Saturday, 28 February 2009

Social Media and Marketing Mystics

image credit

So, what is the truth about social media marketing thought and practice? Does engagement with social media require a new 'paradigm'? does it deliver on its promise?

Cam Beck of Chaos Scenario has posted a thought provoking piece asking if Social Media experts have actually delivered anything for their clients. Are social media marketing people at risk of becoming classed as mystics and soothsayers rather than being regarded as credible business practitioners?

Let me start by explaining my position. I got into the on-line social media world two years ago. My interest was driven by two key factors. I was curious about digital social media as a social phenomenon and I wanted to understand how it applied to the daily practice of marketing (whatever we mean by that).One was a broadly academic interest and the other a management interest. Fusing the two together means that I try and look at digital social media affairs from a 'critical marketing' perspective, not as an outsider (marketing is a wicked and evil profession that promotes consumerism and materialism), but as an insider who has 'done the job' and now researches and educates in the field with an avid interest in new and best practice.

Many of you will be familiar with 'dual process' modes of information processing. In order to think critically about marketing it means that I spend a lot of time in the 'systematic' mode trying to unpack the underlying assumptions people make when they are making their claims for the efficacy of a particular marketing management approach. Warning! doing this a lot can make you really pedantic and you can end up as 'Billy No Mates'. That said, critical marketing is not just about using a marketing method or technique and then assessing what worked, what didn't, and proposing an improved way of doing it. It's being wised up to the the taken for granted assumptions that lie behind what marketing people believe is 'the correct marketing way'

Non-Marketing Managers and management writers often criticise marketing for not being accountable, good at spending money and not too good at demonstrating R.O.I. This is because they are driven by the 'managerialist paradigm'. 'Good' management by this view is objective, rational, planned, logical and evidence based. This view also criticises marketing because it is prone to 'faddism', the sort of conversation that claims 'Twitter is the new Facebook' or 'Collaboration is the new Competition' etc etc. Marketeers who indulge in this line of thinking tend to be information 'splitters', seeking out the differences rather than the sameness and claiming the discovery of something fresh and new that everyone else has missed. They also prey on less critical or informed business minds only too keen get 'that competitive edge'.

Typical of marketing management writers who urge caution when dealing with marketing mystics are Robert Shaw and David Merrick, who recommend maintaining a sceptical gaze when looking at people who claim to possess special insight into the workings of the customer mind and who treat Branding as messing with Barbarella's ogasmatron! Similarly managerialist writers such as Emperor Kotler take great pains to ensure that marketing has scientific credibility, and tend to airbrush out of the picture emotions and perceptions as a crucial aspect of the marketing job. (See how face to face selling and marketing communications are relegated to aspects of the marketing mix in this type of writing)

One of the ironies of being a marketing professional is, like us or loathe us the vast majority of people see us being particularly skilled in social influence. The public face of marketing IS face to face selling and marketing communications! By definition this means we have to be involved in all aspects of rhetoric, the pathos (emotion, perception, experience) the ethos (authenticity and responsibility) not just the logos (method and measurement).

For me digital social media is a crucial dimension of modern marketing that should resist having the soul beaten out of it by the logisticians. Throughout history whatever the organisation, commercial or public service, whoever the trader one man band or big corporate people with something to sell (idea, product, service)have been in the business of connecting with human beings and conducting conversations. Does this mean that it is unaccountable? No! of course not.

Social media marketeers don't necessarily have to deliver a direct 'cause and effect' sales result. They can be measured in terms of influence and engagement. Creating conversational arenas, the tone of the dialogue, the shaping of thought are fundamental aspects of marketing effectiveness too. A social media strategy is about creating a space in which the organisation and its representatives become respected for their thought and opinion leadership. Once social trust has been created then people will trust your products and services. This is not new! How often have you heard people say 'this is a people business you know'

So, in response to the question 'what have you done for me lately social media expert' you will do well if you are an honest broker. You are critical of faddism and mysticism, you ensure there is ethical robustness between conversational claims and product and service feature and benefits and you skillfully construct appealing and dynamic social spaces in the minds of the people you seek to influence.

What do you think?

Read More:
Green Comunications Blogs About 'The Emperors New Clothes

And straight from the hip is...
Wolf-Howl a great post about social media 'b.s.' and false gods and idols. ^5.

Thursday, 26 February 2009

Should Sir Fred Goodwin Be Nominated For A Blighthood?

