Learning from the Jacksons

There's no two ways about it, you have to tilt your hat and perform a salutary moonwalk in honour of the “Jackson Four”, who are reportedly on the verge of agreeing to take over some of their brother Michael’s concerts.


There’s no two ways about it, you have to tilt your hat and perform a salutary moonwalk in honour of the “Jackson Four”, who are reportedly on the verge of agreeing to take over some of their brother Michael’s concerts.

There’s no two ways about it, you have to tilt your hat and perform a salutary moonwalk in honour of the “Jackson Four”, who are reportedly on the verge of agreeing to take over some of their brother Michael’s concerts.

Putting aside those never substantiated allegations about an unhealthy interest in pre-pubescents, Michael Jackson did bring us Off the Wall and Thriller. The only song that springs to mind from the quartet of Jackie, Tito, Marlon and Jermaine is the latter’s song Let’s get serious, which is exactly what will happen among the O2 audience if that ever gets an airing.

The problem with opportunism is that, when executed poorly, it can backfire by appearing spectacularly tasteless and out of touch. In business, getting your message right and striking the right tone is equally important. Some of the corporate shenanigans around CSR and being green are a good example of big business jumping on a bandwagon purely for image purposes (Shell attempting to sponsor a wildlife photography competition or BAE’s now shelved plan to make eco-friendly bullets spring to mind).

For the smaller business, the prime concern will be how to promote yourself to your chosen market on a tight budget. The price for getting it wrong will be different from that of the larger concerns – rather than appear cynically self-promoting, you’ll just be ignored.

Effective marketing for an SME is about clarity and results. Thomas Brown, head of research at the Chartered Institute of Marketing, says: ‘Small businesses need to be clear about their objectives. Companies should ask themselves how their targets, in terms of profits, translate into marketing activities…Customer affinity has never been more important in this climate. Talk to your top ten prospects about what they expect and want from you and be flexible right down to the core of what the business does.’

As the Jackson Four may well learn to their peril, what you mustn’t do is alienate your audience.

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