Seth Godin broached a marketing subject this week with a solid thesis when looked at in today's landscape. Looking at the massive interest in the apocalypse one would think the world did end. It did not, but with everyone talking about it - in the media, on facebook, twitter etc - it sure had a good marketing plan.
Godin's point in the article is pretty simple: If you have a story that people want to believe, you can market in today's world. If you are selling a story that people do not want to believe in the first place, you are throwing money against a wall, doing traditional marketing that will probably fail.
The story has to be integrated into your product. The iPad, for example, wasn't something that people were clamoring for... but the story of it, the magic tablet, the universal book, the ticket to the fashion-geek tribe--there was a line out the door for that. The same way that every year, we see a new music sensation, a new fashion superstar. That's not an accident. That story is just waiting for someone to wear it.
And the some part is vital. Not everyone wants to believe in the end of the world, but some people (fortunately, just a few) really do. To reach them, you don't need much of a hard sell at all.
This might explain why Kegasus, the Preakness mascot, worked to some extent. Patrons under 30 who have visited the infield the last decade, got drunk, tried the urinal run, bared various body parts, and told their friends about it (or it was picked up by the media, both old and new). Kegasus was selling that demographic something they already believed.
In the context of selling racing (not the get drunk infield part) we can try and construct a marketing plan that has a building block to succeed by using this principle: Let's find something people already, or want to, believe about racing and go to it. We create a Godin tribe, market and we roll.
Have you thought of anything positive that people already believe about racing, we can sell to them?
Maybe we can sell betting. Well since the general public believes "you can beat a race, but you can't beat the races", that's a tough one.
How about selling the fun of the day outside at the races? The general public believes our demo is old, we bet in smoke-filled rooms and it is not a place for families and children.
How about selling the excitement? The public believes our game is slow, they don't know the participants, and waiting 30 minutes between entertainment is tantamount to a root canal.
We can throw millions at marketing, but you have to have something to sell to a tribe that fits their world-view. The next time you see, hear or read someone mention "we should market racing more", ask them what they want to market, because marketing racing is easier said than done.