The Culture of Dissatisfaction
The problem with this emerging culture, aside from the fact that we’re unhappy all the time, is that it doesn’t give marketers a chance to build products for the long haul, to invest in the processes and products and even operating systems that pay off over time. The problem is that when brands fizz out so fast, it’s hard to invest in anything except building the next hot brand.
Seth Godin’s latest entry captures my exact thought from these past few weeks. We are a throw-away society, rarely looking at the items we discard or understanding their true value. Granted, some things deserve to be thrown away — but more often than not people don’t really consider the true value of what they hold in their hands. He makes a similar point in his book ‘All Marketers Are Liars’ when he shows the other side of the coin, discussing the anger over a failed recycling program in NYC. People are more apt to sign a petition or call/email their local city leadership over the cancellation of a program they perceive to be beneficial rather then look at the true cost of the program (it costs more to recycle than to not) or, despite the costs, whether that program is even effective (the reality is that many cities end up throwing it all in together with the rest of the garbage, anyway). The issue is not the act of making a change or discarding an idea or a product, but in understanding why we discard it and the impacts of the change. Most people react emotionally, rather than act pragmatically.
We’re using electronic media to spread this benchmarking message far and wide. Because there’s always a company offering a better or cheaper or faster product, or a person who’s more clever than Oprah or cuter than Tyra, it’s easy to shop around, to demand more, to be constantly dissatisfied.
I have one addition to this list — the idea that there is always a better employee. Your employee has been there for a year or two, has earned numerous battle scars, and understands your business model, and yet far too many companies are ready to fire someone at the first mistake – even with 99 successes beforehand. Employee loyalty is in decline, and many companies overlook the long-term costs of their actions.
To paraphrase Mr. Godin: The problem with this emerging culture, aside from the fact that we’re unhappy all the time, is that it doesn’t give [employees] a chance to build [products/services] for the long haul. [Companies] are not investing in the processes and products and even operating systems that pay off over time.