October 20, 2010

The Loud Get Louder. The Meek Get Meeker.

Not long ago, the only people who had to listen to my aberrant ramblings were the 90 or so people who worked with me. Now there are several thousand people who suffer my opinions four or five times a week. The internet is a great medium for opinionated loudmouths.

One of the problems, however, is that while the web serves as an amplifier for a certain type of person, it also serves as a muzzle for people who may be a lot smarter, but a little quieter.

The issue for marketers is how to separate signal from noise.

A perfect example is the recent flap over the Gap logo. Just between us girls, while I agree with critics that the new logo looks like something designed in Powerpoint, I think it would have had about the same effect on Gap's sales as re-painting the men's rooms.

But there is a type of person who knows how to stir up a hubbub on the internet. We've all met them. They know how to do everyone's job but their own.  They know how to live everyone's life but their own. They are self-appointed guardians of aesthetics and morality, and the web has given them a voice way out of proportion to their worthiness.

Meek marketers are going to have more and more trouble with these prissy nuisances.

There are a few marketers who don't care what the loudmouths think, who are confident in their identity and their decision-making, and aren't afraid to be themselves. They are a tiny minority.

Most marketers have become alarmingly timid and use the ravings of these blowhards as an excuse for their lack of spine. They are already meek, and can now hide their gutlessness behind a convenient facade of sensitivity to consumer sentiment.

They are confusing consumer sentiment with the taunting of bullies.

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