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Before providing a review of Christopher Locke's book entitled Gonzo
Marketing, let me state some basic disclaimers. I was not, prior to the
reading of this book, familiar with Mr. Locke, his career, or his previous
books, especially not The Cluetrain Manefesto. Also, I am not, nor
have I ever been involved in product marketing. Having said that, let's look
at the actual book.
Gonzo Marketing, according to Mr. Locke, is the idea that top-down, corporation-driven marketing that has so far shaped societies' buying and spending is outdated and must be replaced by marketing that is an engaged participant in the society from which it wishes benefit. Mr. Locke passionately asserts that the Internet, with its ability to break the "mass market" into smaller, more fragmented micro markets, has made traditional marketing antiquated and ineffective, and that the only way for businesses to properly market to these micromarkets is to become participants and partners with the members of these smaller societies. The first half of Gonzo Marketing is the constant and repetitive hammering home of this point, broken up only by Mr. Locke's tangential ramblings and a never ending litany of quotes from other business authors.
Fortunately, a reader who perseveres through Mr. Locke's flight of ideas and makes it to Chapter 7 (out of 8 chapters) is rewarded with a refreshingly coherent, organized, and detailed description of the Gonzo Marketing model. To Mr. Locke's credit, he does provide a comprehensive example of Gonzo Marketing in Chapter 1 and if the reader recalls this example of how Ford could connect with organic gardeners online, and applies this to the model, all eventually makes sense. And, therein lies the pay-off. The Gonzo Model is a forward thinking and brilliant approach to fostering and forging relationships (true relationships) between commerce and consumers. As it stands, the much-touted "relationships" between companies and consumers is only a relationship as it provides for the exchange of product or service for money. In Mr. Locke's model, the company-customer relationship is broadened to allow for the exchange of information, experiences, support and input, as well as products and money. In this model, both the consumers and companies benefit without the traditional bombarding of marketing messages that is so off putting to consumers.
Unfortunately, I found the vast majority of this book to be unorganized, tangential, rambling, and repetitive. With the exception of the chapter on the model itself, Mr. Locke's passion for his message on the need for a change in marketing presents itself in a manner much akin to the hallucinogenic ramblings of a schizophrenic. This remark is not at all pejorative, when one considers that Mr. Locke does in fact have a "psychotic alter ego" called RageBoy.
In short, Gonzo Marketing is a revolutionary approach to the subject that is contained within a book that should have been half its size and better organized. The book does have a web site, http://www.gonzomarkets.com/, that claims to have the entire text of the author's prior work The Cluetrain Manefesto. Unfortunately, all the links are bad and the text not present.
John Zukowski, provides strategic Java consulting with JZ Ventures, Inc. through objective commentary on Java-related technologies, mentoring, training, curriculum development, technical editing, and software architecture and development. He received a B.S. in computer science and mathematics from Northeastern University and an M.S. in computer science from Johns Hopkins University.