On selfishness, obsolescence, and jubilant consumers

business and consumers, marketing and advertising, society, workplace

Several organizations are throwing up (their arms) in wild fear of their job sectors going the way of the dodo.

For instance, unless you’ve been living in a cave for the last few months, you probably already know about the new federal program which will block around 80% of telemarketing calls for those who sign up on the free national Do Not Call list.

The Direct Marketing Association (DMA) is livid. They cry that their revenues will plummet… and — surprise! — they plan to sue the government.

Of course, the charming DMA has also been dragging its feet on spam-reform, typically complaining that bills which limit spam are violating the rights of businesses and harming first amendment issues. Besides, they argue indirectly, some people may really want, nay, NEED to know about the latest cable descrambler or debt reduction miracle!

And these spokespeople are still able to sleep at night, or at least write their laughable press releases with a straight face? Perhaps they went to the same PR training school as Hilary Rosen of the RIAA.

What’s particularly ironic, of course, is that organizations like the DMA and RIAA aren’t just working against consumers (which is obvious), they’re counterproductively styming progress and profits in their own industries.

Napster wasn’t the first RIAA target, you know. This same organization screamed that CD’s were going to kill off cassette tapes (well, true) and devastate the record industry. Just like the movie industry likened the VCR to the Boston Strangler and filed lawsuits to prevent the destruction of the entertainment world (yeah, right!).

So here we have the DMA wringing its hands about a program which is going to result in them learning which consumers do not wish to be solicited on the phone. In other words, the DMA is upset that they’re going to be unable to contact non-prospects! Excuse me? Shouldn’t this be a blessing for them? The federal government has created and implemented an infrastructure — at relatively little cost to the DMA — that will enable the DMA member companies to focus their time on those mutants, er, citizens who are so lonely that they WANT to be sold stuff via the telephone.

Pre-qualified customers. What could be better?!?

Even if the DMA is right and this law reduces sales in the short term, I have two things to say to that:
1) Diversity your marketing.
2) I’m so sorry you’re not going to be able to make money at the expense of interrupting my dinner.

Sponsor a ballet. Create an affiliate program. Give away freebies. Or — here’s a radical idea — go the route of the original once-scrappy Google and actually create a product or service of such quality and usefulness that no marketing is required. That’s right… think about it. Did you ever see an ad for Google’s search tool? No, you didn’t, because Google grew to 250 million queries PER DAY purely based upon word of mouth. There’s a lesson to be learned here, though I fear the DMA may be too dense to grasp it.

Of course, other industries are running scared, too. Tax preparers might have to wait tables if we ever got someone in high office bold and savvy enough to REALLY reform and simplify taxes. Gee, I wonder which lobbying organizations have been thwarting true tax reform in Washington?

Search engine optimization folks (the people who claim to get your site listed higher in the search engines) are increasingly screaming that Google’s populist yet secretive algorithms are harming their bottom lines. Some have (gee, imagine this) filed suit against Google.

Boo hoo, I say. Would anyone really miss the telemarketers, the tax preparers, the search engine optimization folks? At the end of the day, do they inherently make our world a better or even more useful place?

And most importantly, isn’t it time that laws and society tilted towards the consumers’ interests and needs instead of the frantic and often misguided demands of selfish career interest groups?

2 comments… add one
  • /amen
    Honestly, if the telephone is the only way that these people can sell me a product, then they simply aren’t trying hard enough. There are SO many other marketing steams out there that are untapped and just waiting for someone to come along and put up their sign, slogan, or what ever. Get creative already!

  • Mark Feb 27, 2008

    Outsourcing will not stop,
    and it’s not possible to make your self 100% secure with Do not Disturb.

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