The book has 4 1/2 stars on Amazon now, so we're not crazy. That's good to know. Let me work some more on the NOTES chapter today. That's my goal.
As I set off to find the reference to Philip Kotler's "Marketing Management: The Millenium Edition," I came across another Kotler article, from the 1972 BI (before Internet), that struck a certain fancy in me. The article describes what Kotler describes "Three different levels of consciousness can be distinguished regarding the boundaries of marketing." And it foreshadows where we are today, which is somewhere between consciousness three and the stratosphere.
I'm sure marketing types have already read this Kotler article--and for all I know it could be referenced in Gonzo in one of the notes I didn't initially comprehend. (I think you have to read Gonzo 3 times before you can actually absorb it all).
At any rate, here are the three levels Kotler outlines as he describes them.
At the crux of consciousness level one, is the payment. Transaction is the ultimate goal and reward. Kotler describes consciousness level one this way: "Consciousness one is the conception that marketing is essentially a business subject. It maintains that marketing is concerned with sellers, buyers, and "economic" products and services. ... The core concept defining marketing consciousness one is that of market transactions. A market transaction involves the transfer of ownership or use of an economic good or service from one party to another in return for a payment of some kind."
This level, when Kotler defined it in 1972, was, he determined, the most widely held view in the mind of marketing pratitioners and the public. I would argue that today, with the emergence of emarketplaces and the push of marketing into b-to-b online commerce, many businesses are still in this consciousness level one when it comes to the Internet. They miss the forrest for the trees. They go with gusto after aggregation, adoption, transaction, and lose sight of what might power their business beyond the transaction. Click here, add to your cart. Order? or Continue shopping. As it was in the offline world of 1972, the masses today--according to yours truly--remain lodged in this rather dull and limited consciousness of marketing's promise and worth.
So then, what's consciousness level two about?
Kotler: "Consciousness two marketers do not see payment as a necessary condition to define the domain of marketing phenomena. Marketing analysis and planning are relevant in all organizations producing products and services for an intended consuming group, whether or not payment is required. For example, a price can be charged for museum attendance, safe driving lessons, birth control information, and education. The fact that many of these services are offered 'free' should not detract from their character as products. A product is something that has value to someone. Whether a charge is made for its consumption is an incidental rather than essential feature defining value. In fact, most of these social goods are 'priced,' although often not in the normal fashion. Police services are paid for by taxes, and religious services are paid for by donations."
Okay, so for consciousness level two, I'm in a bit of a quandry. I dig the part about organizations not defining marketing value in terms of payment. Times, techniques, and tactics are way too complex today to pigeon-hole value into terms of payment. To do this--or to even try to track it--puts organizations in the unenviable position of spending more time defining and measuring value than DELIVERING it. So, let's just say the organization does a symbolic internal handshake--"okay marketing, go ahead and get us some payback through some gonzo-type methods... we won't measure your success solely on sales... we'll see what kind of reverberations start to ripple back our way instead." Well, if that's the deal, I'm down with that. Let's go to it.
But, I suspect Kotler--even though he's discussing it 30 years ago, is getting at something different. He further defines it this way: "Marketing consciousness two states that marketing is relevant in all situations where one can identify an organization, a client group, and products broadly defined."
But the skinny is this--you don't want to get stuck in consciousness level two because you have to continue to do boring and time-consuming things that keep you from talking with and getting to know people that may one day be your customers--or have a brother-in-law that may be a customer one day... you know. Kotler says that organizations in level 2 "must study the size and composition of their market and consumer wants, attitudes, and habits. They must design their products to appeal to their target markets. They must develop distribution and communication programs that facilitate "purchase" and satisfaction. They must develop customer feedback systems to ascertain market satisfaction and needs." Well, as for the mainstream way of doing these things--demographics, phsychographics, brand surveys--then yuck.
At any rate, I think number 2 is not for me, free birth control pills or not.
So let's look at Consciousness Level 3:
Read this with your Net lenses on--not your 1972 lenses, and see if we're getting closer to where we need to be: "The emergence of a marketing consciousness three is barely visible. Consciousness three marketers do not see why marketing technology should be confined only to an organization's transactions with its client group. An organization--or more properly its management--may engage in marketing activity not only with its customers but also with all other publics in its environment. A management group has to market to the organization's supporters, suppliers, employees, government the general public, agents, and other key publics. Marketing consciousness three states that marketing applies to an organization's attempts to relate to all of its publics, not just its consuming public. Marketing can be used in multiple institutional contexts to effect transactions with multiple targets."
Okay, so if you get past the transaction (the underlying goal of affecting transactions at every turn), you replace "transact" and "market" with "interact" and "communication/conversation,' it gets a little bit closer to Gonzo, but not quite there. (For reasons I'll discuss next.)
"The emergence of a marketing consciousness three is barely visible. Consciousness three marketers do not see why [communication] should be confined only to an organization's [interactions] with its client group. An organization--or more properly its management--[should talk] not only with its customers but also with all other publics in its environment. A management group has to [communicate] the organization's supporters, suppliers, employees, government the general public, agents, and other key publics. Marketing consciousness three states that [communication] applies to an organization's attempts to relate to all of its publics, not just its consuming public. Marketing can be used in multiple institutional contexts to effect [interactions] with multiple targets."
The primary reason consciousness level 3 falls short of gonzo is this--check out the emphasis on 'management' doing all of the talking. No no no. Shy of the boat here. In the water. Throw a lifeline. Even though level 3 brings in important notions that expand the communications of the business beyond its walls, it still reeks of a top-down (not bottom-up) style. This won't get us anywhere, because Kotler has management doing all the talking to management's "targets."
What is gonzo-like is Kotler's expanded notion of transaction in consciousness level 3. His initial definition, back in one of the earlier consciousnesses was this: "A market transaction involves the transfer of ownership or use of an economic good or service from one party to another in return for a payment of some kind."
Right now on the Net, the most valuable transactions are often anything but financial. A transaction is an exchange--and exchange IS communication, it IS conversation. It's more than the click that buys the book on Amazon--it's the communities and lists that ignite conversations around shared interest. Today, a transaction of ideas, opinions, tips organic gardening, getting rid of fire ants... the like can be just as valuable as that $14.99 click that brings the book to my door.
But Kotler expands this definition of transaction in his discussion of consciousness level 3. There is a ring of gonzo in this expanded definition: "What then is the disciplinary focus of marketing? The core concept of marketing is the transaction. A transaction is the exchange of values between two parties. The things-of-values need not be limited to goods, services, and money; they include other resources such as time, energy, and feelings. Transactions occur not only between buyers and sellers and organizations and clients, but also between any two parties."
Transaction as feelings. THAT I like. Given that we've pushed the envelope way beyond the notion of "two party" communication, still, transactions as feelings made it worth the read.
From here, the article goes into some axioms, typologies and the like. But I prefer to noodle on this idea of transactions as feelings for a while. I'll get to the rest of the article one day. So if someone hasn't already written an article taking us into consciousness level 4, then they need to, because that is some cool territory that needs a flag stuck in it.