From: Wendy Christensen <firstname.lastname@example.org> Date: Wed, 20 Jan 1999 11:21:23 -0500 Fwd Date: Wed, 20 Jan 1999 12:01:09 -0500 Subject: Firmage's Manuscript - The Word Is 'Marketing' Hello, List... Anyone who has slogged through the 240+ pages of the "short version" of Firmages's compendium now knows that "The Word" is 'Marketing'. Firmage did not become a zillionaire by being a dummy. He knows what is required to cut through the noise in the marketplace (especially the overhyped internet marketplace) and how far one needs to go to get attention. Thus, his clever, if somewhat overwrought, "pre-launch" announcement of his e-commerce website, due to begin operations "sometime next year." Indeed, this attention-garnering pre-launch appears to be the entire purpose of his current enterprise. Firmage cleverly weaves together in his text elements of traditional religion, folklore, new-age ideas of various pedigrees, ufology, dramatic sightings and encounters, aliens and angels, pop culture, philosophy, millenarian zealotry and history (real and otherwise). There is nothing new here, either in the form or the content. Firmage offers tantalizing hints about his own mysterious "paranormal experience," while refusing to characterize it as aliens, angels, ghosts, ascended masters, whatever -- while leaving open the interpretation to his readers. This is an old maketing ploy - let your tales be appropriately dramatic yet sufficiently vague so as to accommodate the needs, wishes and beliefs (whatever those may be) of your target market. Only very late in the manuscript, and then only in passing, as if an afterthought, does Firmage mention his upcoming website launch. This is a masterful use of understatement, of making the biggest psychological impression by whispering the real news while bellowing the hype to the rooftops. By calling out all these fascinating pop-culture elements, and by visibly and noisily quitting his lucrative CEO job, Firmage has garnered an enormous amount of free publicity. Before this, he was a rich guy; now he is a rich celebrity, and, better yet, one wearing the aura of one of 'the chosen', endowed with some sort of special connection to 'higher knowledge' or 'higher spirituality'. This, of course, is veritable catnip to the upscale, affluent, technologically savvy but spiritually-yearning online buyers he is hoping to hook. Firmage thinks he has a new idea: providing a "one-stop shopping" online commerce site where buyers can direct profits from their purchases to their favorite charities. (i-give and others are doing this already.) Time will tell if the hype, publicity and personal aura he has assumed will bring him success in this new venture. The stock market, the pundits, the talk-show hosts, etc., now know who he is. He is a personality, a celebrity, an enigma (if only self-defined). How many people trying to launch e-commerce sites can claim anywhere near that status and level of visibility? Very clever. Well, done, Mr. Firmage. I am not criticizing Firmage's approach; from a marketing standpoint it is masterful. But is would be a mistake to take this whole "WordIsTruth" phenomenon for more than it is: a clever, unusually elaborate (he's rich; he can afford it!) pre-launch for a website. Just remember: "The Word is Marketing."
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