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Gonzo Marketing: Winning Through Worst Practices Paperback – October 15, 2002


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Product Details

  • Series: Winning Through Worst Practices
  • Paperback: 256 pages
  • Publisher: Basic Books; Reprint edition (October 15, 2002)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0738207691
  • ISBN-13: 978-0738207698
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 0.6 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 13.4 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (37 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,930,625 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

The coauthor of the no-more-business-as-usual blockbuster The Cluetrain Manifesto--which basically told Net-age marketers to stop talking at their markets and start conversing with them--follows up with a book that's more a highly entertaining, nimbly erudite screed against our current mass-market, mass-media culture than it is a recipe book for e-commerce marketing success in the post-cyberboom era. Writing in a paler imitation of the profanely irreverent, freely associative "gonzo" journalism style pioneered by his obvious idol Hunter S. Thompson, Locke starts with the by-now-familiar idea that old-style mass-marketing "broadcast" advertising just won't work on the Web. Indeed, he says, conventional print-ad tactics as embodied online by banners and pop-ups might actually generate more ill will than sales, and that's why companies must use the Web to somehow enjoin their products and services to the quirky niche interests of the gazillion individual cybercommunities (or "micromarkets") whose greatest advantage for marketers is how freely and speedily their members talk among themselves, touting a brand when and if it's truly deserved.

Useful examples of such enjoinment don't appear until a slim, penultimate chapter, and they are mostly theoretical in nature, e.g., what if Ford, after giving its employees worldwide free home computers and Net access (which it did), got all of them who were into organic gardening to infiltrate organic-gardening Web communities to push (via the subtle art of persuasion, one supposes) the niftiness of Ford pickups for organic gardeners? Truth be told, Locke seems more like a social critic or humanist at heart than a marketing consultant, and his essential disdain for corporations (which are anti-human, he declares, despite all their philanthropic tootle) leaves the reader wondering whether he really wants e-commerce to effectively pervade the Web's truly democratic, populist microcommunities for its own purposes. As his wonderfully cranky cult Web zine, Entropy Gradient Reversals, and his alter ego therein, RageBoy, have proven, the man's a smart, witty, broadly read cyberpundit. In Gonzo Marketing, he tweaks everyone from Disney, Time Warner AOL, and IBM to fellow biz-book writers like Seth Godin (Permission Marketing), and if you read it first for its own eclectic, acerbic delights and second for a postboom e-marketing primer, you'll be rightly pleased. --Timothy Murphy --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Publishers Weekly

This latest offering from the coauthor of last year's The Cluetrain Manifesto puts a new spin on the age-old approach to marketing, which says businesses need to establish common ground with potential customers before they begin to try to sell anything. "At its heart, gonzo is animated by an attitude of deeply principled anti-professionalism in the best sense," says Locke, who purports to offer a new business template and a futuristic view of the marketplace. Although this work suffers from frequent dead-end tangents, hopeless self-indulgence and endless references to Locke's last book and his former coauthors, it does have a few shining moments. His theories are intriguing; in Locke's world, for example, employees of Ford Motor Co. who like organic gardening would be given space on the Ford Web site to communicate with other organic gardeners, thus reaching people who eventually could become Ford's customers, thanks to their online relationship with the gardening Ford employee. To his credit, Locke's nine maxims ("best practices usually aren't"; "storytelling is the path" to marketing success, etc.) do make sense, and his avoidance of Internet advertising and embrace of community involvement are refreshing. (Nov.)Forecast: Perseus will have to do a little gonzo marketing of its own to help this title break out of the saturated new business category.

Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information, Inc.

--This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

More About the Author

I am RageBoy, hear me roar. I write Entropy Gradient Reversals, EGR to you, and think about gonzo marketing in my spare time. I'm also co-author of The Cluetrain Manifesto, which you can look up here on Amazon or at cluetrain.com. In reality, I'm a meek and unassuming person. Your Mom would probably like me.

