Most of us are oblivious to the role played by marketing in our lives. We are constantly exposed to bill boards, posters, shop facades, bann
Most of us are oblivious to the role played by marketing in our lives. We are constantly exposed to bill boards, posters, shop facades, banners, television ads, print ads, internet ads, mailers, calls, surveys and we accept it as a way of life. Marketing professionals are finding more and more ways of registering their product in our minds with our passive acknowledgement or in more subtle ways, without our knowledge.
The first role of marketing is to hit our emotions, our animal instincts, by appealing to our senses. Whether it is the red colour of a Cola or the glamorous models of swiss watches, it is all designed with deep sensual appeal. Whether you end of drinking the cola (unwanted carbs) or buying a watch (which is pretty useless too these days considering you are already carrying a mobile phone) is immaterial. The imagery has created an association in your mind that you will not forget easily.
The first time I became aware of this force was by reading the book "No Logo" by Naomi Klien. Klien passionately argues how branding has destroyed everything from counter culture (Levi's) to your vision of a good time (Absolut Vodka). Branding today is all pervasive, even schools are no longer sacred. I was recently shocked to see big Nike banners all over my school building.
And don't think this does not work. You will subconsciously tend to believe any thing that is pounded to your brain consistently over a period of time. You are rebellious if you wear a Levi's or you are classy if you were a metallic watch. And what really drives this reckless behaviour by companies is their ambition to become big and powerful.
Coming back to ERPNext, I am often accused of not being "aggressive" enough. To be honest, we did try all of that a few years back, when things where a big mess, but these days I am positive that we will never do aggressive branding or marketing. I think it is extremely unkind to the customer to be constantly subjected to an emotional message.
Startups all over are extremely aggressive. Tons of money is spent on making you click the big Sign-up button. Profile targeting is increasingly common and websites are getting more and more annoying with irritating popups.
To me all this is extremely short sighted thinking. Many startups claim to have so many thousands (or millions) users. But how many of those users are deeply engaged with the product? How many have sign-ed up without an idea of what the product is about? How many are on the mailing list because they got sucked by some emotional "hack"? (The most common hack is, so many thousands have signed up, aren't you getting left behind? And its free to sign-up ... )
What we, at ERPNext, will always focus on is how likely are our customers to recommend our product. Good old word-of-mouth marketing. This means that making sure our current customers remain extremely satisfied and they make personal recommendations in their circles.
Would'nt the world be a kinder place if most companies followed that? Imagine a world without bill boards, pesky callers, garish shop displays, people constantly trying to get under your skin? Do you already feel more peaceful? You might be actually able to enjoy a bit of nature and culture when you walk / drive on the street.
Marketing, the way it is practiced in our times, is nothing but emotional pollution. Think about this the next time you are about to market your product.
Rushabh is a software developer and founder of ERPNext. He usually writes about the startup experience, open source and the technologies he is working on.
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