Linda J. Popky on “Marketing Above the Noise”: Part 2 of an interview by Bob Morris


PopkyAward-winning marketing expert Linda J. Popky, the founder and president of Redwood Shores-based Leverage2Market Associates, transforms organizations through powerful marketing performance. Her clients range from small businesses and consultants to mid-sized companies and large Fortune 500 enterprises. She’s been involved with many of the Silicon Valley companies who developed and deployed the technologies that have changed the world over the last twenty-five years, including Sun Microsystems, Cisco Systems, NetApp, PayPal, Plantronics, Autodesk, Applied Materials, and others.

A consultant, speaker, and educator, Linda has been named one of the top women of influence in Silicon Valley and inducted into the Million Dollar Consultant® Hall of Fame. She is the past president of Women in Consulting and is a member of the Watermark Strategic Development Board. The first marketing expert worldwide certified to offer the Private Roster™ Mentoring Program for consultants and entrepreneurs, Linda has taught marketing at San Francisco State University’s College of Extended Learning, University of California Santa Cruz Extension in Silicon Valley, and West Virginia University’s Integrated Marketing Communications program.

Linda holds an MBA and a BS in Communications from Boston University. A classically trained pianist, Linda has also produced Night Songs, a CD of classical piano music. Her latest book, Marketing Above the Noise: Achieve Strategic Advantage with Marketing that Matters, was published by Bibliomotion Books+Media (March 2015).

Here is an excerpt from Part 2 of my interview of Linda.

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Morris: When and why did you decide to write Marketing Above the Noise?

Popky: Over the last several years, I saw an increasing focus on technology and new marketing techniques. Yet many of these efforts weren’t successful because the basics of good marketing were being left by the wayside. Furthermore, the opportunities for reaching customers through marketing continued to multiply nearly exponentially. It was obvious something was out of control and that fascinated me.

Morris: Were there any head-snapping revelations while writing it? Please explain.

Popky: I began to realize that many of the core concepts of marketing, what I now call the Dynamic Market Leverage factors, haven’t changed in thousands of years, and they aren’t likely to change in the future. Of course, there are some key areas that have changed. Success requires working within that dichotomy to come up with the best marketing campaigns and programs as possible.

Morris: To what extent (if any) does the book in final form differ significantly from what you originally envisioned?

Popky: I actually didn’t start out thinking about noise and the musical metaphors, but as I got in to writing the book this became more and more evident to me. Then I realized that noise was a factor inside the organization as well as externally, which leads to the Momentum Factors and the concept of static.

Morris: What did you learn about yourself while writing it that you did not know – or fully understand – before?

Popky: I’ve been a writer my whole life, but it’s a very different process to create a book of this sort vs all of the short pieces or marketing copy or white papers I’ve produced for years. It’s not just about having a great book concept, it’s applying the discipline to get those ideas out of your head and into a form that readers will be able to access and appreciate. You asked about storytellers previously. I also rediscovered my storytelling ability, and how important it is to tell effective stories to get key points across.

Morris: As I read this book, I was again reminded of the final scene in a film, The Pawnbroker, when Saul Naserman (played by Rod Steiger) “screams” in agony after a friend has been killed. Actually, it was a silent scream. I think some of the loudest “noise” is in our heads. What do you think?

Popky: We need to differentiate between the times when the noises in our head are distractions or obstacles and when they’re telling us something important. Too often we allow ourselves to get in our own way. However, there are times when that scream inside our head provides more important insight than anything anyone else could tell us. And I think that what’s probably even louder than the noise in our heads is the noise in our guts. Whenever I’ve listened to my head and not my gut, I’ve always regretted it.

Morris: Many people today seem to have the attention span of a Strobe light blink. How do you explain the fact that there are so many poor listeners?

Popky: We are now conditioned to receive very short messages. There was a time when advertisements were 60 or even 90 seconds. Today, it’s rare to find a 30 second commercial. Quite often we see only 10 or 15 second spots, and our attention to web advertising is even shorter—only a few seconds.

We are also now much more internally focused. How often do you walk down the street and see people about to walk off a curb into traffic because they’ve got their head in their mobile device? Furthermore, the ability to contribute and join conversations in online communities and social media is wonderful, but too often we focus on talking without considering how important it is to just sit back and listen once in awhile.

Morris: For those who have not as yet read the book, there are dozens of passages that evoke especially important questions. Please respond to these. First, The Dynamic Market Leverage Model (Pages 10-12): What differentiates it from other such models?

Popky: The Dynamic Market Leverage Model looks at those key marketing factors that are timeless—they don’t change from year to year or with the introduction of new technologies or marketing methods. It gives marketers a way to look at the key aspects of their marketing efforts and ensure that they are covering these key areas.

Morris: Change Is the New Constant (15-18): Where and when is this most significant in a competitive marketplace?

Popky: If you wait a moment in this marketplace, something will change—products or services, customer needs, technology, etc. As marketers, we can’t reach to every new stimuli, but we also can’t sit back and wait for everything to be in perfect alignment either. That’s why it’s so important to have a core foundation. If you know where you are and where you want to go, you can find the right vehicle to get you there—and that vehicle today may be very different than it would have been a couple of years ago or it will be in the near future.

Morris: The Five Stages of the Purchase Process (27-30): Which seems to be the most difficult to complete? Why?

Popky: That’s a great question. Without Awareness, nothing else happens. Your prospects and customers need to know you’re out there before the can even consider you. However, I think the most difficult stage to achieve is Loyalty. So many organizations get you to Purchase and maybe even to Preference (where all else being equal, you prefer to buy one brand over another). But very few brands acheive that strong Loyalty where customers will turn down other alternatives that may be less expensive or have additional features and benefits because they are loyal to that brand. The reason we hear about Apple so often is because they are one of the few that does this so well. Yet there’s no reason why others can’t achieve this status if they’re willing to invest the time and resources to make this happen.

* * *

To check out all of Part 2, please click here.

To read Part 1, please click here.

Linda cordially invites you to check out the resources at these websites:

Leverage2Market Associates link

Linda’s Amazon page link

Marketing Thought Leadership link

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