Re: Marketing

1

I saw Seth Godin speak at an event set up by a friend of mine who is a marketer for Adobe. Godin's topic was basically about really narrow-targeted marketing. The takeaway I got from the event was that you should use Adobe products to reach that kind of audience.


Posted by: Spike | Link to this comment | 06-27-13 5:40 AM
horizontal rule
2

I think it's a mistake to see advertising as a top-down phenomenon. People want to have unreachable aspirations, the marketers obligingly provide. It's not a noble part of being human, but it's there.

I really like James Twitchell's book Adcult USA. The first products to be branded and advertised were surplus commodities, soap and thread.


Posted by: lw | Link to this comment | 06-27-13 6:23 AM
horizontal rule
3

Twitchell-Jhally debate here


Posted by: lw | Link to this comment | 06-27-13 6:23 AM
horizontal rule
4

Obligingly exploit, not provide.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 06-27-13 6:28 AM
horizontal rule
5

Fucking marketing. A prominent theme in my startup career was pushing to sit with the developers instead of sitting in marketing (in the early days people generally slotted web-whatever into marketing because they didn't really know what to do with it). How irritating was it to try to explain the technical implications of what I was doing to a slightly older former frat boy who was practicing fake golf swings as I talked? Pretty irritating!


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 06-27-13 6:38 AM
horizontal rule
6

If you don't practice, you'll never get good at fake golf.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 06-27-13 6:46 AM
horizontal rule
7

Can somebody explain to me the technical difference between "marketing" and "advertising" and, say, "public relations"?

Another way that "marketing" is regulated: IANAL, but I believe executives at public companies can't say things that have a material impact on their business that aren't true.


Posted by: Yawnoc | Link to this comment | 06-27-13 7:09 AM
horizontal rule
8

Marketing: making the case for your brand of widget. Advertising: communicating the case for your brand of widget. Public relations: communicating with the press about your brand of widget, the case for it, and the personality problems of the people claiming it leads to amputated limbs.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 06-27-13 7:13 AM
horizontal rule
9

I am very technical.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 06-27-13 7:13 AM
horizontal rule
10

Marketers also identify new places to peddle the wares-- railroads might want paint, preteens might want cosmetics.


Posted by: lw | Link to this comment | 06-27-13 7:20 AM
horizontal rule
11

What kind of asshole runs unpainted trains?


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 06-27-13 7:25 AM
horizontal rule
12

10: Sub-saharan mothers might want infant formula if only someone pretending to be a figure of medical authority explained it to them.


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 06-27-13 7:26 AM
horizontal rule
13

People in Newcastle might want imported coal.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 06-27-13 7:32 AM
horizontal rule
14

Oh yeah and I forgot that at many companies marketing tells the people who know how to make the widgets what kind of widgets they should be making, because marketing Knows The Customer. Goddamn I hated marketing.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 06-27-13 7:33 AM
horizontal rule
15

At Microsoft (at least as of a decade or two ago) the preliminary product spec is often written by marketing. Grody!


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 06-27-13 7:33 AM
horizontal rule
16

5: The easiest and quickest way to make the case that marketing is an unnecessary evil is simply to point to the people who do it.


Posted by: real ffeJ annaH | Link to this comment | 06-27-13 7:41 AM
horizontal rule
17

Right, in software things are pretty fucked up because marketing is often someone dim who impedes communication between a competent programmer and her client.

On the other hand, it's very rare for large businesses run by engineers to remain succesful or even viable over many product generations.


Posted by: lw | Link to this comment | 06-27-13 7:41 AM
horizontal rule
18

4 and 16 both use the rhetoric of dry politicians before and during prohibition.


Posted by: lw | Link to this comment | 06-27-13 7:47 AM
horizontal rule
19

the preliminary product spec is often written by marketing. Grody!

All right, Mr. Wiseguy, you're so clever, you tell us what color it should be!


Posted by: Opinionated Golgafrinchan from Marketing | Link to this comment | 06-27-13 7:47 AM
horizontal rule
20

Sub-saharan mothers might want infant formula if only someone pretending to be a figure of medical authority explained it to them.

If Sarah Hrdy is to be believed, a lot of Indian mothers are fully aware of the inferiority of formula compared to breast milk; that's why they buy it, to give to their daughters. Sons get breast-fed. You can't just starve your unwanted girl child to death, that would be horrible. But, when it comes to the tough decisions, somehow it always seems to be the daughters who end up getting the worse deal. And, when they die, that's a terrible tragedy, but the important thing is that it isn't the mother's fault. It's just one of those things.


Posted by: ajay | Link to this comment | 06-27-13 7:54 AM
horizontal rule
21

Marketing and advertising are pretty different. The former is really answering the question "how can we create something people will want to buy" which seems like a pretty inevitable part of a business, even if in answering that question marketing departments specifically often annoy engineers. The latter is answering the question "how do we sell this product (which we already think people will want to buy) in the media."

I have no idea what a set of professional standards for marketers would look like. I mean, I'm all in favor of specific nanny-state regulations on marketing specific products -- go ahead and regulate portion size or HFCS content in food, or selling candy-flavored cigarettes. But beyond "don't make horrible products that deceptively hurt people" it's hard to imagine what a set of professional standards similar to te AICPA rules for accountants marketers could conceivably look like.

Advertising is probably not regulated enough, but false and misleading claims are pretty well regulated, especially in California where we have strong laws that encourage people to file suit over misleading labeling. I've mentioned the "there is no lobster in the lobster burrito" case before. Of course business hates these laws.


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 06-27-13 7:56 AM
horizontal rule
22

Of course business hates these laws.

