This html-coded online version of the Wombat Final 15/5/06 9:12 AM -- wombatbook.pdf, was prepared by Darlene Sartore with some additions, clarifications, minor adaptations, color texting, and numbered paragraphs to make the text easier to use in follow-along reading and referencing during dialogs.... This version is for use only by course presenters certified by An Ever Better World Internet Academy. Permission granted from author on March 5, 2007.
Who are the greatest marketing geniuses?
1. As I write, it is August 28, the feast day of Saint Augustine who, in my opinion, was the greatest marketing genius in history. My other two nominations are George Gallup and Tim Berners-Lee. Here’s the thinking behind my three choices: Saint Augustine invented the first loyalty program which helped grow the most successful human organisation in history; George Gallup invented market research and delivered ultimate power to the customer; Tim Berners-Lee invented the World Wide Web and the opportunity for global ecommerce,24/7.
Augustine of Hippo (354–430 CE)
2. On the Vatican website, I found the following announcement:
“DECREE OF THE APOSTOLIC PENITENTIARY ON SPECIAL INDULGENCES CONCEDED FOR THE 20TH WORLD YOUTH DAY IN COLOGNE
A Plenary Indulgence is conceded on the usual conditions (sacramental Confession, Eucharistic Communion and prayers for the Supreme Pontiff’s intentions) to members of the faithful who, in a spirit of total detachment from any sin, will take part attentively and devoutly in some of the celebrations for the 20th World Youth Day in Cologne.”
3. Just in case, like myself, you’re not a member of the faithful, the announcement above means that those members who qualify are guaranteed to get into heaven when they die. This is a very big offer for any member of the faithful. It’s called a plenary indulgence.
4. A plenary indulgence is a guarantee that you will receive enough frequent flyer points – divine grace – to go directly to heaven when you die. Like any other loyalty program there are rules and conditions and the Vatican lays these out from time to time. In this particular case, to qualify for a plenary indulgence a member must have gone to confession, taken communion, prayed for the Pope and attended the 20th World Youth Day in Cologne. Those members who observed these conditions are guaranteed by the Vatican to receive a sufficient allotment of grace to be admitted into Civitas Dei, the City of God – aka heaven.
5. The popularity of books like The Da Vinci Code reveals the fascination that the Vatican holds for many people – members and non-members alike – and I have always thought that the offer of VIP passes into Heaven is one of the cleverest ever invented. The evidence of history has shown how well it has worked. It continues to do so today. This particular invention was created by Saint Augustine.
6. For any loyalty system to be successful you need several things:
7. Saint Augustine invented the idea of ‘original sin’ which meant that all members of the faithful arrived into the world with debit points – just for being born!
8. Prior to Augustine a newborn baby might be expected to go straight to heaven. After Augustine, babies already had debit points in their heaven account. These debit points had to be wiped out first and then further points were needed to get into heaven. This meant that playing the loyalty game was no longer an option to members. After Augustine you had to play the game because your account was already in the red.
9. How do you remit your sins and collect the heaven points, the grace needed to get into heaven? This is where the Vatican comes in. The Curia devised a scheme where points were awarded for a wide range of Vatican-approved activities. For example, members have been able to earn points by praying at certain times in certain formats, by attending Vatican-approved sacraments and events. By doing certain good works. By making donations, or raising an army for the Pope or leaving property to the church when you die.
10. In 1343, Pope Clement VI confirmed that the Catholic Church can grant remission of sin through indulgences:
11. Upon the altar of the Cross Christ shed of His blood not merely a drop, though this would have sufficed, by reason of the union with the Word, to redeem the whole human race, but a copious torrent . . . thereby laying up an infinite treasure for mankind. This treasure He neither wrapped up in a napkin nor hid in a field, but entrusted to Blessed Peter, the key-bearer, and his successors, that they might, for just and reasonable causes, distribute it to the faithful in full or in partial remission of the temporal punishment due to sin.
12. Loyalty programs can backfire if they exploit their members. The best example of this was when Pope Leo X (born Giovanni di Lorenzo de’ Medici) used the scheme to raise money for his lavish lifestyle and vast Vatican construction projects. Martin Luther blew the whistle on the Pope and the Vatican subsequently lost a big share of the market. This became known in history as the Reformation and led to the establishment of the Protestant churches who broke away from the Vatican because of its loyalty scheme. Commenting on the proceeds of the scheme Martin Luther wrote:
"At the time I did not yet know who was to get the money. Then there appeared a booklet with the illustrious coat of arms of the Bishop of Magdeburg." -- Wider Hans Worst, 1541
13. The Vatican still uses the scheme which has been copied by many marketing organisations worldwide, especially in the travel industry. This is not surprising since Augustine’s original invention relied on a member’s belief in the premise that the Vatican was the official travel agent for the City of God.
