360, 6 or 1 … plus more numbers


Marketing has always had an uncomfortable relationship with numbers. Mostly because … well … marketing has an identity problem. It is an art … but wants to be a science. Here is a marketing truth <that no one wants to tell you … and certainly doesn’t want to tell a client/business>.

90% of great marketing is gut <by the way … I made up the 90% and it may be hyperbole but it makes my point>.

Marketing has used numbers to sell marketing ideas, prove marketing ideas and … yes … have even used numbers to describe marketing theories.

360 degree marketing.

6 degrees of separation marketing.

1 to 1 marketing.

Frankly … the only number that matters is results … but numbers people <owners, managers, high falutin’ tie wearing people> like to match up numbers with numbers. They assume that the numbers will show them the way for proven success. That numbers will lead them down the yellow brick road to ‘process’ so they can implement it over and over again <and eliminate marketing/advertising staff as unnecessary overhead because the numbers showed the way … and will continue to show the way>.

So what did marketing people do simply out of survival instinct?

Developed numbers for their marketing theory and ideas <brilliant tactic>.

But, here’s the deal, the numbers attached to the theory sound really good … but they are bullshit.

Well. They may actually make some theoretical sense but it all kind of doesn’t matter because no matter how you torture the numbers to prove what you did was smart <or right> most of the good marketing ones out there are using their gut to tell them what to do. Why? Because each situation is different. And even slight differences are kind of big when they get out in the big wide world of consumerism. the good ones are adapting and changing all the time. What worked yesterday may only partially work tomorrow. Partial replication is the theme of success.

Why do I say that? Well. Because I just had to discuss 360degree marketing.

This is the idea of being everywhere to capture someone’s attention whenever they may be interested. Yeah. That idea. Well. I always thought anybody who talked about it was wack.



To me it is kind of like saying you can protect against every issue that may arise <note: it is a wack idea because you cannot protect against every potential issue>.

Following everyone, all your consumers <who are individuals by the way> everywhere they go and whispering in their ear whenever you actually find them is not only aggravating but also expensive. It is also an easy widget for lazy <or hack> marketing people to pull out of their snappy bag as a solution to ‘build an integrated marketing plan to build sales.’

<you need to puff out your chest a little when you say that>


I am writing about the fallacy of 360degree marketing, or touchpoint marketing, or “being everywhere” marketing. Because it is a crazy inefficient idea.

Oh. And a huge waste of money.

All I care about is being at the right place at the right time.

Sure. There are a lot of right places … but there are righter places.

And sure there are right times … but there are righter times.

Uh oh. People will want to use numbers to pick the ‘rightest of righter’ answers. C’mon. I have sat through dozens upon dozens of presentations from every conceivable media tactic provider you could imagine … and surprise surprise … their numbers always show them to be the rightest of the righter solutions.

And you know what? I could go back with my own team and wrestle all the numbers to the ground and place which stated the case <my gut> I wanted to present.


And the whole social technology discussion has brought 360degrees to absurd galactic size levels

<Q: can you have more than 360degrees? A: only on the worldwide web where anything is possible.>

At least in their caution companies are not getting completely sucked into the galactic black hole of social technology.

About 72% of companies use something <social media>.

Maybe 40%+ utilize social networking or blogs.


I like social technology … geez … without it you wouldn’t be reading my drivel.

But when social technology <which seems to change every minute> gets thrown into a 360degree philosophy … mentally a company puts themselves into a position where they run the risk of doing everything badly … or a lot of somethings but nothing well.


All that said I will throw out two additional numbers.

6 & 1.


Six degrees of separation. While 6degrees of separation is kind of an urban myth it has at its roots a really viable marketing theory. In fact scientists have discovered that within nature there is this blueprint <which unfortunately we never get to see and review before we go out onto the world> that provides a structure for how we connect with other people.


Everyone, okay, some people with degrees of separation, are always connected. Even loners <like me>.