This alone is sufficient criteria for supporting a law.


Posted by: urple | Link to this comment | 06-27-13 8:01 AM
horizontal rule
23

7
Can somebody explain to me the technical difference between "marketing" and "advertising" and, say, "public relations"?

Marketing is trying to convince people to buy your product. Advertising is a subgroup of marketing that's made up of banners on Web sites and junk mail and stuff, but marketing also includes stuff that isn't really advertising, like product placement. Public relations is relating to the public. Marketing is a subgroup of that, but it also includes damage control of bad news and setting up a booth at conventions and stuff, mostly talking to people one on one, which is different enough from the rest of marketing that they might have little to do with each other in day-to-day operations.


Posted by: Cyrus | Link to this comment | 06-27-13 8:01 AM
horizontal rule
24

At the very least, we should outlaw the use of the word "marketing" as a synonym for "shopping".


Posted by: MAE | Link to this comment | 06-27-13 8:02 AM
horizontal rule
25

booth at conventions

knowledeable hotties, so great.


Posted by: lw | Link to this comment | 06-27-13 8:09 AM
horizontal rule
26

||
L'espirit de l'escalier: when someone tells you that Rand Paul is a very popular third-party politician, and you argue that he's not really that popular.
|>


Posted by: Cyrus | Link to this comment | 06-27-13 8:11 AM
horizontal rule
27

There's no reason in the world that market-share-fueled marketing ought to be celebrated merely because we enjoy the short-term effects it creates in the moment

Surely the only people who celebrate market-share-fuelled marketing are marketing people.


Posted by: Ginger Yellow | Link to this comment | 06-27-13 8:18 AM
horizontal rule
28

I've mentioned the "there is no lobster in the lobster burrito" case before. Of course business hates these laws.

All of a sudden I imagined this as a frivolous law suit in which the "lobster burrito" is actually a Chimichanga that's colored red and shaped like a lobster, and not something that anybody would expect to have lobster in it.

But I think I saw too many adds for the Taco Bell Fritos burrito during the NBA finals . . .


Posted by: NickS | Link to this comment | 06-27-13 8:20 AM
horizontal rule
29

20: That sounds.. implausible as a starvation technique, given that formula-fed babies tend to end up weighing more than breastfed babies. (Plausible, perhaps, as a way of signifying importance, given that nursing a baby is really a big time/energy commitment.)


Posted by: Cala | Link to this comment | 06-27-13 8:25 AM
horizontal rule
30

re: 29

My understanding is that the big problem with formula in the 'third world' is that people can't afford to buy it in sufficient quantities, so they over dilute it, and they can't use clean water and sterile bottles, etc. So the net effect is sick under-nourished babies, even if it's generally true that bottle-fed babies tend to weight more if fed in the way they might be in the affluent West.


Posted by: nattarGcM ttaM | Link to this comment | 06-27-13 8:34 AM
horizontal rule
31

I've mentioned the "there is no lobster in the lobster burrito" case before.

That's an understatement.


Posted by: essear | Link to this comment | 06-27-13 8:37 AM
horizontal rule
32

I wonder how much of the inevitable backlash against proposals like this arises out of the common human disinclination to identify, or be identified, as the sort of person susceptible to marketing, salesmanship, persuasion, "nudging," even simple showmanship. "I'll never fall for that" and "I see through that" are pretty common refrains, whether the predicate is "privilege" or "the lamestream media."


Posted by: Flippanter | Link to this comment | 06-27-13 8:43 AM
horizontal rule
33

They should have called them 'hermit crab burritos.' Give the marketing people a real challenge.


Posted by: CharleyCarp | Link to this comment | 06-27-13 9:01 AM
horizontal rule
34

30: Fair enough.


Posted by: Cala | Link to this comment | 06-27-13 9:05 AM
horizontal rule
35

Lobster marketing is a big deal, obviously.

I'm not sure I understand where the OP wants to go: McDonalds can continue to sell the McRib but isn't allowed to advertise it? They're not saying that their foods won't make you fat. They're saying they taste good. What sort of regulation would limit that?


Posted by: CharleyCarp | Link to this comment | 06-27-13 9:31 AM
horizontal rule
36

I mean, sure, we can have warning labels like on cigarettes. On the McRib? On the TV ads? On a board at the McD's? Does anyone really think this will have even the smallest effect on consumer behavior?


Posted by: CharleyCarp | Link to this comment | 06-27-13 9:45 AM
horizontal rule
37

Let's tax companies proportionally to their marketing budgets.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 06-27-13 9:52 AM
horizontal rule
38

Like a pollution tax, where the ecosystem in question is my sensibilities.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 06-27-13 9:52 AM
horizontal rule
39

I don't really get what's offensive. Is it ads? The guy who says things like "the Latino market is growing, and likes red pick up trucks, so we should focus on making red pick up trucks"? I'm trying to figure out what the nonmarketed product is that you want. Or is the problem just bad marketing?


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 06-27-13 10:17 AM
horizontal rule
40

||

Failures of self-marketing: remember how I was complaining that I got this promotion last year with no actual additional money, just a promise that I was on a list of people who would get raises in the future when there was money for it? A new system rationalizing salaries was just announced, but your starting point is determined by your current salary, meaning that I'm locked in at a lower level than if I'd gotten a raise last year, barring a possible but extraordinary jump of a step in the future. The manager telling me this said I'm doing a spectacular job and she's my biggest fan, and the extraordinary jump is certainly possible. But not this year.

Feh.

|>


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 06-27-13 10:23 AM
horizontal rule
41

There's a boundary where marketing that's predatory enough creates shame borne by a particular individual. I don't much like American Girls dolls, but it's a big world, kids can do what they want.

