Delusion is as Delusion Does

knorpp The gent at left is Bob Knorpp, “president of the Cool Beans Group, a marketing strategy consultancy based in New York. He likes laughing even more than breathing.”

Discussion question: Why is the marketing world so full of men who look and talk like this, while serving a function in the society that would embarrass most PropDep overseers? Is it a simple case of spending too much time around dishonesty? Or is it some form of attempted psychological compensation?

In any event, compare Mr. Knorpp’s whimsical self-presentation with the way he talks about you and me:

There’s still an irresistible urge to build an audience at scale. We feel we need to get our message in front of as many people as possible, so we we put all of our efforts into generating followers and likes and +1s. Then once we build this mass audience, we communicate with it and many times sell against it. And we keep being confronted by the fact that this audience is still too small, compared with the larger audiences of traditional and digital ad spending. Thus we dismiss these micro audiences, or at the most, treat them as quaint test projects.

Yet as those direct-marketing models that we were working with two decades ago proved, there’s real value hiding within the smaller subsets of any aggregate audience — a value we are simply not tapping.

There is a place and a time for reaching an audience at scale. Paid media and mass reach are still very effective methods of spreading a message. But in the case of many of our social efforts, this mass philosophy is actually damaging the relationship with our community leaders. So while the metrics may show increased interaction, the value of the engagements may actually be lessening.

A community is an organic thing. It is much different than a customer file. It is a place where our customers might be interacting with each other as much as with us. So we need models and programs that recognize this intangible as a valuable asset.

What do you think happens to an advocate whose voice is suddenly drowned out? We can’t always say with statistical certainty, but common sense tells us he or she may stop talking. The advocate is no longer special. We’ve destroyed her bully pulpit. So off she goes.

The ironic thing is that it’s not hard to identify an influential advocate in an existing, functioning community. There are third-party modeling tools to be sure, but an active community manager can provide you with a list within a few days. And we can still grow the community to scale by targeting these folks — and probably do so for less effort and money spent. It may not happen as quickly, but it will happen more intelligently, scaling the influence of your advocates right alongside your follower counts, and building a community that is engaged rather than simply wondering why they are there.

We may or may not get to a model one day for the social spaces that is as effective at targeting loyalists as Ward’s model was in the direct space. But there is no doubt that most of us are not properly valuing the advantages of working with smaller, more engaged audiences. Until we consider how our mass approaches are affecting this advocate value, we will fail to realize the full benefits of [Facebook marketing] programs and miss the path to profitability that is present in these more engaged connections. [Source: Advertising Age]

Scratch a hippie, find a profit-seeking social engineer.

3 Replies to “Delusion is as Delusion Does”

  1. People, even the most am/immoral among us, seem to always need some absolute greater than ourselves to build our sense of self-worth upon. Some word-of-God philosophy that anoints our worldview with the aroma of righteousness. Be it a “superior” lineage, some religion or philosophy, phony “social dawinism”, “meritocracy” , etc. You’ll never see any of these elite types openly admitting they only seek their own gain or that things like social class and position are dependent in no small part on pure chance. They are all deserving of their power and justified in their actions because God/The market decrees it. I make a shitload of money so I must be doing something meaningful and important, right? If doubt becomes too niggling you just have to lock yourself up in your fancy car and drive to your nearest luxury restaurant or gentlemen’s club, security will make sure to keep pesky reality outside.

    It is indeed amazing how people can just spout this lifeless, petty, greed-driven language and derive any sense of pride out of their mastery of reducing every last aspect of life to numbers and crass commercial transactions. This is the polar opposite of the creative impulse.

    What choice do these marketing types have, though? Admitting to themselves they’re grotesquely overpaid for actively making the world worse and that in any halfway decent, reality-based system their skills would be worthless?


  2. There are just so many things wrong with this clown that represent large sociological points.
    1. The hippies were the original libertarians, riffing off the military industrial complex’s “networks” and rogue operator style to give us the computer/advertising dystopia – as can be seen in the egregious example of Whole Earth News majordomo turned nuclear fantasist Stewart Brand.
    2. The “Mad Men” little cult is precisely opposite the true meaning of advertising – Matt Weiner goes to Wesleyan at great expense, learns absolutely nothing, becomes a crime writer in Hollywood, then moves up to exploit neo-con fantasies to create horrible business characters, which aids lunatics like Cool Beans bro to keep spouting Orwellian MBA nonsense.
    3. That’s our world – it’s corporate all the way, a new round for these spineless profiteers, from CEO’s to the glut of would-be lawyers infesting profit-making law schools.
    4. So how do we decorporatize from the world of Cool Beans “marketing”? The idiot probably is on his yacht right now, playing a video game, or busking with his homeless pals – who knows, he’s a dime a dozen. He’ll likely never have a comeuppance – that’s just the way the world of social power works. Still, he probably ruins the lives of his underlings, who can be secretly happy that he is getting the what-for here.

  3. I have to admit that, despite my general belief in keeping at least minimally abreast of the mainstream media flow so as to know what tricks are being played, I’ve never been able to bring myself to watch a minute of “Mad Men,” January Jones notwithstanding.

    That’s because I’m 99.9 percent sure that it’s a cover-up and a glamorization, despite the shows about tobacco, etc. As you say, Martin, marketing is not about office politics. It’s about digging down into the details of human behavior and pushing whatever buttons need pushing. No way in Hell is a show that depicts the relevant facts ever going to run on commercial television.

    But it is a clever twist by the authors, as you say. Just as people who watched the atrocious “West Wing” were told that the system is still open to decency and representation of little folks, so this kind of running glamour shot sends the message that marketing is just fine, if only it refrains from selling cigarettes.

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