First, I have to make a disclaimer. I am not advocating the following, I am reporting on it because it is interesting and illustrates several important properties of word of mouth.
Let’s call it hoax marketing:
Here’s the way it works:Read More Post a comment (0)
My interest in marketing started one day in my father’s drug store. I watched a Camel Cigarette salesman repeatedly approach customers who had just bought a pack of the largest competing brand, Chesterfield. He had pushed a Camel and a Chesterfield cigarette through two holes in a 3 x 5 index card, so that they couldn’t see the cigarettes’ brand names. He asked them to take a few puffs of each and tell him which they liked better. Most of the Chesterfield smokers said that they preferred the taste of the one that turned out to be a Camel. He showed them that they had chosen a different brand, Camel, over their regular brand. They were shocked, much to my amusement. It looked to me, at about the age of 12, like a pretty good joke on them. But then came my turn to be shocked. He offered to exchange the cigarettes they had just bought for his brand, whose taste they had just proven they preferred.
Most of them stuck with their regular brand!
I saw another salesman do a similar comparison test with Breyer’s Ice Cream. Same results. Even though they preferred Breyer’s, they walked out with their regular brand. “Why?” I wondered.
At the same time, I was learning to practice the art of slight-of-hand. As I mastered more and more sophisticated magic tricks, I realized that people saw what they wanted to see, no matter what the evidence said. Why?
I was hooked.Read More Post a comment (0)
Here’s a much more manageable table of contents of Secrets of Word-of-Mouth Marketing: Marketing in a World Where People Only Listen to their Friends, 2nd Ed. April of 2011 is the target publication date. But you don’t have to wait. My deal with my publisher is that I can use modern word-of-mouth marketing techniques and post the contents of the book online. If you want to carry it around and make marginal notes, you’ll have to buy the paper book or e-book when it comes out.
The Secrets of Word-of-Mouth Marketing, 2th Edition
Prologue: The Calf-Path
1. Why This Book—and Word-of-Mouth Marketing Today—Is Different
2. Changing Your—and Your Company’s—Way of Looking at Things
3. The Systematic Approach to Word of Mouth
4. Dominating Your Market by Easifying the Customer Decision Cycle
5. How to Use Word of Mouth to Easify the Decision Process
6. The Decision Process
7. The Nine Levels of Word of Mouth
8. Five M’s to Live By
9. Researching Word of Mouth
10. Creating the Content
11. Delivering the Message
12. Electronic Word of Mouth
13. Six Steps to Harnessing Word of Mouth
14. Viral Marketing…Maybe
15. Constructing the Ultimate Word-of-Mouth Campaign
16. Which Methods Work Best for What?: Word-of-Mouth Checklist
17. Your Word-of-Mouth Toolkit
18. Managing—and Leveraging—Negative Word of Mouth
19. Word-of-Mouth Marketing for Specific Audiences and Circumstances
20. Tips, Techniques, and Suggestions That Will Make It Easier
21. Word-of-Mouth Measurement
22. How to Fight Word-of-Mouth Fraud and Other Shady WOM Practices
The new media are not just incremental improvements. They are fundamentally new ways of doing things. They are supplanting the old media because something basic is changing. So, High Definition TV is only a quality improvement until it becomes so realistic that it changes people’s behavior. For instance, people actually stay home and invite friends over to watch a current movie via Blue-Ray DVD because it’s actually a better experience for them than going out to the movies: better video, ability to stop, better food, cheaper popcorn, ability to talk, etc.
Notice that almost every one of these increases both overload and word of mouth in some way. Some are actually WOM media, some stimulate WOM, and others force it.
It’s hard to believe that the following media emerged that weren’t even mentioned in the first edition this book because they didn’t exist or hadn’t caught on yet:
This isn’t a complete list, it’s in no particular order yet, and the categories are fluid and overlapping. It’s just to give you a flavor of how much we’ve been hit with in the last 10 years.
