How to really stuff up a marketing campaign

diet-cavemanI like marketing: it’s the pitting of creativity against the dominant paradigm. It’s what I think I know proven to be right – or horribly wrong. And given the fast-changing nature of marketing, as it swirls in the vapour trail of the big jet Internet, there’s a pretty good chance of failure. Let’s face it, marketing is in turmoil as old players so their best to adapt and new players come in, urged by the last hot marketing guru’s email and his ‘special’ software that is going to rocket you to the front page of Google for a mere $7. Confusion reigns. jimmypicCholesterol Clarity smInto this scene comes a ray of light. Jimmy Moore, of Living LaVida Low Carb, is a low carb/paleo blogger with a huge following. His book, Cholesterol Clarity is a best seller, and he keeps up an amazing output of weekly blog posts with a huge following. Not only that, he came to Byron Bay last year and demonstrated a wonderful character. So when he mentioned that he did do advertising on his blog, I thought.. of course!  The whole team at Alkaway are following Paleo diet principles, Jimmy is a beacon of light in the Paleo scene, he has a massive mailing list… perfect! Health-minded conscious people all over the world and his rates were very reasonable. Not only that, he’d record an interview of us and run it with his show. Yes! That’s where I got a mite too excited. You see, I have this mistaken belief that everyone in the world, when awakened to what I know about our AlkaWay UltraStream water, will ‘see the light’ and want their own amazing water. My mission in life, therefore, is to share that knowledge. So.. creative mind Ian gets to thinking… Our paleo ancestors lived in caves. They probably prized caves with a water supply, even fighting to protect it. Perhaps they understood that certain waters in certain caves gave them better health, immunity and vitality. These caves would certainly be prized. So I thought.. how can I link this to the Paleo diet followers that Jimmy podcasts too? Hmm. (Lightbulb moment) “Paleo Water!”

I got busy. Jimmy needed ad graphics to put on his podcast page. I made them. I even got the help of Tyler LeBaron, Molecular Hydrogen Institute Scientist, who agreed to a little interview about ‘Paleo Water’.paleoheader2 Jimmy called us, we did an interview… and waited for the big moment when orders for ‘Paleo Water’ would flood into our shopping cart. And waited.. and waited. Well, they didn’t. What did flood in was a veritable torrent of abuse. Twitter, blogs, emails., Facebook… and it took quite some time to understand what had happened. I honestly believed in what I had come up with: the concept that certain waters around the world protected and supported the survival of the tribe that occupied the cave. The Paleo diet is all about eating as we have been designed to eat, and it seemed to me that if we could drink the water that 100,000 years of evolution had proven most beneficial… but it was obvious that my view was not shared in cyberspace.

I was called all sorts of things, and immediately – in reaction, I now – began to respond to the Twitter feeds. They went away, so I thought I had won them over. Mistake. They went away because the average Twitter user has an attention span somewhere left of a sparrow. Once they had dumped their view they had already moved on and had no interest in furthering my debate. The blogs were similar; lots of comments poking fun at the paleo water idea, lots of attacks on the paleo diet in general…and again, within a week they all disappeared. Unfortunately, there is a window of opportunity with all advertising. If that ‘window’ isn’t clear, you don’t get the message. I had created an ad that passed people on to a discussion of ‘Paleo Water’ which as you know was our amazing UltraStream water with high infused hydrogen. But because there were so many adverse ‘shots’ at the Paleo Water idea, I guess most people’s consumer-protection radar picked up an ‘anomaly’, and so they just didn’t follow through. So… $4000 outlay, a great guy, helpful to a tee, but NO sales, and lots of ‘flack’. Since then we haven’t dared to resurrect the ‘Paleo Water’ idea. We have now sold over 10,000 of this form of natural water ionizer and we have a huge and happy client base.

So what was the lesson? Well, years ago I was consulting with the local paper here in Byron Bay trying to help them go from a public service to an actual profitable business. Their top advertising guy had been in the game for many, many years and he gave some great advice. He said “If a supermarket and doesn’t look like a supermarket ad, people won’t look at it. They will experience confusion. If a security door and doesn’t use fear as it a motivator, it won’t work because it is selling freedom from far. My Paleo Water didn’t look like a product that supported the immunity, the vitality and overall health that we believe it does. It looked like an add-on to the Paleo diet, and as such was fair game for the most vociferous opponents of Jimmy Moore.. and must I say who they are? Vegans.

I have no problem with vegans. I was a vegetarian for 14 years. My osteoporosis is my legacy. In fact, I have no problem with fast food junkies. It’s their life. What I do have a problem with is the idea that one diet fits all, with the attached belief that one has to make sure everyone in the world agrees. There is another word for that: immaturity.

But what’s the BIG lesson for me? Why did I have to go out on that limb and create something completely different, something I was ‘sure’ would work? Simple. I didn’t have enough belief in my own product. (in ME!) I believed I had to somehow go to extraordinary lengths to ‘entice; people to look at the UltraStream. I was wrong. People come to us because they hear about the UltraStream from a happy user who also happens to be their friend. The nicest way to sell.