And they're right. Also big sellers: gluttony (of a particular type), sloth, envy, pride and the rest of the seven deadly sins. But sustainable commerce isn't going to belong to those who market to our vices, but those who appeal to our virtues.
This is not to say that we are a virtuous people. A trip to Walmart on Black Friday would strongly suggest that we fall quite short of that standard. However depraved we really are, each of us likes to think we subscribe to some sort of higher calling.
There are two ways acheive this in advertising and marketing:
Encourage bad behavior and lead people to believe it is good
Encourage good behavior
Of the two, only the second option is sustainable. While necessary to communicate how a product or service advances the audience's self-interests, it's the relationship between that interest and a higher calling that keeps self-interest from devolving into envy and gluttony, which affect not only by the private market, but also public politics.
When it comes to commerce, every person is a hedonist, and every company is a narcissist.
In practical terms, this means that everyone is more receptive to products and services that A) reduce pain or B) increase pleasure, and every company markets to them in a way that belies a belief that they deserve more attention (Why else would they advertise?).
What are you selling?
If your livelihood depends on people buying your brand of beer, are you selling beer, or are you selling a responsible community?
Are you need people to buy trucks, are you selling power steering, or are you selling freedom to traverse vast distances to maintain familial relationships? Or are you selling the appreciation that comes when a friend takes an entire day to help his friends move?
As marketing budgets are shifted over the next few years from traditional to digital (including social media), it's useful to ponder what sort of company people will want to listen to regularly, and what sort of things they'll want to hear. Will it be endless promotions? Or will it be information and advice on how they can become better, more worthwhile people?
"I would rather have it said 'he lived usefully' than 'he died rich.'" - Benjamin Franklin
According to a Gallup poll conducted last year, the Advertising and Public Relations industry ranked #10 as one of the most hated industries in America. 37% of Americans view the profession negatively, which puts it squarely in the camp of "things you're not supposed to talk about in mixed company." Why this vitriol for the sponsors of free television and radio entertainment since the dawn of mass communication? Do people really hate advertising that much?
I don't say this without disappointment. I've long advocated transparency and honesty in all marketing endeavors, and I continue believng that permission-based marketing is still the mold to follow in the 21st century. Advertising should be expected, welcome and invited.
So why the controversy?
When asked, people will say that they hate being marketed to. They're frightened by the spectre of privacy violations, even if it's based on observation of their own behavior. It's hard to blame them. What people do in private and what they think rarely mirrors the persona they wish to convey to the public. The manner in which data is collected and results are fed back to the consumer may matter -- if consumers really understood it. But it's clear that they don't, or that they don't believe it will stay this way forever.
The industry should have a modicum of self-awareness in admitting that the particular methods of interruption-based advertising we've engaged in over the decades have accelerated the rate at which people have learned to ignore and distrust advertising. But dig a little deeper... People hate feeling like they're being manipulated because they feel like they should control their own decisions and destiny.
Apparently their pricing and value was a fair deal before they discontinued their sales and reduced prices across the board. However, as it turns out, something needs to get people through their doors rather than the doors of their competitors.
Sometimes, people need to feel like they're being wooed. What's your take?
If you go to college, you will earn more money than if you did not. College admissions departments send collateral that show increases in income levels for those who earn degrees. Teachers, undoubtedly with the best intentions, hoping to find something that will motivate their students to learn the material they're being taught, repeat the same chorus: "If you don't pay attention now, you will not be able to go to college. If you don't go to college, you won't be successful."
They ask you to look the other way when they teach you about people from this august list.
The Wright Brothers
None of them earned college degrees. All were brilliant. All were succesful. And in case it's not clear from the list, several in the group had to overcome modest -- even oppressive -- circumstances of their youth to achieve great things.
There may be an explanation for this. In his classic book, How to Lie with Statistics, Darrell Huff suggessts that the premise of the statement is the child of a post-hoc fallacy, that presumes that because many people who have degrees are successful, the degree must have caused it.
"Actually we don't know but that these people are the people who would have made more money even if they had not gone to college. There are a couple of things that indicate rather strongly that this is so. College get a disproportionate number of two groups of kids: the bright and the rich. The bright show good earning power without college knowledge. And as for the rich one... well, money breeds money in several number of ways. Few sons of rich men are found in low-income brackets whether they go to college or not."
