WHY STARTUPS ARE BETTER AT MARKETING THAN CORPORATES

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The Truth Sells. Doesn’t it?

The following is a marketing message sponsored by Vulpine.

We make cycling apparel. We started the company so we could do something we truly loved and believed in. It is, we think, stylish. It stops you smelling and feeling uncomfortable. It is not perfect, but its as close as we could get. You can wear it off the bike and feel good. We think the designs are pretty great, but then we would. I use exclamation marks a lot in what I write because I’m excited and extremely passionate about what I do. We’ve had really good reviews and loads of repeat customers and people say lovely things to us about what they’ve bought. We use pretty pictures on our good-looking website because we love design. Nothing is fake or air-brushed. All our models are our friends and real cyclists. We created Fetes because its a fun way to get people interesting in us, and a great way to feel good about ourselves by promoting other young businesses like us. Hopefully it helps make cycling a slightly better place. We love and care about cycling. We hope you do too.

Marketing is lies.

This is the way we now think. Hell, its the way I think.

We are media savvy. We’re so attuned to the constant battering waves of irrelevant lifestyle airbrushed nonsense hyper-speak that we tune out of it. We’re not stupid.
But so many things in life and indeed business really can be incredible. Wonderful. Clever. Innovative. Cool. Useful. Comfy. Scary. Cute. Life-changing. Life-saving.

But we never hear the genuine benefits because we’re conditioned to the Incredo-hypeâ„¢, exaggeration and vaseline lens of Marketing Department drone.

The Truth Sells.
Doesn’t it?

If you have a quality product, why not say that? With the emotion that is real to you? Be you. Imperfect believable you.

Reality is not perfect. Perfection is an unattainable goal. But is is worth striving for. Necessary, even. But to say something is perfect is to lie.

For instance no jacket is completely waterproof AND breathable. Its a fact. If it doesn’t let water in, it doesn’t let water out. It can’t breath, so you sweat. And that’s disgusting.

The truth is The Vulpine Cotton Rain Jacket is not completely waterproof. …Cue silence…

That’s deliberate. Necessary. I chose a specific fabric for that specific jacket because it is the most comfortable and looks great on and off the bike. That is the ultimate aim for us; performance & style. It breathes really well. You go out in it in torrential rain for two hours and a small amount of water may get in. But sweat doesn’t pour down your arms from over-heating so you don’t look and smell like a fetid heap of seaweed as you walk into the office. It is simply a Vulpine Rain Jacket and its had amazing reviews.

But in a corporate environment I could never ever say what I just said. I’d be sacked.

Truth is a luxury you can afford when you believe in, and have invested emotionally in what you tell.

All we can do is give you the lowdown, then you make a decision. That’s what selling used to be. The manufacturer gives information and the customer decides whats relevant. Now the customer must peel away the layers of hype.

Of course, transparency only works if you have a great product. And therein lies the problem. Many products really aren’t great. How do you sell them then?….Oh.

Many corporates are in the position of having essentially identical products. So the only way to sell them as divisible from a rivals is to make stuff up about them, or create lifestyles and promises that are unattainable. Its an arms race of marketing hot air.

I am in the rare and enviable position of controlling every message that leaves Vulpine. Every tweet, Facebook message, subscriber email, blog, website page and interview is my own words. That can’t go on forever, but it is a wonderful feeling to know exactly what you feel is out there. No middle managers to worry about, working it up the line for approval that may never come. No two hour meetings about which adjective to use.

As I hand these things over I’ll ask each new member of staff to use their own voice and not be afraid to say the truth. This is to my benefit, not just a belief system. I worry about us becoming corporatised and I hope I can defend us from that.

I hope the the Vulpine Cycling Fete is a good example of what can be achieved by small companies coming together to market their wares with passion and a genuine love for what they do. It would have been impossible to have created it in a corporate environment.

Corporate marketing is controlled by fear. The fear of saying something that’ll be disagreed with by those up the line. Something real, passionate, heartfelt, genuine. The fear comes from good people who worry they will lose their jobs in an environment where standardisation and approval is key. Press releases are formatted.

Images come from stock libraries. Models are perfect; grinning emptily. Demographics. Research.

The Rules.

And so their marketing becomes, ironically, ineffective, anodyne. An unseen diluted beige wash. All that money and talent leeched away.

Hundreds and thousands of pounds are spent on the commercials you see on TV. I used to run companies making them for ad agencies. I know how the system works. Most of that money goes on minute changes and the churning cycle of client/agency approvals. Layers of endless nothing to wade through. Waste of resources, time & creativity. Terrible, useless, averaged, boring waste. The fear of imperfection. Wanting to create perfection by destroying the beauty of reality. Innovation and risk is absolutely discouraged. The fear of losing your job because the person above you fears their job who has a boss who fears their job who…This is anti-entrepreneurialism.

Meanwhile, at many multiples of the energy and speed, young brands and creative types are ignoring The Rules. They’re creating masterpieces on digital SLRs and editing through the night on a laptop. This is where the passion and reality is. This is what people connect with. And a fraction of the price of all those days of meetings, sushi lunches and taxis for the six-figure salaries.

The advertising and marketing industries have developed into mere support structures for a dying lifestyle. The risk has long gone and the youthful candor and energy of entrants is squeezed out by endless crushing jargonisationised blue sky thinking acronym non-speak.

We’re all real people. Even the ones who work in marketing for big agencies and branding houses! But we are crushed by these rules of risklessness and standardisation. We long to escape. The Rules affect everything we do. From staring at a poster, buying a cabbage to watching the news. We are never fully ourselves or see the real people behind what we buy.

Great effective marketing comes from people who are free. The entrepreneurs and the artists unshackled by corporate fear. People who just want you to know they’ve made something great. They’re trying to get themselves heard over the grey fake chatter and smiles from the corporations. And it works. The bizarre contradiction (shouldn’t ads be amazing to be effective??) of the boredom of the TV ad break. The same old same old same old veneer that gave Marketing a bad name.

"Activation creatine FS35 pro-fishcake amylase extract to give you incredibly shiny elbows."

"The new Turbo Ultra Mega Rocket-phase Incredo-Slam will make your chest emit powerful radio waves that cause women to fall at your feet and produce cool refreshing beer from their palms."

"The Xenoz 6 Pro X Tyre is made from the spital of mute voles, and will cause you to climb vertical mountains of molten lead just by smirking at them."

…Repeat….

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