Marketing Metaphoria: What Deep Metaphors Reveal About the Minds of Consumers Hardcover – Apr 1 2008
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About the Author
Jerry Zaltman is a Professor of Marketing at Harvard Business School and a fellow at Harvard University's interdisciplinary Mind, Brain, Behavior Initiative.
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His (their) "metaphor" approach is supposed to be the subject of the book. But instead of sharing how to go about uncovering metaphors, the authors spend their time reverse engineering commercials and providing ex-post-facto explanations that justify the "theory" of deep metaphors. Qualitative market researchers have been asking consumers for metaphors since I can remember. For about 30 years I have asked consumers to tell me "what is it like to" do something, etc. Consumers do respond with metaphors that can be very useful. So, what is so proprietary about this approach? To be fair the book offers a taxonomy of metaphors. But the taxonomy does little to help the marketer actually connect with the consumer (unless you buy their consulting services). Because metaphors work in-context, and in-culture, not in a vacuum. The authors attempt to erase the importance of culture by claiming that understanding universals is enough. That contributes to marketing misconceptions instead of advancing the discipline.
I would like to caution readers that this approach to attract clients to their practice is unlikely to advance our understanding of consumer behavior. Post-hoc rationalizations can be interesting, but anyone can explain past events. The problem is predicting them.
His detailed explanation of the deep myths that are effective in advertising and creating stories that sell is impressive. His research is clearly deep and insightful. But, he doesn't give a clear path to illiciting metaphors in your own group (he uses his proprietary process, Zaltman Metaphor Elicitation Technique) and he gives more information about that in his previous book "How Customers Think." He also doesn't give a clear outline of how marketers might implement his findings in their own work. I'd like to have seen more specific examples around how you can apply these techniques in the stories you create.
This book deserves deep study though for the metaphors he idendifies and the motivating examples he uses to demonstrate each metaphor. With a little thought, creattivity and experimentation you'll be able to figure out how to apply them to your own creative and to your strategies.
The book is very easy to read and understand and in typical Zaltman fashion he makes very detailed research easy to understand and read. This along with his previous book should be on your regular research shelf. I realize I'm being a little picky about my criticism of this book but I'm so used to walking away feeling like I have new immediately implementable tools and this time I felt great but like he'd left some of his magic out and I missed it.
Get this book, you'll be very happy you did.
Interestingly, I bought this book based solely on the title and my expectation that it would be full of new ideas and insights about how using metaphors in marketing tactics would influence consumer behavior. While this book does cover material related to that sort of thing, it really covers so much more. The first two chapters on thinking deeply, "Workable Wondering" and focusing on consumer similarities set the stage for how to take the insights and ideas from the next 7 chapters (one per each deep metaphor) and incorporate them into your own thinking. The last chapter ties things together and presents a number of ideas for how Deep Metaphors may influence a number of marketing strategies and tactics.
This book is written to stimulate your thinking about how Deep Metaphors apply in many areas of marketing and consumer behavior. It doesn't present a list of "to dos" or lay out a plan of action that you should follow. Instead, you'll find yourself seeing what you, your consumers and your competitors do in a new light.
As I read the Zaltmans' Marketing Metaphoria, it felt like a sudden holiday getaway that whisked me away from my lists and deadlines and into a calmer, almost meditative place. Readable and engaging, this book helped me step back and reflect on the great metaphors that make humans tick. The Zaltmans' genius is in not only identifying these metaphors, but also helping the reader understand their relevance in marketing and communication strategy. The book does a beautiful job illustrating how "deep metaphors" are the story elements and images that create meaning and purpose in people's lives. With many great examples they also illustrate how insightful marketers can use these deep metaphors to create meaning and purpose for companies, brands and products in people's lives.
Like any great holiday getaway, at the end I was not only refreshed and rejuvenated, but I was changed for the better. This book's vivid examples and passion for the subject make it irresistible for marketing professionals to look for themselves, their customers, brands and companies amongst the metaphors - and to begin "deep thinking" about their work.
For anyone interested in more than just superficial communication, marketing, image or brand, this book will provide gratifying insights that change how you understand and craft the stories you tell.
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