|Blogs||The whole world of Twitter, WordPress, Technorati, Blogger, TypePad, etc.|
|Rating & Review sites||Zagat, Yelp, Opentable, Tripadvisor, , C-net, hotels.com,, etc.|
|Social Networking||Facebook, Twitter, Linkedin, Myspace|
|Social Bookmarking||(Digg, Diigo, Stumbleupon, Reddit)|
|Mass Collaboration||Open Source Movement, Google Wave, Google Docs, Various Microsoft Collaboration Tools|
|Wikis||WikiPedia, WikiHow, WikiNews…|
|Remote meetings||GoToMeeting, Adobe Connect, etc.|
|Webinars, Remote Courses, etc.||University of Phoenix (current enrollment: 240,000+), 1000’s of private courses, etc.|
|Texting, Video chat||ICQ, iChat, Jabber, Buzz, etc.|
|RSS feeds, Newsreaders, News aggregators, Mega News Sites||“Reverse Browsing”: Google Reader, Netnewswire, Feedblitz, Feedburner, etc.|
|Customer-generated Media (CGM):||YouTube, Flickr, …|
|Recommendation Engines||Netflix, Jinni, IMDb, Rotten Tomatoes, Last.fm|
|MP3 players||iPods, Podcasting|
|500+ Cable, Fiber Optic and Dish Channels||CableVision, Fios, Dish Network|
|Downloaded TV Episodes||iTunes downloads, etc.|
|Web TV viewing||Hulu, Network web sites|
|Flat Screen TV, HDTV, 3-D TV and Movies||IMAX, home screens|
|Universal Remote Controls||Important means of skipping commercials, switching to other content. Lets people pause and engage in WOM.|
|Bigger than Movies and Music combined!|
|Microsoft X Box, Wii, Playstation|
|TiVo, Apple TV, Roku, Slingbox|
|Smart Phones||iPhones, Android Phones, etc.|
|Web 2.0||All customer-provided content sites|
|Shareware, donationware, etc.||Variably priced, payment optional, etc.|
|Filesharing Protocols and sites||Napster, LimeWire, Pirate Bay, BitTorrent, Magnet Links, etc.|
|Portable, High-Capacity Drives||USB Flash Drives, High Capacity portable drives|
|Music/Movie/Video Downloading services||iTunes Store, Apple TV, NetFlix,|
|E-Books & Readers||Kindle, iBook, Sony Reader, Zook, etc.|
|Digital Cameras, Video||Complete conversion to digital from film, pocket cameras with video.|
|Digital Photos and Video||Picassa, Flickr, Lightroom, iPhoto|
|Web Apps||Google, Google Apps, Microsoft Office Web Apps etc.|
|Mass Collaboration, Hive Mind|
|WOM agencies||Unknown in 2000, too numerous to mention now.|
|Advocacy Networks||BzzAgent, Tremor|
|Auction Sites||EBay (in its comparative infancy in 2000)|
|eCommerce, Electronic Payment Systems||PayPal, Google Checkout, millions of web sites|
|Very Fast Broadband and Broadband Wireless|
|App phones||IPhone, Android, etc.
With hundreds of thousands of apps, many designed to locate products, ratings, comparative prices, etc.
|VOIP||Skype, Vonnage, etc.|
|Ubiquitous Network Access||3G, 4G, WiFi, WiMax, VPNs|
|Cloud Computing: unlimited storage & processing on demand.||Amazon EC2, Google, etc.|
|Word of mouth agencies
…to name only broad categories. Some of these categories have hundreds to thousands of instances: Thousands of eBay merchants, thousands of rating sites, travel sites, mash-ups, etc.
Remember when we all had AOL accounts, brick-like cell phones, dial-up modems and used Yahoo as our search engine? That was right around 1997.
Gone — or almost gone — are faxes and faxback, hotlines, pagers, classified advertising, newspaper stock listings; physical dictionaries, encyclopedias, thesauruses; physical recording media such as floppy disks, records/cassettes/CDs/DVDs (almost), PDAs, photographic film, simple bulletin boards/forums, dial-up modems, Physical Maps, Traveler’s checks, telegrams, travel agents, pay phones.
Soon to be obsolete, or nearly so: Newspapers and magazines (in the paper forms we know them), paper books & bookstores, conventional libraries, handwritten prescriptions, land lines, paper money, major broadcast TV networks and cords connecting anything.
Notice that the new arrivals are almost all things that increase our interactivity and connectedness, and, thereby, our overload. They also increase our ability — actually necessity — to engage in word of mouth.
So, the Secrets you can learn from this are:
Involvement and collaboration is what it’s all about now.
The new media have brought a whole new level of overload.
A teacher once observed a child having trouble zipping up his jacket. She said, “The secret is to put the straight part all the way in, hold it in with one hand while pulling on the tab with the other hand.”
The child asked, “Why is that a secret?”
