One of my purposes in blogging is to evangelize our need to promote remarkable capitalism in a time of unremarkable consumerism. As a registered nurse and a former accountant, I think I have a unique perspective on just how vital ethical customer service is to the well-being of us all. And it’s my belief that marketing is everything. To that end, I’d like to talk about something we are all (sadly) familiar with: terrible customer service. It’s a critical topic because it infiltrates everything we interact with: businesses, careers, healthcare, government, religion, even dating.
While posting a comment on James Lowery’s Performancing on how some blogs are now tyring to force readers to view advertising or pay a subscription for the privaledge of ad-free reading, a metaphor for 20th century marketing inspired by Stanley Kurbrick’s 60’s classic hit me.
I call it Clockwork Orange Marketing. It’s really interruption marketing but with a little more force added to it. You know what Clockwork Orange Marketing is. It’s when businesses decide that the only way to generate cash is to force customers to watch a video, join a mailing list, tolerate telemarketing calls at dinner, deny website/blog visitors entry if they use AdBlock Plus, or a mind-numbing array of suicidal marketing weapons businesses feel obligated to point at every prospect.
Businesses, I suppose, generally have a right to commit these blunders. But nobody climbs Mount Remarkable just by stepping over their own rights. No, the way to the top is difficult and the only way there is through doing the hard work of pacing the whole way up. It requires vision, discipline, creativity, pliant focus, awareness and gratitude to teachers and other climbers along the way. Clockwork Orange Marketing requires none of these virtues. Why do the remarkable when you can strap on black boots and kick your customers into submission? It worked for 20th Century Fascists…until American air power leveled them all. So much for force as a long-term strategy for running a state.
The whole point of business, its fundamental going concern, is all about one word: awareness. That’s what marketing is about. That’s what hard work is about. That’s what customer service is about. If you’re not aware, then what are you? Isn’t the whole business of life all about awareness? How can any of us have fun just by being replaceable cogs in mindless contraptions? How much better would business be, would our economy be, our educational system be, our religious institutions be, our lives be, if we ditched the fear-driven paradigms that run most of what we do?
Fear is not a strategy. It’s a fallacy. And yet most businesses run on fear: fear of losing customers if they don’t forcefully funnel them into their offerings; fear of taking risks on better ways of doing things; fear of losing a few points in the stock market at the expense of long-term wealth. Risk is for grownups. Safety is for kids.
And so what is a common response in businesses to this sense of fear: Clockwork Orange Marketing.
But the problem is this. In this century, when customers can find your competitors online, through social networking, through blogging, and down along the Long Tail, forcing your customers to do things without even establishing their trust in you kills all of your chances at outsourcing your marketing department to your customers. Isn’t that the kind of outsourcing every business leader should have as a primary goal? Just how much of our business leadership has deep-seated effects rooted in child-abuse? (You’d be surprised.)
If you’re reading this post, would you do our world a favor? Would you please blog about Clockwork Orange Marketing? Could we spread this meme around the web? I want this world to be more remarkable than it is so that my toddler will be able to bring forth remarkable things into this world instead of having to fight his way out of a Stanley Kubrick nightmare.
Please tell the world about the war we need to fight against Clockwork Orange Marketing. We and our youth deserve much better.