This speech was presented at the Trustee/Friends Luncheon at the 2010 TLA Annual Conference.
I am a LINGUISTIC LUNATIC.
I think about words….. A lot!
Ever since the 7th grade, when I first heard that the pen is mightier than the sword. I didn’t fully get it, but it stuck with me. And eventually, it became the foundation of my career.
I have been a writer. A ghost writer. An author. A journalist. An editor. A publisher.
A marketer. A promoter. A story teller. A presenter. A speaker.
And sometimes, a failed comedian.
Needless to say… I work with words on a perpetual basis. They have become my mental armor. I generate them…I cogitate them…..I pontificate them…..I deliberate them. I even “edit” them while they’re being used by people in a conversation. Sometimes their words. Sometimes mine.
I’m beginning to believe that I have been somewhat cursed by an incurable disease!
But it’s not a bad one…in fact it’s a fun one.
And you know why?!
Words are at the ESSENCE of who we are. They help us impress people. They help us formulate opinions of others. Are they smart? Are they educated? Are they full of promise? Or are they full of ….STRATEGERY?
At the end of the day, they shed light on a simple truth:
We don’t define words. They define us.
The same goes for marketing, which undoubtedly MATTERS in today’s society. They give LIFE and MEANING and PURPOSE to our companies, our services, our pastimes.
For example….if I repeat the following slogans, I bet you can tell me who they represent:
Just do it. (Nike)
Think Different. (Apple)
I’m Loving It. (McDonald’s)
It’s the Real Thing. (Coke)…..1969
Almost 100 years before then, a little thing called the American Library Association was created in 1876.
So I ask you….what’s your well known slogan?
Companies and entities that learn how to market are more successful. PERIOD.
It’s the difference between a USED car and a Certified Pre-Owned Car.
It’s the difference between BLACK COFFEE and the STARBUCKS DAILY BREW.
Quite simply, MARKETING MATTERS. It’s been the case for centuries. It will be the case for centuries.
So let me share a few of my favorite examples of today’s genre.
From Dos Equis, while introducing the “world’s most interesting man”:
- Police often question him, just because they find him interesting.
- If he were to mail a letter without postage, it would still get there.
- His personality is so magnetic, he is unable to carry credit cards.
- Even his enemies list him as their emergency contact.
- He never says anything tastes like chicken… Not even chicken.
- He speaks fluent French, in Russian.
- His charm is so contagious, vaccines were created for it.
- His reputation is expanding, faster then the universe.
- He once had an akward moment, just to see how it feels.
- He lives vicariously through himself.
"I don't always drink beer, but when I do, I prefer Dos Equis. Stay thirsty, my friends.”
That commercial is PROFOUND when it comes to cliché, symbolism, rhetorical value.
In my mind, it’s unforgettable. Which makes it extremely effective.
From Dodge ram, as they target the “alpha” male:
My name is Ram, and my tank is full.
I am fueled by optimism, driven by passion and stopped by nothing.
I am a can-do spirit in a get it done body.
All braun….all brain.
I am built not to last, but to outlast
Not to achieve, but to overachieve.
I carry reputations. I carry livelihoods.
And I deliver the goods without fail.
The road ahead of me is long. But I know my destination.
I will not yield.
I will not downshift.
I will not coast to a stop.
My name is Ram, and my tank is full.
You simply can’t beat that cadence……the marketing impact is huge!
Sometimes marketing can have such an impact that it comes back at the original advertiser in the form of ironic flattery. For example:
A fan of the Prius:
My name is Prius...my tank is 1/4 full.
I will drive further than Ram with a full tank.
I will not stop at the next gas station, or the next, or the next.
I will carry those who need to move in comfort but without the sin of excess.
I will not start an energy war.
I will carry your children safely.
I will not cause your children to become hungry or penniless.
My name is Prius.
Words that mean something are at the HEART of marketing. And the way I see it, people who know how to TURN A PHRASE are the masters of this domain.For example, great marketers can even be people — shocking admission — who are NOT in the marketing field:
The unforgettable Yogi Bera:
A. When you come to the fork in the road, take it.
B. Nobody goes there anymore. It’s too crowded.
Billionaire investor Warren Buffet:
A. A great investor is one who’s fearful when others are greedy
and greedy only when others are fearful.