If we let Sir Fred Goodwin keep his pension then he should forfeit his knighthood. His stewardship of the biggest corporate loss in UK history is a national embarrassment and the decisions made on his watch have adversely affected millions of people. History will judge if he has taken advantage of people through his position.

A knighthood is a public privelage and the behaviour of Sir Fred Goodwin, whilst legally correct, publically undermines the status of the award and the social recognition and position it gives.

According to wikipedia a Knight should protect the weak, defenseless, helpless, and fight for the general welfare of all and were trained to practise courteous, honorable behaviour, These principles seem incompatible with what is being reported in the media. How does a society protect itself against people who appear determined to take advantage of power and privelage?

Sir Fred Goodwin is in a corner.
His business and commercial credibility looks fragile, his opportunities for future work look limited, his social status is tarnished. He has nothing to loose. Nothing to loose in a material sense that is. He will fight tooth and claw to keep the pension pot that will ensure his survival. If that is the case then society should speak. The status and public recognition that a knighhood gives should be wrested from his grasp and whilst Sir Fred Goodwin has not been convicted of a criminal offence, why shouldn't he join the list of people who have had their honours removed?

Roger Casement Spy who betrayed his country
Jack Lyons convicted of fraud in the 1980s.
Anthony Blunt Spy who betrayed his country
Terence Lewis charged of corruption and forgery
Albert Henry convicted of electoral fraud in the 1980s.
Nicolae Ceauşescu dictator
Robert Mugabe dictator and fiscal mis-manager

A knighthood in the British Honours System is awarded for public service. I wonder if we should introduce a Blighthood for public disgrace!

What do you think?

Read more:
Fred's Pension Stand-off
Blog Comment form Daniel 1979
Blog comment from Liberal England
Blog comment from Mars Hill's Paul Burgin

A Good Win For A Bad Loss

Forgive me if I am confused. Sir Fred Goodwin gets a pension worth £693,000 per annum because he negotiated a contract that said he was entitled to this sum regardless of performance.

This means that he knew he was 'feather-bedded' from the moment he took on his job. His pension was, in effect, a long term bonus by any other name. What sort of incentive is that to do good job? This is a soothing tropical breeze compared to the icy blasts being experienced by many people are suffering as a direct consequence of commercial ineptitude.

The pension sum is extraordinary in relation to that expected by the majority of people, who are ruthlessly measured and controlled in the managerial panopticans that are the love of senior managers like banking leaders (sic) and who subscribe to the mantra of Kaplan and Norton that 'what you measure is what you get'.

The bit that is missing of course is, that "I'll measure you but you don't measure me!"..."I'll make sure you don't measure my performance and in that way you won't get any performance from me!" Nice One Fred More Money into the black hole.

This is gullibility.

Wednesday, 25 February 2009

The Paradox Of Bishop Richard Williams Beliefs

image credit Yahoo

I find it fascinating that controversial Bishop Richard Williams belongs to a profession that depends entirely on belief in a meta-physical entity and yet he disbelieves the physical evidence of the holocaust.

It would be interesting to hear his explanation for the criteria he uses for judging what counts as 'knowledge'. By his reckoning it seems you can be choosy with empirical evidence (unless the film crews at Belsen staged everything, the survivors of the concentration camps are lying, and the nazi staffers made up their records, which I doubt) and you can have faith in something that is invisible and for which there is no way of testing for its existence.

Please do not misunderstand me. I am not arguing for a position that says people shouldn't hold a spiritual faith and be concerned with spiritual affairs, I am just pointing out that it is curious that he prefers to believe in something that has less empirical evidence than something like the extermination of six million people.

As we know, we can believe in things that are not true and disbelieve things that are true. This is gullibility.

Hear more:

You Tube
Nazi Row Bishop Returns To UK

Monday, 23 February 2009

When Is A Policeman Not A Policeman?

Image credits Fife Police and ifls

Answer. When he's a P.R. man!

There is a fine line between imagining 'scenarios' and talking 'as if' they were true. It is the Police's job to think through possibilities and prepare for them it is not their job to speak publicly about things that haven't happened.

This is the way of the 'altercaster' The way of speaking about people 'as if they' behave in a particular way. This is careless because when people are 'cast' in a role they tend to behave in that role.

Inadvertently the public relations message of Summer of Rage is commanding an unwanted behaviour. The Police (even if they are preparing for the 'summer of rage' scenario might do better in public by talking about 'expecting well ordered protests' or 'good natured demonstrations'. Stick to Policing not P.R. or assume your part in the problem.

This is gullibility.

