In this second of three parts, I outline real world examples of Entangled Marketing as well as discuss some of the pitfalls this new paradigm presents.
Everything is interconnected. My interest is linked to everyone else’s. Our survival and future are linked. – H.H. Dalai Lama
In Part I of this series, I introduced you to Sebastian Jespersen and Stan Rapp who authored a book titled, Release the Power of Entangled Marketing™, in which they describe the massive sea change that’s occurring in how goods and services are bought and sold. Mr. Rapp coined the term “entangled marketing” after reading an article on quantum physics that explained how particles are interconnected at the sub-atomic level. An action on one particle affects another regardless of distance of time or space. Einstein referred to this property as “spooky action at a distance”.
I’m an avid meditator (oxymoronic to some, I know!). I see a philosophical, perhaps even spiritual, reference in their scientific analogy. I recognize how all creation is interconnected through consciousness. That these two gentlemen are on my mind as I write this connects me to them. I see a fundamental truth in their premise.
There’s an intense power in the concept of Entangled Marketing. We witness it whenever a video goes viral, or when fake news moves the herd in a particular direction, or when the world stops and prays for boys trapped in a cave. Aware or not, in each of those cases the consumer is entangled with one or more brands, whether it’s a device, appliance, network, news outlet, etc.
Stop to consider how you heard about the crisis in Thailand and its dramatic resolution. If you followed it on your phone, your brand engagement may have been similar to thus: Apple, AT&T, CNN, Reuters. Or perhaps it was Samsung, Spectrum, ABC, Associated Press. Either way, you get the point. We are inextricably bound to brands throughout our day just by being informed citizens.
Our pursuit of comfort and happiness lead us into the arms of brands every moment. All digital activities pull us deeper into the brand’s ether. Communications, social media, online shopping, and streaming entertainment all connect us to brands and to each other. “Spooky action at a distance.”
Entanglement is a marketer’s holy grail. It doesn’t happen by accident. Mssrs. Rapp and Jespersen discuss the strategies of the masters, what one journalist referred to as the “Frightful Five”: Amazon, Google, Facebook, Apple and Microsoft.
Let’s dissect Amazon’s story a bit. Jeff Bezos founded Amazon in 1994 with the simple idea of selling books. Bezos didn’t choose books because he loved them. He chose them because they allowed him to enter the online retail arena with fewer barriers. He seems to have treated books as generic widgets to help him build a technical infrastructure that could sell anything. More than that, he built relationships with customers. Customers became reliant on the ease and simplicity with which books could be delivered to their doorstep with a few quick clicks. Adding in other products and services became as easy as, well, a few quick clicks. The voice-commanded Amazon Echo means clicks aren’t even necessary anymore.
The more Amazon finds to entangle the brand in someone’s life, the greater the chance of never letting go of the relationship. –Release the Power of Entangled Marketing™
Now let’s look at Apple, specifically the iPhone. Steve Jobs and Bill Gates each made markets from almost nothing. They created products before people knew what they were. Few people had any clue what a “personal computer” was before the introduction of the IBM PC in 1981. No one even conceived of a Graphical User Interface (GUI) before the Macintosh in 1984. Today it seems society couldn’t function without either of these inventions.
Jobs introduced the iPhone in 2007. It was a product without demand because the category didn’t exist! It’s in demand now. People camp out all night at stores just to get an upgrade. It appears evident that the iPhone was designed from the ground up to entangle the consumer. Apple has a healthy margin on the device itself, but it also makes 30% of every app sold. Combined with iTunes and other revenue streams it’s easy to see how and why entanglement works.
Apple’s foresight helped it stave off a key pitfall experienced by other hardware manufacturers in other categories. Namely, market saturation. What if everyone who wants an iPhone has an iPhone? Well, now they benefit from your usage of the device throughout its lifecycle. When you watch that cat video your BFF just posted, consider how many brands you’re engaged with at that moment (the device, the carrier, the social network, etc.), all with their own revenue streams. Entangled, see?
But there’s a shadow side. Addiction to our devices is becoming a real problem. Two institutional investors recently asked Apple to give parents more options to help curtail addictive cellphone behavior in youths (NPR.org). A worthwhile read published on Health.com in February 2018 outlines perils, pitfalls and potential solutions to cellphone addiction.
Another dark aspect of brand entanglement is conflict of interest. The life insurance industry has a stake in seeing their customers live longer. The authors of Entangled Marketing™ describe one provider’s program to help insured customers become more fit and improve longevity. The customer’s interests are in line with the company’s business goals.
However, certain sectors of the healthcare industry are in quiet conflict with their customers. For instance, companies that provide IoT-enabled systems that monitor chronic conditions do better if their customers maintain their disease, not their health. The HbA1c testing industry that serves diabetes patients isn’t motivated by market forces to see their customers reverse the condition through diet and exercise. Even though most companies who provide such systems engage in positive lifestyle messaging, they’d be out of business if a cure were discovered. Therefore, entanglement may have an adverse affect on the customer’s life. Let’s hope common sense and compassion prevail.
Finally, I want to address something the authors refer to as “nonvertising”, or pointless advertising that has no call to action. You might label this unentangled marketing, in which practically nothing is done to engage the audience other than a few fluffy marketing words and images. I think many readers might identify their examples as old-fashioned brand awareness. I don’t think they’re saying that brand awareness campaigns are evil, rather that there’s a disproportionate spend-to-value ratio. The return on investment (ROI) is too small to justify current costs, n’est ce pas? I’d welcome the authors’ comments.
In Part III, I intend to outline how small businesses can and do achieve entanglement. There are a couple of business models that have been entangling their customers for centuries, albeit without the Internet. In my view, the business model has to support entanglement first, then technology can enhance it.
Stay tuned. More to come!