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Proprietary Process, Eh? Trademark This!
client was looking for a marketing firm, and he trusted me to find one for
him. (Or, perhaps more accurately, he didn’t want to waste his time doing it
himself, and was perfectly happy to waste mine.)
thought I was looking for someone who could perform a service. What I
actually got was a bizarre little trip into the world of ™.
Eight-year-old T.F. Krause, who is sitting across from me at Big Boy™,
munching fries for breakfast while I write this, asked me if ™ stands for
Tin Man, which is funny because as far as I know, he’s never watched or read
The Wizard of Oz. (“I just made it up,” he explains. I can believe
no, ™ stands for trademark, and is distinct from a registered
trademark, which is denoted by the symbol ®. If you want to put an ® after
something, you have to fill out all these forms and follow all these rules.
Not your sort of thing? Yeah, me neither.
™ is different. You can slap a ™ at the end of anything, just because you
feel like it. To borrow from a popular phrase, a grand jury could ™ a ham
sandwich. And these days, if you own a marketing firm, it seems you are
required by law, or trendiness, or something, to ™ the way you do things,
which you must describe as your “proprietary process.”
is how they show you that their process is really, really different. What
you learn after you listen to 15 of these guys is that their processes are
all really, really, the same – whether they believe it or not, which they
let me tell you about the propriety process we’ve developed for delivering
value to our clients,” says the first guy. “Why are you rolling your eyes?
Anyway, it’s called MarketSmell™. What we do is we conduct extensive market
research. No one else does this! Then, we follow our noses to the
best strategy. Get it? Our noses! So we brand this highly proprietary
process MarketSmell™! Brilliant, isn’t it?”
the guy what happens if his nose is stuffed up or it’s allergy season, and
what he thinks smells like a pony is actually, er, something else. He says
he needs to go get a tissue, and never returns.
next guy has something completely different. Completely.
we have developed a proprietary process we call MarketWipe™,” he says. “I
personally worked many months perfecting the details of this process. Or I
jotted it down on a cocktail napkin one Friday night. I can’t remember
which. But what we do is conduct very detailed, in-depth market research.
No one else does this! Then, we wipe away all the misconceptions about
how to market and brand your product or service, and deliver a strategy
the guy where he got the little crusty stuff on his upper lip. He excuses
himself to find a mirror. Moments later, I hear his Porsche speeding away.
nothing tops the next guy. His process is called FYI8™.
probably think that means ‘for your information,’ don’t you, D.F.?”
thought I would be so interested as to try to figure it out, I will never
actually means Foresight, Yoursight, Insight . . . to the eighth power. The
“Foresight,” he explains, “means that we do intense market research,
so we know about our audience before we develop our strategy.”
me guess,” I say. “No one else does that.”
he says, “I see you’ve been talking to our foresight-challenged competitors.
That’s right. We’re the only ones. Yoursight represents your own perceptions
of your brand and its positioning. No one else asks you this! And
finally, insight represents our own expert brilliance about what to do,
which reflects the highest possible budget we can justify – I mean, some
really good ideas. Or something.”
heard enough. I decided to develop my own “proprietary process.” I call it
T.F.’s Tin Man Tactics™. It combines research, insight, verifiable data,
measurement and science. I have no idea what any of that means, but just
like T.F., sitting across from me and munching his fries, I just made it up.
like everyone else.
© 2009 North Star Writers Group. May not be republished without permission.
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