Tuesday, 10 April 2007

Sales and Marketing

It is interesting that Carroll reinforces a popular archetype of salesmen and advertisers. This perception, much to the chagrin of marketing educators and professionals is even held not just by ‘joe consumer’ but senior commercial executives too! Much of the contemporary discussions regarding marketing as a profession involves the recognition that marketers have even developed a reputation at board level and amongst colleagues for being “unaccountable, expensive, untouchable, and slippery” (McDonald, Smith, Ward 2006 Marketing Due Diligence) and Shaw and Merrick 2005 Marketing Payback) note that marketing types are “portrayed as false, immoral scoundrels” It should come as no surprise that the notion of ‘cognitive dissonance’ features heavily in marketing business books. Cognitive dissonance is the feeling we get after we have bought or experienced something and we feel uncertain that we have ‘done the right thing’ A lot of ‘stuff’ at the tricks and ploys end of the sales and marketing spectrum can create this. For example – just how did I end up with the premium spec car when I went in for the basic, I know I shouldn’t have bought that chocolate bar I feel as guilty as hell now etc. At the, shall we say, more benign end of the spectrum – we still feel ‘funny’ if we have splashed out on an a no doubt well deserved indulgence and marketers devote a lot of brain power to reducing the effects of the ‘dissonant’ feeling.

In Influence: Science and Practice, Robert Cialdini explains a whole range of techniques used by sales and advertising professionals to take money from your wallet and put it into theirs such as exploiting our,sense of social conformity through reciprocation, as an example my father was visited by an orthopedic bed salesman who arrived with a small cake and some flowers! – have the cake and buy the bed, I’ll be here for as along as it takes you to sign the order, faith in figures of authority, white coat syndrome – is the people on that soap advert really scientists! Carry a stethoscope and instantly ‘become’ a doctor!,confidence in the judgments of the majority – everybody does this you know – that’s why product testimonials work – it’s the way I’ve bought computer games since the Commodore 64, need to be liked – Cialdini warns us of that ‘instantaneous ‘rapport’ with good sales people. We’d never say they were trained to do this.

To be equitable, of course, we ought to keep a critically open mind on these perspectives too. After all who’s to say that every ‘marketer’ (whatever that means to you) or sales person (whatever that means to you) is like any of the above ‘characterisations’

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