People like Lincoln, the Wright Brothers, Douglass, etc., weren't stupid on account of their lack of a degree, and they weren't self-made men. They were "Open-Source Learners" -- people who tapped into the resources of their age to improve their understanding about how some part of the universe works.
How much more should we in the 21st century, who can write and talk with and see people halfway around the world in an instant -- for next to nothing -- be able to improve our understanding of how some useful part of the universe works, and with the tools at our disposal, put it to good use?
A little background
My brother Gannon ran into a motivation wall when we were kids. Convinced by the world that he needed to go to college to be successful, once he got it into his head that he could neither afford college nor earn a scholarship, he lost hope, checked out mentally, did as little as he thought he needed to in order to stay eligible for sports and bided his time until he could graduate and join the Marines.
And he was smart. One semester in high school, he dedicated himself and got straight As. Just to prove that he could. After having accomplished that, not believing the effort was worth it, he fell back to Bs, Cs and Ds.
Since then, I've watched his very intentional transformation from a amatuer hobbiest illustrator to a master craftsman. (You can follow some of his work on his blog). His skill can't be chalked up to superior genetics or fancy schooling. It is a product of reading, collaboration, and 5 years or 10,000 hours of practice.
How to Pursue a Degree Without Going to College
In his book, Schoolless (Available on Amazon in paperback and for the Kindle), Gannon doesn't argue that college isn't useful repository of excellent learning tools, or that people should eschew a college degree... Rather, it is a celebration of alternative learning strategies that don't cost $27,000 (the average cost of a 4-year college degree in 2005).
Wondering how you're going to possibly send your kids to college? Lost hope in ever getting a degree without a mountain of debt? The good news is that you have options. There's still time to get this book for Christmas! Do it today. - Cam Beck
A few months ago, with my iPhone 3GS spiraling into obsolescence, I waited anxiously for the announcement of the iPhone 5. Android would also release its newest software, named "Ice Cream Sandwich," the same month, but with my existing music library so dependent on Apple's iTunes network, I initially considered the idea of going to Android to be a far-fetched dream. However, with the prodding of some Android-centric friends, positive reviews of Ice Cream Sandwich, and an overpowering curiosity that might exceed the boundaries of helpfulness, I decided to ditch my old iPhone for the Samsung Galaxy S II "Skyrocket."
After a week, though -- and to the disappointment of my very good, helpful, generous and patient Android friends -- I had to switch back to the sweet familiar taste of the iPhone.
What I learned
First, some background. I have never had any use for those "Mac vs. PC" debates of yesteryear, and less so for the "Android vs. iPhone" debates of today.
I mean, I used to build my own computers and was pleased enough that I could customize to my heart's desire. If one piece failed it was no big deal, because I could replace the piece, not the entire computer. At work, I worked on both PCs and Macs. I think I was hired into my early design jobs mostly because I could use both platforms equally well, and they couldn't find anyone (except clients) who would venture to design on a PC.
Eventually, I discovered that it's a lot of work (and money) to keep pace with the rapidly changing technology, and I opted to go with easy, instead, which leads us to my brief sojourn into Android-land.
Size Matters, and Bigger Isn't Always Better
Samsung's advertising campaign focuses on the device's size and screen quality.
It is nice; there's no doubt. Its Super AMOLED+ (whatever that means) screen is a beauty that delivers rich colors and deep blacks. I could watch a movie on it. Except that I don't use my phone that way. The increased size just makes it difficult for me to use with one hand -- especially when typing.
A Little Tactile Feedback Goes a Long Way (or not)
One of the early gripes of the iPhone is that it had no tactile feedback. Steve Ballmer famously laughed off the iPhone for business use because of the lack of tactile keyboard.
However, the iPhone DOES have four well-designed points that give tactile feedback. The home button allows you to orient and activate your phone easily. The three switches that control volume, the vibration setting, and the power are firm and discourage accidental interaction.
