It evolved over time. My evolution from enthusiastic company man to chronic skepticism of business marketing didn’t occur over night. As with any major philosophical change, it was necessary to see repeated evidence of the truth. The truth being that at its core, all businesses have little interest in promoting the greater welfare of the community or environment but are laser focused on money and little else. Even at the smallest individual business level, it is all about sucking as much resource from the customer as possible.
No more neighbors
We have always tried to maximize our income and profits, especially from people we are not connected or related to. As our communities become more sub-urbanized and less connected to people, it is easier to see our neighbors as profit centers as opposed to part of the fabric of the community that we don’t want to tear asunder. That is part of the equation with the boycott and protests at Walmart; they don’t represent a neighbor putting money back into the community, but a corporation taking resources out of the neighborhood.
Fact, fiction or illusion
My disillusion with business enterprise is not solely based on the strategy of profit maximization. It’s not about profits so much as it is about culture and intent. We have seen the sophistication of psychological marketing operations trickle down from the Fortune 500 companies to the smallest independent retailer. The state of business is such that I can no longer discern fact from fiction in the marketing pitches I receive. I have no desire to perpetuate the mass marketing confusion and manipulation cooked up by marketing wizards.
Repeat after me, “My company helps people.”
All the employees that have any customer service interaction are coached on how to up-sell, cross-sell, benefit pitch, reduce returns and generally confuse the consumer as to what they are actually purchasing. Human nature of the employees is to actually try and help people, “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you”. Corporate operations officers understand they need to control the urge employees have to help people by inculcating them with corporate dogma and incentivizing results.
Employees are constantly told they are helping people when they sell. Internal corporate marketing
revolves around brain washing the employees to believe they have the best product or service and only a fool would not purchase it. But the biggest motivator for employees is turning the customer, an actual person, into an object of cash, like a slot machine. Once the employee can be trained to view the consumer not as a person, but a potential cash bonus machine, it is easier for the employee to constantly pull the lever with sales pitch after sales pitch.
Facebook sales pitch
While this corporate strategy of reducing consumers to profit centers is nothing new, it has become far more accepted and integrated into the marketing tactics of both large and small businesses. On a daily basis, I am bombarded with emails, social media updates, print material and phone calls to either purchase or represent products and services. The focal point of all this marketing energy is either how much I will save or how much I will make. Facebook and LinkedIn are perhaps the worst social media promoter of unsolicited sales and marketing hype.
Little Kingdoms in the company
My conversion from business booster to capitalism skeptic is rooted in the realization that honesty and transparency has become a casualty of decentralized business practices. The business operations of marketing, production, and operations are separate and distinct units within a business that rarely seem to talk to one another. Each area is treated like its own country with its own King or Queen known as a Chief of Something or Executive Vice President of something else.
Product marketing is left to create a dream that has no basis in reality. Production seeks to minimize costs by shipping jobs off shore or creatively containing employee’s wages and benefits. Operations is more concerned about avoiding regulations, exploiting government programs, mergers, acquisitions and stifling competition. Warren Buffet loves buying companies that have already jilted the previous bond holders through bankruptcy. A corporation like Hostess Brands, Inc. doesn’t blink an eye when blaming the employees for the leverage buyout debt management created. Large corporations are intent on controlling the free speech of all their employees. Some of America’s most powerful CEO’s, whose companies receive millions of dollars in government contracts, want to reduce the nation’s debt with cuts to social services and no sacrifice to business.
Companies want drones, not intelligence
It only took me 30 years to see the big picture. I have ascertained that there is no place for me within the org chart of any company. There is no place for me in an economic model built upon the deception of the consumer. People want honest answers to their questions. The business marketing model of today is to give consumers as little information as possible and when ever possible confuse them with anecdotes and misleading statistics.
Deception is the new normal
Don’t assume my contempt for obfuscatory marketing practices is limited to business. The same marketing model is being applied to government bureaucracies, religious institutions and non-profit organizations. I’m rather sick of all of them. Try to find on the Healthcare.gov website any mention or chart regarding the penalties assessed on individuals that don’t purchase health insurance under the ACA. I scoured the site and came up empty. I support the ACA. Penalties are a reality and should not be hidden from view.
Nonprofit corporations are acting like political cheerleaders in violation of the spirit of the nonprofit business model: American Legislative Exchange Council. Type in the new name for the California Health Benefits Exchange, Covered California, in a Google search and the top result is for California Health Benefit Advisers with a web page titled Covered California. The site looks like an official site for the state with the new Covered California logo prominently displayed. While it is legal, the page is deceptive in its presentation of information leading a consumer to believe they were actually purchasing health insurance through the California Exchange. Pharmaceutical companies, that already have government subsidized sales program in the form of Medicare Part D Plans, fund the research of the efficacy and safety of the drugs they are creating.
Too small for a difference
The messages of honest people are drown out by the marketing dollars and hype that clog up information avenues such as newspapers, radio, TV and search engines. The magicians bending the truth also control the discussion and message. I thought I could avoid much of the marketing trash by being an independent broker. However, I am looked upon with as much contempt from consumers as the large insurance carriers. My little marketing efforts, with a foundation of honesty, lie in the shadows of giant sky scrapers of marketing campaigns with multi-million dollar budgets.
Slippery slope of greed
Economists will tell you that successful markets only work with good consumer information. Our markets are seriously distorted with dis-information created by the collusion of big business, small business, government and individual greed. I don’t see this fact changing anytime soon. Since there is no glimmer of hope on the horizon and I have evolved my own special contempt for managers eagerly exploiting consumers, there is little to do except walk away from the burning trash heap of marketing lies and greed.