Tuesday, January 17, 2006

No "Marketer?"

It’s the 300th birthday of Benjamin Franklin. I’m hard-pressed to write anything really original. Even the recognition that Franklin was America’s first marketing man isn’t new.

(See, for example, here and here. The bemusing article by James H. Morris says, “Ben is rolling over in his Philadelphia grave to see how wasteful and inefficient advertising has become.” I think Morris doesn’t quite credit that America’s population is about to reach 300 million…an utterly different market than Ben Franklin faced.)

When you read Franklin’s most recent biography, by Walter Isaacson, you discover that Franklin developed one early model for an advertising professional to follow, called “doing well by doing good.” Franklin’s publication of Poor Richard’s Almanack, for example, combined the promotion of virtue with the making of money. An old T-shirt of mine proclaimed, “Profit is not a dirty word.” Benjamin Franklin could have said that among the hundreds of other proverbs, sayings and observations.

One more thing he did say speaks directly to people who communicate about features rather than benefits: “If you would persuade, you must appeal to interest rather than intellect.”

So Happy birthday to the Patron Saint of Advertising - even if the Post Office didn't issue a stamp captioned “Benjamin Franklin, Ad Guy.”

New-issue commemorative stamps, USPS.

1 comment:

Susan Kirkland said...

My favorite Franklinism:
Fish and visitors stink in three days.