Dialogue Marketing Trumps Monologue Marketing Everytime

Friend of AdPulp (FOP), Tom Asacker wrote something I like a lot.

Don’t look for breakthrough insights in outdated processes like “inventory control” and “advertising.” Instead, study those businesses that actually broke with conventional wisdom and discovered new ways to get closer and closer to the customer. And for the record, I am not saying “don’t advertise.” Not advertising is like winking at a beautiful girl in a dark room. YOU know what you’re doing, but she hasn’t a clue.

I’m in a reflective mood tonight, so I want to explore this getting close to the customer thing.
This morning I was privately puzzling over why an agency of any stripe would call itself an “ad agency” at this point in time. All agencies that intend to thrive today are no longer ad agencies, rather they’re media labs. An ad, by definition, is a come on. It’s something to avoid. A media lab doesn’t just make ads, it creates brand experiences online and off. These experiences, unlike ads, are for the most part desired. Hence, the customer and the brand get cozy.
Who among us would prefer to make things no one likes, that sends customers running fast in the other direction? No thank you.
Asaker says break with conventional wisdom. I broke with my own years ago, when I committed to a career in marketing services, also known as below-the-line activity. Promo hacks and event marketers don’t often get superior–the black turtleneck wearers of Madsion Avenue pretty much take care of that–but there is a case to be made. Here it is: The brand and customers don’t talk inside magazines and televisions. Wherever they do come together and talk–at brand-sponsored events for instance, or online–that’s clearly the superior place.

About David Burn

Co-founder and editor of AdPulp. I wrote my first ad for a political candidate when I was 17 years old. She won her race and I felt the seductive power of advertising for the first time. I worked for seven agencies in five states before launching my own practice in 2009. Today, I am head of brand strategy and creative at Bonehook in Portland, Oregon.


  1. You are totally missing the point that customers have already become accustomed to this new type of come on, and there is only so far you can go with it before seriously offending people, if you aren’t already. I would much rather have a company tell me about the product they are selling in a static advertisement than try to become involved in my private life and pretend to be my personal friend. Insincerity reads as insincerity whether it’s in the form of a tv spot or an interactive ‘brand experience’. As advertising methods become more covert and invasive, I am running much faster in the other direction.

  2. Actually, I’m not missing the point, but thanks for the presumption. When you create a marketing program that consumers WANT to be part of, you, as the creator of the brand experience can take heart. Naturally, I’m speaking here exclusively about permission marketing. Forgive me if I failed to make that clear in the post above.