A pedestal type of person

The best marketers bake their advertising into their work.

Whether you’re an athlete, an author, or a baker, the product speaks for itself. Your trade either breeds trust and gets shared by others or falls at the wayside.

Steve Jobs, Michael Jordan, and Albert Einstein put their money where their mouth was.

But there are of course ways to exaggerate one’s abilities.

David Beckham was a good football player, not great. Karl Lagerfeld was a good designer, but no one amazing. The difference is how these two talked about themselves during their careers and strategically elevated their game by raising their awareness platform.

Performance is only half of the story. The other half of the story is smart marketing and for consumers, a self-fulfilling truth. As Seth Godin so wisely notes in his book All Marketers Are Liars: The Power of Telling Authentic Stories in a Low-Trust World, “We drink the can, not the beverage.”

Buyers acknowledge the artifice but also stand on pedestals they too think they deserve.

What matters isn’t always popular

If you’ve ever published anything on the web you know what it’s like when all you hear are crickets. No likes, no comments, no reshares.

You think your content sucks because no one’s acknowledging you. But it’s a misconception to sell your work short, especially if it’s your labor of love.

There are 2.1 billion+ people on the Internet. If you’re writing, acting, or sharing your music someone’s going to connect with you. They may be a fan, a teacher, or someone you admire within your scenius. But you’re never going to appeal to everyone.

“The less reassurance we can give you the more important the work is.”

Seth Godin

All social media is based on reassurance. That’s why most Instagram content looks the same. If you want to guarantee success, you’ll share photos of beaches, dogs, selfies, and food.

“We were raised to do things that work.”

Seth Godin

But why not challenge sameness by trying something new? Go for some tension. Err on the side of being vulnerable if it means you get to make the stuff that makes you happy.

Unlike politics, creativity asks that you own up to being edgy, different. People that make change stand up and take responsibility for causing a ruckus.

“The internet could save your life because it’ll keep you from a lifetime of being told what to do.”

Seth Godin

Choose yourself. The rest follows.

All quotes above are from Seth Godin’s most recent presentation. Watch it below.

Taste at first sight 👁👀👁

“The first taste is always with your eyes.”

Everything is contrived, from the glowing burger buns, fresh lettuce and tomatoes, to the juicy fresh meat. Video takes food advertising even further, making it come alive from its static state.

Tabletop advertising or food marketing is no different from any other product marketing: the illusion never matches the reality of creating it. In reality, the food has been dressed up and augmented to look fresh and mouth-watering like those lobsters in Red Lobster commercials.

Fashion advertising is similar. The model is always more enticing wearing makeup and sporting a six-pack. When models make commercials, they never smile. Badassery sells.

Not surprisingly, food porn and selfies are huge on Instagram too, the people’s marketing platform. A little bit of shoot preparation and filters make both food and faces look better than they actually are.

Today, anyone can use technology to create a Hollywood look. Everyone’s deceiving and buying lies at the same time. We all desire better versions of ourselves, including what appears on our plates.

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Devouring optical information

There’s optical information everywhere — on cereal boxes, to ads atop taxicabs, to the best quiche recipe on Pinterest.

We are bombarded by the same signals we signal right back, purchasing the Nike sneaker posted on Instagram yesterday.

Communicating through images negotiates a plausible reality. We consume and project, show and inspire others. Assume everything can be experienced, to a degree.

But the ordinary person lacks power. The influencers and marketers, once copycats, still dictate trends. Clout is an information advantage.

The evolution and ubiquity of images choke the world, tarnishing the concept of bear-naked nothingness.

The screen (never) fades to black.

The bullshit detector

You know it when you see it. Bullshit rings like a magic lantern, giving artificiality a spotlight.

More people are susceptible to believing bullshit than ever. Politics is mostly bullshit, as is mass marketing. The irrational tries to take all the mystery out of life.

When storytelling becomes manipulation, people lose their heads. Evil spreads like a fungus, as do the false narratives of a placebo.

The only way to change the reality around you is to call it for what it is: BS! Some will get it; others will need a constant reminder of their blindness.