But this (Tkacik again!) should lead to the marketer being shunned. But my ideas about shame would lead to a radically different self-image and also public image for Kim K, so possibly I do not run things.


Posted by: lw | Link to this comment | 06-27-13 10:27 AM
horizontal rule
42

Marketing is fundamentally evil; it serves to create desire, the root of all suffering.


Posted by: Eggplant | Link to this comment | 06-27-13 10:37 AM
horizontal rule
43

Man, fuck you guys. Seriously.


Posted by: Chopper | Link to this comment | 06-27-13 10:58 AM
horizontal rule
44

Shouldn't this just be a chance to explain the virtues of the profession to an audience that would be interested if only they knew more?


Posted by: lw | Link to this comment | 06-27-13 11:21 AM
horizontal rule
45

I see what you did there.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 06-27-13 11:22 AM
horizontal rule
46

What sort of regulation would limit that?

Obviously this wouldn't remotely pass muster given current constitutional doctrine and general culture, but, for example, it's easy to imagine a world where outdoor marketing--billboards, etc.--isn't permitted. Or television--we decided to go with a system for over-the-air broadcasts that's free, with a minimal public-service component, and supported by advertising; but this wasn't inevitable and other models (that would, say, forbid advertising) are possible, too. One could imagine a world where paying someone to promote your product was a crime on par with blackmail--and it's telling how crazy and radical such a proposal seems.


Posted by: x.trapnel | Link to this comment | 06-27-13 11:23 AM
horizontal rule
47

I mean, a different society could start with the fundamental premise that in a world with almost zero-cost personal publishing and ubiquitous social media, any product that deserves to exist will have plenty of its users talking about how much they like it. So not only is there no *need* for paid promotional material, it actually pollutes the common-pool resource of a reliable public sphere of personal, unbiased testimony. And hence that society would forbid all professional advertising, on the grounds that it actually harmed the proper workings of a free, efficient, and welfare-enhancing market. (Analogous to how some societies treat *political* advertising and speech, not as a sacred right of the individual, but as a part of an ecosystem that needs to be protected.)

Again: that's not our society. But it's not crazy, either, just very different.


Posted by: x.trapnel | Link to this comment | 06-27-13 11:28 AM
horizontal rule
48

43: I'm sorry. I did sort of forget that this broad sweep probably included people I like, doing not-terrible things.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 06-27-13 11:28 AM
horizontal rule
49

it's easy to imagine a world where outdoor marketing--billboards, etc.--isn't permitted.

Isn't that true of a city in Brazil . . . yes (a href="http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=U1Nmnv0Ospg">more).


Posted by: NickS | Link to this comment | 06-27-13 11:30 AM
horizontal rule
50

Whoops.


Posted by: NickS | Link to this comment | 06-27-13 11:31 AM
horizontal rule
51

44: No time. But, briefly, if you work in private industry, Marketing is why you have a job. Sure, there are a lot of assholes in marketing, but there are assholes in every department (cough Finance cough Operations, cough Black Belt Six Sigma anything).


Posted by: Chopper | Link to this comment | 06-27-13 11:31 AM
horizontal rule
52

44: No time. But, briefly, if you work in private industry, Marketing is why you have a job. Sure, there are a lot of assholes in marketing, but there are assholes in every department (cough Finance cough Operations, cough Black Belt Six Sigma anything).


Posted by: Chopper | Link to this comment | 06-27-13 11:31 AM
horizontal rule
53

Sigh.


Posted by: Chopper | Link to this comment | 06-27-13 11:31 AM
horizontal rule
54

I am by no means a professional marketer, but in my current role I am pretty much solely responsible for marketing, advertising and public relations. It is a thankless task. Just getting information into a place where people will see it, absent any attempt to actually entice them, is a huge undertaking. I've actually been pretty successful on the PR side of things -- having existing journalistic contacts is pretty crucial, but I think I bring some added value in terms of knowing what hooks will help sell an editor on running a story. Trying to figure out how to spend scarce advertising dollars is probably the most frustrating aspect. Unless you have the ready cash to make a huge push with TV and radio and bus shelter ads and web banners and the whole 9 yards, you can pretty much guarantee that 99% of the people who would like to see your ad and respond to it will never get the chance. On the marketing side, it sure helps to have a core product that people want independently. If you have to come up with a plan to create demand from scratch, you are setting yourself up for a lot of sleepless nights.

I guess what I am trying to say is that, while we have the evil, Dilbert-esque marketer in mind quite often when we talk about this subject, or the creepy PR flack or the martini-swilling Mad Ave crowd, really we're talking about hundreds of thousands of people doing yeoman labor trying to match people up with things they like or want to support. Clearly, how this works in a nasty capitalist system like ours is going to be fucked up, but ultimately it's just communication.


Posted by: Natilo Paennim | Link to this comment | 06-27-13 11:35 AM
horizontal rule
55

I'm trying to figure out what the nonmarketed product is that you want. Or is the problem just bad marketing?

Marketing (or advertising?) tends to exploit people's insecurities and confirm (create?) the worst stereotypes,and generally fill in a bunch of life's background noise with content that I despise. And rather than informing me with the product I'm best suited for, I assume I'm getting informed about the product that comes from the best-funded marketing department. Also the data-collection on individuals creeps me out. I realize the previous two sentences are somewhat in conflict with each other.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 06-27-13 11:35 AM
horizontal rule
56

Unless you have the ready cash to make a huge push with TV and radio and bus shelter ads and web banners and the whole 9 yards, you can pretty much guarantee that 99% of the people who would like to see your ad and respond to it will never get the chance.

