Hugh McLeod is what I would call at the extreme end of marketing. His ideas are at once outrageous, hilarious, offensive and passionate. There are no grey areas with the man. You're either Hughtrain or you're clueless. I've been both (and still can be) so I know the difference.
At present, he's pimping Stormhoek wine. It's a fascinating sometimes remarkable project. In essence he's using his Internet megaphone along with the blogging community to help shape the global marketing campaign and design its product packaging. This is being done as a direct assault on traditional forms of marketing. So far he's been enormously successful.
What he's done is create what he calls a community of kindred spirits. These are non-experts moulding Stormhoek's go-to-market with its unique offering that no-one can touch, the wine.
What the heck has this go to do with the profession? you ask. Everything.
- Wine is an unbelievably tough market where competition for shelf space is fierce. Sound familiar?
- Wine is something you have to try before you can know if it's any good. Again, sound familar from the client perspective?
- Wine is seen as being an elitist thing upon which the so-called experts are the only ones that can render a trusted opinion. This is where I can sense a certain unease. There are choices. But the more people that talk about you, the more you are likely to truly understand the customer. The kindred spirit.
- Packaging and promotion do make a difference. But the way you present yourself should be a product of what your customers think and not what you believe. Remember. No matter how technically good you are, if you come across as a cold, distant, kinghts-of-the-round-table-in-shining-armour, pompous asshole, then no-one will want you. Engage with others and everyone wins.
So maybe Hugh is not so extreme after all. He's merely ramming it in our faces. Is that such a bad thing at a time when the profession is under such enormous pressure for new staff, where margins are being squeezed and with clients resenting cost increases? Maybe we do need a fresh approach.
Hugh knows the American market will be hard to crack. At least that's one I know would be EASY for the profession.