Marketing Without Tears
A quick and dirty self-study course in marketing
This guide is designed people wanting to jump start a study of the occult arts collectively known as marketing. I hope to provide a set of cognitive tools useful for citizens, consumers, occultists, reality hackers, philosophers, activists, and business people alike.
In this case I’m using the term ‘marketing’ to refer to all the various communications disciplines applied by organizations of all types for the purpose of encouraging or discouraging certain behaviors (eg, companies wish to encourage the purchase of products, governments wish to discourage revolution).
If you want to study marketing, there’s no reason to keep your head buried in books. Most of us are surrounded by marketing. We can look at the world around us and find examples nearly everywhere we look. All we need to begin a study of the material is to learn how to analyze it.
There’s no reason you can’t begin this immediately. However, the following three books will be helpful in learning to analyze the marketing sphere.
PR!: A Social History of Spin by Stuart Ewen: This could almost be titled ‘The true history and secrets of the illuminati.’ This is a history of the practice of public relations and the discipline’s impact on society. Much of it is centers around the career of Edward Bernays, who provides many insights into the workings of corporations.
Coercion: Why We Listen to What ‘They’ Say: Douglas Rushkoff’s excellent overview of applied communications diciplines.
Savage Girl: a novel by Alex Shakar. Shakar deconstructs marketing and consumer culture (with a possible Deleuzian influence) with remarkable clarity, and tells one hell of a story. Pattern Recognition pales compared to this book.
One of Shakar’s own ideas presented in the novel is ‘paradessense,’ or paradoxical essense. For example, ice cream is both innocent and erotic. Coffee promises to be both stimulating and relaxing.
Reading these books and then spending the following months and years paying close attention to the marketing around you won’t necessarily substitute for taking real courses in marketing, or spending time working at marketing firm. But it’s an excellent way for a thoughtful person without much time to glean an understanding of the forces at work around them.
These two books on graphic design will illuminate your perspective of the visual components marketing materials:
Non-Designer’s Design Book by Robin Williams: A crash course in the fundamentals of graphic design. Once you’ve read this book, starting paying attention to the design of everything around you, as related to the principals in this book. Traffic signs, menus, pens, packaging, everything. What principals were applied in the design of these things? How could the design be improved?
Grid Systems in Graphic Design: This is essential reading on graphic design, if you can find a copy. This works at a much more structural level than Non-Designer’s, and will give you an even better reference point when analyzing design. I posted some brief notes on this book here.
For those interested in some practical marketing advice for small business owners, I’d recommend Guerilla Marketing Handbook and How to Market a Product for Under $500, but they’re a little out of date. Newer books in the Guerrilla Marketing series are probably more up to date, and their web site is useful.
Klintron formerly served as the marketing director for a successful health care start-up, and sometimes writes about marketing on his blog Klintron’s Brain.
This article originally appeared on Key 64.