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Performance: How to Lose Your Clients?

 In a marketing strategy, seizing an opportunity can be a strength; but when pressured with performance objectives, it becomes a weakness: the weakness of going too fast.


Like information circulating in the media, pieces of news succeed one another at a constantly faster pace. An event, even dramatic, is eclipsed by another one, not allowing the time to understand its causes, or its effects. In terms of products of consumption, it results in planned obsolescence to increase the consumption speed, and thus the market speed: it is called « funding growth ».


This tendency to speed is, according to me, neither inevitable, nor a choice of society. It is a consequence of using products without understanding their mode of operation on the one hand; and without measuring the social implications of their production and of their use, on the other hand. Who remembers the end of the grave 2008 financial crisis? What did we learn from having been too fast and too greedy? Nothing. Not that a few economists did not think about it, but the fear of loss or of a lack of growth obscures the reflection, without anyone realizing it. Financial markets impose, in a totalitarian way, that speed and performance be at an increasingly faster pace. We have to go fast. For some, too fast; for others, a normal pace. One will sing its praises, and another will see the pitfalls.


Here is a fact however: communication products and tools (like the Internet, mobile phones...) no longer serve us. We have subject to them, like the customer or employee who have become objects of resources in an economy more virtual than real. The tool, like finance, has become sacred; and this god imposes speed upon us. Thus, the marketing professional who wanted to develop his CRM performance has become himself a subject and an object of resources, at the expense of his emotions and of the needs of his customers who, like him, are, first of all, human beings. Commercial performance has become an objective with no deference to the human element. The concept of gift economics does not envision it this way.


The compulsory speed of execution promotes the short-term, creates a compulsive consuming of disposal goods, and does not encourage customer loyalty. And even more, it erodes social bonds by having a fragmenting effect, rather than an integrating effect on the person and their emotions, by training them to be compartmentalized in their behaviors. From then on, a firm is no longer fulfilling a long-term strategy, but rather is pursuing a series of short-term objectives.


For example, which is somewhat strange, most « performers » (i.e. most corporate executives, investors, shareholders, etc.) wish and eagerly wait for summer to take vacation, far from the daily grind and pressure. This reality, though unspoken, has its harmful effects throughout the entire firm: normalizing a daily inhumane level of stress with the promise of a summer reprieve. A totalitarian regime has been implemented, and is common to everyone, whether marketing professional or customer.


Customers are controlled by buying modes: they are in a hurry, conditioned to purchase expediently and reassured by the promises of after-sales services which are, at best, misleading. The system has the ambiguity is of not having been created by anyone, but it has both the capacity of gathering and excluding.


Another consequence of this expediency, is the consumption of psychoactive drugs increasing at the same time as burnouts and depressions, and, even more among the youth, born into this culture of « I want it, and I want it now ». Going fast is agreeing to « live isolated », which is antithetical to the social bonds that any good technology or product should produce. The speed of innovation and current creativity produce the degrowth of an economy and a community: politicians should understand this, looking at the recurring social crisis in every industrial nation.


Because the speed of information contains some advantages (like the democracy arrival in Arab countries, via the use of Facebook by their citizens), our response should not be that of living slowly, neither regressing nor becoming nostalgic. The opposite to speed is not slowness, it is knowing how to take time, how to dare taking risks and how to accept change when it is necessary. In this, nature teaches us through the seasons: winter is not the time for harvest.

Thus, if we should rest more in the winter and work more in the summer, the real CRM should also take into account the customer’s cycle; like the breaking point or their saturation toward commercial offers. In this, one does not manipulate the customer, one encounters them at a time when their need meets your supply.


To conclude on this vast subject, my vision is not to medicate the symptoms of an economy in crisis: I do not believe in this. My vision is to convince you that another paradigm is possible: the concept of gift economics enables and provides meaning and justice to supply and demand, and thus healing.


Eric Jaffrain

April 2012




1: Eloge de la vitesse (« Praising Speed »), a book from Rafik Smati.

2: Trop vite (« Too fast »), a book from Jean-Louis Servan-Schreiber.

Eric Jaffrain - rue du Château - CH-1063 Chapelle-sur-Moudon - info@marketing-non-marchand.ch
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