Have Marketers Lost Their Individuality?

borg (7of9)

I was going to write a post about an important tip if you're building an iPhone application, but I think I'll hold that off for a later date. Instead, let me share something that has certainly come to bother me: becoming a standardized marketer. And it's not for all of the reasons you may think.

If you've read my About Me page, you can see that I'm not a fan of the self-righteous, and am afraid of it happening to myself. But that's not where it ends. Some time ago, I came across a website many of you may be familiar with: Things Marketing People Love. I thought the site was so funny, I emailed the creator, Heron Preston, thanking him for it.

The reason why it's so amusing is because just about everything in it is true, and that's because (I'd imagine) all of the submissions are from marketing people themselves. Marketers do love "the elephant in the room," "taking a stab at it," saying "divide and conquer," "fleshing out ideas," "brain dumps," "ending emails with 'thoughts?'," and "getting your ducks in a row." So much, in fact, that it annoys me that I have to call myself one. Are we really so predictable? How can we guide others' behavior when it's so easy to anticipate our own?

I stand by the notion that no idea's original. But I do believe you can be different; and that's what I want for myself.

Over the past 2+ years I must have heard just about every phrase and seen every behavior that TMPL lists off. That we can be read like a book so easily makes me uncomfortable. It makes me feel like we're not being ourselves; like we've just become a collection of plaid shirts and catchphrases. Many of us have been trained to speak the lingo. Are there any of us out there who refuse to assimilate in an attempt hold onto that shred of their individuality that made them unique; that person who existed before they got into this business?

That's one thing that terrifies me: losing myself. If you have to ask the question "why do you think that?", then it's probably too late for you. You've already been borgified.

TMPL is a testament to the fact that as much as we like to believe we're masters of the universe, anticipating consumer behavior, and packaging "individuality" as a false purchasing pretense, we ourselves have lost our own individuality. We're no better than the markets we segment in our strategic plans; perhaps even more predictable.

We like to believe that the way we dress and act in the office is so different from past business generations. But if we're all doing it, how different are we from each other? If you've already lost yourself, was it really worth it, and what are you going to do to take your life back?