2004
09/2004
10/2004
11/2004
12/2004
01/2005
02/2005
03/2005
04/2005
05/2005
06/2005
07/2005
08/2005
09/2005
10/2005
11/2005
12/2005
01/2006
02/2006
03/2006
04/2006
05/2006
06/2006
07/2006
08/2006
09/2006
10/2006
11/2006
12/2006
01/2007
02/2007
03/2007
04/2007
05/2007
06/2007
07/2007
08/2007
09/2007
10/2007
11/2007
12/2007
01/2008
02/2008
03/2008
04/2008
05/2008
06/2008
07/2008
08/2008
09/2008
10/2008
11/2008
12/2008
01/2009
02/2009
03/2009
04/2009
05/2009
06/2009
07/2009
08/2009
09/2009
10/2009
11/2009
12/2009
01/2010
02/2010
03/2010
04/2010

 


Traffick - The Business of Search Engines & Web Portals

 


Home | Categories | Archive | About Us | Internet Marketing Consulting | Contact Us
© 1999 - 2013 Traffick.com. All Rights Reserved