Read more:
The Guardian
The Telegraph
NCLG blog
Old Holborn

Sunday, 22 February 2009

Personal Reputation And Privacy In The Digital Space

There seems to be a bit of a buzz at the moment about how we manage our reputations and privacy in the digital space. Cam Beck has just written a great post about How to Avoid the Perils of Blended Networks I agree with Cam and everyone who says it's an important topic. Where I differ slightly is on the matter of whether we are dealing with a strange and new phenomenon. In my comment on Cam's article I suggest forgetting about the technology, and delighting in the novelty and navigation complexity of the digital space and just get back to simple social common sense.

Just reading through these 100 Tips, Tools, and Resources to Protect Your Online Reputation its clear that digital technology provides us with a host of challenges and tools to help us. Check out Mihaela's post about how SearchWiki Fuels Defamation too.

At the end of the day though, I think that we're really gullible if we believe that we aren't being followed, searched for, and tracked. That's what the whole digital space is about isn't it?

As a mind-game I'm tempted to ask 'where is the difference' between what we do today with our Facebooks, Plaxos, Friend Feeds, Twitters, Second Brains, Mixx's, Reddits, Stumbleupons. etc etc that is any different from life in the early twentieth century, the sixteen hundreds, Roman times? We are social animals and the fundamentals of our communication interactions has not changed for thousands of years. Reputation, Privacy, and Indiscretion have always been with us and always will be.

We talk of the global village. Perhaps we should behave like we actually live in a village then! A place where people know all about our comings and goings and the ways we think and behave.

Swish those digital net curtains folks. Thinking that we are special by giving the digital experience a new special name like 'Blended Media' simply distracts us from the point. Maybe we should aspire to getting the people we connect with to remeber that people will always ask... "Who was is that Masked Man?"

Read more:

Saturday, 21 February 2009

Australian Woman Caught Playing With Fire

image credit The Crikey Files

What happens when self interest goes wrong?

I would really like to know how the Australian woman recently caught for conning funeral expenses out of the Australian government for a bogus relative rationalised her actions.

Some people seem to have a nose for situations where they are able to take advantage of others When most others are focussed on helping their fellows in trouble these types are thinking about ways they can maximise personal benefit from the circumstances. They are fixated with deception

Her actions are not 'mere theft'. When you take advantage of someone the psychological effects last way after the physical impacts have been erased from the landscape. Betrayal of others in the community should not be treated lightly.

Gullibility is the manipulation of the situation not necessarily a failing on the part of individals.

Read more:
Help Bushfire Victims
Helping bushfire victims
Victims Denied A Voice April 2009

Wednesday, 18 February 2009

The Madness Of Releasing The Yorkshire Ripper

The prospect that The Yorkshire Ripper Peter Sutcliffe might be considered for release because in the opinion of clinical psychologists 'he no longer represents a threat' is alarming.

In the language of social influence this is a Fundamental Attribution Error and society would be really gullible if they acted on the advice the clinicians.

We shouldn't be susceptible to what is the psychological equivalent of 'Captainitis' where because these people have the titles & trappings of their profession we go along with everything they say. As cognitive psychlogists they are evidently locked in their own 'psychic prisons'.

The Yorkshire Ripper will obviously from a cognitive and personality point of view appear as 'No Threat' because the situation he is in is a controlled medical environment!

The point is that there is no way of predicting at all if in a free natural environment he will not revert to his killing behaviors. We do have chilling past evidence though that his situation provided the platform for his behaviour. Retired Detective Chief Superintendent Chris Gregg is right to be staggered at the prospect.

So what do these cognitive scientists suggest? Gathering empirical evidence? Let this mass murderer out into a normal environment and see what happens? A normal environment for Peter Sutcliffe will probably mean that he returns to his normal behaviour.

Situations affect behaviour Don't believe me? Take your drum kit down to the library and start playing it, then tell me what happens.

Do you think this serial killer should be released on the recommendation of prison psychologists? Let me know.

Read more:
Yorkshire Ripper Fit To Be Freed
Peter Sutcliffe
Exploring Lunatic Asylums
Ripper To Be Freed From Broadmoor

Sunday, 15 February 2009

Lies, Deception and The Selfish Meme

image credit Walt Disney

I'm reading Richard Dawkins book The Selfish Gene for the first time. I have never read Pinnochio.

On page 63 of the 30th Anniversary edition of The Selfish Gene (OUP) he says...

"A survival machine may be said to have communicated another one when it influences the behaviour or the state of its nervous system". This got me thinking about general social situations and current affairs like the Banking fiasco and how unscrupulous people are hell bent on making sure their version of events survive.

