The Mmm...Letter
The Mmm...letter Podcast
Performance Enhancing Drug

Performance Enhancing Drug

Is Your Brand On One?

WARNING: The following is exaggerated for dramatic effect. Yes, I’m okay. Mostly.

If one baseball player uses steroids, it’s obvious. They’re twice the size of the next guy and their flyballs reach the moon. Spectators grow suspicious.

But if all but one player uses steroids, what becomes obvious is the lone moralist. And as he fails to keep up with colleagues, this loner’s career falters.

Last week, a series of honest answers faltered my career. As someone who remains honest in interviews, I’m beginning to feel like the loner. Today I bought steroids (metaphorical steroids), and I’m staring at a loaded syringe.

At my core, I still believe misleading others is wrong. But having a family suffering from atmospheric stress-levels is testing my resolve. Despite how these interviews tend to go, I enter each trusting the people on the other end to expect a fallible, imperfect human to appear; read any of their company’s core values and you’ll find honesty littered among them.

So on Friday, I prepared my honest self for an interview with a VP. He showed up 10-minutes late. Despite the laundry list of qualifications in the job description, several of which I fulfilled, he homed in on one linchpin: a skill I lacked. The job description felt like a sham, and I should’ve said goodbye.

But no, I talked myself up out of desperation to win him over. It was people-pleasing and repulsive. Afterwards, eyewitnesses reported hearing me scream, “what the fuck is wrong with me?”

And now I think, why, when asked whether I can perform some rote task, did I answer ‘no’? Why did I remain honest when his job description hadn’t? Why remain honest when the majority of applicants are playing the game as it is meant to be played: on steroids?

And why do our customers trust us when modern marketing is all bullshit? They shouldn’t, but they do. When customers have needs, they are inclined to trust those bearing solutions and ignore those who give them doubt.

Most of us buy the story of a product, a job to which we’re applying, or an applicant we’re screening; we buy the promise. A marketer’s job is to paint an unrealistic promise in the buyer’s mind. We incept the idea that a purchase will make the customer healthier or happier; but on average, the product will fail to do so because civilized humans are insatiable.

As a consequence of my virtues, I fail to market myself and I’m beginning to think I chose a vocation incompatible with my being; one in which honesty is a crutch. I still love the artistry of marketing, but it’s primary responsibility is to engender desire with fiction.

If all we as marketers did was tell people, “here’s the thing, here’s the price, and here are some possible benefits,” we’d go out of business. As soon as we’d brought the thing to market, we’d entice other players onto the field (competition). These players eventually discover a performance-enhancing drug: they start to out-promise us with “marketing.”

So I ask myself, is it time to shoot up?

The Mmm...Letter
The Mmm...letter Podcast
This audio column explores the intersection of culture, business, and morality. But mostly fart poop jokes. Welcome.
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Stanley Bogode