Marketing Is Dead; Long Live Anthropology

Courtesy of jbhill via Flickr I've had a little case of writer's block this week, so I started with the basics: I read the definition of "marketing" in Wikipedia.

The impetus of this was a comment I wrote on a recent Brazen Careerist article in which I boiled down marketing to selling stuff. Really? That's the business I'm in? I get up at 5am to write because I love making crap fly off the shelves?

Listen to Wikipedia's definition: "Essentially, marketing is the process of creating or directing an organization to be successful in selling a product or service that people not only desire, but are willing to buy."

Bleh! Sure, there's creation and desire (positive), but there is also directing and willingness to consume (negative). It's almost like it's not enough for them to buy it; you gotta make them want to buy it. Make 'em beg.

Frankly, this doesn't sound like the business I'm in at all. I find marketing these days to be customer based - where are they and what do they want? - and less, well, skeezy. Ideally, marketing these days isn't invasive or worthless or annoying. In fact, marketing these days sounds a lot more like anthropology than marketing.

What do you think? Are web 2.0 marketers really anthropologists of the present time? Don't we study why certain people behave a certain way (and how to influence that behavior)?

Maybe Not

Maybe I'm way off base. Maybe I'm an idealist. Is marketing these days really that different from the old days? Sure, maybe we have flashier toys and get better insights, but does this alone more it into the category of anthropology?

Maybe So

Here's the difference: Now, relationships are a prerequisite to business, not vice versa.

You may want to read that last sentence again. Even if it's not that way right now, all signs indicate we are moving in that direction.

But not just in a direct sense, business to customer. Now, blogs have as much or more influence as official channels (e.g. company websites, newspapers). And recommendations from friends have even more sway than blogs. (Sounds crazy? It's not. Scope the numbers via Groundswell [page 132 for those of you following along at home].)

All the while, people who call themselves marketers are camped out in the bush, observing all of this new commerce occurring, jotting down furtive notes in our journals on our blogs.

What do you think? Is marketing now anthropology of the present day? Do we need to change the definition of marketing altogether? Or am I just full of it?

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