I have also recently read Steven Pinker's book The Blank Slate in which he explains that:

"Every human relationship…has a distinct psychology forged by a pattern of converging and diverging interests" adding that we "suppress evidence that we are not as beneficent or competent as we would like to think"

In other words if we think we've been gullible because we haven't spotted someone lying or decieving us then we should be kinder to ourselves because we are so susceptible to the power and skill of a deciever.

Robert Trivers suggests that:

“If…deceit is fundamental to animal communication, then there must be strong selection to spot deception and this ought, in turn, to select for a degree of self-deception, rendering some facts and motives unconscious so as not to betray…the deception being practised. Thus the conventional view that natural selection favours nervous systems which produce ever more accurate images of the world must be a very naïve view of mental evolution”

Woah!! our nervous systems (brains and cognitions) are NOT about creating the truth and there is survival benefit in telling lies.

Dawkins points out (p64) that many animals are in the business of deception from butterflies to angler fish, glow worms to hover-flies. With the Bankers in mind (and of course this applies to any deciever in any social situation), Dawkins then makes the precient remark that:

"Whenever a communication system evolves there is always the danger that some will exploit the system for their own ends...we must expect lies and deceit and selfish exploitation of communication to arise whenever the interests of the genes of different individuals diverge...we must even expect children to decieve their parents, that husbands will cheat on their wives and that brother will lie to brother"

Powerful ‘mind-sets’ (the rich, the bully, the narcissist) make sense of and speak of the world in a particular way. This could be described as the ‘selfish meme’ It resists changes that might be made to a direction it didn’t want to go. Change is not about rational actors but rationalising people. These rationalisations (theories for success and of causes and effects) are expressed as words that grow into discourses, which in turn inhabit the world of social influence, a world in which rival versions of the truth seek to survive longer than their adversaries by any means they can in order to protect the psychological integrity of the individual who cares for them.

The only evolutionary development human's needed now is for lying genes to influence the size of someone's nose just like Pinnochio. Just imagine...never being duped again, I could justify my investment in my wide screen TV because of its ability to cope with 'Nasal Extensiveness'seen in Political Broadcasts and in Treasury Committee hearings :)

Thursday, 12 February 2009

Bankers, Big Business and Ferengi Ethics

Recognise the face? Its Quark the Ferengi bartender from Star Trek. Quark has a reputation for being unscrupulous in his commercial dealings. How much does Quark represent the dealings of modern banking and business?

N.Craig Smith Professor of Marketing at Georgetown University wrote a paper in 1995 entitled Marketing Strategies For The Ethics Era

It was published in the Sloan Management Review volume 36 issue 4.

In his abstract Professor Smith says:

"Marketing strategies are increasingly subject to public scrutiny and are being held to higher standards. Caveat emptor is no longer acceptance as a basis for justifying marketing practices..Today, consumers' interests are increasingly favored over producers' consumers can make informed choices, and less capable consumers are offered special protection. The author provides a practical framework - including the consumer sovereignty test - for marketers to apply to their decision making."

Smith suggested that Businesses just like the products they produce could be labelled in a way that showed their attitude and performance in respect of:

Consumer Capability - (is the consumer vulnerable?)
Information - (are expectations and promises realised?)
Choice - (do customers have an opportunity to switch?)

His checklist is elaborated in the paper to include aspects of:
Product Policy - product safety, deceptive packaging, planned obsolesence etc
Marketing Communications - questionable sales techniques, misrepresentation, conflicts of interests, ie pushing products not best suited to the customer, puffery, advertising as hidden perusader.
Pricing deceptive, unfair
Distribution selective, deliberate shortages

How these issues echo today with the 2009 financial crisis. and it is interesting to note the UK Prime Minister's concern with controlling the excesses of The Banking Bonus Culture

Tuesday, 10 February 2009

Goodwin, McKillop, Hornby, and Stevenson Banking's 4 Messketeers

In parliament today there was Neither Sorrow or Honour for the 4 Messketeers as they tried to explain that they had not taken advantage of their positions, power, authority and customers.

The great and the 'good' (sic) of British Banking were brought before the UK's Parliamentary Treasury Committee today to explain their industry's ineptitude.

Sir Fred Goodwin, Sir Tom McKillop, Andy Hornby, and Lord Stevenson made a feeble attempt at explaining the disgraceful behaviour of policy makers and decisions takers in their organisations, and sought to explain away the societal havoc they have caused with a 'sorry'.

