May 07, 2015

The Perspective-Free Marketing Industry

There are currently 2 types of dumbass marketing people in the world.

First is the type that thinks things will never change. These are characterized by the folks at McDonald's who think they can continue to sell their dreadful hamburgers for the rest of eternity. They think they have a marketing problem and if they just torture their agencies a little and have conversations with consumers they can get the problem fixed without having to actually do anything.

Second is the type that thinks everything is changing. They go around spouting all the insufferable new-age marketing cliches about everything being either dead or dying.

Both of these types don't get it.

First, things are always changing. Nothing in business, or in any other human endeavor, stays the same very long. Change can happen invisibly. Ask a bald guy. You don't notice when one hair falls out. But then one day you wake up and you look like me.

Conversely, not every change "changes everything" like the marketing hysterics would have you believe.

The sign of the amateur marketer is his inclination to be either complacent about change or hysterical about it. Change is nothing new. It is always with us and has always been with us.

These days it seems like hysteria about change is the prevailing mode. The people who perpetrate this nonsense are all over the web, all over marketing conferences, and all over the best-seller list.

The only thing they know is what is right in front of them. They think that everything that is happening now is seismic, and everything that happened before is inconsequential. There is a name for people like this -- fucking idiots.

The number of hysterical articles, conferences, books, and talks about how "everything is changing" and if you don't immediately adopt their newest technology or philosophy or methodology you will be left behind is absolutely oppressive.

In fact, consumers have shown a surprising attachment to traditional purchasing behavior in light of a revolution in technology, communication, and media.
  • People are 15 times as likely to buy something in a store than online.
  • People are 99 times as likely to buy something in a store than with a cell phone.
  • People watch 20 times more video on their TV than on their computer
  • People spend twice as much time listening to their radio than going online on their computer.
Are things changing? Of course. Things are always changing.

But if there's an untold story of the digital age, it is the degree to which perspective-free marketers have overestimated peoples' appetite for behavioral change, and underestimated peoples' attachment to traditional consumer behavior.


Jim said...

Agreed. But why are they fucking idiots? What I see is that outside of work they stop being fucking idiots and then when they walk in the next day they grab their fucking idiot's cape and don it again.

It is as if they are forced to be idiotic. That is what I have noticed.

And outside of work I reckon many Mc Donald's employee have thought your common sense thought too.

But next day sat in a branding meeting has spouted the 'in language' of branding - e.g. what we need is for people to be more engaged with how real we are and how Mc D's stands for joy. Rather than - any chance of a better burger or better service etc.

Depending what sort of idiot you are I reckon is based on how you understand the world and risk.

Those that think it is changing so fast you'll never keep up over estimating risk by a factor of 100 those that see it as static are under estimating risk.

At the moment I see many people over estimate risk that verges on paranoia and I think that is a social issue that is seen in many ares of society today. People are lost. Those under 50 (which includes me) you are probably a bit lost, devoid of strong beliefs for example. If they do have a belief it is an anti-humanistic one. People are bad, man, people destroy everything, man, people are like viruses, man. I hate people.

And it lead to conservative views or more importantly repressing your common sense view for fear of losing your job. So counter-intuatively those that see the world as very risky, as it is always changing (out of control) actually end up having rather conservative views because they distrust people and common sense.

Natasha Aidinyantz said...

Nice article and certainly do agree. I still love buying my clothes in stores. That way I can feel the material and try things on if I want. Not everything changes as quickly as we would like to believe but the important thing is staying on top of the changes instead of getting left behind in the market.

johndodds said...

Isn't selling the wrong product a marketing problem? As opposed to a promotion problem.

VinnyWarren said...

I love this. Great stuff. But you forgot the most important and unchanging rule: Nobody gives a shit. Nobody ever gave a shit. There's no demand for advertising. None. Can't wait to read your new book btw.

Shanghai61 said...

"Qui bono?"

Most of the hysterics have some sort of vested interest in peddling their Chicken Little schtick.

BullDurham said...

Always get a kick out of folks that claim that we live in a period of 'unprecedented change.' I remind them that Alexander the Great conquered much of the western world (and more) in 10 years. It's estimated that nearly 1/5 of Europe died during the first Black Plague, which lasted 5 years. The great wealth machine of the Yankee seafaring towns, about a generation. WWII? About 5 years after Pearl Harbor. The list goes on.

Alec Painter said...

You know that 75% of all retail purchases are influenced by digital activity, right? Yes, people buy in stores. They research online before hand.

Behavior has completely changed. People are just failing to recognize where digital takes place in the path to purchase and how to influence that behavior in the right places.

Kain Vodic said...

I agree with you Alec on the points you made.
It is a shortcoming of the article that it fails to mention how the path to the purchase took place.

As a business, if you aren't competing where people are looking for information in this "Information Age" that we live in, you aren't in the game, and certainly won't be in the medium term.

LeShann said...

Beware though, you're focusing a lot on US data but that picture is far from being the same in every country. China - not a market I'd ignore anymore - has a heavy skew towards digital viewing and e-commerce, and it's growing scarily fast here.