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All Marketers Are Liars Blog




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« The 249% solution | Main | "It's just business" »

The manipulators

Nobody likes being lied to or manipulated. Marketers have done it for generations, and now they're doing it online with more skill than ever before.

Where is Tania?

She just sent me the following note (slightly edited):

I am an intern at ...My boss Laura just asked me to get the word out about our Podcast interview with ... a Sausalito agency that is putting brands like Toyota, American Eagle and Adidas into the virtual world.

Laura told me that if I was cool about it then you might actually check out this Podcast at...

Look, I like this job so any help you can give me would be appreciated.

Thanks,

Tania

Is this spam? Of course it is. Targeted spam, but still spam. I wrote back to Talia... her email bounced. Is there really a Tania?

Then I found a blog that had hit high on Digg today. It was a rant about flooding YouTube with spam. The thing is, the rant was sort of dumb and ill-thought through, and the blogger had more than 20 comments, with more than 95% pointing out what a yutz he was. Yet he had hundreds of Diggs. How? He had manipulated the system, pushed himself up to the top of the chart in a successful attempt to get a bunch of traffic to his site (and probably to promote the very videos he was ranting about).

If you only need to influence 500 people (or 10 people pretending to be 50 different people each) in order to show up on the screens of tens of thousands people... that's too tempting for most capitalists to ignore (politicians are next, for sure).

Every day, there are literally hundreds of ad agencies working hard, trying to figure out how to slip corporate ideas into the system under the guise of it being homemade and real. They don't have remarkable products or services, they don't have clients willing to reconsider what it is they actually produce, so they're busy trying to break the community systems online to help them (selfishly) succeed.

When a kid in New Jersey does the Numa Numa song, it's poignant and funny and yes, remarkable. When an ad agency creates 100 variations of a gimmicky video hoping to hit the Digg jackpot, it just feels wrong.

As the 'bestseller' lists on YouTube and Reddit and other places become more and more important, they're also going to become less useful. Less useful because the manipulators are way more focused and earnest than the typical consumer, and they'll figure out a way to get under whatever radar gets installed.

At some point, it's going to come down to who we trust. We didn't trust Beechnut after we find out they put water in the apple juice. We didn't trust Audi for a decade, even though there wasn't anything actually wrong with their car. And we won't trust Enron, Worldcom or Adelphia with our money for a long time to come.

It's not just that this sort of deception is morally wrong. It's also stupid. It's stupid because it poisons the water supply for everyone, including the marketers who are busy doing it. Instead of realizing that they have an incredible playground in which to launch things that are truly innovative, they'd rather kill it by bending (or breaking) the rules.

It's too bad, really.

And the upside? The upside is that individuals (and organizations) that don't stoop, that manage to figure out how to have influence without trying to profit from it, those brands are the ones that will last, that will thrive and that will bring the rarest commodity--trust--to the table.

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Listed below are links to weblogs that reference The manipulators:

» The Remarkable and The Manipulative from Recognize Design :: Design, Marketing and Beyond
Seth Godins most recent rant is straight to the point: As the bestseller lists on YouTube and Reddit and other places become more and more important, theyre also going to become less useful. Less useful because the manipulat... [Read More]

» Without Trust, Marketing and business Suck! from Solutions to Grow Your Business
The world is a complex place and few things in life are black and white, right or wrong. However, when we lie, manipulate, cheat and steal, we are doing wrong. And we know it. Unfortunately, we marketers sometimes perpetuate an image that many feel is ... [Read More]

» Building trust with a blog from Publicity for small business growth
A recent post on Seth Godins blog discusses manipulation and trust. I think that two of the most significant uses of blogs for small business are building trust, and acquiring new clients. Using a blog to build trust doesnt depend on hav... [Read More]

» Ethics -- in the air? from erniesblog
Seth must be feeling some of the same things I've been feeling lately. Basically, that it's a shame so many people will act unethically in order to score a customer, or a buck, or an account, or...pretty much anything. Just [Read More]

» The Interface of a Cheeseburger from Information Architects Japan
All things have an interface. Shaping interfaces is shaping the character of things. The brand is what transports the character of things. When looking at McDonalds, iPod, Nintendo DS it becomes quite obvious that the interface is the brand. No forks, ... [Read More]

» In Complex Search we trust from joeandrieu.com
Last week, Seth Godin wrote about the critical role trust plays in our market relationships. And the upside? The upside is that individuals (and organizations) that dont stoop, that manage to figure out how to have influence without trying to p... [Read More]

» Do Advertisers Get What they Pay For? from JerryKolber.com
I know that as a producer of shows like Queer Eye and Inked, which are largely supported by advertising buys on the networks, Im not supposed to question whether advertising works.  But does it?  In 1970, there were three television stations -... [Read More]

« The 249% solution | Main | "It's just business" »