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Going To Extremes

by David Brock on December 7th, 2012

I read an outstanding, but frightening post entitle The Future Of Marketing Is Extreme!  Eric Wittlake outlines:  “We are inundated by marketing today. In a bid to stand out in the sea of marketing competing for our attention, marketing continues to move to the extremes.”  He then goes on to outline several areas of Extreme Impact:

  • Extreme Interruption
  • Extreme Technology
  • Extreme Shock
  • Extreme Blend (I originally read this as Extreme Bland—I actually think I’m right)
  • Extreme Value (I initially thought this was good, but it really means free)

It’s not just marketing that is going to extremes, this seems pervasive in our business and society.  I’ll limit myself to business, but the implications of this are tragic.  The volume of meaningless noise and crap that intrudes on us continues to escalate.  People find more “creative” ways to force themselves on us, to try to be heard.  Shock–read obnoxiousness, lack of caring, lack of concern, absence of civility–is becoming a common tactic.

One supposes that it is limited only to the manipulators, charlatans, and hucksters.  Unfortunately, since we all “share the same space,” to stand out, we see well intended, reputable people and organizations doing the same.  To be heard, to stand out they go to extremes.

We are inundated literally thousands of times a day with “messages.”  Our senses become dulled–just a survival mechanism to survive the extremes.  So to combat that, guess what–we push the envelope more, we go to more extreme.

It’s gratifying to know that Newton’s Laws apply–For every action, there is an equal an opposite reaction.  People will shut down, there will be vicious backlashes to those who are the most extreme.  Governments will step in–regulating things.  In some countries, what, who, and how emails are sent is heavily regulated.  In the US, the backlash created Do Not Call Registries, CAN SPAM.  While some would say they have failed–in reality, it’s probably people going to a new extreme to get around them.

Regulation and laws aren’t the solution.

Perhaps the solution is to go to Extremes–but another extreme.  Perhaps we should be looking to do something else:

  • Extreme Meaning And Relevance.  To do this, we really have to understand our customers.
  • Extreme Value Creation (moving to co-creation.)  We have to know what they value and be able to create and deliver it.
  • Extreme Respect for the people we are trying to reach.  After all, don’t they deserve this?
  • Extreme Engagement.  Think of how things will change!
  • Extreme Simplicity, our customers and colleagues are drowning in complexity.
  • Extreme Caring, after all, we are all human beings.

Just a thought.

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  1. Dave, I think you’ve just told all these Extreme “Marketers” that they’re being extremely self-destructive. You get a personal thank you for that. Now, if you can just get these idiots to put a lid on their robo calls, dinner is on me.

    • Bob: Thanks—but it’s just not the marketers, it’s all the people in te company that are engaging in escalating the volume of Noise and Crap in the web. It could be sales guys, product management, etc.

      The answer to engagement is extreme behavior, but a different sort of extreme behavior.

  2. David, I like where you took this and appreciate you spelling out ways that marketing can become valuable to the audience, not just the marketer (which I clearly didn’t do very well, oops).

    I really like your point about backlash. You are right, it is a fine line for marketers to walk. I’m with you on the approach here (engagement on a foundation of value creation and respect is the path I personally would pick, I think that will often require things like simplicity as well).

    That said, I expect we will see marketers continue to push all of these boundaries.

    Thanks for riffing off my post and showing how extremes can be a positive for the audience as well, nicely done sir!

    • Eric, thanks so much both for the inspirational post and for your comments. It seems we live in a world of extremes–to the degree moderation, civility, listening appear to have been abandoned.

      But this is not new, we discovered it years ago with direct mail (including junk mail), with telemarketing, and so forth. There will be new ways that have tremendous impact and those inevitably will be twisted by the bottom feeders to negative ways.

      There are good and bad sides to all of this behavior. The only thing we can challenge people to do, is to assess these, the risks, and to make informed rather than blind decisions.

      Thanks so much for letting me turn the crank on your outstanding blog post. Regards, Dave

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