Sep 18

The dangers of inside-out marketing

September 18 - Jesus Freak 2 Those of us who suffer the daily indignities of the 7:27am New Jersey Transit ride to Manhattan are periodically subjected to old-time Bible thumping by a dyed-in-the-wool, certifiable Jesus Freak. The guy sets up shop directly across the tracks from us, cites a Bible passage or two and then warns us to abandon our wicked and wanton ways before heading into the latter-day version of Sodom & Gomorrah.

I ordinarily tune him out as quickly as I'm tuning in Pink Floyd, Ziggy Marley or Luigi Bocarini on my iPod. Today, though, the Jesus Freak got my attention with a particularly nasty assault on the evils of Islam. How insensitive, I thought. Hasn't he factored in the Muslim commuters on the platform? Or, doesn't he care? It also occurred to me that I was sharing the platform with any number of commuters who were looking forward to the Jewish high holidays. Hmmm. Another target audience down the tubes.

And, then it dawned on me. The bible thumper was making a classic inside-out marketing mistake. He wasn't thinking about his audience. He wasn't taking the time to figure out who they were, what sort of information they'd like to hear and where they'd be most open to engaging him in conversation. Instead, the sermon on the platform was all about him and his views.

I see inside-out marketing coming from some of the allegedly best and brightest brands in Corporate America. Alongside the amazingly dysfunctional internal operations at many of these companies, inside-out marketing is one of business and industry's better-kept, dirty little secrets.

Despite all the hoopla and posturing about social media and best practices for reaching the newly-empowered consumer, inside-out marketing still ricochets through the hallways of America's best companies like some sort of rampant, mutant H1N1 virus.

NJT's resident Jesus Freak is obviously oblivious to inside-out marketing (he's most likely oblivious to most things in life). But, there's no excuse for highly-paid, uber powerful marketers who keep making the same mistake 'He' does.

Wise up, Corporate America. It's later than you think. And, speaking of thinking, it's no longer about you or what you think. It's all about what we the consumers (and commuters) think.

All aboard!