Friday, January 16, 2009

Marketing (a tribute to SPAM)

Taking a page from Seth Godin's blog (recommended daily reading), I am going to write about marketing for today. The only difference between our two blogs is his vastly larger audience, and the small matter of his expertise in marketing. These qualifications are secondary in my mind because of the brilliant concept I have.

While seth always talks about new products and fulfilling actual needs, I have a much more nuanced version of marketing. How about using the SPAM (spiced ham) marketing model. Rather than simply invading the marketplace with something new that it needs every so often, why not change the perception of a product from an actual need to a felt one?

SPAM was invented for several reasons (according to the Uncle John's Bathroom Reader in my mom's house). For one, there was a bunch of pork shoulders nobody knew what to do with. SPAM was invented, but didn't take off right away. Instead, they had to wait for the market to create a niche. That niche was World War II. With so much food being rationed, and the need to send food to troops across the globe, SPAM was a cheap alternative to actual meat. Soldiers dined on the delicacy nearly every day. SPAM was a useless product, sitting on the shelf, until it filled an actual need.

After the war, and due to the addictive chemicals injected into the meat (my interpretation, not Uncle John's), soldiers came home with a taste for the canned meat substitute. A product that was fulfilling an actual need, transformed into one that fulfilled a felt need. Felt needs are far more lucrative than actual needs in many instances (i.e. cable networks).

In conclusion: 1a) read Seth's blog. 1b) create an invention/device/food product that nobody wants. 2) leave that product on the shelf as it whithers away until an actual need arises. 3) Insert addictive chemical/brainwashing technique. 4) pretend like your product actually meets a felt need rather than a true need. That's what good inventors/ marketers do. have a great weekend

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