In this book, “Secrets” means key principles not generally known, not things people don’t want you to know.
The central purpose of this book is to lay out the secrets — key principles — of Word-of-Mouth Marketing, as distinct from all the details of the techniques. There are so many of them now that it would take 1000+ page book that would be instantly obsolete. By concentrating on principles, this book will help you even think about the things that haven’t been invented yet!
Microsoft recently sent me a survey with all the usual questions about their products and services. What an eye-opener. I used to spend most of my working life on their programs: Ran Windows programs, Outlook handled my calendar, contacts and to do’s, and Word and Powerpoint handled my writing and presentations.
The survey made me look at all these areas against Apple and Google. It made me realize how much I rely an Apple and Google for innovation, and how I’ve gradually drifted away from Microsoft’s technology. I miss Microsoft. I really do. They’re still innovative, but nothing like Apple and Google.
Judging from the emphasis in their ads, they understand that their customers want ease and simplicity. They are Easification Wannabees, which is better than being oblivious. Imagine what would happen if they were able to reach their aspirations?
- The marketplace is a powerful self-correcting mechanism.
- Even a company that totally dominated a field can be eroded.
- Never take your customers for granted.
- You cannot overestimate the power of Ease and Simplicity in driving sales.
- The Complexity Trap is almost inescapable (see below).
I’ve just tried Office 2011 for the Mac. I had high hopes that maybe Microsoft has evolved. They have, somewhat. The new Office illustrates the Complexity Trap. Once you’re in it, it’s almost impossible to get out of it because while I’m looking for a radical mutation into something as elegant as Pages, Keynote and Numbers, if they did that, their installed base would howl that things are no longer in the same place and now the program is harder to use. They struck a pretty good balance, but Word (all I’ve tried so far) certainly isn’t elegantly simple and intuitive yet. I see what they’re trying to do: gradually making it cleaner and easier. But at this rate, they’ll get there in about 25 years.
I would really like to like them again.
As I was writing about consulting with more clients in the form of smaller consultations, rather than mega-projects with giant companies, I remembered the following story:
A farmer was sitting at the side of the road, selling onions. A tourist stopped and asked how much the onions cost.
“A dollar a pound.”
“How many pounds do you have there?” asked the tourist.
“How much for all 20 pounds?”
“Thirty dollars,” said the farmer.
The tourist was surprised. “No, it should be less than $20 because 20 times one dollar should be $20, less a volume discount for taking them all off your hands at the same time.”
“I know that,” the farmer replied. “But if I sell all 20 pounds to you, I have to go home. If I sell them one pound at a time, I’ll get to meet and talk with 19 other interesting people like you.”
I’ve been telling that story for more than 30 years. It always impressed me. Originally, I heard it told about an “Indian.”
Life isn’t all about maximizing efficiency. By offering smaller consultations, I’m sure meeting a lot more interesting people. Who knew that custom sheds, unusual web sites, physician services, emergency management and other products I would never have heard of could be so interesting? What fun!
Small to Mid-Size Companies
Can Now Afford
an Expert Marketing Consultant
I will find the 2 or 3 hidden decision blocks that are killing your sales and show you how to fix them. Unlike most other marketing consultants, I’m not interested in tweaking and tuning — I’m interested in breakthroughs that multiply your sales.
I focus on THE most important thing that you’ll benefit from most: What is blocking your customers from deciding on your product and becoming an enthusiast? What’s making it hard for them? What would make that block go away or easy to overcome?
- I will give you breakthrough practical advice for your specific situation.
- I will rank my advice and just tell you the best next practical 2-3 steps that will make a dramatic difference, instead of overwhelm you with minor tweaks.
- You can “pick the brain” of an expert who has spent decades introducing hundreds of new products, services and ideas — and increasing the sales of established ones.
But how does a small to mid-size business with limited funds get access to a top marketing consultant?
Small to Mid-Size Business Marketing Consultation. Now.
In response to so many phone calls, emails and pleas for help from small and mid-size businesses, who agree with the idea of Decision Easification, I’ve created this consulting program for smaller and medium-sized companies with big ideas. You can simply “rent my brain.” You get sound, personalized guidance; clear advice; tested ideas; practical how-to’s; and candid feedback. I know you have many issues and questions. To get you started, here are some of the vital questions I’ve answered recently in 1½ hour consultations, often many questions in each consultation:
- Is my idea practical? How can I tell, without spending tens of thousands of dollars in surveys and focus groups? How can I turn it into something even more exciting?
