Thursday, June 14, 2018

Here there be Charlatans.

A meaty sandwich is the opposite of charlatanism.
Lately in this space, I've howled at the moon. Mostly I howl at the new age "this-will-change-everything-ists" who tell us of the magic 'best practices,' or media format or analytic capability that will lead our business (and our clients) to some sort of promised land. 

A land where sales go up, customers are always loyal, conversations are had about your brand--and they're passed along. A world of inexpensive 'brand films' that are viewed and shared and shared some more. A world where marketers can get something for nothing, and everyone is blissful, happy and rich.

In Tuesday's failing "New York Times," there was an opinion piece that asked "Why We Are So Vulnerable to Charlatans Like Trump." You can read it here.

This paragraph really stopped me:

"What makes us so vulnerable to charlatans today? In part it’s the complexity of the modern world and the rate of technological and social change: Quackery provides what Saul Bellow once called a “five-cent synthesis,” boiling down the chaotic tangle of the age into simple nostrums. Modern life bombards us into exhaustion and boredom as much as anxiety; sometimes we are just looking for entertainment in a surprising notion."

If that doesn't capture the spirit of those in our business who spend their days and our money trumpeting and selling the next response panacea, I don't know what does.

We've heard during the last twenty or so years of our complex and rapidly changing world, a new platitude or two every month or so.

We've heard all sorts of ideas that will change marketing forever. They're often accompanied by statements that the old ways are unequivocally and forever dead.

Charlatans become especially prevalent in ages of “rapid development of the sciences, or quickened progress in technology” when “minds are overburdened with the effort to keep up with these accumulations of facts.”

Sound like our business?

In these periods simplistic reductions of complex issues and marketing cure-alls function the same way as quack medicine: They seem to provide an answer. But really, as is the case with phony medicine, they only make the patient (in our case, the marketing industry) sicker.


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