Proxy Marketing Is What’s Left

Proxy Marketing is about how a generation of “usual suspects” marketing is over. Market making for creating products, companies and brands is new, different and controlled by bubbles, movements and sins of our marketing fathers. Tigers mauling each other and every tactic sure that their claws are just a tad sharper, their attitude just enough more aggressive to win.

Not so much.

Most Small to Medium Sized Businesses (SMBs) can’t win. Pause for a second or two and let that idea seep in. It doesn’t matter where you fall on the spectrum. This “great leveling” is hitting your local dry cleaner, grocery store, and specialty gift stores.

Some will blame technology for the tsunami drowning “known” and trusted ways to make a market. Others will say we’ve over-used our Mad Men ad tools. It’s moot. Who has time to care WHY the world as known, understood and “was” is over. It just is.

Scattered inside the wreckage are things that matter, ideas sure to help form what’s next out of what’s left. Work backward from the goal – finding customers who love your company, brand, products, and services enough to advocate, sacrifice and help. If that sounds impossible too, you win a cookie.

NO ONE starts out loving your STUFF nearly as much as you. In Epic Content Marketing the author and founder of the Content Marketing Institute says a HARD TRUTH for many product developers and marketers to grasp fully and understand – no one gives a hoot about you, your goods or services.

People care about THEMSELVES.

People also care about people and companies that care about them. Why we find it curious, few companies understand the first rule of social media marketing – It’s about THEM (customers), not YOU as we discussed in our It’s The Conversation, Stupid: New Rules of Branding In A Social World Haiku Deck:


Social Media: It’s The Conversation, Stupid – Created with Haiku Deck, presentation software that inspires

Trading Places: Think Like Customers

In the classic stranger in a strange land film Trading Places starring Eddie Murphy, Dan Aykroyd and my Choate classmate Jamie Lee Curtis Murphy, a street hustler, is traded for private school and Ivy league educated Aykroyd.

Murphy takes over as a commodities trader. Since commodities trading is one big street hustle Murphy fits right in. In one of my favorite scenes, Murphy senses the market’s frenzy. Murphy doesn’t sell until the last moment making the Duke Brothers even more money.

Murphy projects himself into the mind of his opponents – others sellers. You need to “trade places” too. You need to trade places with your customers.

If no one but YOU wakes up half as thrilled about your products, what ARE your customers thinking about? The first “proxy” you need to create, understand and incorporate in Proxy Marketing is a straight up trade – you for them.

Lowering Risks

Do you think Venture Capitalists (VCs) take risks? It’s a common misconception one I believed until speaking to VCs. VCs don’t think of their job as taking risks. They think of their jobs as REDUCING risks. They look to “leverage out” risks.

From the outside being a VC looks risky, but risk is a relative thing. If you are Kleiner, Perkins, Caufield, Byers (KPCB), Sandhill Road’s most famous VC firm, driving to work may feel riskier than using their collective knowledge, high deal IQ partners and vast connections to do a deal. Sales are easy; everything else is hard.

How often do you think about lowering your customer’s risks? When you reduce risks, you win hearts and minds. Common ways to reduce risks include:

  • Reviews.
  • Free Shipping out and back ( a la Zappos).
  • Free Trials.
  • Your content confirmed by others.

Read Tilt: Shifting Your Strategy from Customers to Products for more on how to lower your customer’s risks. Reducing customer risks is one of the bluest blue oceans we see in online marketing.

Blue Oceans

You MUST understand customers AND be innovative. Blue oceans is an excellent and highly recommend read too (by Kim Blue Ocean Strategies). Blue oceans provide “defendable” space, space you own, define and mine. Here are a few “blue ocean” creators:

  • Cirque du Soleil redefines “circus”.
  • Facebook redefines “stay in touch”.
  • Uber redefines “taxi” and may redefine “transportation” some day.
  • Zip cars redefine the expense of owning a car.

Best way to find defendable “blue oceans”? Listen to and work with your customers. Curagami created what we thought our e-commerce clients needed, and it sucked. Now we’ve been working with clients such as Moon-Audio.com headphones and dragons link for over a year and can see what is necessary – cool ways to develop proxy marketing.

What Is Proxy Marketing

Proxy marketing is the realization you must build online community, win hearts and minds and empower advocates to share your message. And filter bubbles is why:

Extend Pariser’s logic and it isn’t hard to see how our lives exist, more and more, inside of one massive filter bubble. Each day I receive 200 to 400 emails pitching content, ideas and products. Several web dev firms from foreign lands call me daily despite my owning a web development agency. You can’t spam your way to greatness.

On the other hand, Curagmai is about to put up a “waiting list” to work with us. We’ve never advertised, called back or pitched anyone. We have more business than we can manage because people love us.

Why do people love us?

YES, finally we’ve arrived at the CORE of proxy marketing. Dawar spends several chapters in Tilt explaining how important finding the answer to this question is. Do we know why customers love us as well as we should?

Asking the hard questions to find out how we are winning advocates needed to exist in this new world of proxy marketing is work we will do and promise to bring our loyal readers and supporters along for the ride of difficult self-discovery all brands must create.

There is more to Proxy Marketing than this post. We promise to discuss the dreaded “tactics” such as creating Ambassador Programs and listening more than you talk soon.