- How can I get the word out, find my customers, or get them to find me, with a much more limited budget than competitors? Who should I be concentrating on?
- How can I describe my product or service to people who don’t know and don’t care if they need it? In this information-overloaded world, how do I get them to remove their earplugs?
- How can I avoid the pitfalls I’m sure to fall into — because almost very product does. Even experienced marketing VPs have only launched a handful of successful products in their careers. I’ve been a major advisor in the launch of hundreds (literally) of successful products — and a few failures. I’ve learned a lot along the way.
- What decision barriers am I going to run into? How can I avoid the avoidable, see the invisible and triumph over the inevitable obstacles?
- How can I possibly compete with companies hundreds of times my size — and compete in my market, not live off their niche table-scraps?
- What would be the best, clear, useful, practical, implementable marketing strategy for my product starting now, on a budget that works, with fewer risks and mistakes?
To see more possible questions, click here. How much would you be willing to pay to get several of these questions answered in ONE 1½ hour consultation? Read on; you’re in for a surprise.
How can I address several of these major issues in only one consultation?
Especially if we haven’t done the kind of in-depth marketing research that I’ve advocated all over this website? Experience. Mine and yours. I’ve been through the customer decision process of hundreds of products, services and concepts. I’ve reached a point where I can quickly zero in on major decision blocks just by looking at your marketing, and by listening to your descriptions of what is working and not working. And, you haven’t exactly been a hermit. You’ve talked with customers, received their praise and complaints, talked with your salespeople and others. You know much more than you think you know. So, my recommendations combined with your input can have a dramatic impact immediately.. Then, later on, you might want to do the kind of research I’m advocating to further optimize the system.
So, for example, I’m going to ask you to describe your trial process and your guarantees, or other risk-reduction techniques. I don’t need to do a lot of fancy research to know that a product with the wrong kind of trial is a product that is losing a lot of sales. But structuring a meaningful trial is a matter of knowing the many options that aren’t obvious. Or, take guarantees: even companies with a strong guarantee may be guaranteeing the wrong thing. You may be guaranteeing their purchase price, but they might need a guarantee that they won’t look like a fool. There are dozens of such issues that I can spot without extensive market research.
Why do I need you?
I’ve helped hundreds of product managers, marketing VPs, CEOs and entrepreneurs with questions like these in my career. If you want me to help YOU, I’m ready to roll up my sleeves and help you launch a successful product — or grow your existing ones.
Let’s face it: You need outside, savvy feedback because you’re too close to your situation. I have built my reputation as a straight shooter. I call it like I see it, because I sincerely care and I know that fluffing you up will not get you what you want. I’m tough, I’m honest but supportive and frankly, I’m usually right. (Except for that one time in 1983 when I thought I was wrong! :lol:)
What does it cost?
Renting my brain for this invaluable 90 minutes is just a $500 investment on your part — and our conversation could change the direction of your product or company! My assistant or I will contact you to set up a time convenient for us to talk. When our time comes, you’ll call me and I’ll give you my undivided attention for ninety sincere, transformative minutes. Record the call for future reference (I’ll do it if you’re traveling, for instance, and email you the audio file.) Sign up for a consult.
At about the 45 minute mark of our conversation, we will reach the “Go/No-Go” point: I’ll ask you if you feel you are getting great value for your time and money. If not, we’ll end the conversation and I’ll refund your money immediately, through PayPal or a bank check, no problem. If yes, we’ll continue to transform your product, service or idea.
You really can’t lose. Take a shot.
500 will make absolutely no difference in your or my way of life; neither of us will feel it in the least. But the results can transform your business. If you can’t get ten times the $ 500 in an hour and a half of talking with me, then we’re either both idiots (I know I’m not, and if you found me and browsed my web site, I’m sure you’re not either), or there is a terrible mismatch that will become clear well before the go/no-go point in our conversation. By taking advantage of this opportunity to do a phone consultation with me at a time of your choosing, we make it easy for you. YOU get my brain on YOUR terms, helping YOU sort out YOUR issues, giving YOU the best advice on the topics of your choice.
