Gonzo Marketing:Winning Through Worst Practices The Bombast Transcripts: Rants and Screeds of RageBoy
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Monday, December 10, 2001
The full USA Today review of Gonzo Marketing
At least it will be at that URL for a couple days.
Page 9B

Get personal to market on Web
By Bruce Rosenstein
USA TODAY

Christopher Locke may think big business is clueless, but he doesn't think it is hopeless.

Locke broke into the big time last year as one of the co-authors of the surprise hit The Cluetrain Manifesto: The End of Business As Usual. Now he is out to show you again that, as the Firesign Theatre comedy album says: Everything You Know Is Wrong.

Locke's vehicle now, the thought-provoking Gonzo Marketing: Winning Through Worst Practices, examines Web marketing.

Guess what? Conventional advertising doesn't, can't and never will work in cyberspace.

He has barely hidden contempt for big media companies and their CEOs, particularly Rupert Murdoch of News Corp. and Disney's Michael Eisner. He likens merging AOL and Time Warner to rearranging deck chairs on the Titanic.

Yet beneath the sometimes sneering tone, this is a dead-serious book. Locke claims that mass markets and mass marketing are as good as dead because people spend more time on the Web. Once online, the eyeballs are not headed for sites with TV-size audiences, but into micromarkets -- small sites built around shared interests.

His solution is Gonzo, borrowing a term associated with over-the- top journalist Hunter S. Thompson. (If your pop-culture references are hazy, think back to the early 1970s Rolling Stone and such books as Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas. Putting Thompson's spirit behind Web marketing isn't that far-fetched, given that Thompson is now writing a weekly column, ''Hey, Rube,'' for ESPN online.)

Gonzo involves passionate engagement, not detachment. It means getting to know the people to whom you are marketing -- literally talking to them (or at least exchanging e-mail).

The concept of worst practices has shock value, but there is also a point behind it: Best practices, or what are conventionally thought of as best practices in marketing, don't cut it in cyberspace. Instead of conventional advertising, such as buying banner ads on sites (pretty useless, he says), Locke urges companies to get into underwriting sites.

It is more subtle and cost-effective, he predicts, and more tasteful than bombarding audiences with your message. Underwriting must be tasteful and not too intrusive. He cites the Medici banking empire during the Renaissance, bankrolling the likes of Michelangelo and other artists whom we revere to this day. Subtlety is key. Picture, he says, underwriters insisting that the Sistine Chapel blare Bank With Medici!

Get your employees to find primo sites to underwrite, similar to A& R (artists and repertoire) scouts employed by record companies.

Employees play another crucial role in this scheme. They get involved with internally run sites on all sorts of subjects -- even some with a tenuous link to your company's business -- that link to your company's site. The employees use conversations with potential consumers to possibly steer them to your company site. All this work, by the way, is done on company time. It is to become an integral part of your marketing and personnel strategy to turn marketing over to everyone in the company, not just the marketing department.

What people want from companies on the Web are not just product messages, but ways they can hook up with like-minded people. As Locke writes: ''Do I want to obey my thirst and glug down a Sprite? Do I want to take the Pepsi Challenge? Do I care if you got milk? No, no and no. But I might care if some company offered to hook me up with a bunch of interesting people who think sorta like I do and have similar or complementary tastes and interests.''

Locke praises Amazon.com for its online marketing -- though, of course, that is its whole business. He discusses ''collaborative filtering.'' That's a fancy way of saying Amazon tells you what other people who bought the item your looking at bought. And he looks at the power of customer reviews of books, which allow people to talk to each other in a roundabout way. As an example, he notes the thousands of reviews on Amazon for the four Harry Potter books.

Gonzo Marketing: Winning through Worst Practices

By Christopher Locke

Perseus Publishing, 240 pages, $25


11:15 AM | link |



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"RageBoy: Giving being fucking nuts a good name since 1985."
~D. Weinberger
28 October 2004

www.flickr.com
Chris Locke's photos More of Chris Locke's photos

Until a minute ago, I had no photos. I still have no photos to speak of. I don't even have a camera. But all these people were linking to "my photos." It was embarassing. It's still embarassing. But I'm used to that.


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