Who’s Keeping Up? 4 Marketing Secrets from the Joneses

Marketing Secrets Exposed

You might have missed the movie, The Joneses, starring Demi Moore and David Duchovny. It wasn’t a box office smash and I wouldn’t have watched it myself except that it was filmed in my town. My teenage daughters wanted to see their schoolmates’ neighborhood on film, so we curled up to watch it on a recent family movie night.

In the film, a new family comes to town loaded with the latest and greatest consumer products and luxury goods. The big secret is that the family is fake: actors/salespeople hired to promote the dream of the “have it all” lifestyle.

The Joneses’ job is to act like a real family, showing off the goods and making the neighbors green with envy. With the Joneses’ subtle approach to word-of-mouth marketing, friends and neighbors don’t realize they’re being pitched.

Local sales spike for high-end watches, golf accessories, fancy cars, and anything else that might make your neighbors a little envious. Of course, sales are closely tracked, and the Joneses’ success is evaluated on how well they inspire their new neighbors to buy all this stuff.

While I was watching this movie, it occurred to me as a marketer that the concept is not really that far-fetched…

You’ve probably met people like the Joneses, all shiny and new, too good to be true. I know I have. It makes me wonder…maybe they’re not what they seem. Maybe the Joneses are really “the Joneses.

I hope not.

Wild and Out of Control

I don’t want to spoil the movie for you if you’re planning to watch it, so let me just say that The Joneses is a story of consumerism and product placement gone wildly overboard. It’s a cautionary tale about what can happen when we get too caught up in keeping up.

Looking a little deeper, I discovered that there are also some valuable marketing secrets hidden between the lines…

Things aren’t always what they seem

Just as the neighbors are duped into believing the Joneses are a regular family, marketers can be misled, too. We can mistake competitors posing as customers and give up trade secrets, we can misinterpret data about our products and customers, and we can make assumptions that are dead wrong.

Marketing Secret #1: It pays to question everything, especially your motivations and objectives. Nothing is a given. Step back and get a fresh perspective.

Track your results

The Joneses’ employer scrupulously tracked their performance to see how well each member of the family was doing with their sales goals. Fail to perform, and you’re out. Succeed, and you can move up to a better family in a more exclusive neighborhood.

Marketers know intuitively that they need to define goals and track results. But in the heat of a product launch or flurry of excitement about a new campaign, it’s easy to say “Let’s just get it done,” and worry about metrics later.

Marketing Secret #2: Later is too late. The time to figure out metrics is when you are planning your promotions and marketing campaigns, not after.

Be careful how you position your product

There is a certain product in the movie that should only be marketed to adults over 21. Unfortunately, the packaging is all wrong. The product ends up in the wrong hands with disastrous results.

Product positioning goes beyond theory. Effective implementation of positioning strategy incorporates elements like package design, graphics, and copy. These items should align with the interests of the customers you want to buy your product.

Would you sell a wine cooler in a juice box?

Marketing Secret #3: In your zeal for creativity and coolness, make sure that you don’t inadvertently create appeal with the wrong demographic.

There’s more to life than marketing.

Sometimes marketers forget that life is not all about selling more stuff. As consumers, many of us are all too willing to buy into the premise that the next purchase will be the one that changes everything.

If I could only get that new car, those cool shoes, that awesome new phone….then I’d be the one they look up to.

But wait (yes, “there’s more…”) stop for a second, and think about the implications of that purchase. What does it really mean for your buyer? Will they be better or worse off for purchasing your product?

Marketing Secret #4: Marketers have a responsibility to consider who they are targeting, and be ethical enough to concede that not all products are right for all people.

As marketers, we have a tough job. We walk a fine line between pushing a product and just being pushy.

To me, the marketing discipline is an enticing blend of art and science, but sometimes people get a little too creative. Breaking through the boundaries of ethics to snag a few more sales may seem like a good idea…until the consequences kick in.

Personally, I’d rather not cross that line.

Where do you stand?

Movie Image from imdb.com. Feature image by freestocks.org

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