Yes, enough already!
I got the message! I mean, really, from the emails I received after that last piece, you’d think that I’d just advocated the assassination of the Pope or something.
ClickZ readers have officially been proclaimed the most rabid marketing maniacs on the planet — fully dedicated to the cause of marketing and defending the enterprise that is ClickZ. I got the point. OK?
Along those lines, I’d like to address (in general categories) those who wrote in.
The groups break down as follows:
- The busy-drinking-beer-in-college group. These are the folks who were busy drinking beer in college and one day woke up and said: “Oh *^$%! I need a degree. Hey, marketing looks easy.” They tend to be the most ardent supporters of traditional marketing methods. They wrote in to tell me to go to hell, or they endorsed spamming, or they told me to get off my high horse and realize that marketing’s just about selling — who cares if the consumer likes it or not?
For them, I offer this: If your ethics hover somewhere around the level of a crack dealer’s, then, please, realize just how effective and cheap spamming is and give it a whirl! You, too, can be lambasted by the media, privacy groups, and nearly every intelligent human being on the planet — and hey, it sells! What are you waiting for?
- The “highly successful marketing executive” group. These are the folks who actually took marketing seriously in college and have spent years slaving their way to the top of the corporate ladder. They say respected things in respected ways to their respectful subordinates. They wrote in to tell me how “young” I am (thanks, Vahe!), that a 4 percent response rate is nothing shocking — and, in fact, real marketers expect such things.
To them I say this: What kind of underachieving bull is that? Maybe I’m only 30, but c’mon guys! 4 percent? If you were in sales, you’d have gotten canned about 10 years ago. In fact, this is precisely why marketing folks are the first to be laid off — because C-level folks see “4 percent” and freak out. The unavoidable fact is this: Something is broken in marketing. It must be fixed.
- The “give ’em hell, Eric” group. I must say I enjoyed all two of these emails. Thanks, Mom and Dad.
- The “founded ClickZ and blew cornflakes out of my nose when I read your column it was so preposterous” group. The general complaint in this area is that ClickZ has always had individual writers with individual voices.
Here I guess I’d have to bow down and agree somewhat, but I might add that there was a group that countered the above…
- The “thank God you’re saying this stuff, ‘cuz ClickZ writers have become boring” group. These folks are of the opinion that ClickZ writers drone on endlessly about the same tired marketing topics. Several of these folks expressed dismay that ClickZ even had enough content to continue operations (yet they apparently continue to read it…).
- The “Nick Usborne fan club” group. Largely Canadians in this segment, they seem enamored with ClickZ’s own Nick Usborne. Oddly, all of their email addresses ended with “@usborne.com.” Hmm…
- And finally, the “how about saying something of substance, you self-aggrandizing jerk” group. OK, now this group presents something I can start getting my hands around.
Therefore, some substantive stuff (check out TDCRC for more):
The Law of Unintended Consequences stems from the nature of nonlinear, dynamic systems (i.e., open systems). Understanding an open system begins by knowing a closed one. Think of a ball rolled down the side of a bowl. Over time, the kinetic energy of the rolling dissipates, and the ball finds a state of equilibrium — namely, resting at the bottom of the bowl. This is simple Newtonian physics involving the principle of entropy.
An open system, on the other hand, has an influx of energy into the system, thus ensuring nonlinearity and dynamism. Examples here include weather systems, economies, businesses, and the human body.
These complex systems are the birthing ground of Malcolm Gladwell’s “The Tipping Point.” Within these systems, tiny changes can result in enormous effects. Heisenberg’s Uncertainty Principle jumps up and bites you in the ass. Planning for the future flies past tricky on the way to insane.
Predictability is about probability — and even then the proposition is essentially ridiculous, because any action based on future probabilities changes the relative probabilities of those probabilities.
As Watts Wacker once said (and I’m paraphrasing here): If your predictions about the future are consistently right, then you’re only describing the present.
Amidst the swirling interplay of agents, evolution, and self-organization lies the unintended consequence. A natural outgrowth of the open system, unintended consequences result precisely because of the interconnected unpredictability of open systems. Unintended consequences mean that a seemingly sensible marketing plan (oxymoron alert!) could very easily result in losing tons of customers.
PS: If my articles just mysteriously stop coming, it means one of two things — either ClickZ finally said “no mas,” or I’ve left to pursue my lifelong dream of being a Tibetan monk.