Saturday, November 29, 2014

Globalism Sucks

Maybe it's my impatience with the spiraling decline of modern man as it descends into a netherworld lacking education. Or maybe it's because pop culture has elevated it to religious status.  I know this much, though:  This whole "globalism" thing makes no sense as we know it.

Oh, I know that young people with no real concept of human nature or world history will argue the point.  They like the idea of the whole world holding hands while doing nothing other than watching meaningless music videos promoted to end world hunger. It's a fine idea to have the whole world get along.  In fact, it's been a fine idea for a few thousand years now.

Newsflash:  The "one world" myth isn't happening any time soon.  And that's probably a good thing.

The main reason why globalism is such a foolhardy myth is that everyone has his own view of what globalism really is.  To an American, globalism means a market-based democracy with lots of freedom to open WalMarts and McDonalds anywhere at any time.  The American notion of globalism is, like just about every other culture, simply a replication of its own society on a planetary level.

Americans want everyone to vote democratically.  They want women to be equal to men. They want you to love Jesus and personal freedom, because, you know, if everyone on the planet did that, we'd all get along just fine.  And it could work, except for the fact that just about every other culture has pretty much the same type of agenda with different specifics. The Taliban, for example,  doesn't want women to be equal to men, doesn't want you to love Jesus and has no place for personal freedom.  By now, it should be pretty obvious that the two sides won't ever converge.

Oddly, one of the few global constants throughout human beings (besides classifying incest as taboo), is people's chafing at being told what to do -- especially by a foreigner.  Oh, the masses love shifting personal accountability off their backs and onto the shoulders of their regional leaders who tell them what to do, but that's because those leaders pretty much share the masses' own views and tastes.  On a day to day level, though, people want to be left alone to tend to their own affairs.  It doesn't matter if you're a native in Nairobi or a muslim in Morocco: people hate any authority demanding they shift their customs to a foreigner's arbitrary dictates.

The funniest part about the myth of globalism is asking proponents to accept a global culture that isn't their own.  For example, Americans have no problem imagining a Sunni muslim shaving his beard, donning a business suit and working on Fridays, but I highly doubt they'd consider growing beards, not working on Fridays while wearing veils and burqas.

At one level, it's all pretty amusing.  But the same arguments get a little hotter when you move the cultural, social and political dials accordingly.  In America, nobody likes the idea of strongmen and thugs using oppressive -- or even murderous -- tactics in order to keep their populations under control.  Most Americans view the brutal treatment of women in those same foreign cultures as backward and primitive.  Yet year after year, century after century, those populations perpetuate those customs and practices without much internal opposition.  Which means as distasteful as American might find them, maybe those cultures -- and the people who observe them -- are actually just fine with what they have.  Maybe Americans should simply start accepting each culture for what it is, as it is.  

After all, if self-determination is a paramount American virtue, shouldn't that virtue apply to every global citizen?

Globalism, as it turns out, isn't about uniformity.  It's about acceptance and accessibility. It's about understanding  differences and navigating them according to one's self interests.  If the world's economy has become internationalized, that's fine by me.  But that's about internationalizing commerce, not culture.

So maybe instead of sending soldiers to foreign lands to sell the American Way, we should simply send our salesmen and buyers to the edge of foreign borders, where foreign buyers and sellers can meet and exchange goods and services, each one restricting his duties to commercial interests while leaving his moralistic laundry list at home -- where it belongs.

I'm not talking about helping to defend an ally under attack.  That's a wholly different story.  I'm talking about basic acceptance of other people and other cultures, regardless of how different or distasteful we find them to be.

I know.  It's never going to happen.  But I can dream, can't I?

Thursday, November 20, 2014

Try Knocking On The Door

You can draw as many logos as you like.  You can come up with a dopey name nobody can spell.  And I suppose you could call that branding.  God only knows that most of the industry does it that way.

And then there are those who confuse branding with awareness, which is another misconception I could never understand.  Especially when advertising and marketing and public relations people whip out their charts and exclaim, "Look at how high your aided awareness numbers are!"

For the record, aided awareness is the most notorious loser in the Advertising Hack's arsenal.  The term refers to people who recognize your brand after you've helped them recognize it.  There might be a more pathetic statistic out there, but I can't think of one just now.  Unaided awareness is only slightly less anemic.   I mean, what's the point of everyone knowing who you are when they don't know why they should know who you are?  That never made any sense to me, but I'm sure it's confuzzled a lot of clients. 

There's a lot about branding that people simply don't know.  They like to cover up their ignorance by making it far more complicated than it has to be.   For those people, let me make one thing excruciatingly clear:  

The whole point of branding is to make more money

That's it. See how easy that is? The bottom line is a brand's most important deliverable.  If it's not increasing profitable revenue, why even bother?

And yet, I watch as a whole world of social media, business development services and networking tools flood the web space.  All kinds of new technologies and applications, seemingly designed to take your money and promise to help grow your business.  You can pay people to blog for you.  To post to Facebook.  To tweet and whatever the verb you use is to keep your Pinterest and Instagram accounts up to date.  There's no shortage of sites that want to link you to everyone else who wants to link to you, but nobody seems to be able to generate revenue from any of it.

So maybe it's time we got back to basics.  If it's really new business you're after, maybe you should take a cue from Clint Eastwood in this classic clip from Magnum Force: 

See how easy that is?  Who needs digital technology when all you really have to do is contact the prospect and ask for his business?  True, not all prospects are easy to get to on the first bounce, but you'd be surprised at how many truly are if you simply try knocking on the door.  Dialing a phone doesn't require an engineering degree and I'm fairly sure sending an e-mail isn't much tougher.  The trick, of course, is knowing what to say when the other guy picks up the phone.

Years ago, I had a conversation with Burt Sugarman.  If you don't know Burt, let me save you a ton of Google time and tell you he made a ton of dough producing early rock and roll television shows and then went on to make several tons more while marrying Mary Hart.  One day, as I was struggling to launch my own business, Burt was nice enough to lend me his ear.  I asked him, "How do I get in contact with higher end clients?"  He just cocked his head and asked, "Have you tried picking up the phone and calling them?"

See how easy that was?  And he was right.  One of the big myths of digital services and social media is that it sells you the promise of business-made-easy, which rarely, if ever delivers.  The fact is you can't offload your new business duties by paying your way out of them.  It simply doesn't work. At the end of the day, nothing beats cutting through the bullshit and simply reaching out to the guy you want to meet.  

It's not only more effective.  It's a lot cheaper, too.  After all, what does a phone call cost?  And e-mail's even cheaper.  

So now that you've paid your fees and gotten nothing in return, if you're really serious about developing new business, junk all those digital diversions and follow Clint's advice.

Try knocking on the door.