Just how authentically 'sorry' are these bean counters for destroying the innovative ideas, loyalty, and industry of ordinary people? How can they possibly truly relate to what they've done?

I believe there is only one way that they can atone for their misjudgement in a way that is unequivocal and for all to see. These people and their lieutenants might consider Seppuku because that is a clear demonstration of their contrition. The Samurai certainly had a sense of honour.

I would be interested to hear their reasons for not doing this? Is it because they believe that their 'talents' are too indispensible for the resurrection of their industry? That they think that way is hardly surprising when one of the 4 Mesketeers,is retained at £60,000 a month (paid out taxpayers money)to advise Lloyds TSB!!

These people have built their careers on the expectation that people will be gullible and treat their utterances and actions uncritically. For the first time the social influence of social media and networking can bring the full force of public opinion to their ears. No longer can people like this assume they can take advantage of their customers with impunity.

New rules should be brought to the financial service industry that mirror the medical profession. We should have the ability to strike inept bankers off so that they can never operate in financial services industry in any capacity whatsoever for as long as they live. If they consider that to be too long a duration...they have an option of course.

Sunday, 8 February 2009

Justin Urquhart Stewart Warns Banking Talent Will Leave UK

Investment expert Justin Urquhart Stewart
has just been on UK TV with a shock revelation that UK banking talent will leave the country if they don't get their bonuses paid Well Justin, just how gullible do you feel the general public are?

I bet, dear reader, your knees are knocking! Oh nooooooooooo what are we going to do? All that outstanding talent leaving our shores. How could they? Don't they realise the nation is in peril.

So tell me, how would you characterise this 'talent' exactly? I guess negotiating bomb proof bonus schemes is a talent, and of course keeping your job despite engineering global financial catastrophe, that's pretty skilful too. Sort of on a par with a surgeon, or a great educator, an innovative engineer, or a great composer don't you think Justin?

Why Are RBS Bankers Getting Bonuses?

image credit DK Images

It seems that the bankers at the Royal Bank of Scotland are intent on paying themselves massive bonuses out of the cash the taxpayer has given them to sort their abysmally run operations.

The jaw dropping arrogance of these people just underlines their sense of untouchability and distance from the 'real world'

There is much talk at the moment of reviewing the management systems and methods of banking practices. I don't hold out much hope for any major impact because the people involved are imaginative and knowledgeable enough to devise methods to circumvent any attempts to inhibit their excesses.

These people see themselves as Rule Makers not Rule Takers They devote a huge amount of intellectual effort into devising and playing systems. Strip away the facade of the Banker and you see them for what they really are.

If asked asked about their 'job' they will explain what it IS that they do, and provide rationally plausible answers in terms of the mechanics of the financial products they devise and sell. They will never tell you what they really DO, because that would reveal their secret. What they DO is devise financial instruments and methods that are capable of general personal wealth using 'other people's money'

This habit is so ingrained in the Banker's DNA that they are impelled to behave in this way regardless of circumstances. How else can any of them explain the payment of performance bonuses in the current climate? "It's just something we 'DO'. We line our pockets with other people's money don't we! Have you got a problem with that? It's all clearly laid out in our psychological contracts you know!"

And, of course, the next move, if the cash bonus is too crass, will be to 'renumerate' by other methods, 'gifts', shares etc. So let's all watch out for this and stop it too.

Senior bankers need to be hauled before a Parliamentary Committee in order to explain their philosophy and to to justify their intended courses of action. They need to behave like the Civil Servants they have now become. They need to explain why they believe it is OK to take advantage of millions of people on top of the woeful mess they have already created. I can't imagine any of them are capable of answering questions in a satsifactory mannner, because the lack any practice in being forthright and speaking with veracity.

Time for some pig farming and it looks like Farmer Brown is getting his pole axe ready

Gordon Bown Angry At Bonuses

Thursday, 5 February 2009

How Can The Royal Bank of Scotland Justify Bonuses

image credit the breakthrough

How on earth can the RBSjustify the payment of millions of pounds in bonuses in any way whatsoever? This is a smack in the mouth for the taxpayer. We've been mugged.

If the government permit this then the government needs voting out.

The RBS claim that they will loose 'talent' if they don't pay the bonuses. Is this the same talent that set up miselling schemes, the foreclosure on mortgages, the pushing of current account upgrade schemes?

This news is offensive. It can only reinforce the arrogance of unscrupulous bank executives and condone their ineptitude. They are manipulating the situation to give the impression of their indispensibility and making us all look very gullible indeed.

