Modern Marketing

It’s a feeling.

The aughts are over. You remember, the viral era. When something got started online and passed amongst your peers until you found out about it. There are just too many messages today. So how do you get your point across these days? MONEY!

This is the lesson of Michael Bloomberg, how he could go from mostly unknown to a fait accompli in the minds of many. He created a feeling. You saw his ads and heard about him everywhere, sprinkle in a bit of pundit prognosticating and suddenly he went from nowhere to double digit polls.

This is what major labels do today.

Used to be, even in the aforementioned aughts, if you did something great, people would find out about it. Those days are now history. Sure, every once in a while a new fad comes out of nowhere, like TikTok, but then those with money pounce on it. You cannot have a marketing meeting today without a discussion of TikTok, the major labels are all over it.

So what this means is what the majors market you become aware of, you get a feeling that it’s happening and you check it out. And that’s the hardest part, getting someone to indulge, spend some time checking out your item.

And one vertical, one appearance, no longer matters. Unless maybe it’s on the Super Bowl. Trump’s appeal to African-American voters got traction, then again, Bloomberg’s spot was only a speck in his overall advertising campaign. In other words, if you believe an appearance on late night TV is gonna move the needle, you’re sorely mistaken. And Bloomberg has proven not only do you have to invade television, but the internet, and you have to employ the latest internet techniques to further your campaign, like the creation of memes. Sure, Bloomberg’s effort may be ham-fisted, but the Republicans have been employing meme-makers for years. And the great thing about online traction is it spreads faster than marketing in old media, i.e. print and television. If it catches fire, it can be spread instantly, at no cost, with no friction.

But it costs a lot to get started.

Hell, look at Lil Nas X. He seemed to be well-known before he made his Sony deal. But it was Sony who made him a household name, who raised his profile to the point he was in a Super Bowl commercial.

But it didn’t cost Lil Nas X much to get started!

That’s true. He’s the outlier. But big money created the specious campaign about country radio rejecting “Old Town Road,” previous to that most people had never heard of the track, never mind heard it.

But most products, most songs, are not that unique, not that ground-breaking. Furthermore, “Old Town Road” was the first TikTok success.

Remember when Radiohead put out “In Rainbows”? Just a post was enough. Now, if you’re lucky, a post reaches your diehard fans.

As for social media marketing?

It only reaches a subsection of your diehard fans. There is no virality.

But if you look at Harry’s, you know, the razor blade/shaving company, you’ll remember that online ads were everywhere, to the point you became aware, and then when it became a business story…

Sure, you can get all this notoriety, create a feeling and end up with a turntable hit, something that people are aware of that generates no money, but one thing is for sure, today’s marketing is inefficient, there are no slam-dunks.

So established companies promote what is obvious, they don’t want to waste time creating the new and trying to convince people, it’s just too difficult. Which is why major labels promote rap and hip-hop. And, of course the market gets skewed, only rap and hip-hop get that feeling around them, everything that does not fit in those categories just floats in the backwater, when you hear about it you reject it as something niche, for true believers, who may have their heads up their tushies.

But, it gets even worse, with no filter, with no standard of excellence, a lot of what is created and promoted in the niches is crap, further pushing that genre down, creating the feeling that it is not happening.

And since it is not happening, those people interested in money, the professionals, abandon it or don’t even start. Sure, the Beatles drove the culture, got girls, but they also made money. Which wasn’t so easy to do if you were a youngster sans education. Prior to this you became a professional, a doctor or a lawyer, the same way you became a banker or a tech entrepreneur, both of which professions are now long in the tooth.

Yes, marketers believe their product is forever, until suddenly it isn’t.

And the public knows it’s over before the marketers, but it takes a long time for people to get the feeling. And oftentimes it is a feeling, not facts. Especially in a world where facts are fungible.

Attention is not enough. People just can’t see it, although that’s better than being ignored. At some point the synapses of the public must fire, they must feel that they’re missing out, that they’ve got to check something out. Which is why today acts are nowhere for years and then suddenly everywhere, like Lizzo.

So, if there’s no money in an endeavor, chances are there will continue to be none unless someone spends money marketing it everywhere, with a sustained campaign. And this really only works, the monied really only invest, when what is outside is so different, so great, so irresistible, that if people only experienced it, they’d love it.

Which is why marketing is not enough. Which is why everything has to connect instantly. No one’s got the time to go deep, not unless they’ve been convinced previously, are already a fan.

But it’s not always a hook. Sometimes the sound is so different, so intriguing, that that is what draws people to it. But you’ve got to be willing to push the envelope.

And Billie Eilish is certainly different. But all insiders, and many outsiders, know it was about the cash, that Interscope nurtured the act for years.

But this is the exception, in a world where no one has ownership, everybody wants their bonus, everybody can’t wait while something percolates in the market, they want it now.

But the consumer is different. The consumer has all the time in the world for what intrigues them. Which is what TV bingeing is all about, never mind podcasts and videogaming. If you strike a vein, if you really connect, people will dedicate themselves more than they ever did, spending more time and money. But too many focus on reaching new customers as opposed to satiating the old. First and foremost, you must feed your base, they are your evangelists, they help spread the word, they’re marketing 24/7 because they believe. So put out new material, fans want new. But don’t give up on the penumbra, the world at large, but it’s gonna take money. And only the big cats have it.

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