So while it may not actually be 6degrees … and may be 5 or 8 or 10 … suffice it to say it is significantly smaller than 360.

A lot smaller.

But still significant.

Bill Bernbach said way back in the dark ages <the 1950’s> that word of mouth is the best advertising of all. I guess we could suggest that word of mouth has taken some steroids with technology … but I hesitate to say that because the truth is that if you actually think about it … because of the vastness of social technology … you can say the smartest most brilliant most insightful so world changing thing in the world … and no one notices.

It is speaking but no one hearing.

That is the risk you run.

A marketing truth? Build it <or say it> and they will not come.

They may stumble upon you but word of mouth … even in a social technology world … is tricky. The best you can hope for is to say something genuine … say it well … say it in a relevant way … and maybe someone else will say it again for you <p.s. – that is ‘word of mouth’>.

Anyway. This whole 6degrees of separation.

Well. I am not sure I buy the 6 but I buy the idea. Mostly because on the internet social has become more popular than porn. Go figure. There are more people who want to actually think, or read ideas, than look at naked people doing things that no one would ever imagine doing in their own home.


I don’t like 360degrees. I don’t even like 6degrees.

This leads me to 1.

I like 1.

One action.

I would be incredibly good with 360degrees of action. Even 6degrees for god’s sake. But let’s just focus on 1.

Making one person do one thing.

Making one person feel good enough about you to say something to someone <or someones> else.

Making one person actually buy your shit.

And you know what? I am willing to bet that “1” looks an awful like some other ones. Or close. That means if you aim at your good “one” I am willing to bet that is it kinda gonna be your sweet spot <where “1’s” huddle together to keep warm … or away from the freaks on the fringe – which is somewhere outside of the “100’s” I believe>.

Sound simplistic? You bet.

Sound smart? Maybe <yes>.

Sound like common sense <and less expensive>? You bet.


I admit … I do go a little crazy when I read social media <and word of mouth> experts talking about “building in content that has a high share value built in” so that your 6 degrees expands.

Why do I go crazy? It sounds so fucking contrived I just cannot believe it can end up genuine.

And … you know what actually spreads?


Genuine joy. Genuine disgust. Genuine sarcasm. Genuine love. Genuine humor.

You get it. Only one word is consistent <genuine if you missed the point>.

There is no master “understanding” or formula or expertise that some high falutin’ expert can come in and “set you straight” on … stick with this. Genuine. It is simple. Not flashy. But really really likeable <and extremely likeable because it does not have any numbers attached to it>.


And the best thing about this non number genuine marketing thing?

Being genuine <versus manufactured> is actually timeless. I do not care what new technology gets created <which … by the way … happens on a monthly basis> or what number marketing theory gets created … being genuine will translate when you move to the ‘whatever s hot’ marketing idea/widget of the week.



Please note that what is ‘hot’ today is gonna be irrelevant tomorrow.

Okay. That was a generalization. Try this instead. 90% of what is “must have” or “hot” or even “necessary” in social technology will be “ho hum have” or “past cool” or “not a necessary” tomorrow. Save your breath and energy. You will get it wrong at least 90% of the time <sorry … had to use a number>.

So focus on content so at least you say the right thing even if it is in the wrong place.

By the way … that lack of consistency in technology <which is actually a good thing because it is improving> is a bad thing for organizations trying new things in the marketing world.

Most organizations <businesses> put an extremely <extraordinarily> high value on consistency … and results of course. Therefore when technology changes you have a double whammy … (1) you get results but you want to change to a better technology or new way of marketing whatever it you are marketing <uh oh … “stay the course!” management says> or (2) you don’t have results and you feel new technology/a new idea will help <uh oh … you are on the bleeding edge>.

I envision in my own wacky brain that this is exactly what marketing people went through when television started entering into people’s homes. It is next to impossible to build in some ‘constants’ to maintain as the universe changes so quickly. And investing a boatload of time devlopeing numbers to prove your success <on somewhat outdated/antiquated thinking as soon as it is done> is a boatload of wasted energy.