By contrast, every time I pulled the Samsung out of my pocket, I had to reorient it, and I often pressed buttons I didn't intend to press, which forced me to spend more time than I should have to recover from those accidental interactions.
Also, the lack of tactile feedback on the Android is more of a liability for me than it is on the iPhone. Autocorrect humor notwithstanding, the iPhone's screen keyboard just predicts my intent better, even when I make errors.
Here's an example of one of my very typical Android typing attempts:
"Just? Ade SwiftKey? You default keyboard. I auto irreconcilable not imprrssive"
What I was TRYING to say was this:
"Just made SwiftKey my default keyboard. Its autocorrect is not impressive."
Just for grins, I typed the same message on the iPhone just now. Here's what it gave me: "
Just made swift key my default keyboard. It's autocorrect is not impressive."
Not perfect spelling or grammar, but at least sensible to someone who knows what SwiftKey is.
Android allows you to pick your own keyboard, I tried several and was never able to find any that matched the iPhone's sensitivity and effective error mapping.
More Options Can Slow You Down
One of the things I was most anxious to try was the advanced customization options that the Android device allows. I was able to put a weather app on my lock screen, so I don't even have to unlock the device (let alone launch an app) to see what the weather is going to be like for the next few days.
There was an app that transcribed my voicemails (though I never got it to work, I don't doubt that it could). Another app could back up all my texts into an email.
It took awhile (and patience) to figure these features out, but with persistence (and patience of one of my Android friends), I was able to do a lot of cool stuff. Google Maps on Android devices is also clearly superior.
But once I had amy device all tricked out, I realized that I just don't use my phone that way, and that I still had to deal with the device's drawbacks for my day-to-day use.
Galaxy S II Not Fully Compatible with my Car's Entertainment System
I like listening to my music and my audiobooks while I drive. When I use the iPhone, I can see what's playing and who is singing it on my navigation/entertainment display. On the Android, the best I could get is affirmation that something is streaming from my phone.
My Android friends expressed dismay over the industry's fascination with ensuring compatability with the iPhone over the platform that has more market share (though part of the compatability that is important to me deals with the music player aspect, which leverages Apple's dominance there).
In the end, whatever their reasons (probably fragmentation), the Android device just doesn't work for how I want to use it. And I'm more likely to switch the phone to work with my car than I am to switch my car to work with my phone.
Android Will Continue to Do Well
Patent Wars aside, it's good for there to be competition in OSes, as long as it forces the players to innovate. I hope Android devices continue to do well, but at least for now, I'm not going to be one of their customers. But I don't have to be. They don't need me to be. As one iPhone Lover at Techcrunch put it, "they probably don’t (or shouldn’t) care too much about converting iOS users over to Android. All the non-smartphone users out there remain the much bigger prize to go after (for both Google and Apple)."
Since my last post, we've had a few major events in the mobile space.
The iPhone 4s was released to the general public, and people who have been able to overlook the new phone's battery issues (apparently a software issue that will be resolved in a few weeks), they've been so enthralled by its semantic-web (or Subservient Chicken) inspired Siri that they even launched a website that highlights both its ability to recognize complex speech and its personality while doing so.
A little while later, Google announced its new new Android mobile OS, Ice Cream Sandwich, and the sound of geeks drooling could be heard around the world.
Now Amazon said that it is launching a book-lending service to go along with its Prime membership (as long as they own a Kindle). It's sort of like Netflix, but in addition to movies, it also provides books. Oh, and free 2-day shipping on most of the items you can order on Amazon. Gizmodo calls it "Officially the Greatest Deal in Tech." Certainly Amazon just became more of a digital content juggernaut than it already was.
I'll have more to say on these developments later, but for now, let it suffice to say that this confirms that mobile is reaching the critical tipping point I mentioned before.
(As an aside, I can always tell when some technology reaches the tipping point when my parents start using it. RIght after they joined Facebook, the rest of the world did, even though I had been on it for about two years by the time they joined. True to form, my dad started texting me recently.)
What does this mean? It means that the best computer is the one you have on you. It means if you need to reach people, they need to be able to access you wherever they have a need for whatever it is that you sell. Finally, it means that not having a mobile strategy at this point may well be, competitively speaking, like one of those dreams where you accidentally show up to school without your clothes on ("Shoot! I KNEW I forgot something...")
