Marketing 101

Conversations with myself.

“What is it you do for a living?”

“Me?”

“Who else have I been talking to for the past month?”

“My official title is User Experience and Interaction Lead.”

“Right. But what the fuck does that mean?”

“I’ve an inkling that they made it up in lieu of paying me more money. It’s an official-sounding title and has the word ‘lead’ in it, indicating that I’m leading someone or something, which sounds official and important.”

“But…what do you do?”

“Website crap.”

“For example?”

“Okay, so, you know when you go to a website and you’re looking for something but you can’t find it, so then you do a search and you get a ton of answers to your query but still none of them are right, so you end up back at Google performing the same search but for some reason Google finds it for you the first time?”

“Absolutely.”

“My job is supposed to be so you can go to the website and find that the first time.”

“Oh.”

“Yeah.”

“That’s it?”

“I’m like Professor Obvious for websites.”

“And what qualified you to be a lead in that?”

“Well, I’ve been doing web shit for around 20 years, and I’ve built a lot of websites, and I’ve done some testing where I watched people using other websites, and I go to expensive conferences where other people like me explain back at me what it is I do and why I am most likely doing it wrong, so then I go back to the office having been told that everything I thought was right is now wrong based on, I dunno, how some other site that has completely separate goals and a completely different audience with completely different solutions to completely different problems is doing it better than we are.”

“But essentially the problem is always ‘I want to find something and why is it so hard to find it?’”

“Essentially.”

“And the answer is?”

“Marketing.”

“Marketing?”

“Marketing.”

“Why is it marketing.”

“So, marketing has a different goal from trying to be helpful to customers and potential customers coming to a website.”

“Which is?”

“Make them do what the company needs them to do instead of allowing them to do what they want to do.”

“Which involves?”

“Steering them towards alternate solutions to problems which cost more than the solution the customers believe they want.”

“Because?”

“Companies are in business to make money and they need to make as much money off of every customer as they can because people are unwilling to pay for anything anymore.”

“Because?”

“Because of all-you-can-eat on-demand services like Netflix, or so-called ‘freemium’ services that offer you a taste of something as bait to switch you to something else like ‘Angry Birds’, or ad-supported ‘free’ services Facebook that pretend to offer you services in exchange for sucking up your private information and activities in order to use it to sell you things you didn’t want in the first place. The new economy cannot support itself using old methods like paying for goods and services, so it has to trick you into giving them something they can sell or making you believe you’re getting something for nothing.”

“And you’re in?”

“Marketing.”

“You’re in marketing.”

“I am.”

“Marketing.”

“Yes.”

“Mark….”

“My job — at least as I have defined it for myself — is to be the people’s advocate in these little battles of will. I sit at the table during meetings rolling my eyes and groaning and trying to indicate that fooling people never works, earns distrust, abuses the relationships we’ve established, and we’d have more cooperative, friendly, happy, trusting customers if we’d just deliver what they want.”

“Which is?”

“Going to a website and finding the thing they’re looking for.”

“Good luck with that.”