On the upPosted: November 25, 2009
I re-read yesterday’s blog, and I must admit, I used the word ‘love’ far too much in the first paragraph. Take from it what you will.
I’m not sure if I like the new direction this blog is taking, but it’s rather therapeutic, nonetheless. So, here’s more ‘me’:
Today was a better day than yesterday. Having said that, I hope that tomorrow is an even better day than today. Every day that passes, I seem to get a better hold of things that bother me, and how they’re affecting me. Things are still dire, in some cases, but at least I’ve admitted this to myself. It at least gives me something to work upon.
One of the many things bothering me at this point in time, is my course. It’s not that my course is necessarily bad, it’s just made me think hard about whether or not I really want to still go into marketing. I like marketing, or at least I think I do, or did. I like to think I liked what I think is, or was, marketing. I love people. All people. Even the smelly ones, and even the annoying ones. I generally love people. I like hugs, and smiling, and being nice. I also like nice people. I decided from an early age that when I grow up, I’m going to make people happy, and my life thus far has been a progression towards that goal. So, I don’t know where I’m headed, exactly, but I know what I’m going to do when I get there.
I established pretty early on that I love communicating. One of my first ever phrases was “READ IT”, which I used to bark at my parents whenever I wanted them to read me a story, which was often. I couldn’t yet read, but was eager and hungry for knowledge. So, I learnt to read, and I learnt to regulate my voice (somewhat), and then learned to listen. I was very quiet, when I was younger. Well, I think that I was, at least. I’ve always liked listening to people, and their stories, perhaps more than I enjoy talking. My later teenage years were spent as a sounding board, listening to the teenage woes of my friends. Listening to tales of first loves, first kisses, first break-ups, and that sort of thing. My dad used to refer to me as the ‘father confessor’. It was around this time that I decided that I might like to be a counsellor, before I realised that I’d get much too personally involved in the worries of my patients. It’s certainly a skill, to become involved in someone’s life, and still keep from getting attached, but it’s something I don’t think that I could do.
As well as listening, I’ve always loved speaking, and performing. I’ve been lucky enough to act a lot, in my time. I remember the first play I was in was called ‘Barney’, in Year Two. I played Mr Gruber, an irate organist, who was constantly rattled by the efforts of a mouse, Barney, who lived inside his organ, and kept muffling the sound coming out of it. It’s okay, they ended up being friends. Originally, I was meant to narrate the play, but on being cast as such, I voiced my concerns to my mum. I had been cast as a narrator since the Nativity play in Nursery, I believe, and I was fed up. So, I complained to my mum, and my mum complained to my teacher, Mrs Philips, who re-cast me as this Mr Gruber type. I was so happy, and proud. I remember I was so excited that I learnt all of my lines in one sitting. That hasn’t happened since, even though I’ve carried on acting.
It’s not just acting I love. No. I even had a brief singing career, believe it or not. I started to learn to play the guitar in Year Three. One of the first songs I learnt was Elvis’ ‘Hound Dog’. I have very vivid memories of performing to family, and friends, whenever they’d come to my house for dinner. I used to have a thick denim jacket, which was far too big for me, and some big, dark sunglasses, which I used to don whenever I’d perform. I’d pretend I was cool, like Elvis, which I blatantly was, and I’d sing my heart out.
It didn’t stop there, but I feel I’m getting my point across sufficiently. Whatever it was, whether public speaking (I used to absolutely adore English ‘speaking and listening’ assessments in secondary school), reciting poetry, stand-up, and now magic, I’d take the greatest pleasure in standing up in front of groups of people, and putting on a show.
I’d genuinely say that discourse is a hobby of mine, then. This is what pushed me towards marketing. The thought that I’d be listening to, and talking to people. Finding out what they’re like, what they want, and what they need, then giving it to them. I wish that marketing was less about numbers, and less about averages, and more about actually talking to people and getting their opinions on things. I’m not a huge fan of market research. As a person myself, I find it annoying, irritating, and quite often, if I’m being completely honest, I only complete market research surveys because of the incentive offered for doing so. I also don’t really complete the things to the best of my ability, either. Indeed, sometimes picking out certain options only means more questions, and more time spent taking an irritating, and somewhat irrelevant survey. If I’ve specified that I mostly drink one brand of beer, or chew one type of chewing gum, I don’t appreciate a thousand other questions about another brand of beer, or gum. One of the few lessons I remember from college, was the GIGO theory I learnt in ICT. It’s another wonderful acronym (marketing is unfortunately plagued by acronyms) which stands for Garbage In, Garbage Out, and sums up how computers work quite well. Computers are great tools if you know how to use them, but fill them with a load of rubbish, or a load of unreliable information, and you’re going to get nothing other than a load of rubbish. Why, then, do marketers insist on relying on these dated forms of information gathering? More than that, since when do you get a precise, accurate response, when you ask someone directly of their opinion on something?
