July 17th, 2006

Making Sense of the 2.0 Ideological Polemic

by

Jeff Jarvis and Amanda Chapel (aka Strumpette) are going at it over the Dell issue and in the process are stirring up such a heavy cloud of ideology that it’s hard to get your bearings. I thought it was worth trying to boil it down to some simpler, less ideologically-colored observations and lessons:

– Companies used to be able to get away with making crappy products and offering crappy services because they were able to mass market people into submission and because consumers didn’t have a way to make their unhappiness widely known.

– Thanks to the proliferation of content (both “professional” and “consumer-generated”) and content channels, mass media and thus mass marketing are now dead, so there is no longer an effective way to sell crappy products and services.

– Through blogs, video sharing, and other platforms for cheap content creation and distribution, individual consumers now have a powerful way to spread the word on crappy products and services on a large scale.

The lessons for companies:

1. Make better products and offer better services, or your business will likely suffer.
2. If you make mistakes, listen to your customers and fix the mistakes.

There it is a nutshell, without a single “ism.”

Comments (11 Responses so far)

  1. observations and lessons

  2. Earlier this week Scott Karp offered the following excellent “observations and lessons”: Companies used to be able to get away with making crappy products and offering crappy services because they were able to mass market people into submission and because consumers didn’t have a way to make their unhappiness widely known.

  3. Bravo, Scott, brilliantly done.

  4. [...] : LATER: Scott Karp does an excellent job cutting through the crap and clouds to get to the point: eff Jarvis and Amanda Chapel (aka Strumpette) are going at it over the Dell issue and in the process are stirring up such a heavy cloud of ideology that it’s hard to get your bearings. I thought it was worth trying to boil it down to some simpler, less ideologically-colored observations and lessons: [...]

  5. Unfortunately, that actually sidesteps the core of the issue: How much can a company cut corners before that process shifts from a profitable strategy to an unprofitable strategy?

    Repeating, loudly, and then repeating, LOUDLY, that there’s a point of diminishing returns, and we’re now at the point, does not in fact make it true.

  6. It doesn’t take many words to say what needs saying. You said it all and I agree completely.

  7. Scott,

    I think that this is a great breakdown on one aspect of how business is changing these days in response to the evolution of mass media. The new media forms are not only making an even playing field between consumers and businesses, they are also causing the consumer to have higher standards and raising the bar for companies. One of the implications of this is that it makes more and more room for companies to actually solve pains that were left untouched before because the volume wasn’t high enough on their incompetency.

  8. One more thing –

    Hype comes from Hyperbole and is a close neighbor of hyp-ocrisy.

    Communication comes from communion and is a close neighbor of community.

    One builds relationships that are valued by humans. The other does not.

    Learn the difference.

  9. Seth: “How much can a company cut corners before that process shifts from a profitable strategy to an unprofitable strategy?”

    Answering questions like that is one reason corporate CEOs are paid mega$s. Another reason is explaining their answer to the stockholders.

    (The answers are: You don’t know until you try, and the shift point isn’t static. But if you pay attention to your business, your customers, and your market, hopefully you won’t make too many mistakes, and you’ll recover quickly from the ones you DO make!)

  10. Stirring stuff.
    But there’s a world of difference between wishing that mass media/marketing were dead, and that actually being the case,. What you are saying is, far from being ideology-free, so rooted in ideology that it has blinded you to the persistent realities of media production and consumption.
    We need to take much more care with the hype filter whenever we write sentences that include the words ‘platform’, ‘individuals’ and ‘content’. Otherwise, you end up with simplistic anti-ismism.

  11. Charles,
    I think understand the difference between hype and communication — what’s your point exactly?

    Bohsnews,
    It is more accurate to say that mass media/marketing are certainly not dead yet, but are in steady decline — I disagree that there is anything “persistent” about the current realities. Perhaps you need to check your vision.

    As to correlation between buzzwords and hype, I suppose there is one, and you’re never going to be hype, but the mere use of buzzwords doesn’t prove anything. And without generalization, it’s hard to talk about trends.

    “Anit-ismism” — interesting coinage.

  12. [...] [...]

  13. The notion that there is no effective way to sell crappy products and services strikes me as wildly wrong. My e-mail is chock full of crappy products and services, many of them illegal and/or outright fraudulent.

    Who falls for such stuff? Hardly anybody. But with the cost of “advertising” close to zero, enough suckers are pulled in to, presumably, make these ventures profitable. Simply because of the cost of doing business, the mass market weeded out far more of this crap than the new media do.

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