Isn't there some element of collective-action problem here, though? It's partly because we have billions of dollars and "hundreds of thousands of people doing yeoman labor trying to match people up with things they like or want to support" that it's so difficult for any one marketer to try to catch someone's attention; the background volume level of the party is so loud, that you have to scream just to be heard.

I'm not sure how much I believe what I'm saying, but someone has to take on the Halford role of provocative extremism.


Posted by: x.trapnel | Link to this comment | 06-27-13 11:47 AM
horizontal rule
57

Especially wrt the patriarchy. I hate so much of what is geared towards segregating the genders into these little gender ghettoes. Both kids and adults.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 06-27-13 11:49 AM
horizontal rule
58

57: But ads can be empowering too! Remember those Virginia Slim ads!


Posted by: peep | Link to this comment | 06-27-13 11:52 AM
horizontal rule
59

It's not just about communication. It's also about creating need/desire where there was none, and the person was fine without the nth beauty product. The beast drives and thrives on insecurity.

This probably reflects more on me than actual marketing departments, but that is the type of thing that gets thrown most at people like me.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 06-27-13 11:53 AM
horizontal rule
60

in a world with almost zero-cost personal publishing and ubiquitous social media, any product that deserves to exist will have plenty of its users talking about how much they like it.So not only is there no *need* for paid promotional material, it actually pollutes the common-pool resource of a reliable public sphere of personal, unbiased testimony.

Less ambitiously, it sure would be nice if, when searching google for product reviews, there were some easy way to disaggregate the paid promotional material from the authentic user reviews.


Posted by: urple | Link to this comment | 06-27-13 11:54 AM
horizontal rule
61

59.1: Well, sure, if you're trying to sell anal bleaching kits or Pet Rocks or whatever. Even Thoreau had to buy stuff though. I'm selling a product that will not bleach anyone's anus, but will enlighten people, and broaden their appreciation of various cultural motifs, and support an important artistic heritage. I can count one one hand the number of people in this town who wake up saying "I can't wait to go [see the thing that Natilo is marketing]!" But if I do my job effectively, I can get several hundred people to show up at an event just the same, and the vast majority of them seem to be happy they came.


Posted by: Natilo Paennim | Link to this comment | 06-27-13 12:02 PM
horizontal rule
62

I'm selling a product that will not bleach anyone's anus

What good are you, then. Next! Guards, take him away.


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 06-27-13 12:05 PM
horizontal rule
63

56: Yeah, fair enough. My point was more that a lot of people who do marketing are working pretty hard just to get the word out in the most basic and non-alluring manner. We're not all cackling in the dark saying "Pooool the streengs! Pooool the streengs!" and making little marionette hand gestures.


Posted by: Natilo Paennim | Link to this comment | 06-27-13 12:05 PM
horizontal rule
64

I'm selling a product that will not bleach anyone's anus, but will enlighten people, and broaden their appreciation of various cultural motifs, and support an important artistic heritage.

Why can't it do both?


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 06-27-13 12:08 PM
horizontal rule
65

So is "that really bleaches my anus" praise or damnation?


Posted by: togolosh | Link to this comment | 06-27-13 12:11 PM
horizontal rule
66

The "manufactured desire" thing is really really complicated. As a tiny example, I have an Iphone, which I bought in large part (if I'm being honest) because it was slickly marketed, other people seemed to have one, and it was a cool thing to have -- not out of strict necessity. Certainly to some extent the desire for it was manufactured. But, after buying it, it turned out to actually be an amazing product that materially improved my life. Given our current living and consumption standards, so little of what we get is actually "necessary" in any remotely meaningful sense, and so, so much of the economy is driven by manufactured desire. But I'm not actually sure that this is a bad thing on the whole for human happiness, except when it gets done badly (that is, the manufactured desire has no benefit other than making you feel more insecure, which I think is the kind of thing Heebie has in mind).


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 06-27-13 12:18 PM
horizontal rule
67

I also love my iphone beyond belief. But I suspect my demographic - woman, mom, disposable income - gets a heightened amount of the kind that is done badly.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 06-27-13 12:22 PM
horizontal rule
68

64: In enlightened bottomless Europe, it can!

God, I hate myself sometimes.


Posted by: Flippanter | Link to this comment | 06-27-13 12:25 PM
horizontal rule
69

God, I hate myself sometimes.

You know, anal bleaching can really help with those self esteem issues. You should give it a try.


Posted by: MAE | Link to this comment | 06-27-13 12:27 PM
horizontal rule
70

But the interesting question is the counterfactual: in a world without advertising, would iphones and so on really have a difficult time distinguishing themselves?

IIRC, for a decade the hard liquor industry had a self-imposed moratorium on TV advertising; since 2012, they're advertising again. Are we better off as a result? Are we finding quality products we otherwise wouldn't? I don't think so; I think this is an area where the profit-maximizing thing to do is to make better ads rather than making a better product. Vodka's one obvious example here.


Posted by: x.trapnel | Link to this comment | 06-27-13 12:31 PM
horizontal rule
71

And also, I hate myself. Obviously sex sells, and sells everything, and when I'm exposed to more advertising I get much more neurotic about my weight, in a perfectionist sort of "I need to meet these expectations to be adequate" sort of way. When I get away from the TV, say, or whatever, I relax and care much less.

TV shows are not as bad as advertising about displaying overly perfected people - maybe just because I like shows with developed characters. (Right now I'm starting to realize that Pinterest is a bit neurotic-making in that way, and I should probably step away from it for a while.)


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 06-27-13 12:31 PM
horizontal rule
72

"The "manufactured desire" thing is really really complicated. "

I agree. Also, the example of mcdonalds that everyone gives is friking ridiculous. Big macs and fries are delicious. People would still go to mcdonalds if they didn't advertise.


