The Made To Stick authors need to wake up and grow up

If you haven't read Chip & Dan Heath's column in this month's Fast Company yet, read it here.

I liked Made to Stick a lot. I thought it was informative and practical. But the stock of the authors of the book just dropped through the floor. They are a policy consultant and a professor - and this academic view of the world came shining through in their column.

Basically, they call out a tactic they're calling "Stigma Marketing" - using embarrassment and/or shame to sell a product. They use Visa (when using cash stops a free-flowing checkout line) and Wisk Laundry Detergent (Ring Around the Collar) among others. And they call for "marketers" to stop tolerating such "icky" behavior.

This is a ridiculous, elitist and naive point of view. This is marketing - the job of marketing is to sell something to someone. In most cases, the customer doesn't really NEED the product, so you have to convince them they need it. What they call "stigma" is another man's "defining the pain in the marketplace."

Funny, they didn't put Apple in the "badly behaved" bucket, even though they employ "icky" marketing to put a stigma on PC users. I guess they must believe PC users ARE, in fact, dorky, suit-wearing, pudgy, clueless people? Their article only looks at the less sexy CPG and credit card industries? "Creams and detergents" solve a problem that is, frankly, unpleasant. Bringing up unpleasant realities to market a solution to those realities is not "icky" its marketing.

And by the way...when people discuss the latest pop business tomes, and Made To Stick (or Tipping Point, et al) comes up, and you hear a resounding "What! You haven't read Made To Stick?!?!?" - isn't that too a stigma?

If you still want to, check out Made to Stick: Why Some Ideas Survive and Others Die, it does have a lot of good concepts.

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