Marketing’s role in the financial crisis (a confession).

Mass media and marketing, for the most part, have skated quietly by without much blame in the recent financial meltdown. I am not here to bash my own industry, but I have a confession to make: it is partially our fault. Sure, the banks sold mortgages to undeserving individuals and those individuals said consequences be damned, but we’re the ones who sold the dream, packaged it up, and made it look irresistible. More than that, we built up the grand illusion that everyone else was moving into McMansions, driving the finest cars, and were evermore happy as a result.

Not necessarily our company directly, mind you. I generally shy away from societal destruction or anything that preys upon the vulnerable, looking for a more long-term sustainable program for our clients’ success. But when it comes to bubble creation and blind optimism, the American marketing machine was clearly at work like a kid with a mouthful of bubblegum trying to make it that last bit bigger.

OK, enough self-loathing. The world will continue, and marketing is still a necessity and key driver of any organization’s success. The question now becomes, how do you balance short term need for success with long-term sustainable growth? There are many answers, and I could go into excruciating detail, but that’s not the point of this post. I, for one, hate the short-term pain of this massive correction, but look forward to a day of more measured, more intelligent, more lasting messages, images, and methods of approaching customers. We will always try and sell a dream. It’s just a matter of whether or not an organization can back that dream up with a product or service. In many ways, the America that Alexis de Tocqueville observed is alive and well, and it is our optimism that has made us great. American marketing will unapologetically continue to tap into this.

But perhaps, starting today, it should always be in a way that that complements the dream instead of creating it.


Experiential Design: a more intelligent approach to the web.

Soon, we’ll be launching a few websites that include a new design philosophy. Whereas before, you’d come to the homepage and navigate to your area of interest, we’re turning that experience on its head. Now, you will come to a website, create preferences, and the website will become relevant to only your needs and wants. In other words, instead of navigating a website to find the pertinent information, the website will navigate itself to filter information that the user requires.

In addition, a website can literally learn preferences and change on the fly. Now you can have a diverse business and appear specialized, and simplify the user experience based on their needs. All the while, you can get a clearer understanding of the desires of visitors to help hone the rest of the communications plan.
We’re calling it Experiential Design. And it has the ability to create Web 2.0 technology into every business. And it’s extremely cool. Stay tuned.

B-to-B, B-to-C, Community, Design, Interactive, Opinion, Sharing


Phire Principal Jim Hume speaks at Spark (video)

Tonight’s program, The Power of Positioning and Branding – Position to win (click on the link to view), will be the first to go live via web cast in the Ann Arbor SPARK Marketing Roundtable series. The meeting will begin at 5:00 pm with the live program starting at approximately 5:40 pm.

This month’s moderator is Jim Hume, Principal of Phire Branding Company, a marketing communications strategy, design and interactive firm specializing in creating strong and memorable brands that resonate in the marketplace.

This program is for business owners and managers, marketing and communications staff, current and potential entrepreneurs, and anyone interested in taking their company to the next level.

Join us virtually or in person. The meeting will be held at SPARK Central, 330 E Liberty, Lower Level, Ann Arbor, MI.