One of my LinkedIn connections shared an article over the weekend. Entitled, “What matters in advertising this year”, it reminded me that it takes some people longer to see things coming than it takes others. Let’s refer to such people as Group A. There’s are other people who take even longer to see things coming. Let’s refer to those people as Group B.

There are more people in Group B than there are in Group A. We can tell this because, when one of the people in Group A points out something that was screamingly obvious, that person is hailed as some kind of genius by the folks in Group B. And that reminded me of the people in 19th-century Uxbridge, whom I mentioned in this piece on the obvious consequences (except to Group A and Group B) of data-driven marketing: “Water Isn’t the Only Thing That Flows Downhill”.

Take a Whiff

The article in question said this, in part:

[We are] obsessed with making changes and measuring things that happen most quickly, that can be measured most accurately and most easily. We … want to drain the funnel not build a brand, to measure likes and shares, not brand awareness or likability, we’ve become more bothered about attributing success and doubling down on what “works”, not actually creating success.

That’s true. But it’s not news. Anyone with a reasonably functional proboscis could have smelled it coming a mile away. As I suggested in “Water Isn’t the Only Thing …”, I’m certainly no Einstein. (After this, I’ll never convince anyone I’m not a chest-thumper, either.) But even I picked up the scent. Here’s a baker’s dozen indications, in no particular order, with embedded links to a few more:

  1. “The Devilish Details of Inbound Marketing”
  2. “Science Friction”
  3. “Marketing Should Be Simple: Part Deux”
  4. “Circling the Funnel”
  5. “Welcome to Hell”
  6. “Danger in Numbers”
  7. “Marketing Double-Talk”
  8. “Flying Pigs”
  9. “Programmatic Confusion”
  10. “Blowing My Marketing Stack”
  11. “Experience Marketing”
  12. “Water For the Drowning”
  13. “My Semi-Fictional Resumé”

Here’s What’s the Matter

The matter is we’re not paying attention to what matters, in marketing or anywhere else, in this year or any other year. In fact, we pay attention to what matters in inverse (and perverse) proportion to our being enamored of technology. All we see are the ostensible benefits of technology — “More!” “Faster!” “Easier!” “Cheaper!” — without looking at its detriments or its costs.

If you’re up for a break from technology, you could do worse than to read Ralph Waldo Emerson’s essay, “Self-Reliance”. If you don’t have the time to read the whole thing because you’re being hounded by marketing spam, at least take this much to heart:

A man should learn to detect and watch that gleam of light which flashes across his mind from within … Yet he dismisses without notice his thought, because it is his. In every work of genius we recognize our own rejected thoughts: they come back to us with a certain alienated majesty. Great works of art have no more affecting lesson for us than this. They teach us to abide by our spontaneous impression with good-humored inflexibility — then most when the whole cry of voices is on the other side. Else, to-morrow a stranger will say with masterly good sense precisely what we have thought and felt all the time, and we shall be forced to take with shame our own opinion from another.

If you don’t, you’ll likely have to take your own opinion from Group A or, worse, Group B.

Alienated majesty, indeed.

Image by geralt, courtesy of