If You Had A Marketing Genie, What Would You Wish For?

May 16, 2013

Venture Beat recently reported on a survey conducted by Staples asking small business owners what they’d wish for if they were graced with the presence of a marketing genie. Seriously. The survey included this question: “If a genie granted you one wish to market your company, what would you want?”

The responses were part predictable and part fascinating.


Most popular choice? Two million Facebook fans. There’s no word on whether the marketing genie can prevent these two million folks from “unliking” a company’s Facebook page, but the attraction of an instantly gigantic audience is obvious.

At the same time, two million Twitter followers was the second-least popular option for these small business owners. Damn. What did Twitter do to piss them off? Is Twitter seen as less cool? Less useful or less flexible? Too easy to get lost in the clutter? I could hear an argument for any of those things, I suppose, but two million followers is two million followers.

More notable than any Facebook vs. Twitter arguments, it’s stunning to me that a small business would rather have the one-time limelight of a Super Bowl ad slot or a celebrity association than a sustained (sustainable, at least) audience on a platform like Twitter.

Hang on. It gets better. A surprising 7 percent of the survey respondents would, above all else, opt for an appearance on CBS’s “Undercover Boss.”

If you haven’t seen the show, here’s the short version: The CEO or leader of a company slaps on a wig and some makeup and shows up to work a variety of the company’s less glamorous jobs. The CEO sees how hard his or her colleagues work (go figure!), listens to some sob stories about student-loan debt or medical bills or how “I don’t get no respect” — which the CEO always helps fix in the show-ending tear-jerker reveals: “I’m really Jane Doe, CEO… Here’s 10 grand and a promotion.”

The show certainly demonstrates The Good in your company and its leadership, but only after shining a bright-ass national-TV spotlight on your company’s hairy moles and warts. How the truck drivers don’t get potty breaks. How the women are treated by male supervisors. How the top brass has no idea what the bottom-rung employees do day to day.

I have a better idea: Try YouTube.

Yes, I know CBS’s show comes with a massive, built-in audience — not to mention the cameras and the production team. But think about telling your story on your own terms. Every day (or at least every week). To the people who matter — in your area, for example, rather than scattered all across the United States.

That’s the beauty of all this social media stuff. It’s not about the bells and whistles of Facebook or what’s the next hot new site or anything like that. It’s about the power to tell your own story rather than waiting for someone else to tell it for you.

And imagine if you could do that with two million free Twitter followers from the marketing genie.