Tech marketing trapped in Plato’s Cave

Microsoft iPod

Will we ever learn?

The hilarious spoof of Microsoft’s attempt to re-label the iPod packaging appears to focus on a modern marketing issue.  But Plato, the pick of Greece’s golden generation of thought leaders, first identified the problem almost 2500 years ago.

In Plato’s Cave, a first generation white paper, poor souls are imprisoned and chained with a restricted view of the outside world.  They quickly give the shadows and echoes they encounter their own distorted meaning.  There is, for them, no life or reality outside the cave.

This all might sound a little Greek to you.  But there are two relevant B2B marketing messages that link the clip with the allegory:

1) Firms are caves.  They have an entrenched, but generally distorted, view of the outside world based on shadows and echoes of information.  Without regular research, we forget that things can be done differently and more effectively elsewhere.

2) Firms like caves.  And that’s a big mistake when the market outside is fast, futuristic and unsentimental.  We must be confident enough to challenge entrenched internal processes and cultures to deliver customer friendly output.

The Microsoft clip shows why process driven presentation won’t get customers drooling.  The film makers, believed to be an internal Microsoft team, used competitive comparison to educate the organisation where it was all going wrong.  We like it.


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