Here is the deal.

This is trial and error.

Even on established stuff.


New is … well … new for gods sake.

So what does the internal marketing people do to keep management off their backs when they are asked ‘Can someone explain what they did?’

Well. They can try. They will create nifty graphs with numbers always going upwards tied to the tactics they would love to do again <mostly because their gut tells them it is working>. And they may even use hyperbole to sell it in <big mistake because next year there is gonna be a new technology> just so you get excited.

Uh oh.

But next year there may be something else better to do. Something ‘righter.’

But maybe, at worst, what we did wasn’t as effective as we thought.

Who cares.

It is a moving target. Good marketing is always slightly disruptive.

And good marketing people make their own organization people feel a little uncomfortable. Because for good marketing people it is always about change.

Regardless … it is a sticky gauntlet one runs with new marketing ideas when explaining them internally <and even at conventions when you are presenting how smart you are>.

But, in the end, you always need to remember they will inevitably remember words you used last year this year <so hyperbole and ‘absolutes’ tend to backfire long term>.

In today’s business world it is much much easier to lose what you tried … than invest in building out. Especially if the benefits don’t ‘increase.’

Marketers are always in this trap <need for showing increased benefits> but with a new technology <or anything that is constantly changing> that is an evil trap.  Quantifying what you are doing is easy … and hard. Much of the quantifiable value resides internally <within the organization>. Which is invaluable … until you get to management who doesn’t want you to talk about that … they want “fill the funnel” stuff.

This gets increasingly difficult when someone wants to talk about all that social stuff … because it doesn’t work that way … it is called social for a reason … it is … well … social.

And social <the technology or widget> has difficulty discerning some random potential consumer being social and an internal employee being social.


But back to 360.

I came back to it after all the garbage I just wrote because all of that garbage should show that 360degrees is ludicrous. Maybe even stupid. And not just for social but for anything. Social technology is simply a microcosm for everything else we do. Maybe on steroids … but a microcosm.


Let me take that back.

Because I will go back to Martin Luther … five centuries ago … October 31 1517 … this was the beginning of social technology. He posted his thoughts on religion and they went viral. Yup. Go figure.  1517. Social before there was ‘social media.’ No internet. Just ’95 theses’ posted on a church door.

Talk about steroids? He created an entire new religion.

The point? It isn’t the technology … it is the message.

We get so caught up on the tools and in the numbers … and what really matters is the quality <what is meaningful and relevant> in the messaging.

Let me say that again … what matters is what you say.


And let me add brevity. In 1517 the fact Martin Luther delivered 95 thoughts in a pamphlet <versus a book> was a brilliant marketing maneuver. The pamphlet was not only a quick read but easy to … oh my … hold on to your marketing hats … ‘pass along.’ <whoa>


You have to wonder if Martin had MediaSift and Gnip, which evaluates massive amounts of data at the same time <at maybe 30k a month>, and provided insights whether Lutherism would have ever happened <which makes you, correspondingly.

I also wonder if Martin would have ignored the data <as most people do anyway>.

I imagine good ole Martin Luther went with his gut.


There are evaluation tools which can help.

MediaSift & Gnip are two. I also like Scout and I love NetBase but they’re just tools <albeit tools where you get numbers and nifty graphs>.

And going to back to why I wrote this … 360degrees is stupid.

The real point would be to suggest 1percent is what matters. Focus on the 1’s. Say something genuine. Say something you mean <and is relevant>. And say it to someone well … and … well … they will tell others.

All those ‘others’ will do the 360 or 180 or even 90 <insert any number you want here> if you want.

The degrees are irrelevant.

And while I am a numbers person myself … I tend to believe one good gut is more valuable than a zillion numbers showing what works versus what doesn’t work.

But then again … I am selling a dream for 99cents.

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Written by Bruce