B. I like to shoot fish in a barrel.
But I like to do it after the water has run out.
Believe it or not, great marketing can even be demonstrated by politicians:
Ask not what your country can do for you,
but what you can do for your country. (JFK)
The only thing we have to fear is fear itself. (FDR)
So what’s my point? What’s the APPLICATION to why we’re here today? Simple really….in my opinion, the libraries of America need to find a way to market themselves better. In an age of Wikipedia and Kindles and MP3 players, libraries need a champion for the good ole fashioned hard-bound book. And if I were hired to do that, I believe that I would follow the INTEL model. I would look INSIDE.
Because I believe that the ANSWERS, the SPIRIT of what you need in your marketing, is all contained in the very places that you work.And just to prove my thesis, I have written you a custom example of a possible marketing strategy. Using only the TITLES of books that are currently in print and sitting on your shelves.
Ready? Let’s see if you can pick out some of your favorites:
My Name Is Red. I Have Lived A Thousand Years. I Am An Emotional Creature. The Last of the Mohicans. Hunters and Gatherers….Morning, Noon and Night. The Way We Were, Playing with Fire, Stumbling on Happiness….It’s So Amazing.
In the Blink of an Eye, I have Seen the World Begin. From Here to Eternity, The Age of Innocence…This Side of Paradise…..The Winter of Our Discontent. The Time Machine, Of days Gone By, Resurrecting Midnight, Quietly, Like A Mighty Wind and A Bold Fresh Piece of Humanity.
A World Away, The Gods Are Thirsty. Abuse of Power Calls from a Lighted House, (like) A Catcher in the Rye. Even Now, I remember The Hour I First Believed…..Shaking the Heavens, Reaching for Glory, (with) The Heart of a Champion, Game Face (on).
Despite everything…. The Rising Tide, Pillars of Fire, the Fear of the Unknown….All Was Not Lost.
The Old Man and the Sea were Too Big To Fail. Instead of death, Simply A Ship of Fools, Against All Odds…. Lost and Found, Delirious.
From Good To Great. War and Peace Happens every day. That’s why The Best Laid Plans, Of Mice and Men, Teach us to Number our Days.
In All Likelihood, The Red Badge of Courage, is A Place to Come to. Everyone Worth Knowing, Learns a Lesson…. Doctor Zhivago. Lady MacBeth….Women Who Run with the wolves. Men Who Knit and the Dogs Who Love Them. All Creatures Great and Small.
Blink! Has Anyone Seen My Country? Are You Afraid of the Dark? A Room With a View? Mysteries of the Unknown Zig Zag On The Road to Perdition. However Long and Hard the Road, Fear No Evil. With God on Our Side, What Doesn’t Kill You Makes You Stronger.
For The Record, It’s Not About the Money. The Death of a Salesman Now and Then, Makes Me Want to Holler. Rich Dad, Poor Dad….You Could Do Better. Take on the Street. Bank on yourself. Without Remorse, Financial Peace (is) Around the Block. Simply Love The Game of Life.
Listen to the Wind. A Midsummer Night’s Dream, Runs In the Rain, All Quiet On the Western Front. The Art of Happiness, Awaits Your reply. Strengthen your Mind. Because of You….The Colors of Courage…..Beckoning….Even Now.
My Name is Red. My Side of the Mountain? A Trail of Tears. A Story of Toil, Turmoil and Triumph. A Fortress of Solitude. Of Pride and Prejudice. A Splendor in the Grass. You Will Find it in The Library of America. Steadfast and Immovable. Welcoming the Stranger. The Strong and the Weak.
Till We Meet Again, Join Me. Lead the way. The Past is Never Dead. The Future Is Up To Us.
That, my friends, is marketing. Or as I like to refer to it, a day at the office.
I know that it might be a little long for a TV commercial…for a radio spot…so just in case you’re looking for something a bit more CONCISE…..perhaps you can adopt an old slogan that has been retired recently by General Electric.
Where good things come to life.
Besides……isn’t that what a great book is supposed to do?
Thank you, and have a great day!