Why Traditional Marketing Needs to Change
Bruce Sterling, who writes brilliantly, but unfortunately is personally not a very nice man, said in 1994, “From now on, the struggle will not be over mechanical control of the means of information, but over spin-control of the zeitgeist.”
Yeah, well. Even not nice guys can be right sometimes. And Sterling certainly is right here. Look at the growth of user-centered and user-directed media channels.
We end users are going to control how suppliers sell to us, talk to us, how they design product for us…and if you don’t think so, wait around for a couple of years.
Larry Tye, in his book The Father of Spin said in 1998, “Edward L. Bernays demonstrated to an entire generation of budding PR men and women the enormous power that lay within their grasp…He used his uncle’s (Sigmund Freud)ideas in the commercial realm to predict, then adjust, the way people believed and behaved…just as Freud was rewarded with the title Father of Psychoanalysis, so Bernays became known around the world as the Father of Public Relations.”
And that worked, so long as the communication channels were set to ‘receive only’ and end users were stuck listening, watching and reading only what the spinmeisters wanted.
Many end users are still being treated this way by their suppliers. And frankly, dear suppliers, they’d really like you to stop it. Just as they have gone to blogs, podcasting, peer-to-peer information sharing and video blogging, they aren’t going to stand for being “target marketed” any more. Just the thought of being somebody’s “target” gives them the screaming jeebies.
But Bernays’ theorems work both ways. Suppliers and advertisers can be easily manipulated by end users as long as the communication channels are equally bidirectional. The Internet has given us the ability for this to happen, and what can happen generally does.
Suppliers who aren’t thinking about new ways to work with their end users are risking being steamrollered by those who do.