If you don’t follow @jowyang, you probably should. He’s not pharma, but he’s been a guy I’ve followed in the web strategy world for years now. He’s got the goods.

Why do I bring this up? Not because he’s a stand-up guy and passed along advice now and then, but because this morning he tweeted this:

Consumers often want the brands they buy from to stand for something, because consumers want to stand for something.

Which is funny, because on the train I was struck with a thought so simple, I can’t believe no one’s ever said it. In fact, a quick Googling of the idea yields nothing of value, but I won’t take credit for it, it just lacks proper citation. The idea is what the fundamental/bedrock/underlying rule in all of marketing is and it kinda popped in my head in the train today (p.s. it’s raining in Chicago this morning. The kind of rain my mom would call “a Frog Strangler” because… well, she’s like that. Yes, I am delaying telling you the secret of marketing because it builds tension and gives me a chance to use the term “frog strangler” which can’t be bad for this blog’s Google-mojo. Funny how that works, huh? Anyway…) and it was this:

Marketing isn’t making people feel something, its about making people feel somethig about themselves.

When I think of marketing, I don’t think of Coke or Cheerios or Mad Men, I think about girls. In my head, you can get to the root of any big marketing questions by framing like this: Could I use this to talk a girl up? (Unrelated: is “talk a girl up” a Britishism or am I making that up? Just wondering.)

Can I use price, position, promotion and product to get a phone number? Yes. Can I use Novelty? Yes. Frequency? Yep. Consistency of message? Sure. I could go down the list and make it work. And that’s why I know this works. A girl doesn’t talk to me because I make her feel good (I mean, I could just be a loser and she could feel good that she’s not me), but because I make her feel good about herself (he’s talking to me because he seems something interesting in me and that makes me feel good).

I can do it with Coke and Cheerios (I’d Like To Buy the World A Coke is translated to I’d like to do something nice people people I don’t know and that would make me feel good) just like I can do it with pharma (If that new Viagra “A guy at your age can handle stuff when it doesn’t work right” marketing campaign isn’t the best campaign in pharma right now, I will eat my blog. It doesn’t make you feel good about sex, which should be the obvious way to go based on previous marketing campaigns, but this one makes a guy feel good about himself even if that one thing isn’t working right just yet).

So I just thought I’d pass that along. Feel free to use it. 

And since we’re all done re-building the earth post-rapture, if you have questions or comments, jump in the pool and comment or hit me up at @digital_pharma.