Chapter 3, p. 35: “The word now appears in the Oxford English Dictionary, which defines it as: “a self-replicating element of culture, passed on by imitation.”

I felt this book started off rather too slowly in the first 40 pages (as in ‘I still don’t see how this is a meme or about creativity’). But I was glad to have finished it ,as it contained some practical pointers on creating your marketing message.

The initial chapters seem to dwell too long on creativity. I couldn’t wait to jump to the part about creating the marketing message. Maybe Levinson was trying to fill up the book (which was about 190 pages in total — not too thick and quite accessible for the busy on-the-go marketeer).
NLB Call. No: 658.8 LEV – [BIZ] (See “Business section”)
ISBN: 0-618-10468-2

The term “guerrilla” is taken to mean “unconventional”. Well, the marketing concepts seem pretty conventional to me. Still, the key message in this book is not so much about suggesting marketing ideas for adoption, but giving the reader a framework to initiate and formulate marketing ideas of their own.

I recommend this book for anyone who’s involved in marketing or publicity projects.

Highlights from the book:
P. 18: Five key areas begging for creativity

  1. The problems facing your target audience. “Do they care for your widget? You know they don’t. So they care daily about that spare tire around their waistline…? Yes, they do.”
  2. How your product/ service can solve a problem. “Speak to people about their lives, not about your offering. Talk to them about how their lives can be better — making more money, attracting a mate, saving time, losing weight, having more fun — and not about your widget. People couldn’t care less about your widget, but everyone is fascinated when the topic is their own lives, their problems, their own opportunities.”
  3. The other benefits offered by a product/ service can serve as a starting point for creativity in marketing. Again, this reinforces the idea that people are interested in their problems & themselves, not the product per se. “People do not buy shampoo. Instead, they buy beautiful hair. People do not buy aspirin. They buy freedom from their headache. People do not buy cell phones. They purchase convenience.”
  4. Every product/ service has something inherently dramatic. “You use ingredients from Peru? You put your service team through a ten-week training course? Tell me more. You tested your software with fifty companies, all of which raved about it? That’s very dramatic.”
  5. The product/ service’s unique features are often the starting point of guerrilla creativity. “You learn that slats provide healthier back support than box springs? So you incorporated slats into your own bed design…? That’s a unique feature and positive benefit on which you can hang your hat, direct your creativity, and focus your message.”

P. 42: Three factors for memes to be contagious: Extreme Simplicity, Emotional Impact, Critical Mass.
Re: Critical Mass – “Exposing enough people to the meme to spread it. How many people is enough? … rather than look at a number, look instead for a trend. If the number of people using your product/ service continues to grow, you may be heading towards critical mass” (gives example of Hotmail).

P. 56: “Your biggest barrier to implanting your meme in the minds of your prospects is the proliferation of marketing. Your enemy is not necessarily the competition. It’s sensory overload” (i.e. Good memes are supposed to break though the sensory overload.

P. 57: A list of successful memes – The Jolly Green Giant, the cross, Ronald McDonald, The Marlboro Man, “Intel Inside”, Doublemint, M&Ms, NBC (peacock), Michelin Man, the word “guerrilla”. P. 59 – 61: a list of non-marketing memes.

P. 77: Section on “Marketing as a mating ritual” – “The whole idea of guerrilla marketing is to transform cold prospects into consenting partners. As with superb sex, marketers shouldn’t be in a hurry, nor should they direct their energies towards disinterested people… a loving relationship isn’t consummated without proper wooing and knowing exactly what turns on the prospect. Learning what turns them on should be one of the goals of your research.”

P. 94 Chapter 6 – “Myths of Marketing (eliminating 10 obstacles to a successful marketing campaign)”. In brief, I’ve paraphrased the 10 points as the following statements:

  1. Marketing messages should be created from point of view of customers, not the company
  2. Awareness doesn’t necessarily translate into purchase (i.e. you need to generate awareness, but it cannot stop there)
  3. High product recall doesn’t necessarily translate into purchase (i.e. recall without motivation is not effective)
  4. “Zero correlation between liking your marketing and wanting your product… they may like your marketing (campaign) but may not want to consummate the relationship (author cites examples of memorable and funny ads, that is watched by many people but does not result in purchase)
  5. Marketing campaigns need not change frequently (suggests that consistency is key)
  6. Having a marketing campaign that “stands out” is not as effective as one where prospects give permission to allow messages to be sent (this part cites the effectiveness of permission marketing)
  7. People do not behave realistically. “People make purchases according to their beliefs rather than according to the facts” (I guess it’s like saying people know reading is good, but if they belief they have no time, then they won’t read)
  8. Humor is not necessarily beneficial to marketing (see points 2 & 3)
  9. Repetition doesn’t necessarily make the marketing campaign boring (suggest that repetition may be a critical factor to a campaign’s success)
  10. Low pricing is not creative marketing

P. 114: “Truly creative marketing strives to promote recall of the benefit at the moment of sale rather than in a vacuum… Guerrilla creativity isn’t something that you do. Instead it’s something that your prospects get.”

P. 115 – 119: “Specific strengths of each marketing medium” – covers Newspapers (news/ stories), magazines (credibility), radio (intimacy), direct mail (urgency), telemarketing (rapport), brochures (giving details), classified ads (information for those who search for it), yellow pages (even more information for those who search for it), television (demonstration), signs (impulse buying), fliers (economy), billboards (reminding), Internet (interactivity). “Many marketers use the Internet the same way they use radio and television, magazines and newspapers, and overlook the immense power of interactivity. If it’s relationships for which you are striving, no medium allows you to enter into them as easily as the Internet.”

P. 134. How to field-test your meme, i.e. you tell it to someone, and see their responses. If they aren’t interested to find out more, then it probably doesn’t work.

P. 157 – 1599. That patience is also key to making a meme successful. Gives example of how the Marlboro Man idea impressed the Marlboro group in the late 1950s (enough for them to invest $18 million in marketing), but it didn’t produce results in the first few years, much to the ad agency’s shock. But now it’s an internationally recognised icon.

P. 166. Six steps in creating a meme:

  1. Do your research
  2. Write your benefits list
  3. Determine your competitive advantage
  4. Select the marketing weapons you’ll employ
  5. Write your marketing plan
  6. Develop your meme

P. 169: “Marketing has changed a great deal during the past century. But human behaviour has not changed much at all. People still respond to the same emotional tugs, to the same basic appeals, to the same selfish needs and wants.”

P. 181 – 185: “Ten questions to ask in choosing an ad agency”, “Five things to look out for in an advertising agency” (e.g. be certain the ad agency realises that advertising is only a small portion of marketing; do they understand your company business/ objectives, [and more]).

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