Walking billboards

We are all walking billboards. Logos and sponsors aren’t restricted to the chest of professional soccer and basketball uniforms.

As consumers, we signal our own catalog of attention triggers — the Nike Swoosh, the Adidas stripe, the Bauhaus-inspired Apple AirPods, etc.

We’ve been working for brands all along. Social media and the proliferation of images intensify the ubiquity of advertising.

Facebook long understood its users were the best advertisers, helping brands generate impressions through the return of reshares, likes, and comments. Harvesting attention is a $1.2 trillion annual business, with influencers acting as the newest sensation in image marketing.

Subtle like soft power, we sell without selling, creating an endless gif loop of buying — all to confirm the story in our heads.

All the internet’s a stage

via giphy

We can all assume that a social media persona is different than that in real life. Writes Jonathan Crossfield in Chief Content Officer Magazine: “Strategy or no strategy, all social media is artifice and spin.”

No one is going to post in public what they Google in private. We’d rather tweet about playing 18 holes than revealing a Saturday afternoon doing the dishes.

We curate our avatars, acting like celebrities and influencers to build up our personal brands.

If Instagram and Twitter present an edited version of life, reality is a theater full of false mirrors and digital half-truths.

We create the appearance of authenticity online

We invent polished experiences so we can share them. We manipulate the public microphone to project the best self, even if that ephemeral five-second clip disappears the next day.

All the internet’s a stage. As online entertainers, it is no surprise that we often fail to live up to the shinier version of ourselves offline. Screens provide neither knowledge nor truth so the personal image never gets accurately reflected.

We set the bar too high like the movies, performing a Hollywood script that injects a personal image into a mirror that we cannot touch.

Shouldn’t we be the one that we are?

StartRocket wants to blast billboards in space 👾🚀

StartRocket wants to blast billboards in space 👾🚀

In an interview with Futurism, the Russian startup StartRocket wants to project advertisements into space. Said founder Vlad Sitnikov:

“We are ruled by brands and events. The Super Bowl, Coca Cola, Brexit, the Olympics, Mercedes, FIFA, Supreme and the Mexican wall. The economy is the blood system of society. Entertainment and advertising are at its heart. We will live in space, and humankind will start delivering its culture to space. The more professional and experienced pioneers will make it better for everyone.”

Vlad Sitnikov, StartRocket

Would you want to see an advertisement for Coca-Cola or Nike in the skies over New York? Seeing the Jordan Jumpman might be kind of cool. But already bombarded with ads as it is on TV, phones, and street billboards, it might be nice to keep the only place we know is 100% ad-free, the sky.

The customer purchase funnel, flipped

All marketers are liars. But so too are the customers who tell themselves stories to make them feel good about a product.

Nevertheless, there are times and moments where both sides benefit. For instance, Apple builds hardware and software that unleashes the creator.

The best brands meet their consumers somewhere in the middle, where sold objects are trustworthy, useful, and worth sharing. If the funnel starts open like a Sarlacc pit, companies should expect to be experienced but then ignored forever.

The idea is that you need a ton of website visitors, then some of them become become leads, and then after you do something (the usual recommendation is to bombard the leads with marketing automation) they relent and pay you money, thus becoming a “customer.” 

I hate this, because it’s shortsighted. Granted, if you work in a company that’s shortsighted (they’re racing to some sort of exit, or maybe living quarter to quarter), this funnel stuff is probably important. 

Ben Chestnut, Founder of Mailchimp

Read Why I hate funnels

‘His retina is beleaguered with images’

'His retina is beleaguered with images'

“What of modern man’s scale of values? His retina is beleaguered with images (photographs, printed matter, street advertisements, Cinema) from morning to night.” 

Alvar Aalto, 1927

And now we’re beleaguered with shiny devices that blast such promotions into our eyes.

We all carry a piece of Times Square in our pocket.

gif by Tomasz Konczakowski

A little bit louder now

Provocation is neither about engagement nor expression — it’s about likes and shares.

The lightning rod on Twitter will always outshine the passive inspirer, hiding from the market.

But it is the quality of interactions that deliver the message. Neither the loud nor the faint succeeds.

Speak softly and carry a big stick.