We are all being taken advantage of. People in the banking profession should hang their heads in shame. They do nothing of real value to contribute to society. They don't make anything, they don't improve people's health, they don't educate, they don't protect.

They should show a huge amount of humility and gratitude that they are still in work. Paying RBS Bonuses is verging on theft.

The Daily Telegraph describes the feeling perfectly when they say "Bankers have descended...into public odium" I agree the paying of these bonuses stinks.

Wednesday, 4 February 2009

The Social Psychology of Jade Goody's Health

So how do we rationalise our feelings given the sad news that Jade's illness has progressed? The cost of celebrity means that the private and the public become fused together, and you and I become fused to the celebrity. The cost to the celebrity is perpetual limelight regardless of the circumstances and the cost to us is perpetual involvement whether we ask for it or not.

We become 'involved' in a way that only interconnected media can achieve.

On the one hand many of us will have an image of Jade as a rather boorish, cocky young lady who shot her mouth off in careless ways. On the other hand we are confronted with the tragedy of a fellow human being facing a terrible illness.

Social Psychologists give this the name Cognitive Dissonance the unpleasant feeling we get when we try to reconcile two conflicting 'cognition's'. If you are familiar with Jade how do you feel right now?

Here's Anorak UKs take, and I have to say I wonder what role the media should play in this.

The Press Trust of India reports in a matter of fact way.

I suppose news like this causes us to think about the principals of life. Perhaps the realisation that regardless of the chase for material wealth and fame is folly because it doesn't make us immune to the vagaries of our basic biology.

The other effect Jade's story has on us relates to 'rules of thumb' or heuristics. One type of heuristic is called the Availability Heuristic What this does is make us feel that the more frequently we are aware of something such as Jade's story the more likely it can effect us. This skews our reality and increases personal concern and worry. Now, we can't complain if we've bought into Celebrity. We are gullible if we believe there aren't consequences for ourselves by participating in the Celebrity Circus.

Cognitive Dissonance and The Availibility Heuristic are the cost of the ticket to the show.

Jade's Story

Latest developments on dying in the limelight
Goody family supports OK! tribute

Sunday, 1 February 2009

Drug Company or Drug Dealer?

The UK Government are drawing attention to the way in which Drug Company representatives are taking advantage of Doctors by offering 'gifts' as incentives or 'thankyou's' for placing an order. In her recent article Call for end to drug firms' gifts Jane Dreaper reveals how drug companies are enticing Doctors to try their drugs by offering a gift

Where exactly is the difference between this behaviour and the behaviour of street drug pushers?

At the moment the industry code of practice allows:

"drug companies to give small promotional gifts that are relevant to doctors' work, such as pens or surgical gloves."

Just how gullible is the industry?? Have they not read anything of Robert Cialdini's work in influence and persuasion? it is precisely because the gifts are small that they have so much persuasive power!!

The Drug companies are sophisticated commercial enterprises who are clearly familiar with marketing and selling methods. What these small gifts do is tap into a phenomenon known as Reciprocation. This works because no matter how small the gift we feel morally compelled to 'repay the favour' as a way of achieving psychological balance. Not only that once a person has agreed to a small request, they are much more likely to be predisposed to 'up-selling'.Its the same approach that supermarkets use when offering 'taster' samples, or charities do when they send a pen with a donation request. Give somebody an unsolicted gift and they are strongly compelled to return the favour. Do it to enough people and even a small percentage of 'takers' dramatically affects the bottom line.

The real bonus is that the Drug Company sales people are dealing with Doctors. Highly trained professionals such as medical people, accountants, solicitors etc have a well developed sense of their ability to be in control of their decision making. They believe it is impossible for them to be taken advantage of. Chris Argyris covers this in a fascinating Harvard Business Review article called Teaching Smart People How To Learn In the article Argyris explains that professionals firmly believe they are more astute and aware than the average Joe or Josephine and are simply resistant to being duped. They believe they are cognitively 'in control' of the situation and are too smart to be affected by mere sales ploys.

What they underestimate is the emotional, sub conscious effect of techniques such as giving a small gift. Just like the street drug user, they think that they are the one's in control, believing that trying 'just a small amount' keeps them in control. Don't be daft! as soon as you try the sample, accept the freebie you're hooked!

Dr Carol Cooper told the BBC that doctors were professionals and unlikely to be unduly influenced by the drug companies.Accept a small gift and as medical practioners will understand, you take the first step on the 'addiction career path'...Oh dear Carol...they've got you!!!