So much of marketing tries to weedle into every aspect of your life, tries to embed itself in your mind, and when you shut off one access route, rather than go “I guess that person doesn’t want to see our message”, it tries to find more other, more insidious ways to get to you and increasingly creepy behaviour to find things out about you so it knows how best to get at you.
They want to educate me?!
Given that an effective way to convince someone to buy something is to make them feel they are missing out or are somehow inferior without it, tactics are getting more aggressive. As Banksy says, (and is wonderfully illustrated by another artist, here on Zen Pencils), these companies openly insult you in the street, and they’re paying vast sums of money to do so. That said, people are increasingly starting to notice and resent this.
"There’s also going to have to be some “education” of users, Blanchfield says. “The thing about advertising is that the end user isn’t part of that contract; the contract is between the publisher and the advertiser. And the end user who installs Adblock really isn’t mindful of the fact that they’re impacting the revenue of the publisher.”
Don't "educate" me. I'm not ignorant or in need of education because I don't want you to try to coerce me into giving you my money!
I see why they need us to switch off our ad-blockers. The have a business model that partly relies on you and me seeing their pop-ups. While I see where they're coming from, I object to the notion that I need "educating" about it. I don't have their interests at heart. It's not a lack of understanding I have. It's a lack of caring. And given this fact, I don't need them to change my opinions to reflect theirs.
I would much rather they just leave me alone when I’m taking active steps to avoid their “message”.
And then I joined them...
Apologies to any marketers reading this. While I think the techniques and tactics are remarkable, fascinating, and ingenious, I find it odious how much money, time, and effort is spent on trying to persuade people to hand over money and it makes me sad to think that this is what now keeps our world going. It's not marketers I have an issue with, it's marketing. And this brings me to the crux of this blog post.
What confuses my opinion somewhat is the fact that for the first time in my life, I’m now selling things like drawings and greetings cards. My shop is only small at the moment so go ahead – take a look. I’ll wait here until you’re back. Go on... your life will be worse off if you don't....
Are you done having a look? I hope you enjoyed it. Check back again soon when I should have more stock!
The thing is, suddenly, I need to market my wares. Suddenly, I’m wondering if I’m exactly the same but on a smaller scale. Remember, even Coca-Cola started small and with questionable marketing.
To that end, I post adverts on Facebook (and Twitter, and tumblr, and Instagram, and yada yada yada…) – no one asked to see them but there they are. But then, there is a certain amount of complicity there. If you "like" my Facebook page, you might expect I would advertise my wares on it from time to time. If you befriend me personally, you agree to look at the usually egotistical postings I make similarly to anyone, including promoting my wares. I can live with that quite happily. I’m not shaming anyone, nor am I consciously trying to make people feel bad for not having my products. (But then, am I just contributing to the miasma of daily life that adds up to tell you your life is lacking stuff?)
But if I pay for sponsored ads, as I have done on occasion, I am being a little more invasive. I’m shoving my products into the eyeline of people who’ve never heard of me, or expressly agreed to see my posts – although they did tacitly, by agreeing to Facebook’s ts&cs and continuing their usage so I can live with that.
But if I leave my flyers around, I’m invading public space in which no one agreed to see my marketing. Then I start feeling a little worse. To be fair, no one agreed to see the clothes I’m wearing when I left the house but that’s the thing about public spaces isn’t it – they’re public. If I had the money and means to create a billboard poster and put it up, would I? Who gives billboard owners the right to own that bit of air? I don’t want to start thinking about how it sometimes seems so unfair that anyone can claim private ownership over even a single square inch of the planet we all live on, and that was granted to none of us.
I think I might create a billboard poster given the means, but that if I caught someone defacing it, or taking it down, or putting something over it, I might let them. After all, they never asked for my message to be shown to them every time they walk down that street – why should I deny them the right to stop seeing it?
But if we start going down that route, could say that they should be allowed to chuck paint over my clothes as I pass them in the street if they don’t like them, and then we start getting arguments about how much say people should have about other people’s appearances in public.
If I put a flyer through a door, as I have done before, that feels like an invasion. That feels like I’ve taken the most basic way someone can refuse to see my message which is to stay in their own controlled environment, and removed that choice from them. I didn’t think of this quite so much when I went flyering before. I may not do it again.
What do you think about this?
If you have stuff to sell, what are your thoughts on marketing and how you contribute to the culture via your own?
Feel free to leave a comment below.