You’ve looked over my web site and/or read my books. You’ll have the entire benefit of my 40+ years of professional wisdom. By the way, I look at this as a completely self-contained consultation, with no obligation on your part for additional consults, and definitely not as an opportunity to sell you added services. (If you’re interested, we can discuss it in a free call, on my time, not yours.) My goal is to cram as much ready-to-implement, practical advice into the 90 minutes that you are recording so that you go away deliriously happy, with your head spinning, but able to take enough immediate, high-payoff action so that you never have to speak with me again. If you want to speak on a regular basis, that’s YOUR call, YOUR frequency, YOUR content. I’ll even work up a flat rate for a defined project, with unlimited access.
If we spend an hour and a half and you make a few million dollars as a result, I only ask two more things: (1) Take me out to dinner at a fancy NY restaurant next time you’re in NY and tell me the story. I live for these kinds of stories. And (2), let me write a short summary that I can share with my readers and other clients. I’m sincerely looking forward to helping YOU meet YOUR goals.
Ask yourself what is the value of one great, relevant, practical idea, one missed key question asked and answered? What’s the benefit of having one wrong assumption corrected? Then fill out the form below. Now, before you get distracted again.
The title above is deliberately ambiguous. I mean both meanings:
(1) It’s very hard to make things simple. And, it’s very complicated to make things easy.
(2) The difference between simple and easy: After running out of food, the guide asked, , “Would you like worms or bugs for dinner tonight?” Simple, but not easy choice. (2) Following turn-by-turn navigation on a complex route via a dashboard gps system: complicated, i.e., not simple (not uncomplicated), but very easy).
For now, I’ll spare you the photo of bugs, worms and a map with and without a route marked. (Map without route, complex and hard. Map with route marked on turn-by-turn gps system, just as complex but now easy.)
It’s an important distinction because most people think that the way to make things easy is to make them simpler by removing parts. That’s ONE way. But there are many others. The route drawn on a gps device is actually adding complexity, but making things easy. In marketing, what you want is decision easification. [Wish there were an easier way to say it! 😉 ]
Paul Krikman, Noted Prize-Winning Economist, announced today that economists have discovered that money is the source of all wealth. “It was in front of us the whole time,” he said in a wide-ranging interview, “I don’t know how we didn’t realize it. It was it was right in front of our noses.”
When asked what the tipoff was that got him looking in the right place, he said, “I’m embarrassed to say it, but I couldn’t help but notice that the main difference between rich people and everyone else is that they have more money. That was the tipoff.
“Of course, this immediately led to a whole bunch of other obvious things,” he continued. “For instance, all we have to do to create wealth and prosperity is to print more money!”
“Why do people work? To make money. What is a Recession? Not enough money. What is Capitalism? Concentrating too much money in too few people’s hands. You see, this is easy. Don’t print that! We have to complicate things so that people will still pay pundits and economists like me.”
One reporter asked, “Isn’t wealth created by taking raw materials — concrete objects or knowledge — and building them into things that are more valuable than their constituent parts?”
“That’s old-fashioned thinking,” Dr. Krikman replied. “That’s so analog and 20th Century. We’re in the digital age. We create value by doing cool stuff. Then the money just materializes. We call it ‘monetizing our site.’ What could be cooler than printing money? It’s so pretty, especially the redesigned bills. Very impressive. They even feel valuable!”
“But what about the people who will say that it’s just paper?” He drew himself up out of his slouch and puffed up his chest. His voice deepened. He scratched his beard and put on the earnest face he’d practiced so much. “It’s guaranteed by the Full Faith And Credit Of the United States Of America!” “Guaranteed?” reporters asked. “Yes, if some ignorant people were to lose faith in it, we would print more.”
“Besides, we don’t have to only print it. We can take it away from those rich people who have much more of it than they deserve, more than they can ever use. The myth that they’ve earned it and it’s theirs is nonsense. In most cases, their grandparents earned it. It’s only money. They’ll continue to make more of it. They produce a lot of stuff. That’s what productive people do. They produce. They can’t help it. Their greed drives them. That’s why we call them Greedy Capitalists. Besides, taking money from them makes the rest of the people feel good. We’ll make them feel even better by calling it Social Justice, or Redistribution of Wealth. Robin Hood had no PR savvy: he talked about robbing the rich. Talk about highway robbery just gets fair-minded people upset. Better to call it “redistribution” or “justice.”
“If you will indulge me for a moment, let me tell you an interesting story. In the old days, people used to practice division of labor. They’d get good at what they liked to do, then trade stuff they made for stuff that other people made. So, the baker would trade loaves of bread for vegetables the farmer grew, or for a haircut, or for drinks or other unmentionables at the saloon. They called it trading or barter. How quaint. That was before the internet.
