Waiting for Your Cat to Bark? Pursuading Customers When they Ignore Marketing. Written by Bryan and Jeffrey Eisenberg.

Photo courtesy of Amazon.com

Full disclosure: I received this book for free at the Blog Business Summit a month ago as part of PR Web’s sponsorship of the event.

My views on this book are mixed–I found the 1st half of the book very insightful while I found my attention wavering during the 2nd half. The title of the book, Waiting for your Cat to Bark?, absolutely describes the issue marketers are now facing. The book contrasts the older generation with the younger generation by using the cat vs dog analogy. Dogs will listen to what someone tells them (usually!), representing the older generation, while cats want to interact. Why does the older generation listen? I think it stems mainly from the fact that they grew up in a time where traditional media and marketing was the only real connection to the outside world–they had little choice BUT to listen. The internet has brought all sorts of information to anyone with an internet connection and enabled people to choose what they listen to. Today’s younger generations (X & Y) have grown up in the information age, where they choose what media to consume and when to consume it. Therefore, they are much less likely to listen to traditional marketing pitches. If you tell a dog to sit..they’ll do it. If you tell a cat to sit…they’ll sit there and stare at you like an idiot (at least my cats would).

Marketers: get creative and engage with your target audience. Cats will NOT bark–PERIOD. Trying to cram traditional marketing messages down the throats of today’s youth won’t work. Further, please don’t make the mistake of trying to hide information from your customers. They WILL find out eventually and it will likely create negative word of mouth for your product. There is some very creative marketing taking place out there…you just have to figure out what works for your specific audience and your company (see Federated Media for someone doing this well).

Here are some interesting quotes that I pulled from the book:

  • “Customers need to resolve their own concerns so they can build the confidence to buy from you. Ideally, they’ll build that confidence with information you provide. But if you don’t provide it, they’ll track it down by going to other sources.” This is absolutely critical in today’s information age where almost everything is available online.
  • Kevin Robers, CEO of Saatchi & Saatchi, is quoted as saying, “The future belongs to those who can make emotional connections in the market.”
  • “Even negative information gives you a potent opportunity to develop good will and better meet the needs of your customers by having the courage to address it rather than running from it.”

I hope you don’t take this as me thinking all advertising is bad…because it isn’t. Relevant, targeted ads work for many companies–and they aren’t going away (nor should they).