Marketing, the art of buying customers


Marketing is meant to find out what people expect or want, deliver the results to the product team, and then communicate the results of product development or innovation to the people, so that people find out that their problems have been solved and expectations met. I’m sorry that’s old news.

New news is marketing is meant to exploit psychological shortcuts enabled by evolutionary mediated involuntary reaction to various stimuli to sell crap, which never gets better, despite deep market dissatisfaction.

Everything in the fist commandment of good marketing, know thy customer, has been transferred to customer support, which in turn has been engulfed by PR machines.

PR, which was meant to be the transparency channel where industry jargon, legal conundrums, regulation and human mistake could find the path of decent discourse and clarity, is another shameful activity aimed at disguising propaganda and flat lies in the universal mask of press intoxication.

Thus, between the customer support activity, which was meant to actually solve customer’s issues, that is people whose money have been taken and cannot be returned, and PR the Frankenstein of “customer happiness” was brought to life, a kind of brainwashed auto reply self reinforcing engine, where problems are treated with canned replies given by real people about whom you end up having serious doubts that they are real.

With this damned marriage, of CS and PR, nobody has to actually fix their crap, there is no actual innovation other than gimmicks that may be technically sound, but only useful for mediocre advertising. True innovation is rare and makes few bucks, because those who have hoses of money to cover everything with their noise continue to sell shit.

The second commandment of marketing, educate thy market, is all but completely forgotten. We follow the exact opposite, don’t educate them fools, give them all the crap they expect with their puny little instinctive guts. Anybody complains, solve it with advertising. People don’t respond? More advertising. Nothing? Track them. Still nothig? Annoy them. Less than expected? Invade them.

All marketing has become, and that is especially true online and less so offline, yet nevertheless still a solid trend, is a tool of stagnation and business sickness. There are countless products who live on hype and don’t thrive. The businesses trade faith and their customers disillusionment.

But it sells, I hear you say.

Of course, status and group association are more powerful marketing strategies than exquisite execution or great added value simply because all capitalist marketing has gone crazy buying customers for so many decades, and it will go worse the more impersonal all trade grows.

The internet made it worse, and it makes it worse by the day. Maybe this whole article is bitter envy green venom thrown at an honest industry. Of course not all marketers and not all PR people and not all CS … yada yada yada, but the performance measurements of these industries point to the fact that all marketers and all PR people and all CS folk follow cut throat KPIs and in doing so deliver vain promises and flat out disastrous long term results for CSR or common sense, but do great for the quick buck of quarterly reports.

Contrary to the proven fact of greater long term profitability brought by sustainability the MK, PR, CS trifecta decimate it and get bonuses for it. This is not an issue of shame, it is a problem of short sighted executives and uninvolved board members and stock holders. All the same, deregulation enables an economy made of a Ponzi scheme of bets on top of bets and fiscal aberrations, which enrich large corporations year after year, create a climate of impossible business for grassroots innovation.

But this is not an article about economics or politics, it is one about the fact that consumers are hooked not marketed, an abomination which gets only worse with every click, like and share.

I hope this new generation of swipe-loving-ad-hating-maxed-out-expectations consumer youth has a chance.