“But it was hard to carry around a lot of loves of bread, and not everybody needed a haircut. They found that it was much more convenient to take the stuff they made and trade it for some interim stuff that everybody valued and that was easy to carry around. After trying salt, butter, chickens, beads, pretty stones and some other stuff, they found that gold and silver was durable, divisible, combinable, portable, had a stable supply and was hard to counterfeit. So it was a pretty good intermediary.
“They called it a “medium of exchange” — Cash or Money for short. They pressed it into coins because lumps of it wore holes in their britches, were difficult to count and easy to cheat with. Even coins were sometimes inconvenient to carry and store, so they had some of their more trusted people, called trusts or banks — whose stock in trade was trust in their word — hold their coins and issue receipts that substituted temporarily for the coins, but were easily exchangeable back into the silver and gold coins. In the US we called these dollars, but every country had their own. They became very decorative and a great source of pride. Each bank issued its own, guaranteed only by the demonstrated track record that its issuers would cash it back for what they called Coin or face some pretty stringent fraud laws. Trusts would even loan out some of this money for a fee. Sometimes, they could even loan out a little more than they had because not everyone would want to redeem their receipts at the same time. If word got out that they loaned out more than they could redeem in Coin, people would lose confidence in them and everyone would run to the bank to withdraw their money. They called it a ‘run on the bank.’
“To protect their citizens, and to engage in some cheating — I mean ‘monetary policy’ — of their own, some countries formed central banks owned by the government, to print money so they could spend more than they had. But our Thomas Jefferson was a wiseass. He had this quaint old notion called individual rights. At the heart of it was the silly idea that people owned what they called “the fruits of their labor.” Property for short.
A private central bank issuing the public currency is a greater menace to the liberties of the people than a standing army…We must not let our rulers load us with perpetual debt.”
The central bank is an institution of the most deadly hostility existing against the Principles and form of our Constitution. I am an Enemy to all banks discounting bills or notes for anything but Coin. If the American People allow private banks to control the issuance of their currency, first by inflation and then by deflation, the banks and corporations that will grow up around them will deprive the People of all their Property until their Children will wake up homeless on the continent their Fathers conquered.
“How silly,” Dr. Krikman opined. “Tom didn’t know what he was talking about. Nowadays, if we want to be wealthy, all we have to do is print money, or borrow it from our neighbors or from our children through national debt.”
“Won’t people eventually catch on that it’s a fraud, an illusion, and refuse to accept it, or keep raising their prices?” we asked.
“All we have to do is pass a ‘legal tender law’ that requires that our money be accepted be accepted for all debts, public or private, and print it right on the money. That makes it illegal to write contracts payable only in gold or silver.”
“It used to be called ‘fiat money,’ but that’s an old-fashioned term that shouldn’t be used anymore because all fiat money, first invented in the Song Dynasty in 1000 AD, for 1000 years have collapsed, usually in hyperinflation.” (He was a bit of a show-off.)
“Instead, we’ll call it ‘monitory policy’ or ‘flexibility’ or ‘deficit spending.’ It will allow government to spend more than it takes in, and give people the illusion that their elected officials are giving them services they don’t have to pay for, guaranteeing their reelection. Even the politicians who know it’s wrong will vote for this when it preserves their jobs.
“We’ll allow banks to lend out 10-40 times what they hold in these unbacked dollars, so that they can further create the illusion of prosperity. If the bubble bursts, we’ll blame in on the financial institutions who were so irresponsible for using the leverage we required them to use. If anyone calls it legalized cheating, we’ll call them ideologues.”
“In the meantime, prices will gradually creep up, since we keep printing more dollars. Remember our new discovery: dollars are wealth. So, as prices rise, things like our houses are becoming more valuable, we are making more wages and we are wealthier because we have more dollars. The stock market will rise dramatically. There are more and more millionaires. It’s like a gigantic magic illusion. No one will realize that gold, their houses or even their bank accounts aren’t growing and getting more valuable, the dollar is shrinking, so prices go up and things look like they are worth more.”
“If someone calls this an illusion, or even a fraud, we’ll say it’s treasonous talk from the right-wing loons. If they start a movement or a party to oppose government spending, printing of money, fiscal irresponsibility, national debt and the like, remember that these people are bound to be independent thinkers. They are bound to have some radical ideas that sound crazy and some people who are genuine nuts. Just seize on these genuine crazies and use them to marginalize the serious questions being raised.”