14. For example, Virgin Blue airlines’ loyalty program called Velocity was promoted with headlines such as, "Isn’t it time loyalty programs redeemed themselves?" The main benefit of Velocity over other loyalty programs is its ability to redeem your points sooner rather than later. This draws attention to the main drawback of the Vatican’s loyalty program: that you have to die before you can redeem your points.
George Gallup (1901–1984)
15. Professor George Gallup developed the concept of the statistical sample and invented market research and polling. He got into research when he was an editor of the Daily Iowan at the University of Iowa and later an interviewer for D’Arcy Advertising in 1922. He became interested in the way people read newspapers and in particular which stories they actually read.
16. Gallup adopted the startling device of confronting a reader with the whole newspaper and asking him exactly what he liked and did not like about it. This gave him the material for a PhD thesis, ‘An objective method for determining the reader interest in newspapers.’ His thesis was based on a survey of the editorial and advertisement content of The Des Moines Register and Tribune and he found out that most readers preferred comics to the front page, feature stories to news.
17. He then adapted his ideas to advertising. If an advertiser could ask a population their opinions of a product or an advertisement that would be of enormous help in evolving better offers and ads. The problem was that it would be too expensive and time consuming to ask an entire population for their viewpoints.
18. Gallup showed that by using a statistical sample of around 1200 people you could reflect an accurate opinion of the entire population (plus or minus a few points) and this could be done inexpensively and regularly. Prior to Gallup, marketers like Henry Ford got away with offers like, ‘You can have it in any colour as long as it’s black’. Today, no competent marketer of products, services or political candidates would go to the people without first using market research and/or polling science to find out what they think. The Gallup Poll at Princeton – http://www.gallup.com – still has the best record for predicting the outcome of Presidential elections in the US over the past 70 years.
19. Gallup’s invention may be the single greatest act of empowerment given to customers and to electors that has ever been invented by any scientist.
Sir Tim Berners-Lee
20. In declaring Sir Tim Berners-Lees to be one of the most important people of the 20th century, Time magazine said:
21. "From the thousands of interconnected threads of the Internet, he wove the World Wide Web and created a mass medium for the 21st century".
22. Unlike so many inventions that forever changed the world, the World Wide Web – WWW – was the work of just one man. Edison had a lab full of people working on the light bulb for which he got the credit. And this is normally the case. The Internet itself was made by committee with its protocols and packet switching. Time magazine says, ‘The World Wide Web is Berners-Lee’s alone. He designed it. He loosed it on the world. And he more than anyone else has fought to keep it open, nonproprietary and free’.
23. Berners-Lee’s invention was based on an information retrieval program called Enquire which he wrote in 1980 as a contract programmer at the European Organization for Nuclear Research (CERN) in Geneva, Switzerland. The soft-spoken programmer founded the World Wide Web Consortium (http://www.w3.org) at MIT, which he still directs, to promote global Web standards.
24. The WWW has made e-commerce a reality. It’s business heaven, 24/7. You can point-and-click anywhere on the planet. You can search the libraries of the world, even the Vatican archives. You can get music, videos and sex. You can buy books or sell junk. You can get education, ideas and online help. You can have your say without persecution. You can do your banking and pay your bills. You can publish a book and sell it online and get paid without a publisher. You can book a flight and a hotel room anywhere on the planet. You can receive healthcare, create wealth, enhance your productivity and monitor your security – all on the WWW – and without ever leaving your home. You could even do it all while lying on the beach.
25. Today there are over 70 million websites. I was able to put the School of Thinking (SOT) on the web in 1995 when it became one of the first 10,000 websites. SOT lessons are still being sent out daily to over 50 countries from www.schoolofthinking.org thanks to Berners-Lee’s invention.
26. E-commerce has already changed media and advertising spending in the big corporate budgets. Huge chunks of traditional advertising and marketing dollars are now being spent online. In 2004, Chrysler decided to spend 10 per cent of their US$2 billion pool of ad dollars online. In 2005 it was 18 per cent and in 2006 it will be more than 20 per cent. If you do the maths that’s over $400 million in 2006 that used to be spent on ads in the Wall Street Journal, USA Today or NBC TV that are now being spent on the WWW.
27. In an interview with Fortune magazine in 2005 about e-commerce trends, Julie Roehm, Chrysler’s Director of Marketing Communications explained her decision, ‘I hate to sound like a marketing geek but we like to fish where the fish are’.
28. Thanks to e-commerce on the WWW, Google has been making big profits from selling online ads. These profits have driven its stock prices to make it the most highly prized media company in the world, capitalised at over US $85 billion.
29. There will be powerful competition in the coming years for the multibillion-dollar global online marketing and communications budgets. As the advertising slogan goes: watch this space!
This html-coded online version of the Wombat Final 15/5/06 -- wombatbook.pdf, was prepared by Darlene Sartore with some minor adaptations and color texting, for use only by course presenters certified by Ideal Network Academy. Use permission herein granted from author Michael Hewitt-Gleeson on March 5, 2007.
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