Cup of Joe: Are You A Programmer? Or A Program?

Have you noticed that things seem to be getting easier? With open source programs like WordPress you can easily start your own web site with a multitude of different features for hardly any money. With services like PayPal and Freshbooks you can invoice your clients through email. With social media we are finding new ways to engage with users. Even Google is making IT easier with Google Docs and Gmail.

As marketers and entrepreneurs this is all supposed to make us better, right? If you are Douglas Rushoff, then the answer is no. In Rushoff’s book he tells us that the more you use, the more likely you are to be used. He says that if you aren’t a programmer then you are part of the program. These are pretty strong words for a time when marketers are investing record amounts in one channel that is dominated by one corporation.

How many of our business decisions, are a result of the environment we operate in? Are we even aware that we have a choice? Are we being used? If so, what impact is it having on our businesses? Take for example ReferralKey. Here is a new start up that allows businesses to sign up and build a “referral network”. Businesses can then offer rewards to others that send them referrals. I get around 95% of my business from referrals, so I think I can honestly say, that ReferalKey is the worst idea I have ever seen. Setting up a system that rewards individuals for referrals almost guarantees bad referrals and bad business, because the only incentive is a trivial short term reward. Last week I pitched a project to one of the largest retail chains in Europe. How did I get that kind of access? A referral, one built on trust and a good reputation.

Speaking of reputations, some in social media are starting to think that keeping a good reputation is a waste of time. How did we get to a point where we are so full of our selves that we somehow think that it doesn’t matter what others think of us? See, that’s what social media does, it fools/programs us into thinking that we as individuals have such a heighten value that we can forget about everyone else. Which is why we chase useless metrics, and waste time creating useless content.

When was the last time you thought, “I am not going to worry to much about SEO, or social media”? When was the last time you had a truly original thought about your marketing? I have given Apple a lot of grief in the past for ignoring social media, but maybe they are right, maybe they have realized that there are different ways of doing things. Which would make sense, after all, they are one of the programers, not the programmed.

  • http://justinkownacki.com/ Justin Kownacki

    So, by your rationale, being concerned about how others perceive you is actually an example of being free of other people’s programming, while being unconcerned about how you’re perceived is a dangerous, limiting and faulty sign of having being programmed? Which therefore means that the more concerned I am about your opinion of me, the freer I am? Interesting. In that case, I suppose I’ll just have to remain programmed. Cheers.

    • http://joehall.me/ Joe Hall

      All I am saying is that its no coincidence that you don’t care what others think of you, when you have immersed yourself in (and become a consultant in) a medium that is designed for its users to repeat personal pronouns.

      But either way, you might be a bad example for this post because we try to talk mostly about businesses at Marketing Pilgrim, rather than individuals.

      Keep up the good writing.

      • http://simon.fi/ Simon Rönnqvist

        I think the title of Justin’s article is a bit misleading, I’m sure he’s still concerned with people thinking he’s doing a good job.

        I’m a guy with long hair and oftentimes not very smoothly shaved, this works for me as a filter against people to whom things like this matter (maybe I lose some job opportunities, maybe gain others). Well I wouldn’t keep a public speech in shorts or with too much facial hair, I see no reason to go into extremes. Steve Jobs doesn’t either and he seems to be successful. So be aware of what your looks communicate, reputation matters… and you can attract the shorts-liking clients if you feel like working with them.

        But the reputation that everyone should be concerned with is the one of doing a good job, on this one I think we all have the same goals.

  • http://www.marketingpilgrim.com Andy Beal

    Thanks for pointing out this book, I just ordered it from Amazon. :-)

  • http://www.theistudio.com Judith Kallos

    Joe, were you reading my mind — I was just thinking along those lines this week when working with several clients who seem to be in “lemming mode”. No thinking about how to do things that cater to their niche or market — instead too many chase the latest trend and go into “mee-too” mode without thought or consideration.

    Online is not a one-size-fits-all — at all. The smarties are those that take the available tools and opportunities and reinvent them to be unique! Works every time! Good stuff, as usual, Joe!

  • http://www.koozai.com Koozai Ltd

    Interesting to hear negative words against ReferralKey, and that’s a very good point in terms of it providing short term low quality leads. In addition for channels that take a long time to convert I’m curious how long it takes to convert.

    • http://theprofessionalmarketer.blogspot.com/ Nathan Shepherd

      Great points that I hadn’t really thought about. I don’t really take online referrals seriously because I don’t see most as being sincere. Time for me to become a programmer.

  • Ruthie

    I started using computers in 1985 — and have always felt blessed (in some really strange way..) that I had to know and figure out DOS commands to get where I needed to be… and guess what, it always worked and didn’t crash and really wasn’t frustrating at all.
    Enter this age, where it really BUGS me that computers have been GUI’d to the lowest common denominator and for me… this makes them more frustrating and in some weird way – harder to use!
    I find myself wishing all the time that there were OS’s that gave you levels of options of how much “help” and ‘ease” you are forced to be subjected to. Get rid of all this OS BLOAT — and just have the option to have a much leaner experience. Eh, oh well, that’s not going to happen.

  • Jonathan

    I drive a car but I don’t know how to fix it. discuss…

    • http://www.vectorvend.co.uk vectorvend

      Enjoyed watching this, its a good point to think about why a site or service exists.