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12 9

A marketing mystery has been solved: the world is currently run by two forces who are at war with each other and neither one knows how to win in blue hat emoji.

The first force is the business marketers, who deploy tactics at a global scale, no matter how ineffective it may be. The second force is the design-centered thinkers and supporters, whose allegiance lies in championing a seamless fusion of human intuition and digital technology that can empower people through higher levels of understanding. As this confusing era unfolds, companies will be made or broken based on their ability to successfully achieve both goals.

1. The present battle between the business marketers and design-centered thinkers is a direct result of two major trends: 

The proliferation of multi-channel, worldwide marketing initiatives and a surge in social media tools that enable every individual to create their own content.  The marketers want to use these tools, becoming one with them.  The thinkers want to be more connected, not less so.  Not surprisingly, this two-sided war is being waged on multiple fronts.  One battlefield involves which social networks will dominate the conversation.  Another concerns the question of “how” we are sharing our content online rather than simply “what.”

2. The business marketer’s approach 

It is to take control using multi-channel initiatives, which can be anything from email campaigns to viral videos. For example, MTV recently launched its new Rock Band online project (, which seeks to transform the classic video game into an engaging social network and marketing machine leveraging both Facebook and Twitter , with full integration with the site’s MTV Overdrive feature. In this, MTV is attempting to divide their audience into three separate camps – hardcore gamers (who will buy the game), casual gamers (who will play along because their friends are) and non-gamers who want a social networking experience in the form of a video game.

3. The design-centered thinker’s approach

It is to unite people in an online universe where every person can shape their own content. It is to create a place where people can interact, share and discover content…with a global reach. It is to create a virtual village that supports members of all ages, irrespective of the area they live in.

4. The present battle between the business marketer and the design-centered thinker

It is raging inside each of us but also on the outside, where we are witnessing two groups fighting for different ends.  The business marketers want to use social media tools like Facebook , Twitter and YouTube to increase brand awareness (and sales).

5. The business marketer’s main goal

To turn the world into a marketing machine.  We are seeing businesses following the lead of MTV in their understanding that Facebook and Twitter can be used to create a marketing-friendly environment through advertising, newsfeeds and viral videos. For example, an interesting social advertising program was launched by Starbucks ( that rewards customers for sharing their personal music playlists on iTunes . To take advantage of the opportunity, customers must join Starbucks’ new “Music Connection” program, which offers a $5 gift card to its members who log in at Starbucks’ Facebook page.

6. The business marketer’s problem with social media

There is a contradiction in the fact that the business marketers use social networks to sell products, but at the same time prohibit their customers from using those same networks to talk about those products. For example, some companies discourage their customers from blogging about their products or discussing them on Facebook . There are two very different reactions this generates:

a) The first is that customers feel left out and negative attitudes are developed, which of course open up opportunities for competitors to come in and fill the void (i.e., they let you down so we will).

b) The second is that customers feel they have been abandoned and they become angry, which of course creates an opportunity for them to seek out someone who will listen to their complaints and offer solutions.

7. The business marketer’s problem with design-centered thinking

It wants to create a world where people feel comfortable being open about the things they use, but at the same time does not want anyone else to know what it is creating.   For example, Apple Inc.’s (NASDAQ:AAPL) new iPhone OS 3.0 operating system has been criticized by some for its lack of backward compatibility with third-party applications, which will force developers to develop apps for different operating systems .

8. The business marketer’s problem with design thinking

It wants to create the world’s largest “virtual village” where people can interact with each other and share their thoughts at will… but it does not want anyone to know its exact plan for creating that world. For example, Facebook Inc.’s (NASDAQ:FB) CEO, Mark Zuckerberg , has been criticized by some because Facebook’s IPO filing reveals that “M” is one of the company’s top priorities:

M=Marketing.”  When a company’s goal is “marketing,” you have to ask yourself what they are trying to accomplish and whether they are reaching their target customers.


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