I’ve been taught that marketing is changing more now than ever before. It’s a revolution! Marketing is transforming from traditional ‘push’, to ‘pull’ models, etcetera, etcetera! Indeed, the impact of digital on the marketing sphere has certainly mixed things up, and cannot be ignored. However, with great change, comes great responsibility. Walls of silence have been broken down, and have redefined what an organisation is. These ‘walls of silence’ once impeded people from talking to organisations, and stopped organisations communicating with people. It’s sort of paradoxical, I think, seeing as organisations are simply large groups of people, trying to communicate concepts to other people. It’s great that people can now see that organisations are simply other people, just like them, and I think that this can be of great benefit to both parties, if we can even define them as two differing entities.
I saw a very interesting video today. You can see it here: http://www.researchtalk.co.uk/rt/2009/07/06/faris-yakob-be-nice-or-leave/.
Faris Yakob, on the odd chance that you’re reading this, I love your hair. Also, thank you. For those of you who haven’t looked already, you really should, especially if you’re into marketing, or being human. Before I saw this video, I was going through a crisis. I was unsure as to whether I’d lost all faith in marketing. This video has inspired me, however, that there still is room for nice people in the marketing industry. People who don’t have to wear suits, at least not all the time. Sometimes they make me feel a bit like James Bond. I have terrible trouble finding suit trousers that are of the correct length, that fit me, however. Hips don’t lie, apparently.
Returning to my original dilemma, I wasn’t quite sure, as of late, whether I was barking up the wrong tree, with this whole marketing gig. I like being a nice person, and I like talking to people. We’re all social creatures; some more than most. As such, I can’t dream of being stuck in a standard 9-5 job, being confined to a desk, and made to type things all day, like letters, and numbers. Who knows, maybe some day I’ll be allowed to write letters about numbers. I really don’t want to end up there, and I’ve surprisingly only given a great amount of thought to it recently, with the prospect of applying for many ‘standard’ marketing jobs. I’m not saying that I’m a slacker. I know that work needs to be worked on, but I see no reason why work can’t be fun. If work is fun, doesn’t the natural order of things dictate that the people the ‘work’ is designed for will enjoy it more? Cast your minds back to any innovative, amazing adverts you’ve seen. For me, I’ll always remember the old Malibu TV adverts, set in the Caribbean. Seriously easy going. Those ones. Imagine how much fun they must have been to make. I just want to know how Malibu lost their way, resigning themselves to promoting a club night in Wandsworth continuously through Spotify. I hear that ad at least five times a day, and if anything, it’s really put me off the brand. They’re just plain irritating, and the frequency with which they’re played is just frustrating. If you’ve heard it once, and don’t profess an interest in the club night being advertised, then what sense does it make to assume that bombarding that same person with hundreds more advertisements is going to change their mind? It’s irritating, and just goes to show what can happen when you don’t listen to people.
For my final, and most contentious point, you’ve probably picked up that I’ve intentionally been using the word ‘people’ instead of ‘consumer’ or ‘customer’. Sure, they’re called customers because ideally, at the end of the day, a transaction of some kind takes place between them and an ‘organisation’, or, as I shall now refer to it, people collective. That makes sense. What doesn’t make sense is treating these people just as customers, or consumers. Defining them only by their function as people who buy things. Once we accept this, we start to forget about little Jimmy, or Tina, or Alfonso, or whoever, and start only recognising these people through what they buy and can buy from us. We assume that they are only a consumer; a leech, and that their only purpose is to buy, buy and buy. Being suitably duped, we then start only catering for the weapon of mass consumption (to use a term coined by Lily Allen) we see this person, or these people as being.
What I’m trying to say, despite taking so long to get here, is that people are people, and should be treated as such. Nothing more, and nothing less. It sounds so simple, and it’s so painfully obvious, staring back at it, but it seems so foreign amongst some of the marketing theories that have been thrown my way recently. It’s like I almost forgot who I was, for a bit.
I hope this has been an interesting read for you. It’s certainly been enlightening to write.