Posted by: lemmy caution | Link to this comment | 06-27-13 12:31 PM
horizontal rule
73

72: They might go to Burger King or Five Guys instead - but they wouldn't go to a totally different kind of business.


Posted by: Benquo | Link to this comment | 06-27-13 12:32 PM
horizontal rule
74

Personally, Facebook makes me feel far more inadequate than anything an advertiser's ever thrown at me, but maybe that's just me.


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 06-27-13 12:36 PM
horizontal rule
75

Huh, for me it's just a way of seeing what everybody on Unfogged is reading, and some pictures of kids' friends. What's inadequate-making about it?


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 06-27-13 12:37 PM
horizontal rule
76

Oh, and to get quotes from the rightwing former students. But that's not inadequate-making.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 06-27-13 12:37 PM
horizontal rule
77

75 -- I guess the short answer is nice people living happy, successful lives? I seem to have a large number of FB "friends" who are doing things like publishing books or going on incredible vacations or doing something politically super-impressive or whatever. I mean, I really am genuinely happy for most of them, but it's more inadequate-feeling-making than, say, a scotch ad.


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 06-27-13 12:43 PM
horizontal rule
78

77 gets it right (recall my comment about the friend with the prestigious new lawprof job), but why choose? FB and advertising can both be bad.


Posted by: x.trapnel | Link to this comment | 06-27-13 12:46 PM
horizontal rule
79

They probably each hate themselves in their own way.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 06-27-13 12:46 PM
horizontal rule
80

Being FB friends with an extremely successful philosopher (actually I suppose I'm FB friends with more than one such, but only one posts in ways revealing his extreme success on the regular) is kind of despair-inducing, especially when I'm in one of my periodic shoulda-tried-harder-at-being-an-academic moods. I coulda been a contender, people! Me! I!!


Posted by: nosflow | Link to this comment | 06-27-13 12:48 PM
horizontal rule
81

You know what's evil? Webinars.


Posted by: Natilo Paennim | Link to this comment | 06-27-13 12:52 PM
horizontal rule
82

There are a few words that make me despise the thing denoted by that word, and everyone connected with it, without needing any further knowledge of what it is. "Webinar" is one of them.


Posted by: x.trapnel | Link to this comment | 06-27-13 12:53 PM
horizontal rule
83

81: They aren't evil - it's just another word for naps.


Posted by: peep | Link to this comment | 06-27-13 12:54 PM
horizontal rule
84

70.1 There was an unsuccesful 20th century system of government, Communism, which did in fact prohibit advertising of almost everything from the west. Levis for instance had a very clear brand identity.


Posted by: lw | Link to this comment | 06-27-13 12:54 PM
horizontal rule
85

83: Allow me to edit myself.

They aren't evil -- it's just the adult version of naptime.


Posted by: peep | Link to this comment | 06-27-13 12:57 PM
horizontal rule
86

The FB effect is no joke. And it's very much tied into marketing as a cultural practice -- the Facebook news feed wouldn't work as well if every one of us hadn't been trained to market ourselves.

I get a lot of value and pleasure out of Facebook. On good days it does what the share function on Google Reader might have done if I knew anyone besides Sifu who used it, including witty and interesting conversations with people I wouldn't converse with in other contexts.

But struggling to break in as a writer and watching FB-friends congratulate each other and announce their hard-won progress day after day is misery-inducing, and I'm sure my happy baby pictures are knives in the face of whichever of my friends is suffering the long road of infertility and loss that I was on for the last three years.

I've been meaning to write a post about what we went through to get little Φ, but because it's a vulnerable in a way that's not quite in the FB vernacular, I've never quite gotten around to it.


Posted by: k-sky | Link to this comment | 06-27-13 1:00 PM
horizontal rule
87

the adult version of naptime

Too bad "adult" is not being used here in the "adult bookstore" sense.


Posted by: MAE | Link to this comment | 06-27-13 1:03 PM
horizontal rule
88

As a 30-year-old in the new economy, none of my FB friends have accomplished anything other than getting various graduate degrees like myself, so the only moments of inadequacy are from the babies. But I don't long for a baby.


Posted by: Cryptic ned | Link to this comment | 06-27-13 1:10 PM
horizontal rule
89

Huh. The handful of people I know who seem to have consistent success I don't like very much, have a hard time envying for that reason. People who have caught a break and are doing well, I wish all the best.

The only things I want that I do not already have are self-refuting or impossible, though. The people I'm jealous of are talented rather than successful, one brilliant guy in grad school who dropped off the radar, a musician friend, someone else who managed sustained generosity pretty well always.

Most success that I see, both mine and other people's, is competence and catching a break-- picking up on a resonance, having good timing, finding the right audience.


Posted by: lw | Link to this comment | 06-27-13 1:20 PM
horizontal rule
90

Actually, there are a few people who are doing well consistently that I like-- but doing well doesn't seem central for them, or the obligations that come with responsibility are a pretty clear counterbalance.


Posted by: lw | Link to this comment | 06-27-13 1:22 PM
horizontal rule
91

It really is astonishing how much of my FB feed is from Unfogged.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 06-27-13 1:24 PM
horizontal rule
92

Its great, though.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 06-27-13 1:24 PM
horizontal rule
93

The problem isn't "information" marketing, in the "here are the facts about a new product that may benefit you!" sense. The problem is market-share-grabbing and emotional manipulation. There is no new information worth conveying about the differences between Pepsi, Coke, Supermarket Brand Soda, and water. All of Coke's marketing dollars are spent trying to manipulate my emotions in order to *create* a difference that isn't there. On one hand they can do that in positive ways---you can feel pleasant fake nostalgia by drinking Coke!---wherein it's not obvious that any emotional harm is done. (So, Coke wins the zero-sum market-share game, and Pepsi loses. To first order, who cares? It's zero-sum.) It becomes non-zero-sum when Coke and Pepsi, each fearing to lose this game, have to compete to fill my entire visual field with this completely-useless fake emotional non-information.

