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Punk Cause Marketing

How do you make it in the music business?
  • Use to be you were an ‘overnight success’ discovered in the clubs by an A&R guy from the record company after living in your van for 12 years. The record companies would promote you and if you sold millions, you got rich and died drunk in a tragic airplane accident.

  • In the last few years, you could try out for American Idol (or its many extensions worldwide) and be humiliated by Simon Cowell on national TV.

  • Now, you can open a Myspace page for free. Shoot your own bare bones music video for maybe $10 and post it on YouTube for free. And if it’s authentic and unique and it somehow speaks to an audience, you get millions of downloads and appear on national TV!

That’s what happened to Tay Zonday, erstwhile PhD student and Internet impresario, who’s hit it big with ‘Chocolate Rain.’ Zonday… a stage name for Adam Bahner… looks like Urkel and sounds like Barry White. And the lyrics make just enough sense that they pass for profundity. The video quality is so poor that when you see it for the first thought you wonder if it’s even real.

But it’s been downloaded nearly 6 million times! And last week Tay Zonday made his national TV debut on ‘Jimmy Kimmel Live.’ He’s started performing for paying audiences, too.

Here’s the biggest head-scratcher of all. Zonday posted Chocolate Rain on YouTube back in January 2007 but it didn’t become a hit until unrelated people started making parodies of it! One of them was by Green Day’s Tre Cool, a mainstream recording artist of the type listed above.

If you’re a marketer [cause or otherwise] how do you make sense of this? Tay Zonday never bought any television, radio, or newspaper ads. Nobody paid Tre Cool to make his parody.

It’s a wacky, weird, scary new world where everything marketers used to know has been turned on its head.

Fortunately a small chorus of voices has have stepped in to help, including the always insightful Seth Godin, and Richard Laermer and Mark Simmons, authors of the intriguing book Punk Marketing.

Laermer and Simmons list 14 manifestos for these upside-down times:

Avoid Risk and Die
In times of change the greatest risk is to take none at all.

Why Not Ask ‘Why Not?’
Assumptions are just that. Anything you assume is usually a half-truth or generalizations that once served a useful purpose but now hinders truly creative solutions.

Take a Strong Stand
Trying to be all things to everyone on the planet inevitably results in meaning little of interest to just about anybody.

Don’t Pander
Customers are important but they are not necessarily right.

Give Up Control
Consumers now control brands. Smart marketers recognize this and embrace it rather than fight the powerful truth.

Expose Yourself
A relationship of trust between brand and consumer, like that between two people, is built upon honesty.

Make Enemies
All brands need to position themselves against an alternative.

Leave Them Wanting More
Avoid the temptation to reveal all of your assets at once. Or as the masters have said: You don’t teach them everything you know. You teach them everything they
know.

Outthink the Competition
Think smarter than the other dude. Do not be led into temptation by the fast buck and don’t try and outspend them.

Don’t Be Seduced By Technology
The media is not the message anymore. The message is the message is the message.

Know Who You Are
If you don’t understand what it is that you are good at you might be tempted to try and be something you are not.

No More Marketing Bull****
Get to the point. Express it clearly and simply. Einstein said — we believe he meant marketers: “Things should be made as simple as possible, but not any simpler.”

Don’t Let Others Set Your Standards
Sorry to tell you this but good no longer means anything while mediocre does more harm than doing nothing.

Use the Tools Of The Revolution
Nothing that captivates should be excluded.
What does this mean for cause marketers? Well, at the core of Punk Marketing is the concept of ‘authenticity.’ That’s a fancy way of saying don’t lie. It also means to be true to what you are.

Keep that in mind as you post videos from your cause-related marketing campaigns on YouTube or invite people to join your cause at MySpace.

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