Gonzo Marketing

Gonzo Marketing: Winning Through Worst Practices by Chris Locke ISBN:0738207691 (Corporate Blogging)

excerpt (intro)

excerpt from Chapter2

Elevator Pitch from Chris Locke: Gonzo marketing comes out of a particular state of mind that is genuinely engaged with audiences and markets, but it's not just a matter of attitude. At the heart of the book is a model by which companies can create true relationships with emerging markets by underwriting the micromedia (WebLog-s) that are already conversing with those audiences. By these criteria, I think it's too early to go looking for examples - though I hope there will be many to point to by this time next year. (Corporate Blogging)

Lots of related links in Chris' Sept and Oct 2001 blog archives.

Obsessive blog not authored by Chris: http://gonzoengaged.blogspot.com/

Lots of the ground is covered in his Harvard Business Review article "Smart Customers, Dumb Companies"

Suppose Ford (AutoMobile) discovers, through offering Web space to self-motivated employees, that one tenth of 1% of its workforce are gung ho organic gardeners. Why would a car company care about that fact? Two reasons: first, 400,000 people is a pretty fair sample of the population at large, so it's reasonable to guess that a similar tenth of a percent of its market are organic gardeners. Second, Ford also sells trucks, and gardeners tend to haul stuff around that they wouldn't want to put in the backseat of the family sedan. Thus, such a micromarket includes excellent prospects for pickup trucks.

Ford would want to introduce these workers to one another and suggest that they build an organic-gardening subsite at ford.com - on company time, of course. Imagine the enthusiasm generated from being paid to do what you love instead of what you're told. Then Ford would find the best voices within this group - the most articulate, engaging, and informed - and make them emissaries to the best external organic-gardening Web site. Call it Organic Gardening World, OGW for short. These ambassadors would then approach this best-of-breed site bearing gifts: cash, server hardware, technical assistance, even reverse Banner Ad-s to drive traffic from ford.com to OGW. Say this site has a regular audience of 5,000. Ford would want to grow the audience to 500,000 as quickly as possible. It would also want an exclusive relationship with respect to competitors. OGW could have other underwriters, of course, just not from the likes of GM, Daimler Chrysler, or Toyota.

Ford's money would enable the OGW site developers to quit their day jobs in some corporate cube farm and work full time on what they love. Notice that love is a powerful motivator on both sides of the equation. And it is an equation - perhaps better, an equator. When organic gardeners click the Banner Ad on the OGW home page that says "underwritten by Ford Motor Company," they would not be transported to ford.com but to ford.com/organic-gardening. There they'd encounter Ford employees who share their passion for mulch and fresh corn on the cob. These two groups also share an active interest in pickup trucks, automatic lift gates, and power take-offs. Does this intersection of common interests hold more promise than conventional advertising? How much might it be worth to find out before competitors do?

Imagine taking this one step further. Suppose Joe Smith is Ford's primary ambassador to the OGW site and is highly visible in posting there. It's part of his job. He doesn't write about Ford products but about his knowledge of organic gardening. Now say Mary sends him a private e-mail: "Joe, I know you work at Ford. I wonder if you can help me. I bought an Explorer a while back, but the driver's side door is sprung and my dealer is giving me the runaround." Joe tells the executive VP of customer service, and 20 minutes later Mary gets this note: "Mary, Joe tells me you're having problems with your Explorer. Sorry to hear it. Call Bill Jones at the number below and schedule a time to have it fixed. I worked it out with Bill to take care of you at no charge." How many times would a company have to comp such service to gain evangelists it could never buy with a $100 million ad campaign?

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