“What’s the most resilient parasite? An idea. A single idea from the human mind can build cities. An idea can transform the rules and rewrite all existence.”
– Cobb (from Inception)
What’s the best idea you’ve ever had? Maybe it was the idea to start your own business, or to switch those stocks at the last minute, or that invention that will change the face of blah, blah, blah. What did you do with that idea?
In the new movie Inception (which I’m sure will breed many posts similar to this one), the premise is that ideas can not only be extracted from the mind, but also that they can be placed to grow on their own in someone else’s mind…..called the process of inception.
I got to thinking about this and it hit me: this is basically what we strive to do as marketers and business-owners. We want people to take action and feel positive about that action and ultimately it is better if they believe they made the choice themselves. We plant ideas with the hope that those seeds of ideas will grow into appropriate action.
Monkey Dream, Monkey Do
I’m not going to ruin anything about the movie for anyone, but here is basically how they do it in the movie. First, they encounter the target in reality and infiltrate their dream. Once there, the team interacts with the target’s reality to become a part of what they now believe to be real. Through a series of (highly entertaining) maneuvers and ploys, the target’s subconscious presents the idea to himself, so when he wakes it’s as if he has had an epiphany. Inception.
There are whole other layers to the movie that involve what is reality and what is perception, but for today’s purposes, I’m just going to stick with the theme of ideas coming to fruition. It’s a little something I will call… [Hans Zimmer music playing] Inception Marketing.
So what is Inception Marketing? If I were to define it (since I thought up the term) I would say it is “The calculated effort of a marketing team to present an idea to their target market with the intention that the idea will seem as if it came from within the market itself.” The idea is that once your target market believes they thought of the idea themselves, they will be more likely to take the action your teams wants.
To pull of a plan of this magnitude, many things must be in place. The first of which is…
Every great plan needs a great team. Make sure yours has all the right components.
- The Point Man – The point man (or woman)’s job is to do the research about the target. Extensive research about any mark is a necessity when planning a venture of this size. You must know what your target’s interests are, how they take in their information, what they are most likely to respond favorably/unfavorable to, whether they have mind extraction security (that was in the movie and seemed awesome, disregard that one).
- The Architect – Someone on your team must have the architecture for your plan in their mind. Your strategy must be understood by every member of the team and it is the architect’s job to relay that information and structure. Make sure you are all on the same team when it comes to the twists and turns to come.
- The Forger – In the movie, this member impersonated someone close to the target in their dream. For our purposes, the forger is the member based in the reality of the consumer. Someone always must keep a tab on how life is for your target, someone that knows who the target trusts.
- The Tourist – Get an outside perspective. Sometimes we can be so focused on the job, we forget to look out the window.
- The Extractor – This is the actual path the idea will take into the mind of the target. The Extractor will have a great understanding of the target through the team’s endeavors and should have a clear path into the subconscious of your target. Proceed with caution.
Now that your team is assembled and undertaking their responsibilities, it’s time to implement…
If your Point Man has done his or her research and your Architect has a brilliant strategy constructed and your Tourist and Forger keep you in the mindset of your targets, your Extractor should have no problem getting into the minds of your target market. The strategy will focus around one very important aspect of influence and trust: the trusted referral.
John Jantsch has a great book titled The Referral Engine (non-affiliate link) that deals with this specific topic and rather than re-hashing everything he says, I’ll focus on the main issues.
Groundswell movements and social media tactics can be very powerful because of the level of trust incorporated into the systems. Ideas are more quickly accepted when they come from within that market itself. You must engage your audience and talk with them. Nobody likes to be sold to, but everyone likes to buy/act and when your idea is suggested through conversation, active participation and trust, your Extractor can easily implant an idea seed. Once that grows into a full idea, like a virus it will overtake the market organically (and non-detrimentally) into the action your team desires.
…I know this post was a little sensational, but there’s truth in there. The truth may be that you are a small business owner and you are every member of the “team” but you still have to have your research, understand your strategy and market, and have a way to get them your idea. You may not have the technology to infiltrate someone’s REM sleep cycle, but you DO have the ability to enter into their world via social media and conversation and make yourself trustworthy. And it is true that once an idea grows organically within a market, it is more likely to be trusted and acted upon.
The future may not be here just yet. But just like Mitch Joel suggests, don’t be a futurist because you never know what might happen, be a presentist. Take a grasp on the present and find your way to make your target market trust you. And trust is always bred from honesty and transparency. Nothing will turn your dream strategy into a marketing nightmare faster than devious practices and outright lying.
But what do I know, I might just be a dreamer…but I’m not the only one.
What do you think? Is there a future for Inception Marketing or is it already the present?