In which I ponder the question: Can one inhabit a world requiring incessant marketing and remain a viable human being?
It was the age of intolerability, the epoch of desperately trying to prove oneself. It was my twenties, when every interaction was another chance to practice pitching, in neither the sporty nor the sexual sense. High school reunions were an opportunity not to impress (as fictional portrayals would have us believe) but to hone sales skills. If I can get the people here to buy my shpiel (even those who
remember what a goofball I was know what a goofball I am), so will that big investor waiting just around the corner.
Eventually, no matter how charming you are, their eyes glaze over when they realize it’s all just a sales pitch.
LESSON LEARNED: MARKETING IS ANNOYING*
This became abundantly clear when I stopped blogging to embrace the much more lucrative world of burlesque (nope, not kidding), and my site transitioned from being a daily clearinghouse of written inanity to a monthly conduit for information about live-on-stage inanity. In theory, those who enjoyed the style of humor presented in the blog would be excited to see it in person.
Perhaps they might have been, had I continued my daily output. The promo-lithic era featured painfully infrequent updates regurgitating press releases, and readership declined precipitously. Visitors fell out of the habit, and habit is the lifebood of the internet.
“former fan” comments: “i see ur humor has gone down the wazoo. do me a favor dont lead us on if ur not gonna complete the job dude… i stil lcheck this site but i may stop if things dont change a round here dude.”
Perhaps a chronicle of my burgeoning burlesque career (similar to 2003’s Buddy Cianci: The Musical coverage) would have retained my readers, but the problem—as discovered when running that earlier production blog—was that the juiciest offerings were the things we least wanted publicized. The result: occasional and tepidly — often passive-aggressively — optimistic updates from the staff that came across as what they were; an ill-conceived marketing scheme. As the choreographer said, in her final entry two days before opening:
“I’m hyper-conscious of the fact that other members of our production team, the cast, any other random people are reading what I write, hence I don’t always write what I’m “really” thinking. I aspire to be positive and try to put some PR spin on what I’m saying…because I never want anything I say to come back and bite me in the ass.”
LESSON LEARNED: HONESTY IS UNTENABLE
- Using a relationship you have built with an audience purely for the purpose of selling them something will result in the loss of that audience.
- From a production point of view, public honesty is an unworkable policy (even those bordering on the edge of sanity hesitate to air their dirty laundry mid-production).
If neither honesty NOR marketing works, what remains? A tightrope, to be stumbled across in a future post.
*(This is true for everyone and everything. Large corporations take notice.)