“Also, the lack of fiscal discipline caused by printing money will cause periodic crises. We can use every crisis to claim that the sky is falling. No one can prove that the sky isn’t falling. We can say that we haven’t spent enough, borrowed enough and regulated enough, and that have fallen victims to the greedy villains who have taken advantage of us. In fact, let’s use the slogan, ‘Never let a crisis go to waste.”
“If our policies and action fail, we can always say we didn’t do enough of whatever it was that failed: not enough stimulus, not enough spending, not enough regulation, not enough taxes.”
“If we fall into a severe recession or depression, we can always create more wealth by creating more money, which is the same thing. Let’s call it a ‘stimulus package.’”
“If people save gold and silver, we can always confiscate it from them like Roosevelt did in 1933. The laws that allowed him to do it are still on the books.”
“We’ll call it Hoarding and make savings unsavory by calling it unproductive.”
“Anyway, now that the government has taken over issuing money from the banks, when it needs more money and people balk at more taxes or borrowing, all we have to do is print it.”
- Money equals Wealth. Mock anyone who asks where wealth comes from.
- The way to stimulate an economy is to, well, stimulate it. Duh! If people and businesses won’t, the government has to, or the sky will fall. Duh!
- If the stimulus doesn’t work, we will just say we didn’t do it big enough — the opposing party wouldn’t let us. We can say that if we hadn’t, the sky would have fallen, that we saved [fill in any number here] jobs, etc.
- Keynes was right. Roosevelt spent us out of our Great Depression. Capitalists are greedy evildoers; just look at our well-connected, government protected bankers and other financial institutions. No one is actually going to study these things. Economics is too complicated for anyone to understand.
- Keep repeating: Economics is beyond human comprehension; that’s why it must be left up to Congress.
- “There’s no such thing as a free lunch” is so retro and analogue. Of course there is: It’s free if I eat your lunch. You’re too fat anyway. I’m doing you a favor.
- We’re safe, now that we’ve eliminated the old boom-and-bust cycles. Hide all graphs that show that the old ones were not as severe as the newer ones. While we’re at it, hide all graphs that show the purchasing power of gold, silver and dollars, like the purchase price of the average American House, in gold vs. dollars. They will show what really fluctuates. Wait a minute. In the Digital Age, we can’t hide information. So make the graphs so complex that nobody understands them. Keep quoting Keynes. Nobody is going to slog through his
dense gibberishsubtly nuanced writing.
- Keep wrapping the Federal Reserve in mystery. We all know that it couldn’t operate under the light of day. We can trust it because it’s a government-protected private corporation that’s entitled to manipulate our money in private. We know that transparency leads to nakedness. And we all know what nakedness leads to.
- But, keep calling for greater transparency for Wall Street.
- Freedom causes chaos. Chaos causes anarchy. What we need is total control. They will scream “Socialism, Fascism, Nazism.” That’s what we want. Dismiss them as name-callers. Don’t ever ask what they mean. They’re not as socially savvy as we are, so they’ll keep using the inflammatory words like “socialism and fascism” instead of just using the phrase ‘total governmental control.’ The search for clarity can lead to dictionaries. Dictionaries lead to definitions. And, we all know that definitions are arbitrary, make us look pedantic, and lead to headaches. Jeering and mocking makes us look flamboyant and hip. Spouting precise definitions makes us look boring. In the world of infotainment, who do you think will win?
- Let’s not have a serious discussion about new things that are now possible in the digital age: whether there is an alternative to government control vs. roving gangs of thugs and where does wealth really come from. What is money? Is central governmental regulation even possible as presently conceived? Is there a better way?
OK, enough satire. I think you can see what a persuasive and powerful tactic it can be.
Without it, the following questions would fall flat:
Where is the serious discussion? Where is the mutual respect? Why so much mockery, ridicule and sarcasm? Since when has name-calling replaced problem-solving, mutual exploration, rational fact-finding and creative idea generation? Why are we debating past history when the world has totally changed? Where are the new ideas and incisive questions?
Why are we having a debate about whether we need to do more of what isn’t working vs. going back to what we did in the past that also didn’t work?
Why is bipartisanship so desirable when both parties are obviously wrong? Why in the middle always right? What if there is an altogether different way that isn’t on the continuum?
Why aren’t we asking, “Where are all these new problems coming from and how can we use our amazing new capabilities to solve them in new ways?”
