Lake Wobegone Marketing Strategies


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“Where all the solutions are best-of-breed, the ROI is proven, and employees are first-class.”

Sounds great, doesn’t it? If you are a fan of Garrison Keillor who reports the news from Lake Wobegon – a fictional town in Minnesota – on the radio show “A Prairie Home Companion,” you probably recognized my spin on his tag line; “Reporting from Lake Wobegon, where all the women are strong, all the men are good-looking, and all the children are above average.” It’s a fun show and I’m sure you would enjoy listening.

The name Wobegon is a play on words. The word “woe” means “beset with trouble,” while the phrase “woe, be gone” indicates a dismissal of troubles. The Lake Wobegon effect designates the human tendency to overestimate one’s achievements and capabilities in relation to others. Is there any Lake Wobegon in your organization’s marketing strategy? You can usually recognize the effect when you see the constant use of phrases like:

  • “The leading provider of …”
  • “Best-in-class for …”
  • “Our market-leading …”
  • “Delivers proven solutions guaranteed to cure cancer and stop global warming”

OK, I took some liberties with the last one, but I think you get the picture. Most organizations can point to a magic quadrant, wave, benchmark report or white paper justifying their claim to some version of the “leading” statement. If you read the press releases that come across the wire each day you will see that most organizations believe they are above average. So, if everyone is a leader then what’s the real differentiation? Well, getting back to the show, Keillor says the fictional town’s name comes from a fictional old Indian word meaning “the place where we waited all day in the rain for you.” Hmmm … if you are waiting all day in the rain for me it sounds like we have a special relationship based on trust. And if you are building customer relationships and experiences based on trust, many of your marketing woes will be gone.

Republished with author's permission from original post.

Alan See
Alan See is Principal and Chief Marketing Officer of CMO Temps, LLC. He is the American Marketing Association Marketer of the Year for Content Marketing and recognized as one of the "Top 50 Most Influential CMO's on Social Media" by Forbes. Alan is an active blogger and frequent presenter on topics that help organizations develop marketing strategies and sales initiatives to power profitable growth. Alan holds BBA and MBA degrees from Abilene Christian University.


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