So what do you do? You get your butt moving, that's what! As I'm sure I heard Seth Godin say at some point, the best time to start is a year ago. The second-best time is right now.
And it's not enough to produce any old thing. Says Jakob Nielsen, "Last year, it might have been cool simply to have an app. Now, that app better be good. Requirements have gone up."
Here are three strategies to get your brain going. By no means is this list exhaustive.
This is when you take everything that is on your website and cram it into your mobile website, but optimize it for the smaller screen sizes. Everything can be reformatted to fit the screen, of course, but for all intents and purposes, they are carbon copies of one another.
This is when you design a mobile experience instead and in exclusion of a desktop website. I can't think of any effective examples for this. Maybe some independent developers looking to create a killer app -- but even most (all?) realize the importance of having a website to support it. Plus, being developers, they also know how easy it is to get something credible up quickly.
A displacement strategy is when the experience designed for each device is married to its respective strengths and divorced from its weaknesses. For instance, desktop devices have a bigger screen area that can be used to enhance navigation or display more information, but you won't have it on you when you're out with your friends wondering what is happening in the city today. Mobile phones, on the other hand, are instantly available when you need quick information, they can identify what's around you due to enormous (and growing) infrastructure support, but doing certain things, like typing, can be murder.
To successfully pull off any strategy, you really need to put yourself in your audience's' shoes. Which is great if you are your own audience. If not, you're going to need to do some research. Don't skimp on this! If you don't have a much of a budget, start with some guerilla stuff. Take your small wins and build on them.
And be quick about it, will you?
What are some of your favorite strategies for mobile implementation?
According to Nielsen, 40% of all mobile phones in the U.S. are smartphones, which are poised to overtake feature phones later this year, and although tablets are showing only a 5% penetration, as the cost of entry falls and Amazon throws its hat into the tablet ring, smart money is on a boom in the next few years. If you've been holding out on designing for mobile over the last few years, your time is up.
The good news is that your mobile site doesn't necessarily have to do the same things your website does. The bad news is that it could take some serious sleuthing to figure out what it does need to do.
The challenge for designers is that this is all very time consuming. Each platform is inherently different and has its own strengths and weaknesses. You can do some things better on a PC because of the additional space. You can do some things better on a smartphone because it's with you and connected when you need it.
The market for personal computers is still growing in a down economy -- partly because it's still highly relevant for enterprise use, and partly because the market maturity leads to lower costs of entry than newer technologies. Along with the fact that it is a known quantity with established home and business uses, its low cost of entry makes it a safe bet people in the market for a new device. In short, the PC will evolve, but it is not going away anytime soon.
However, as more people adopt these mobile technologies, their expectations for a good experience will not deminish. If anything, they will demand better and eschew those experiences that do not take into account their mode of arrival.
If you want to attract planes, first build a runway.
If you want to attract people with enough disposable income to risk on a trendy device, build a remarkable experience for them for that device -- and give them the ability to share.
Next time, I'll write about three mobile strategies to consider when planning your mobile presence:
I've been actively considering a new car purchase for about a month now. Back when I was only anticipating this time to come, I considered Ford a strong candidate for a new car. First of all, their cars have simply improved. As far as quality goes, they've come a long way since S&P downgraded its credit to "junk" status in 2006. The "Bold Moves" campaign, while not one of their more memorable, gave us a glimpse into their advertising and PR push they've been doing since then, up to their very wise hiring of former Crayonista Scott Monty in 2008 and their use of Dirty Jobs frontman, Mike Rowe, as their spokesperson.
They made me a believer.
Consequently, I've been looking for an excuse to buy a Ford since they turned down the auto bailout to make their own way, so when their recent campaign to spotlight the testimonies of Ford owners who were critical of those who took the bailout, it really resonated with me.
Though no one at Ford will confirm it, some reports say that the White House put pressure on Ford to remove the ads. That bothers me. It bothers me a lot. But Ford's response, and the information that's come to light since then bothers me, too.
The focus of the ads is a moral one. The people giving their testimony clearly favor Ford on moral grounds.
