Why People Hate Marketing

Not everyone hates marketing, but many people do hate marketing quite a bit. Why?

People don’t hate marketing because it’s impersonal. People don’t hate marketing because it’s an interruption.

In fact, people don’t even hate marketing because the “message” doesn’t “speak to them.”

People hate marketing because it’s often mis-targeted. In other words, because the underlying product/service has no bearing on their interests, needs, or life and work.

And in such cases, people are right to hate marketing, because these scenarios are a complete waste of their time. (It’s also a waste of the advertisers’ time and money in such cases.)

The Future of Marketing: 100% Consumer/Advertiser Alignment

I’m going to make a bold claim that one day, marketing will never again be mis-targeted.

That one day, every ad you see will be 100% in line with your interests, needs, life and work.

That one day, every ad will be music to your ears and resonate deeply in your core.

That one day, every ad will offer the perfect solution to a problem you’re having (or perfectly satisfy a need you have, etc.).

It may even be possible that, one day, you will look forward to advertisements because they are so well-targeted, well-timed, and valuable, that you can’t imagine life without them.

After all, it’s hard to imagine anyone complaining about ads, if, every ad shown answered the exact question (or solved the immediate problem) at hand.

Examples of 100% Consumer/Advertiser Alignment

Here are a few examples what this future might look like, where ads are gourmet dishes served up on a silver platter to the end-user:

  • Imagine you’re shopping for a car. Your budget is $10K and you’re looking for a black sedan. Suddenly, in your news feed, an ad pops up listing 15 black sedans in your area for $10K or less, and with a single click it emails you a list of owner/dealer names, numbers, and addresses to view the cars.
  • Imagine you’re looking for a job. You’re a top-performing salesperson looking to bring your skills into a larger, higher earnings role. As you scroll through Facebook, an ad pops up showing 50 companies hiring for a person that fits your exact profile, experience, and skills. One click submits your resume to all of their hiring managers instantly.
  • Imagine you’re hungry. You’re a vegetarian but you hate shopping. As you browse the net, just when hunger strikes, suddenly a notification slides out from the side of your browser that says, “Hungry? Click here to eat dinner.” After which you are taken immediately to a beautiful landing page, where with a single click, you order from one of several local restaurants (and your order is delivered by local courier, i.e. Amazon, Uber Eats, etc.). All non-vegetarian options were automatically excluded from your landing page menu, making your choices far simpler.

The list goes on – I could be here all day coming up with examples. But you get the idea.

Ads that work for you.

In fact, this is what most honest advertisers are already striving to do – create win-win outcomes for them and their customers.

But of course, as we all know, it’s hard to serve the perfect advertisement (much less at the perfect time) to everyone – even in our current modern age of technology.

Privacy Concerns with 100% Consumer/Advertiser Alignment

We will eventually arrive in all-ads-are-served-on-a-silver-platter land, but until we do, there are a number of logistical obstacles that must be addressed.

For example, the economic problem of “perfect information” would need to be completely solved, which also drums up privacy concerns. Returning to our examples above, here are some Q&As to consider:

  • Q: How do advertisers know you’re shopping for a black sedan for $10K or less?
    • A: Let’s say you have an AI in your home like Amazon’s Alexa or Google Assistant. Perhaps it overhears you talking about car shopping with your spouse, and pretty soon knows exactly what you’re looking for. If you allow it, it then feeds all that information into their advertising database, which it in turn sells to advertisers who purchase the information, and use it to display dynamic ads to car buyers.
  • Q: How do advertisers know your job profile matches so well with every job listed, and that you’re even looking at the time?
    • A: Even now there’s quite a bit of information available on LinkedIn, for example. But for advanced, real-time job matching (which might be fantastic for the economy – and your salary – by the way), imagine one day companies like LinkedIn, match.com, Tinder, and others merge together and partner with leading psychologists to create the “ultimate” matching database, capable of effecting perfect job matches, relationship matches, flings and encounters, and more, all on demand, all matched around an optimization algorithm that matches everyone in the best possible manner for the best outcomes, all the time.
  • How do advertisers know when you’re hungry (in fact, just when hunger strikes!)?
    • A: This one probably requires lots of number crunching, but is most likely quite possible with big data / predictive analysis, even without any bio-connected device (to your body or mind). And perhaps one day, you will wear a device (think: Neuralink), to get even better menu recommendations with even better timing.

Thinking through these scenarios, you can understand the privacy concerns. Television shows like Black Mirror come to mind, and perhaps there are even concerns around personal safety and danger.

Then again, most of us would probably love to be matched with the most fulfilling / highest-paying job (instantaneously) if given the chance, just as would I love to have my browser slide out a menu right about now with local cuisine for delivery…

Logistical Obstacles to 100% Consumer/Advertiser Alignment

Beyond privacy concerns, there are also logistical obstacles to achieving perfect consumer/advertiser alignment.

Consider the great debacle most people go through, just trying to figure out what they want from their lives and careers, much less when they start businesses / innovate new products and services, going through costly trial and error to figure out what the market wants.

This implies a market research and product development component, which almost by definition, is constantly in flux – and thus hard to predict or measure, even with the assistance of quantum computers and advanced AI.

From that perspective, how can “advertisers” and their fleets of humans and machines possibly ever know exactly what everyone else wants and needs, and just at the right times? It seems impossible.

Then again, the guy who invented the radio thought television was impossible, and before him, another bloke said something about all inventions having already been invented.

Since then, we’ve done some interesting things, like put man on the moon, invent computers and the internet, and so on.

So let’s not get ahead of ourselves, but let’s also not be naive.

Approaching the limit of perfection in marketing is likely to happen over enough time.

Why I Love Marketing

Speaking as a business owner, former salesperson, and branding/marketing consultant, I love marketing. Even now, even in its uncertain (and often frustrating) state of affairs, it’s a fun game to play. And it’s necessary to my survival.

Not to mention, the imperfections of marketing today are why it’s fun. The risk, the reward, the “game” of figuring out what works and what doesn’t – it can be very compelling.

Marketing is also necessary for business growth and economic prosperity.

This is true on local/individual levels and macro levels throughout our economy. It’s hard to imagine capital flowing freely, hard to imagine a high velocity of money… without consumers coming to market and advertisers prodding them to do so.

Not to mention, it is the marketers – and not the consumers – who struggle to meet the demands of “the people” in this world. This doesn’t mean all marketers are saints, but it’s worth giving credit where it’s due. It also doesn’t mean the “consumers” don’t become producers when they wake up and go to work every morning, or that they don’t have their own struggles.

Whether you love or hate marketing, it simply means all marketers aren’t evil, and that we should appreciate their hard work, since most are simply doing their best to connect with and fulfill the needs of their fellow man.

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