Deciphering Marketers

Perhaps it’s my seasonal dysfunction, lack of light; the month of mayhem and rampant consumerism and delusional dreams of Rockwell realities. Perhaps it (my cynicism and raised eyebrow) is nothing more than a passing malady, like indigestion or flatulence or that plague that everyone south of me seems to suffer.

Today’s grump is about marketers, self-proclaimed experts who mouth buzz words and scry trends in the entrails of the day’s news, declaiming that they, and only they, can reveal the path your fortune will walk, Grasshopper.

There is a veritable infestation of these types on Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn and other social media, all of them madly clicking away to befriend/link/associate/buddyup/whatever and sell you their brightly painted nuggets of marketing sophistry.

Query most of them as to what, exactly, they can do for you and your career, and you’ll often receive an inscrutable response. And of course the overall question must be: what makes you an expert? Oh, you’ve self-published several books about self-publishing, which you then sell mostly through lectures you coordinate and teach to local writer’s groups. Put enough spin on something and I’ll bet you could sell a bottle of water as a miracle cure. Or maybe those shiny, plated Celtic-Romano style bracelets that will align all the magnetic fields in my body and cure my arthritis.

And have you ever noticed how all these marketing types have that retina-searing smile of perfectly manufactured teeth? Makes me feel like I’m looking into the mouth of some new hybrid wolf, but at least the wolf would have the honesty to let you know she’s having you for dinner — NOM, NOM, NOM — instead of promising you possession of the Holy Grail which you’ll be too anemic to grasp after she’s done with you, should you ever find it.

So, I suppose my overall caveat is this: carry with you a healthy skepticism. Find out exactly what a person or firm is trying to sell you, whether it has to do with your literary career, or home renovation. Ask for credentials and then check out those credentials. Get a written quotation as to exactly what remuneration the firm is expecting for exactly what services. And then shop around and compare.

Just because someone has published books on a subject doesn’t make them an expert.

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