Ever think about why it's so expensive to run a political campaign? "Oh, you want to inform voters about the abortion-rights issues at stake in the upcoming election? Sorry, Pepsi wants that billboard to display a meaningless celebrity image that might shift an infinitesimal amount of Pepsi's market share back into their column, and you have to outbid them for it."

There's also straight-up negative impact. Coke can invent a vague shame or abnormality or cheapskateness to impute to non-Coke-drinking. That increases Coke's market share---yay them!---but genuinely makes the world a worse place. It's either negative emotions forced onto people who can't afford Coke, or Coke markups forced onto people who would have otherwise saved money on commodity brands.

What sort of regulation? Can you imagine a law in which advertising had to consist entirely of verifiable facts? Imagine you can say "In a blind taste test 75% of tasters preferred Coke, now with USDA organic caramel color", but you can't say "Can't beat the feeling". Even this would probably get twisted into something even more annoying than what we have now, but I'm not creative enough to see how.


Posted by: Scomber mix | Link to this comment | 06-27-13 1:27 PM
horizontal rule
94

One of my FB friends keeps bitching about how hard it is to buy dressage horses. She is my age (and is self-made, it isn't family money or something). The hell!


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 06-27-13 1:29 PM
horizontal rule
95

It becomes non-zero-sum when Coke and Pepsi, each fearing to lose this game, have to compete to fill my entire visual field with this completely-useless fake emotional non-information.

Or, as my brother argues, when both are advertising in ways that try to get people to avoid non-soft-drink alternatives (tea, lemonade, what have you).


Posted by: NickS | Link to this comment | 06-27-13 1:34 PM
horizontal rule
96

It probably is really hard, Sifu, especially if you can't afford one.


Posted by: nosflow | Link to this comment | 06-27-13 1:38 PM
horizontal rule
97

The FB effect is no joke. And it's very much tied into marketing as a cultural practice -- the Facebook news feed wouldn't work as well if every one of us hadn't been trained to market ourselves.

I remember an article a while back that talked about how the people that we see in pictures are more attractive than how we see ourselves -- which pointed out that even if the people in the pictures are of average attractiveness the pictures are selected. People don't share pictures of themselves in a weird posture, with funny facial expressions, etc . . .* So that photos represent on tail of a bell curve rather than being representative.

I imagine something similar goes on with Facebook** -- people chose to share the parts of themselves that they feel most comfortable with/interested in, and that selection process is going to skew the sample.

* Unless of course the pictures are considered charming, but that's still a selection process.

** It has been noted, this is also true of unfogged.


Posted by: NickS | Link to this comment | 06-27-13 1:39 PM
horizontal rule
98

People don't share pictures of themselves in a weird posture, with funny facial expressions, etc

Some of us have no choice.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 06-27-13 1:42 PM
horizontal rule
99

96: I would get the best dressage horse, too. All purple and green with tassels and a light-up head.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 06-27-13 1:44 PM
horizontal rule
100

Have you offered to put her in contact with Ann Romney? Ann must have connections.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 06-27-13 1:51 PM
horizontal rule
101

I imagine she could get in touch with Anne more easily than I could.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 06-27-13 1:52 PM
horizontal rule
102

Oh, I remember what it was. She called her search for another horse to buy "heartbreaking". I do not understand what the heartbreaking part of trying to buy a horse is likely to be!


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 06-27-13 1:54 PM
horizontal rule
103

Having to separate the young horse from his/her mother?

Having to choose between two horses that have both captured your heart?

Realizing that all the horses in the world can't fill the emptiness in your soul?

Those are the usual reasons why I've been heartbroken when purchasing a horse.


Posted by: peep | Link to this comment | 06-27-13 2:08 PM
horizontal rule
104

If only facebook had recommended her for friending! The pot-au-feu de cheval was pretty good, though.


Posted by: Jesus McQueen | Link to this comment | 06-27-13 2:12 PM
horizontal rule
105

Maybe she's looking for one of those horses with an abnormally large heart, that can win a bunch of races and then suddenly die one day.


Posted by: Cryptic ned | Link to this comment | 06-27-13 2:18 PM
horizontal rule
106

94, 102: Clearly a marketing failure on someone's part.


Posted by: AcademicLurker | Link to this comment | 06-27-13 2:31 PM
horizontal rule
107

"With today's high gas prices, we can't afford NOT to buy a dressage horse."


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 06-27-13 2:35 PM
horizontal rule
108

"If I'd only owned this horse six weeks ago we could have cured Nelson Mandela."


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 06-27-13 2:45 PM
horizontal rule
109

"If I'd only owned this horse six weeks ago we could have cured Nelson Mandela horsemeat."


Posted by: Jesus McQueen | Link to this comment | 06-27-13 3:05 PM
horizontal rule
110

The heartbreak of horsejerkylessness.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 06-27-13 3:07 PM
horizontal rule
111

Somewhere in some box is the Dwarf Lord's marketing textbook, which I skimmed. Round about Chapter 1 -- right after defining terms -- it explained that discovering actual needs, making suitable products, and informing probable consumers could be profitable but was a chump game; the real money is in tying your product to distraction from existential worries, which cannot be fulfilled, so the consumer can always be prodded into upgrading.

