Get your hands dirty

potterIt’s interesting how the digital landscape is transforming not only our relationships with customers, but also our relationships with products.
The online shopping world we all now inhabit is one where we don’t interact with products until they arrive at our door in a brown cardboard wrapper.
We all know someone who has done their entire Christmas shop online and only experienced the presents they buy as photo’s and recommendations on a shopping site.
This got me thinking about marketers and their relationship with the products they sell.
For all the talk of “content”, “data driven marketing” and “communities”, how many marketers actually get down and dirty with their products?
Do they use them? Understand how they are put together? Taste them? Try them out on friends? Look at how they are packaged and shipped? etc.
I joined Unilever straight from University, and went to work for Batchelor’s Foods in Sheffield where I was given responsibility for marketing a range of soup mixes.
Every Monday morning, I was expected to visit the factory and taste the output from the weekend’s production, along with the factory manager and head of product development, to ensure it was up to standard.
I was also expected to spend six months on the road in my first year selling the product to existing and potential customers.
This was a real grounding in what the product was all about, how it was produced, who bought it and why.
P&G had a similar approach to marketing – “product management” means just that.
So get your hands dirty.
Get down to the “factory” in your business and get hands on with the product; learn to love it and be proud of it and then you’ll have a much better idea of how to market it.

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Albert Camus

This year marks the 100th anniversary of Albert Camus’  birth.

Most of us will only know him from struggling with “the Outsider” at school, but Camus’ writings are hugely relevant both to the individual and society today.

His personal philosophy was based on the concept of the “ Absurd.”

Simply put the absurd contrasts our human desire for order, meaning, and purpose in life and the blank, indifferent “silence of the universe.” It arises from the human demand for clarity and meaning on the one hand and a cosmos that offers nothing of the kind on the other.


How should we react to this situation?

We could commit suicide, but Camus saw this renunciation of life as cowardly.

We could construct some spiritual or religious after world as an alternative, but Camus felt religion simply ignores the reality of our condition, replacing it with a more agreeable alternative.

No. For Camus the only authentic choice is to embrace the absurd and keep on living in full acceptance of life’s lack of meaning.

Yet Camus was not an existentialist who simply embraced a bleak diagnosis of the human condition. As in the Myth of Sisyphus, to rise each day to fight a battle you know you cannot win with acceptance and compassion is the essence of the spirit of revolt which characterises the humanity.

In our daily trials, he wrote, “rebellion plays the same role as does the ‘cogito’ in the realm of thought”. In short: “I rebel – therefore we exist.”

In order to exist, “man must rebel, but rebellion must respect the limits it discovers in itself”.

In other words, the rebel says “no” to those who have enslaved him, but also to the temptation to enslave the oppressor in turn. A lesson our world today should take to heart.

Camus was a moralist who insisted that justice matters more than politics, that our common humanity must confront “the unreasonable silence of the world.”

From the liberation of France to the end of his life, Camus continued to resist. From France’s brutal actions in Algeria through to his hatred of capital punishment or the use of the atomic bomb, Camus resisted the ways in which the state seeks to give meaning to the unjustifiable suffering it inflicts on its citizens.

In his acceptance of the essential meaningless of existence, and yet the spirit of revolt with compassion and humanity which is our only true response, Camus remains a towering figure in post-war western thought.

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