Can we please have a serious exploration of new ideas in which it’s OK to say, “I don’t know, but let’s figure it out together”
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The cartoon on this page is one of the best on simplicity I’ve ever seen.
Why don’t some people and organizations simplify and easify their messages, products, directions, etc.?
I’m beginning to think that it’s not that they don’t want to, or don’t understand the value of simplicity and ease. I suspect that they might actually be incapable of simplifying!
Can people who understand the power of ease and simplicity, who devote large amounts of resources to these pursuits, actually be incapable of simple and easy product design, web site design, communication, structure, etc?
I’d like to raise some questions and share some musings.
I won’t bore you with the complexity, but I’ve just been sensitized to this issue in struggling to move my web site to another supplier that gives the site more speed and ease of use. I’m also switching from Drupal to WordPress and moving my mail to Google Apps Mail. So, I’m attempting to do three major switches that all have to be done at the same time. What’s important to you is that I’m learning some important life lessons and questions about Ease and Simplicity (EAS) that I thought I’d share.
You don’t have to know what they are, but WordPress and Drupal are programs for managing the content of web sites like this one. WordPress is a dream, written totally from the point of view of the user. They really understand ease and simplicity. Drupal gets the need for ease and simplicity, but they have been unable to implement it, even when they just spent years on a massive crusade to make it more user friendly.
It’s a fascinating mystery to me why some organizations like Microsoft and Drupal understand the need for ease and simplicity, but seem epistemologically unable to do it despite intense efforts. I’m not talking about the old Microsoft, which didn’t have a clue about simplicity. I’m talking about the present, hip Microsoft which desperately seems to want to simplify and make their products easier to use. There are Google, Apple and WordPress, sitting out there as outstanding examples of simplicity, dominating their markets, the most successful organizations on the planet, with everybody understanding that Ease and Simplicity (EAS) are major keys to their success, with everyone trying to emulate them, and no one able to.
Why can’t fabulous organizations, with amazing resources, copy the Ease and Simplicity that they know they need, that competitors have demonstrated are successful? It’s not that they don’t have the resources, attitudes, will, knowledge or desire. It’s not that it cannot be done: Adobe is a shining example (the only one I can think of at the moment) of a company that had hopelessly complicated products with the most capabilities in their fields. They have somehow gone to elegantly simple interfaces and explanations, while increasing the capabilities of their programs. Photoshop, Dreamweaver, Illustrator, and their other programs can hardly be considered simple and easy in the grand scheme of things. But they are masterpieces of EAS, given that they are professional programs designed to have more bells, whistles and other capabilities than their competitors. They also have simpler versions, like Photoshop Elements and Lightroom, that aren’t just stripped down, they are re-designed from the users’ point of view, for the non-professional in the case of Elements, and from the photographer rather than the graphic artist point of view, in the case of Lightroom. BRAVO!
You would think that Microsoft, Drupal, all the phone companies, HP, and many others, could do anything they set their minds to, given their resources. So what’s going on and what can we learn from it?
Here’s my thinking so far: I realize that the inability to easify and simplify is related to a particular kind of knowledge blindness, but it seems to go beyond just blindness.. Knowledge blindness (and its more extreme form, expert blindness) is the inability to see things the way a beginner or less-informed person sees it. But I think that something much more profound and deeper may be operating here. Maybe it’s not just the inability to see, but Ease and Simplicity demand that someone’s mind work differently: They have to engage in an alien process. instead of piling on more and more information and features, they have to see what can be simplified or eased for the other person, even though it’s easy and simple for them. Then, they have to simplify, which, it turns out, is a very difficult process. It doesn’t only involve leaving things out. It involves many things like abstracting out the details, re-sequencing things, organizing concepts into sub-concepts or higher-level categories, forming new concepts or groups, and many other psychological, communication, and product design skills. It’s a form of thinking that very smart people don’t have to do much, because they are so smart that they can hold so much in mind, and less intelligent people can’t do because it takes a lot of intelligence.
So, my working hypothesis is this: Easification and Simplification can only be done by very intelligent people who have mastered an additional complex skill set, much like some writers and editors have mastered the art of writing simply about complex subjects. No one — to my knowledge and I’ve searched a lot — has set out the methods of easification and simplicity. Hell, there isn’t even a word “easification” “easify” or, for that matter, “funification.” I plan to write about this skill set in much greater detail. Stay tuned.