Marvellous Moley Marketing

Posted on Saturday 16th July 2011 at 00:00
Real marketing is about far, far more than advertising and sales. When it is done well, you don't even need to advertise. Personally, I've always had the most affection for the brands that sell me an idea, a dream or a vision, not the ones that try to sell me a product.

Like most people, I find advertising and selling really, really annoying. As a young boy I received a Disney scratch card advertisement through the post, promising a free trip to Disneyland if I chose the right scratch off panels for the answers they wanted. I scratched away and, lo and behold, got it right every time.

My excitement at "winning" was short lived when an argument with my parents about whether I'd actually won anything or not resulted in me scratching off all the remaining panels. Needless to say, as my parents had told me, I couldn't possibly have lost, and the whole thing was nothing more than a cheap marketing con.

Ever since then, I like to think I've been pretty switched on to the tricks that companies use to try and get us to buy what they are selling. I steer well clear of any sort of promotional material and always follow the old saying "if it sounds to good to be true, it probably is".

For this reason I'm always intrigued when a company, brand or product actually draws my interest, and even more so when, as in this case, it is something that I have absolutely no need for and would never use. I was shopping earlier, and for purely idealistic lifestyle reasons, I went into book store Waterstones. I say idealistic lifestyle reasons because I had absolutely no intention to buy anything (I have no money) but a desire to satisfy two of my interests, coffee and reading.

I love the idea of buying books from a physical shop and then sitting down in the Costa Coffee they have in there and reading for an hour or two, but I had no intention of doing it. As much as I dearly, dearly love being in a book store, I can't justify buying a book from one that I could get for half the price from Amazon. And if I'm not going to buy a book then what would I go into Costa to read?

There is another reason why I wanted to go in there: Moleskine notebooks. I first heard of these fantastic items of stationary a few years ago when somebody blogged about how much they love them. On the face of it there is nothing special about them. They are plain looking and fairly ordinary, with a range of choices of size and whether or not to have any lines etc printed in them and whether to go for hard or soft covers. But that is it. Nothing particularly special and nothing to justify the 14 price tag for the size I most fancy.

But it's the idea that they are selling you! For me it's this: instead of buying a book to read in Costa, I buy a plain, empty Moleskine notebook and go and sit down with my coffee. I then pull out my finest Parker pen and begin to write. I don't know what I would write. It might be a novel, or a draft of a blog post, or a diary, or an essay on what we can learn from the News of the World scandal. I don't know. What's important is that I'm writing beautiful things in my beautiful notebook with beautiful handwriting and sitting and watching the world around me as I sip my coffee and continue to write.

The idea is so compelling that I'm standing by the modest display of these notepads and flicking through them to find the one I'd like, completely ignoring all the books I could be reading. And I know that the idea is impractical. For one thing, I'm not a writer, have very little time for writing and have virtually no use for a notebook of any kind. For another thing, my Parker pen is out of ink, but even if it wasn't, I have the worst handwriting in the World. I'd never spoil such a notebook by actually writing in it, it'd be a crime to fill it with my scrawl.

And yet, and yet I want to, and I want to buy one anyway. Without any pushy sales people and without ever having seen a single advert for one, but simply knowing, through word of mouth, what they are and how I could imagine using one, I'm sorely tempted to pay more for this thing than I know it is worth, knowing that I'd never actually use it.

And that is good marketing. Well played Moleskine, well played.

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