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What the Sex Pistols taught me about marketing

It was a mild autumn day in 1999. I was in the UK, in Brighton, at a recording studio belonging to a friend of mine, Paul Mex. We were having a chat about the state of the music industry, because in the summer of that year Shawn Fanning had started Napster, a music file­-sharing site, giving people the ability to share music with each other all around the world.

The music industry later had Napster closed down. At the time, however, there were many people who were infuriated that consumers were now sharing music across the Internet, for free. The music industry's business model was based on the fact that they controlled the distribution of music and charged the public to access it. In 1999, this was mainly by way of CDs.

We were having a discussion about the future of the music industry, and how they were going to approach this new development. While we were having this debate, Paul suddenly stopped the conversation and told me he wanted me to listen to a recording he had. At the back of the studio was a cupboard full of tapes, records, cables etc, and Paul rummaged in there for what seemed like an age. He eventually returned waving a cassette. He sat me down and told me to have a listen.

He explained that it was a tape of a live phone-in with Paul Cook and Steve Jones from the Sex Pistols, Paul's favourite band, which took place in the summer of 1978 on KSJO Radio in the United States. He pressed play on the tape recorder and we sat back and started to listen. About two minutes into the recording, Paul indicated that the section he wanted me to hear was coming up.

At that moment, a woman listener came on the air. She was decidedly unimpressed with the Sex Pistols and had phoned in to tell them so. She was given her opportunity to speak and started, 'I just wanted to say that I don't think the Sex Pistols have any right to cut down the Queen until they learn how to be musicians first.' At that point Steve Jones interrupted, replying: 'It's got nothing to do with music, you silly cow!' Paul then stopped the cassette player.

I looked at him, puzzled. 'Did you get it?', Paul asked.

'I think so', I replied, decidedly unsure.

Paul made an MP3 file of the interview. I saved it to my desktop and every so often I would have a listen. As broadband became ubiquitous, and the internet was having a greater influence on our lives, Steve Jones's comment back in 1978 seemed to resonate with me more and more. Eventually, I could not get it out of my mind. I soon realized that this one comment seemed to summarize much of what I was trying to say in the speeches I was presenting, and in the work I was undertaking with clients.

It may have been a flippant comment made 12 years before the invention of the internet, but Steve Jones had opened my eyes to what I observed was happening at the dawn of the 21st century and he was right... 'It's got nothing to do with music, you silly cow!'

Sticky marketing is not about how to conduct an e-mail marketing campaign or the intricacies of search engine optimization (SEO). Rather, it is a new way of thinking. This book will present a narrative as to how and why the old rules of marketing are no longer relevant. It will uncover the ‘new rules’ by which companies must now operate in order to be successful.

By changing their mindset and adopting these new principles, businesses will be able to adapt their marketing in order to be effective in this web-enabled technological age. Sticky Marketing will explain how companies can become attractive, which in turn will lead prospects to their door. It will detail how to create competitive advantage in a world where customers seemingly have a plethora of choices, and where standing out appears to be increasingly difficult. Ultimately, Sticky Marketing will explain the principles, and the steps that need to be taken, in order to become 'sticky'. In so doing, a business will emerge with which prospects and customers alike will want to engage. The result is that a company will acquire one of the most precious resources available, and the one that all companies require in order to be successful. That is: customer attention. /

© 2011 Grant Leboff

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Extract courtesy of Grant

Leboff / Kogan Page Limited