Bill Hicks and Marketing

I used to hate that I was studying marketing, and I didn’t really know why until I heard an old Bill Hicks bit:

By the way if anyone here is in advertising or marketing… kill yourself…

No really, there’s no rationalization for what you do and you are Satan’s little helpers. Okay – kill yourself – seriously. You are the ruiner of all things good, seriously. No this is not a joke, you’re going, “there’s going to be a joke coming,” there’s no fucking joke coming. You are Satan’s spawn filling the world with bile and garbage. You are fucked and you are fucking us. Kill yourself. It’s the only way to save your fucking soul, kill yourself…

I know what all the marketing people are thinking right now too, “Oh, you know what Bill’s doing, he’s going for that anti-marketing dollar. That’s a good market, he’s very smart.”…Goddamnit, I’m not doing that, you scum-bags! Quit putting a goddamn dollar sign on every fucking thing on this planet!

I was actually embarrassed the first time I heard that routine a few years ago. Obviously, there are immoral people in every occupation, but marketing seemed inherently immoral. I saw it as an unnecessary evil. I was upset that I’d chosen marketing as a major, because I thought it clashed with my ethics. Marketing, to me, was the way businesses manipulated the masses into buying things they didn’t need.

Luckily, that’s when I started reading Seth Godin’s work. All of his ideas made sense to me, and better yet, he emphasized treating consumers as people – nothing else. He stressed the importance of building a meaningful relationship with someone so that they’ll want to do business with you. Seth doesn’t want products to cater to the masses. He knows everyone is different, so a company should cater its services to the customers they’d choose (if they could choose their customers).

I’m really excited to be a part of Seth’s virtual intern group. I’ll be posting my thoughts on it periodically on here.

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