Friday, January 23, 2009

Marketing HOPE - Very Popular These Days

I quote Seth Godin who appears to be the Phil Kotler, or maybe he’s more like the Tom Peters, of his generation.

“What marketers sell is HOPE. The reason is simple: people need more. We run out. We need it replenished. HOPE is almost always in short supply.

The magical thing about selling HOPE is that it makes everything else work better, every day get better, every project work better, every relationship feel better. If you can actually deliver on the HOPE you sell, there will be a line out the door.”

I think this may have been said first by David Ogilvy or another one of the 1960s ad mavens. Yes they are the Mad Men people – I only met a couple of them, and it was when they were retiring, but they were incredibly smart.

The issue I have with Seth Godin is not that I’m sure he took this from somewhere else and took credit for it. More it’s that he’ll throw something like this out there and then expect me figure out what to do with it.

By the way HOPE is capitalized because it looks more powerful that way. That's marketing.

Here’s what I think when I hear the word HOPE.

Cosmetics used to be called HOPE in a bottle.

Bill Clinton came from HOPE, Arkansas.

Bob HOPE was a very famous comedian from my father's era.

I had a friend named HOPE in high school who was actually pretty hopeful.

When Pandora let all the bad stuff fly out of her box the only thing left was a tiny voice called HOPE.

The HOPE of falling in love again, of watching your children have children, of finding joy in your work, of the promise on a small child's face as they learn something out for the first time – HOPE springs eternal. That was Alexander Pope, I just looked it up – thank you Internet.

If we don’t HOPE we begin to slowly die. Did you ever spend time in the company of someone who had lost HOPE? If you did you probably didn’t go back.

HOPE is what won Barack Obama the presidency of the United States. HOPE is what keeps people religious. Is shopping a form of HOPE? Or is it just something we do when we want to psyche ourselves up to face the next round of hopelessness? OK that’s not a fair question.

Although I never would have defined it that way here’s how I’m helping clients and others sell HOPE.

Coalition on Public Understanding of Science (COPUS) is capitalizing on the HOPE of scientists, engineers, teachers and everyone involved in Science that it’s back on the national radar screen. President Obama mentioned Science in his inaugural speech. They’ve declared 2009 The Year of Science. For eight years science was kept under the radar screen as the evolution debate raged. Now there is HOPE.

AAAS is marketing the Science of Alcohol – here the HOPE is clearer. If we teach kids the science of what alcohol is and how it can hurt their bodies – rather than just tell them it’s bad for them – the HOPE is they will delay their first drink. We’ve tried everything else, now we’re hopeful about science. is selling the HOPE that if you get smarter about what your treatments and services should cost, you will ultimately get better care and pay less. Selling HOPE when it goes against what you’re accustomed too is complicated. It has to be built one step at a time. First, there’s the HOPE that you can figure out how to do this. Second, there’s the HOPE that the provider will negotiate. Third, there’s the HOPE you’ll actually save money.

International Association of Business Communicators (IABC) – is selling the HOPE that belonging to its group will improve your stature, get you a new job, keep you up-to-date and networked in. But their membership is declining and I think the HOPE message is diluted. People aren’t sure why they belong – and when they can’t identify the price/value relationship of membership HOPE goes right out the window.

American Society of Association Executives – markets HOPE in the form of professional development. It has so many products, services, conferences, networking events, meetings – many specialized for individual market segments – that I personally cannot figure them all out. How can you sell HOPE when it’s a giant bureaucratic hodgepodge? Their events are usually well attended so HOPE must be in there somewhere.

I could go on but you get it. HOPE does sell. Figure out what it is in the products or services you’re marketing – do research – learn and use HOPE to market it. In these tough economic times, it’s one of the most potent weapons we’ve got.

Here's Barack Obama selling HOPE.

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