Have you read anything by Douglas Rushkoff? If not, I highly recommend it, especially if you’re interested in:
- The Internet
- The Media
- Viral Marketing
- Chaos Theory
- Societal Trends
I just finished Rushkoff’s “Coercion” which has the usual trappings of his other excellent books – fascinating and intelligent analysis while tying the above listed elements together into a cohesive true story. This specific story focuses on who “they” are and how “they” try to sell us. At first glance the reader may suspect this to be a conspiracy theory, however the author provides some compelling evidence to the contrary.
But who exactly are “they” and why “exactly” are they trying to sell us? In turns out that “they” are really us. We work to sell one another on products, services, and ideas – constantly. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing in and of itself, however the troubling part is that we are no longer selling solid products, services, or ideas with substance, but rather the perception of quality, with little or no substance to back it up. This has become a refined science with more time and money being spent on coercive strategies which seek to trick or trap the consumer rather than refinement of the promoted product, service, or idea.
There are some interesting techniques outlined in Coercion, some ideas that just seemed to “click” and made me realize why certain things seem to happen during the sales process. One of the more interesting aspects of this book is that at several points, commonality was identified between techniques used by salespeople and those employed by CIA interrogators – interesting stuff.
Coercion seems to focus on raising consumer awareness, however individuals and businesses could certainly use this book to coerce more sales from an unaware and unsuspecting public. The author actually laments about this occurring in some of his earlier works, especially “Media Virus” – another book I highly recommend for those interested specifically in viral marketing and how messages go viral (or spread) and why others do not.
If you are not familiar with Rushkoff I highly recommend this book as well. As with his other books he provides a fascinating and intelligent assessment of the state of society, especially in regards to the ramifications of advancing technology, primarily the Internet. From an individual or business standpoint, this serves as a great method of educating oneself so they do not fall prey to deceptive practices. For businesses, this could certainly assist in refining marketing strategy, in identifying quality, honest techniques from dishonest techniques that will likely backfire over time once awareness grows – as it has in recent years.
The main takeaway here is that an individual and business should focus on quality and substance over tricking the consumer into a later regretted sale.