Customer Reviews

Thank you, RageBoy!
Massimo Moruzzi
So I say that you should buy the book if you are prepared to think for yourselves and project what Locke says onto whatever micro world you live and make money in.
Jack Reed
I read as much as I could with patience until it became clear this book was simply someone rambling on about nothing.
Neil T. Jenkins

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

42 of 45 people found the following review helpful By Hiroo Yamagata on May 3, 2002
Format: Hardcover
I've been a fan of Chris Locke/RageBoy for quite a while. His attacks on Internet marketing gurus, those stupid know-it-alls on e-whatever, has been great, and had me rolling on the tatami (I'm in Japan).
This book sums up his criticism, and tries to come up with a remedy of his own, which he calls gonzo marketing. But, I'm very sad to say that his arguments doesn't hold water.
What he proposes is a very zen kind of thing; if you want to sell products on the Net, then you should not think of selling it (because if you think about it, people will sense that you are a sales person, and would despise you). Just be as you are. If you are active online without ever mentioning your product, then someone would notice that you work for such and such company, and people will come to you. Do not seek sales, and the sales would seek you out.
Based on this theory, he proposes that firms should allow employees to enjoy net surfing and engage in news group discussions on payed time. They won't be forced to make any sales or do any sales pitch. Just be sincere, and then, when people encounter some problems with a certain product, it might pop into their minds; "hey, that guy works for this company! Maybe he can help me!" And then you'll have a lead!
Now, this sounds nice (as an employee myself). Hey, I can waste time on the web all day and get paid! But if you have been active on the Net, you should step back and think. For example, I've been so-so active on the net, participating in Linux and other user groups and discussions. In Japan, I'm a pretty famous online presence. Now, has anyone contacted me about my professional business (I'm a consultant in the road and power sector)? Has anyone inquired me about the projects and services of my firm?
Not once.
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20 of 23 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on February 3, 2002
Format: Hardcover
...He offers some interesting ideas, but unfortunately I doubt that any of his examples would result in positive ROI for any of the companies involved.
True to its title (a reference to the eccentric writing style of writer Hunter S. Thompson), "Gonzo Marketing" also wanders and leaves along the way to its business advice. Alas, the odd writing style (sometimes quite readable, sometimes not) failed to entertain or educate me, and it certainly did not convince me that the author's proposals were worthwhile.
The recurring central theme of Gonzo Marketing is that companies should try to connect with customers by having employees or agents participate in communities that include the company's customers. "Companies don't give a damn about advertising . . . . What they care about is connecting with potential customers by whatever means is most effective." (p. 186)
Locke suggests that a company like Ford and Dell empower its employees to participate (on company time) in online communitites which include potential customers. For example, Dell could encourage its employees who believe in home schooling, to participate in online communities about home-schooling, not writing sales pitches about Dell, but instead being visible as helpful community members who happen to identify themselves as Dell employees. Locke also suggests that Ford employees who like gardening could participate in related online communities, and perhaps other participants in the community will decide they like Ford and buy Ford trucks.
This is not a new idea.
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13 of 15 people found the following review helpful By Jack Reed on December 19, 2001
Format: Hardcover
I disagree with the recent review that thinks this subject only deserves an "article" instead of a book. The reviewer seems to think that because Locke does not provide a nice neat little well annotated map of the future of the Net as it relates to business and marketing that he hasn't done a service worthy of "book" status.
Just because you recognize that something is wrong doesn't mean you know precisely what right is. We all know that the torrent of spam that we are daily assailed with is the wrong way to market on the Web (how many of you have really bought anything that was so advertised). But while Gonzo Marketing does not spell out the precise ABCs of what is developing in this New World, he does a very exemplary job of talking about it's roots and realities. I think perhaps the most important single word that is used in both Gonzo Marketing (and The Cluetrain Manifesto) is "voice". The Net and it's derivitive, the Web, are forums for the individual voice to speak quietly but to a huge audience. It is this voice, this individual human communication that matters, because while we'll all trash a spam email within milliseconds, most of us will responed to a truly individual message from another human being. This takes the market back to what is originally was before it was usurped by corporations to mean masses of blank faces, and present it as the simple aggregation of people who wish to have discourse about their daily needs and perhaps exchange a few items for a few other items. Never mind that we're not really a bartering economy anymore, the character of that ancient market place is still deeply embedded in our psyches and most of us feel comfortable on that more personal basis.
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