Rogaine Rant

You might have noticed already, but I’m bald. I’m REALLY bald.

I’ve been balding for half my life, which at 41 years old means that most of my romantic endeavors including my 10-year marriage and all of my business career have been as a balding man.

I gave up on my hair more than 15 years ago. Since that time I moved from closely cropped Matt Lauer haircuts to a completely clean-shaven bald skull once a week.

It’s awesome! My best feeling self esteem day during any given week is almost invariably the one that I take shave my head.

That’s why Rogaine’s latest hair growth counselor ads on the radio are driving me nuts. The message is clear. If you are balding, you [probably] don’t feel good about yourself. You lack confidence. Therefore, your love and business life will suffer. The ad campaign goes on to say that only one third of you balding men feel a lack of confidence.

The ad infers if you are balding, then you are a loser.

As a marketer I am more sensitive to subliminal messaging. As a bald man I am seriously annoyed.

It was hard going bald. I had curly, curly hair and nothing was going to cover up the thinning.

Frankly, the best thing for me wasn’t fighting it. No, life got better when I accepted my baldness. Once I did, my confidence improved dramatically.

The current state of my crown.

If you embrace baldness, will you be as physically attractive? Surveys of women say no, BUT you will be more confident. And that may be all you need for many potential partners. There are so many famous bald men who are considered attractive, it’s not even funny.

I don’t like talking about my love life on my blog, but my experience is that women like confident men. I had enough quality experiences as a single BALD man that I don’t feel like I am missing anything being married for the past nine years. And my business life hasn’t been too shabby either.

In actuality, studies demonstrate that men who shave their heads are considered to be more masculine and dominant: “In some cases, [bald men are considered] to have greater leadership potential than those with longer locks or with thinning hair.”

That doesn’t because you’re bald you can go alpha male on everyone you know. It does mean the Rogaine ad, and its implied message designed to get you to desperately try to grow your hair back is wrong. You can be bald and live a damn good life.

That’s the message we need to send to young men who look in the mirror and find their hair is falling out, their hairlines are receding, and their scalps are visible on the back of their head. Embrace it.


New Trend, Same Revolution

It’s funny how we as community feel compelled to recreate the same trend over and over again as a new revolution. Consider how the same audience centric principles become repackaged over and over again during the past eight years.

We have moved from Web 2.0 to social media to social business to content marketing to the trend of the immediate future, context marketing (user experience).

In all of these cases, while the technology evolves, the general revolution is the same: Customers have control of their media and experience. Brands need to listen and serve them conversations, er content, er, customized web pages, er, awesome experiences that are relevant to them.

With each year, evolving technology creates evolutions. Customers gain more content and media options and are even less likely to invest time in brands, and data has allowed marketers to become more targeted and personal in their communications.

Each technological innovation gives marketers a chance to develop relationships. But most marketers look at ways to interfere with the customer experience by inserting messages via content, social network updates, “native” advertising, highly segmented email lists, etc. And so most brands lose that magical opportunity to strengthen their brand with emerging media, and instead drive customers further into the niche.

This is the ebb and flow of the same revolution, the revolution of the people formerly known as the audience.

While we get more and more specific with our brand messaging, people do not need to listen to us. And they frequently don’t/

I feel like the marketing sector has to reposition these evolutions as the new marketing revolution because we are so bad about becoming customer-centric. In essence, brands are extremely self centric. That makes sense because they are made up of people. So when a new trend happens, marketers pretend to learn it, then abuse the media technology to spam people with messages. The trend loses its sheen because it’s not working, creating the need for a new trend/revolution.

The customer revolution is caused by people in control of their own media choices, and choosing unique niche experiences via the Internet. People have more media power than brands now.

Brands have more technological power, but because of their own inherent human nature, they are unable to capitalize on the new trend.

Relationships are hard. Especially when the power dynamic changes.

What do you think of the latest marketing trends?

This post ran originally on the Vocus blog. Featured image by Lawrence Whitmore. I am on vacation until September 30th and will not be responding to comments. The floor is yours!

Six for Six

Day 71 - Dreidl Die
Image by slgckgc

Next Monday marks the six year anniversary of my first blog post. As I’m blogging less these days, I decided my final post of this year with six reflections based on my experiences over these years. Here are my observations about social media, blogging and marketing based on my journey:

1) The Idealism of Better Business Through Social

When I began blogging, I believed in The Cluetrain Manifesto. Its raw message that businesses would be forced to act better thanks to social media spoke to me. Cluetrain inspired hope that conversations could change the very fiber of business in favor of people. I was full of passion for that change, and my first book Now Is Gone reflected this idealism.

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