Bob Garfield, one of my favorite writers and critics analyzing the advertising and media fields, has a new book out with Doug Levy, Can’t Buy Me Like. Bob and I are pretty close. Okay, we’re not best friends who go out to grab truffle fries after the upfronts or anything like that. But, unlike most people in America, I do have a photo of Bob kissing me:
There’s a story behind that. But you’ll have to buy me a drink first, as this post has nothing to do with why Bob is kissing me there (short answer: he’s trying to make my brother Joel jealous). Though there is a connection of sorts. Bob’s intimate moment with me arose after doing dinner together at a MediaPost conference in Kohler, Wisconsin last summer. We found some common ground. And the next morning, when I saw him again, we built on that in some rather unexpected way leading to the photo above.
In short, it was all authentic. It was Bob trying to kiss up to me because I’m some blogger who might one day promote his book, and it wasn’t me getting all gaga over him just because he’s some famous author, NPR radio celebrity, and uber-famous curmudgeon in my industry. And all that is kind of the point of the book Can’t Buy Me Like. Marketers can’t whore around for likes and resort to their old tricks. They need new tricks, which, hopefully, are not tricks at all.
Tada. Segue achieved. And now here’s what you’re supposedly here for – the interview with Bob & Doug:
1) Your book focuses a lot on the brand sustainability map. What’s one brand you can think of that has gone from Limited to Sustainable? Why do you think it has done so?
Doug: Apple first migrated from the Limited Relationship to the Emotional
Relationship quadrant. Though the company was loved by many, few people were
actually buying from the company before the launch of the iPod. And while the
company stood for something, the brand was selling expensive computers that
didn’t work well in corporate environments. As a result, Apple nearly went out
of business. With the launch of the iPod, then the iPhone and the iPad (which
supported the growth of their computer sales), Apple capitalized on the trust
it built and moved from the Emotional Relationship to the Sustainable
Relationship quadrant. The question now is, with Steve Jobs’ passing, can the company
stay true to this purpose?
2) What the heck – what about a brand that has gone in the other direction? Why did it go in reverse, and what lesson can other marketers learn from it?
Bob: Johnson & Johnson is headed in the wrong direction due to one scandal after another, in all cases putting profit before the brand’s integrity.
3) If you were to meet with someone who was getting their first-time promotion to a CMO position, what’s one bit of advice you’d give them?
Bob: Rent, don’t buy.
Doug: What got you here…won’t get you where you want to go. The game has
4) Beyond brands, let’s talk about people for a moment. Who’s one person in the marketing world who you think really gets the principles of your book?
Bob: Trick question. Almost everybody gets the principles. Acting on them is a different matter.
Doug: Ron Shaich at Panera. Casey Shehan at Patagonia. Eric Ryan at Method.
Bob: There was to be a chapter on the relationship-management back-end focusing on a vendor or vendors who supply human/data capacity.
6) You mentioned Krispy Kreme as a great example repeatedly, and while their revenue and stock price has been on a bit of a rebound,revenues, its revenue, profit, and shares are nowhere near what they were from 2001 to 2004, and its brand hardly has the same cachet. Is this really such a great example of a brand to emulate?
Bob: Krispy Kreme was a bubble stock, and its high revenues were pumped up by overexpansion. It is now on a sustainable trajectory based on organic growth. So, in short, yes.
Doug: Not everyone loves them. But the people who love them REALLY love them. And, when they got clear on why and focused on that, their business began a rebound. That’s what makes them a brand to emulate.
7) You mention Dell Ideastorm, and for awhile it was THE hot example of social media prowess, but at the same time its sales were plummeting, and its brand and company were tanking in just about any way you could measure. What’s your take on what happened to Dell? Can’t brands follow all this great advice about connecting with people while falling flat?
Bob: Dell has a combination of a failed business strategy and terrible customer service. Yes, Ideastorm was forward looking, but in the grand scheme of things, it is lipstick on a pig.
Doug: Its a soulless company. It shows that you can get the technique of social media but when the core company is not attractive, it doesn’t much matter.
8) Besides your own esteemed work, what’s one other book you’d recommend someone read to better understand the ins and outs of marketing today?
Bob: The Network is Your Customer by David Rogers. [Ed.: I’m a big fan of Rogers and his BRITE conference myself.] Doug: Start with Why by Simon Sinek.
9) Who are your favorite three people or accounts to follow on Twitter?
Doug: Blogs, more than Twitter… Augie Ray, Seth Godin, Joey Reiman.
THE END… of sorts.
Want more from Bob and Doug? Follow the rest of the Post2Post tour: