Marketing Outrageously Redux How to Increase your Revenue by Staggering Amountsby Jon Spoelstra. Bard Press, Austin, Texas, 2010. Reviewed by Donald Officer.
Jon Spoelstra wrote the first edition of this book about ten years ago. With his great imagination for the message he didn’t have to repeat himself. Except he did. We still haven’t got the message. In a series of seven bullets in the first chapter he offers us the gist of what he’s been practicing for many successful decades in sports and entertainment, industries not known for their toleration of underperformance. The last bullet on the list is the most important because it says something vital about being in the world not just the world of marketing: “Marketing Outrageously is the opposite of marketing safely but it may be the only truly safe way to market.”
What has Jon Spoelstra marketed? How about the worst team in the NBA, the most unpopular man in Canada (Peter Pocklintgon after the Gretzky trade) , a new sport (arena football) to a town where nobody had heard about it or a smallish less than stellar minor baseball league in a sparsely populated region. All unquestionable successes. He has consulted to many organizations outside sports, but you can tell from his tone and his stories that a high risk fickle fan base is the challenge that gets him rolling. Some things about marketing you can’t predict, that is, not before you test them. Yet testing often costs little. A big part of marketing is anything but outrageous. Marketing is always about revenue, revenue and ratios. If you do not see a four to one return on the money you spend on marketing you are in risky territory. What you do to get your ratio is not unwise just because nobody else does it. Blindly copying others in a league you can’t afford to play in: that’s risky.
Maybe Spoelstra’s most famous stunt was one he pulled on behalf of the Sacramento Kings. As the new season approached once loyal fans were letting their season’s ticket options lapse. Spoelstra’s marketing team sent each of them a rubber chicken in a FedEx package with a warning Don’t foul out attached. Some of the fans were insulted or claimed to be, but more than enough of them renewed. This author understands that you need to differentiate yourself as a brand, you need to offer value (over and over and over again), but you don’t need to saturate the entire market with your commercials or tell the whole world. You do have to reach enough people who are genuinely interested in your offer. You can beat the drum pretty loudly or go to other outlandish extremes to get their attention, just be sure your best prospects are within range of your message.
For a book like this the standards are deceptively high. The author has fun on every page and his style seems pretty off hand. Do not be fooled. The crazy graphics (the cover features a sumo wrestler dunking a basketball) and garish headlines, like the text itself, model the main point. Risk is everywhere in marketing, but it is not where you think it is. Successful marketers may look cocky, but they are humble enough to chance serious silliness. Last week my own coaching master class facilitator introduced an outrageous form of brainstorming. The subject was yes, marketing. In the demonstration she traded ideas with her “client.” Every master coach idea was over the top. For example, calling Oprah to ask for a booking came up early. What did we start to notice? That’s right, if you don’t shoot for the bull’s-eye you miss the board. Five minutes later we had the start of a real marketing plan. For a sole proprietor or a small company, outrageous isn’t dangerous, it’s survival.