The self-deceit of marketing

We have already talked about trust, and how easy it is to lie or feel that we are being lied to. But one of the hardest things to accept is when we self-deceive ourselves, because if something goes wrong, who can we blame? This is frequent at an individual as well as social level, but our work in marketing is not exempt from this type of dynamic….

We live in an age in which there is a king. As in other historical periods in which everyone respected and admired the church or state (and their representatives), today our respect and admiration is for money. Although it is true that nowadays values such as experiences are installed and strengthened (to which there is better access if we have money) and innovation (for which many do not have the skills); It is also true that even today economic growth continues to be a synonym of progress – at times no matter what the cost. This is reflected on the focus of businesses; despite their attempt to work on values such as experience and innovation and consumer- centric strategies, what is really important continues to be the business.

Our Business Plans are centered on that, on reaching the numbers and maximizing profits, sometimes even to the detriment of our own employees, the environment, our consumers or fairness. What is funny is that in many cases we do it pretending that we have a higher purpose or by dressing reality to make it look like something else. It seems as if the stories we are used to making in marketing end up having an effect on our own selves.

Why? Don´t we live in a moment in which we talk about this “millennial” impetus? Being pro ecology, leaving a positive foot print on the world, being empathetic with others, privileging our client, our audience, our consumer. Yes, but it is also true that for years, job after job in company after company, they have taught us that what is important is to surpass the sales of the previous year. It is not surprising that we have already internalized it as a mantra.

Let´s imagine that we resign from our current job because it doesn´t fulfil us; we move to another company where oh surprise, there´s a Social Responsibility Department! We think that everything we do from now on will be to improve our environment, to contribute to the proposed cause (donate to under privileged communities, plant trees, promote different types of sustainable energy, etc.). But honestly….can we get that mantra of selling more out of our heads? That business chip that has already been installed in us? If we conduct an honesty check, are we really thinking of benefiting the consumer? To be sincere the inertia of the business propitiates that the real intentions are related to increasing our own numbers and has little to do with improving our environment or the consumer´s life, and although there are few exceptions, luckily they increase every day.

Sometimes it would seem that we self-deceive ourselves. We think (sincerely believe) that we are improving people´s lives, but in reality we are chasing that double digit growth. We design very inspiring strategies that touch sustainability values, innovation, experience motivation, and we show them to others, like us, immersed in our own industry…. And everyone applauds. So it isn´t surprising that when we venture out of that same ecosystem, things don´t work so well; the lie is evident, although it seems undetectable to us from the inside..

How do we realize this in order to compensate in time and truly move towards implementing a greater good? As with our personal sphere, when we aren’t on the right track, we need someone to point it out to us. Someone with fresh eyes and objectives that will help us question our true purpose, or at least encourage us to be sincere and stop us in time.

In marketing, this is the role of the consulting firms, the innovation agencies, and the investigating (good) partners. Those who ask the right questions in order to stop deceiving ourselves. To rectify, to re-channel. In the same way that a good friend questions you, a good strategical partner challenges you.

If we truly want to place people at the center, a self-critical analytical exercise is fundamental within a world ruled by economical profits. .Had you thought about that?