Saturday, April 4, 2009

Marketing is not Evil

If Satan had a 9-5 vocation it would either be as a drug dealer or a marketing director. Both take advantage of individuals under the guise of "business". True? In fact, yes. A drug dealer profits from physical and psychological addiction of his "target market" and so does a marketer. Isn't it funny that phrases between the two jobs can be so easily interchangeable? Yet one is illegal and one is not. Why is this?

If you hadn't noticed, to keep in theme with my content I am playing devils advocate. How fitting. But there is some underlying truth to these drug-dealing and marketing parallels. In fact, it would not be stretching the truth even a little bit to say that marketers have studied and know the thought patterns (including addiction and weaknesses) of their target markets (you and me) much more thoroughly than the most pioneering crack dealer. So how now do you plan on convincing me that marketing is not evil? You seem to be selling the connection quite well. Thankyou, and I see the difficulty here.

Let me ask you this question: if you were walking through an articulately crafted floral garden and you spotted a couple of dead flowers, would you say "Now this is one terrible garden!" Of course not. Why? Because on small bunch of flowers or a single garden bed does not necessarily represent the whole garden, does it? I will let you answer that one. The same is true of marketing.

Marketing gets a bad wrap. Be it relentless and annoying telemarketeers calling with eager enthusiasm from your closest Indian call centre, or a letter box empty of letters but full of tree-destroying junk mail that somehow navigated its way inside despite the blatant "no junk mail" sticker stuck only inches from the letterbox opening.

"Marketing is responsible for killing the rainforests and selling out domestic
jobs to overseas workers."
And you're trying to tell me that marketing is not evil? Dream on mister! Now just hold up.

Back to the dead flowers analogy, one dead rose doesn't spoil the whole garden bed does it? No, no, no. To suggest this would be ludicrous. So where is this so called Halo hovering over marketing going to come into the picture. Right now captain cynic!

Marketing is a very old phenomenon but it really came into being in the post war economies where products and services were popping up everywhere- like those annoying pop-up ads that you wish would just die. Another one for the evil box. Now, the need to target and audience and study them came about because of choice. Specifically, too many choices. If you had one product to satsify thirst, for example, then there would not be a problem. Just put it in the consumers hand and the job is done. But throw in thousands and products and thousands of ways (channels) to "put it in their hand" and we are faced with a problem. A problem that only marketing can fix.

Think of it in terms or archery. You are the target, and there are many arrows trying to hit you where it hurts. Now this does sound violent but it is very simple.

Marketing is not evil for many reasons. The main reason is this: the consumer is the winner. Let's make it more personal. You are the winner. When you have companies competing for your hard-earned dollars, and manufacturers trying to construct in a way that is best for you, what is there to complain about? The consumer is the big winner.

To add to this, whether you would like to agree or not, in a time-poor fast-lane work exvironment that most consumers seem to be driving on, it's not a stretch to suggest that we need to be interrupted. Now truth be told, somtimes it can be annoying. Sometimes you can hang up the phone before these persistent evening time callers even get a word in. Maybe it's bad timing on their behalf. I tend to think this is true. But have you ever been driving along the highway getting ever more hungry and jsut praying for a juicy advertisement holding out a glistening hamburger than says "only 15 minutes". Of course. So maybe this should be a lesson to the marketing newborns out there: timing is everything!

There is much more that could be raised to defend marketing; and perhaps more to convince you that it's evil as well. But it is noteworthy and worth a thought, that without the marketing function of communication (or dissemination as the 'techies' like to call it), we would not hear about the products that we use everyday. I would be careful not to demonise the entirity of this super-useful part of the enterprise environment. Marketing is not evil. At least not all the time.

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