The page smelled like brimstone.


Posted by: clew | Link to this comment | 06-27-13 3:07 PM
horizontal rule
112

Also, I feel more warmly towards Medieval Times having discovered that they buy a great many of the dressage-trained Andalusians in the world (because the Spanish major stockholders love them, mostly).

And 20 made my flesh creep.


Posted by: clew | Link to this comment | 06-27-13 3:09 PM
horizontal rule
113

This has probably been said, but my understanding of the terms is:

Marketing is about the, uh, market: target audience, existing audience (not always the same), competitors, places where you could expand or should give up on. But you factor in the product design too, so you end up annoying people like Sifu.

Advertising: you've got something, how do you sell it? The design is basically set and you're looking for ways to promote it. This is aimed at consumers.

Public relations: talking to the press or representatives of the "public" vaguely defined. Some of them may be consumers, but they're generally not talking to you in that role. Historically tied to journalism, cf. the history of the word "publicity."


Posted by: fake accent | Link to this comment | 06-27-13 4:16 PM
horizontal rule
114

Also, I've done some of what could be considered marketing in nonprofit/educational contexts and I think the product really does make a difference. Not that I have any experience with marketing stuff that makes a profit.


Posted by: fake accent | Link to this comment | 06-27-13 4:23 PM
horizontal rule
115

I feel bad for hurting Chopper's feelings. On the other hand, the people in marketing at the companies I worked at were really just a goddamned pain in the ass. And it really is the wrong way to do product design. Passing customer information to a design team is one thing, but, y'know.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 06-27-13 4:31 PM
horizontal rule
116

I also have a marketer in the family and it's been fun trying to help subvert the marketing curriculum subtly. But I should stop writing here because I blissfully squandered my whole day off (!) and now have to go rewrite the PR release about the new product that lets me do my job so that it has some awareness of what the product is and what my job is. Whee!


Posted by: Thorn | Link to this comment | 06-27-13 4:36 PM
horizontal rule
117

MOOC marketing failure.


Posted by: fake accent | Link to this comment | 06-27-13 4:49 PM
horizontal rule
118

Passing specs from customer to engineers takes people skills.


Posted by: ydnew | Link to this comment | 06-27-13 5:02 PM
horizontal rule
119

Marketing kinda gets it in the neck 'cause it's the most obviously capitalistic part of any given enterprise, but that's not really fair, given that the rest of the enterprise is almost certainly just as much, only more veiled.


Posted by: Keir | Link to this comment | 06-27-13 5:41 PM
horizontal rule
120

117: hey, that's kind of wonderful.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 06-27-13 6:01 PM
horizontal rule
121

112.2: Creep in a way that made you more or less likely to buy a Cadbury Cream Egg.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 06-27-13 6:08 PM
horizontal rule
122

120: I hope this becomes a funding model. Hey, let's put millions of dollars in the budget for disruptive, innovative education run by startups! Just kidding, that money's in the general funds now.


Posted by: fake accent | Link to this comment | 06-27-13 6:20 PM
horizontal rule
123

Excellent strikethrough gag, Jerry.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 06-27-13 6:28 PM
horizontal rule
124

Picking up on Natilo's remarks in 54.2 and 61, the distinction between marketing and advertising really is important, but also blurry.

It took me a long time to realize that a great deal of what I do in selling books online is advertising, and to an extent marketing. It's pretty simple: if people don't know we have a book available, they can't consider buying it*. I have to tell them that it's available. Amazon and other online bookselling sites are advertising venues, and we pay them a commission for their services. I take steps to make our books findable on their sites, by understanding how their search engines work and optimizing my database, my cataloguing, and my uploads to maximize the chance that our book offerings will be found and seen.

A distinction really does have to be made between predatory marketing campaigns and simple communication (as people have noted). I have a deep-seated hatred of the sort of marketing that's being demonized in this thread, but it would be foolish to cast the net of condemnation too wide(ly). A lot of people shop online: it would not be possible without advertising, which on some level is all e-commerce is.

* I have a long-standing joke with a bookseller friend which I still find hilarious, in which he declared to me around a campfire very late one night that he'd had some certain 3-figure book forever, and finally someone bought it. I asked how long he'd had it online: oh, like 2 or 3 months. "Oh, I know, right?" I said. "It's like, I got this great book and I buried it under that rock over there for 15 years, and I have no idea why nobody would buy it, buncha idiots."

Oh, we laughed. (Bookseller humor, it's a thing.)


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 06-27-13 6:37 PM
horizontal rule
125

Wow, that was long.


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 06-27-13 6:39 PM
horizontal rule
126

117, 122: That is great. It's not clear to me why Brown reneged.

On the "disruptive, innovative" business, good grief. "Disruptive" is an annoying term now.

This is an interesting article on the moves that textbook publishers are making lately.

Intro:

Of all segments of publishing, the college textbook business has seemed for some time now to be the most likely to be disrupted. There are many reasons for this, but the principal one is the spiraling cost of many texts, which has elicited a strong and angry reaction, including legislative action and the creation of rival materials that draw on many of the precepts of the Open Access movement (usually called OER for open educational resources).
And it's true: college texts are indeed being disrupted, but the disruptors are mostly the incumbent publishers themselves, which serves to prove the point that new technology is not in itself necessarily disruptive

Concluding, later in the article:

All disruptions hurt someone or something, however, and in this case the cost is a whittling away at the prerogatives of individual instructors. That's who is being disrupted, the faculty. This will not happen rapidly and it won't happen completely; even now instructors are offered choices of whether to use the institution's approved texts or those of their choosing. But a pattern is emerging, that of the diminished latitude of the academic professional.

Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 06-27-13 7:22 PM
horizontal rule
127

120: it was an endless amount of work for a lot of people. That said, I'll give Brown this: he listened. He also has some smart people working for him, and they understood what was going on. Add to that, Brown has little patience for internet triumphalism (unlike Newsom, who's a complete fucking tool) and no love for Silicon Valley VC guys (unlike Steinberg, who's a good guy but in deep with some terrible lobbyists and donors). Anyway, it's only the first round of what promises to be a long fight.


Posted by: Von Wafer | Link to this comment | 06-27-13 7:57 PM
horizontal rule
128

127 - Is there anyone in California other than Newsom who likes Newsom? His parents, maybe, but his old campaign manager and lingerie model/ADA ex-wife don't seem like they would make the list.


Posted by: snarkout | Link to this comment | 06-27-13 8:23 PM
horizontal rule
129

128: Newsom loves Newsom 38 million people's worth.


Posted by: Von Wafer | Link to this comment | 06-27-13 8:26 PM
horizontal rule
130

128: I'll admit to having a soft spot for him 'cause of the whole gay marriage thing.


Posted by: Josh | Link to this comment | 06-27-13 8:39 PM
horizontal rule
131

129: That is my impression of Hamas well.


Posted by: Megan | Link to this comment | 06-27-13 11:48 PM
horizontal rule
132

... of him as well...


Posted by: Megan | Link to this comment | 06-27-13 11:48 PM
horizontal rule
133

... of him as well...


Posted by: Megan | Link to this comment | 06-27-13 11:48 PM
horizontal rule
134

Oh for pity's sake.


Posted by: Megan | Link to this comment | 06-27-13 11:49 PM
horizontal rule
135

131 was the best possible typo. There can be no other.


Posted by: Walt Someguy | Link to this comment | 06-28-13 1:39 AM
horizontal rule
136

If Hamas had a gay marriage thing, I'd have a soft spot for them too.


Posted by: Awl | Link to this comment | 06-28-13 1:44 AM
horizontal rule
137

20: And, when they die, that's a terrible tragedy, but the important thing is that it isn't the mother's fault. It's just one of those things.

Ajay, you uncharacteristically come off in that sentence as a totally tendentious dick. Point to the place on the blog where anyone even indirectly absolved that behavior. Ah but then again if it does exist those girls were probably going to die anyway, so why shouldn't somebody make some money off of it. It's only business!


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 06-28-13 5:08 AM
horizontal rule
138

It's only business!

Marketing writ large is too fundamental an issue to be discussed in blog comments. The discussion linked in 3 is worth a read.


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 06-28-13 5:16 AM
horizontal rule
139

137: hey, Mr. Grumpy, I think he was ascribing that attitude to the Indian mothers who use formula for female children only, not to anybody here.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 06-28-13 5:27 AM
horizontal rule
140

139: Yes, I was certainly over-reading somewhat; I reduce the opprobrium to tendentious jerk as befits his bringing up such a broadly accusatory non sequitur. Or maybe I missed the rhetorical point, but I don't think so.


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 06-28-13 5:36 AM
horizontal rule
141

Oughtn't one redirect the opprobrium to notionally tendentious jerk Sarah Hrdy, if that is her real name?


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 06-28-13 5:41 AM
horizontal rule
142

Can't trust an anthropologist with too few vowels.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 06-28-13 5:42 AM
horizontal rule
143

I actually looked at 20 and boggled a bit at the generalization about "a lot of Indian mothers" -- whatever Hrdy said, I doubt it was quite that broadly stated.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 06-28-13 5:58 AM
horizontal rule
144

I mean, no harm meant, I'm sure, which is why I didn't say anything before. But I can see where Stormcrow's reaction came from.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 06-28-13 6:00 AM
horizontal rule
145

I insist that I get to call him Mr. Grumpy. INSIST!


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 06-28-13 6:03 AM
horizontal rule
146

I am in fact quite grumpy this week. Not only have I had to go to work I've had to attend to work. (Pro-tip: when your boss is reviewing your next 6 months work plan with you, you should not be surreptitiously reading the SCOTUSblog liveblog.)


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 06-28-13 6:14 AM
horizontal rule
147

Also, the fruits of over-promising on one project are coming home to roost in my Inbox every morning, and the totally-clustered project that I sort of sorted out at the beginning of the year is trying to come back into my life*.

*I'm actually having fun with that one (so far). "You asked me to teach the dog to play piano, which I did against all expectations thank you very much; no complaints allowed now that it doesn't play well."


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 06-28-13 6:22 AM
horizontal rule
148

You told me I was the best you ever heard.


Posted by: Opinionated Dog | Link to this comment | 06-28-13 6:28 AM
horizontal rule
149

I am pretty sure the "Dog was the best I ever heard" song now playing in my head doesn't actually exist.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 06-28-13 6:33 AM
horizontal rule
150

Winning!


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 06-28-13 6:35 AM
horizontal rule
151

148: I lied about that. Also about your mother going to a nice farm.


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 06-28-13 6:51 AM
horizontal rule
152

So, it turns out I am better at eloquently describing what we do than our Ch/ief Sto/ry/teller is, but I don't haven anywhere near such an awesome job title.


Posted by: Thorn | Link to this comment | 06-28-13 6:55 AM
horizontal rule
153

Can you scope "we"?


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 06-28-13 6:59 AM
horizontal rule
154

Scoping isn't covered by insurance until 50 years old.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 06-28-13 7:00 AM
horizontal rule
155

I generally like to haven near food and water.


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 06-28-13 7:02 AM
horizontal rule