Writing about nuclear proliferation on a marketing blog may seem nutty, insulting and demeaning. But in trying to come to grips with North Korea possessing a nuclear weapon, I took a different path than most....


What if all of the fear mongering is mostly a marketing ploy?
Silly, you say? It wouldn't be the first time marketing built its messaging on a foundation of fear. Who otherwise, for example, would pay any attention to life (re: death) insurance if it wasn't for fear? Insurance isn't about fear you argue? Of course it is. Take a look at the messaging:
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Cars crashing (Are you covered?)
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Do you care enough about your loved ones after you're gone?
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Thieves breaking into homes but ADT prevents the inherent danger (home alarm systems–just another kind of insurance
In many ways, insurance and military defense are synonymous. And we can throw in diplomacy, as well. So let's take a look at the North Korean marketing program.
Without meaning to diminish the danger that a nuclear North Korea poses to the world, suppose for a few moments that the nuclear test, which may or may not have occurred, and the messaging coming out of that desperate country is a cry for respect, recognition and help. What might that marketing campaign look like?
All marketing should begin at the roots of the Company's Core Purpose. As a reminder, here are some well know Purposes:
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Starbucks does not sell coffee, it sells an experience.
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Progressive does not sell insurance, it sells speed of service.
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Harley does not sell motorcycles, it sells image in the form of a 40-something accountant riding through town and having people terrified of him.
What is North Korea's Core Purpose: To keep the current regime in power. How might its Marketing Department make this happen?
Let's start with a unique value proposition (UVP). What differentiates North Korea from its competitors (Iran, the Taliban, Hezbollah, etc.), each vying for its spot in the world marketplace and doing everything possible to maintain power? Without products, services, money to invest or a charming personality, if I were offering advice I would recommend fear. North Korea is a scary place and not much else. So, our UVP for North Korea is:
"We guarantee that our promise to change the world is unlike any other. Buy now or pay us later."
Okay, we differentiated ourselves. Now we need an objective. Taking the North Koreans at their word, here is the objective:
"To create fear in everyone's mind that we will turn the world to ash."
Not as alluring as the Third Place Experience, but one that serves its purpose well and gets our attention. Moving ahead, here is a likely strategy and several tactics:
"Unless the US agrees to bilateral talks, we will make the world community an even scarier place."
Tactics:
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Threaten, threaten, and threaten.
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If ignored, carry out the threats.
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Threaten even greater potential for destruction.
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Well, you get the idea.
Now that North Korea has our attention, the ball is in our court, because we are the target audience. Like any buying experience, before I spend my hard-earned money, there are at least two questions I ask myself:
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Do I want, need or desire the product? In this case, promised negotiations and hope for peace?
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Is the price fair? If I purchase this promise, will I get my money's worth?
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Is their value? How badly do I want peace and will this product provide an adequate amount to create a good to great customer experience?
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Does the seller (North Korea) represent trust and credibility?
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Am I being over-promised, over-sold and then under-delivered on the promise?
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Should we buy or sell?
Good marketing plans achieve their objectives, bad ones don't. If North Korea's strategy works and they get bilateral talks, is the world a better and safer place? Will the consumer (the US and the Free World) have a good customer experience? If North Korea's marketing plan fails, is that the end of the marketing campaign or is North Korea like Enron and willing to take everyone down with it?
Finally, am I better off with the product? Can I live without it?

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Lewis Green, Founder and Managing Principal of L&G Business Solutions, LLC, (https://www.l-gsolutions.com) brings three decades of business management experience. L&G Business Solutions, LLC, represents his third company. Additionally, he held management positions with GTE Discovery Publications, Puget Sound Energy and Starbucks Coffee Company.

In addition to his business experiences, Lewis is a published author and a former journalist, sports writer and travel writer. His feature articles have appeared in books, magazines and newspapers throughout North America. He has taught in public schools; lobbied for organizations both in state capitols and in Washington, D.C.; delivered workshops, seminars, and training programs; and made presentations to audiences in colleges, businesses and professional organizations. Lewis also has served as a book editor with a large publisher, the Executive Editor overseeing four magazines, and a newspaper department editor. Lewis served eight years in the U.S. Air Force, where he received the Air Force Commendation Medal.