Ford didn't take the money. The other guys did.
Implied in this treatment is a moral case for making your own way and not asking the taxpayers to foot their bill. That may make some people uncomfortable, but it was exactly what I was thinking. And the ads were popular, so I wasn't the only one.
Now... I did remember that they were right in the mix of the Congressional hearings during the bailout talks about the auto industry being "too big to fail," but when they withdrew, I wanted to believe they had second thoughts because they knew they shouldn't be asking in the first place. The cost for such assistance was too high.
As it turns out, though, they made the decision for business reasons. They supported the bailout in principle, which is to say, morally. They just thought their chances for success were better if they didn't accept the bailout. They supported it for their rivals getting it.
So why would they run ads that celebrate their "principled stand" when it wasn't anything more than the same self-interest that their competitors were using in their case?
I still need to get a car... And I can no longer select Ford on principle. There is no principle to defind. Consequently, I'll buy a Ford only if they have the best car for what I'm willing to spend.
Looking for some ideas for using imagery to communicate complicated subject matter, I stumbled across this site that curates or creates infographics from around the Web. This post from Smarter.org shows that infographics are so great, they can even be used to compare apples and oranges.
At the recent AFC Championship game between the New York Jets and the Pittsburgh Steelers, near the end of the game, the Steelers clung to a narrow lead and faced 3rd down with 6 yards to go. The Jets were out of timeouts, but there were 2 minutes left in the game. Should the Steelers not convert in that situation, the Jets would be hard-pressed to march down the field on the NFL's best defense to score the touchdown they would need to win and advance to the Super Bowl. Conventional wisdom (as articulated by the announcers of the game) was to run the ball, eat as much time off the clock as possible, punt and let the Jets try its hand against that stout defense with just over a minute left to play.
It was a pretty good bet, all things considered, but a risk either way. Their punter had a kick nearly blocked earlier in the game, and quite frankly, he hadn't exactly been booming his kicks since he joined the team earlier in the season when their original punter was injured. A long punt return -- even for a score (which was the ruin of several Steelers games last season) -- wasn't out of the question.
A first down, on the other hand, would enable the Steelers to safely kneel down on the ball, and the Jets would be powerless to stop the clock. A first down meant the game would be over, but it was unlikely that the Steelers could get a first down by running the ball, since the Jets were stacking up to stop the run. An incomplete pass would stop the clock. For all intents and purposes, it would have been a free time out for the Jets.
The Steelers quarterback, Ben Roethlisberger, was not having a picture-perfect game, having barely completed half of his passes on the evening. It was no sure thing that he'd complete a pass or have the presence of mind to take a sack instead of making a risky throw against a very good defense.
But when it came time to decide what to do at that critical moment, Steelers coach Mike Tomlin didn't hesitate. He did not vacillate. "Call your game, BA," he said to his offensive coordinator, Bruce Arians, who called a pass play that, in conjunction with some improvisation by the offense on the field, picked up a first down that sealed the game for the Steelers.
Had the pass been intercepted, or left enough time on the clock for the Jets to run down the field and score, Steelers fans around the world may still be calling for the head of Tomlin. Had the Steelers run the ball, punted and left the game to the defense, no matter what the outcome was, sports pundits would openly wonder if Tomlin lacked the guts to risk losing in order to put the game away.
Now, we have a tendency to measure success based on outcomes, and as such, it's easy to look at that game in hindsight, knowing full well the Steelers are going to their 3rd Super Bowl in 6 years and say that it was a smart move. Gutsy, even. But there's something the certainty of hindsight that makes us forget the loneliness of leadership.
Having observed Tomlin in action, I feel like I know enough to say that, had they let that 24-point lead they once had slip away to defeat, he would have simply said, "That was my decision. If you want to blame someone, blame me. I don't apologize for it. I'd do it again in the same situation." And he'd have plenty of evidence from his team's capabilities to supply such confidence, regardless of the outcome. But evidence doesn't necessarily stop the critics. That's what makes them critics.
A fond farewell
I bring this up today because I've recently decided to say goodbye to my friends and colleagues at Click Here and The Richards Group, with whom I've been fortunate to work with for nearly 7 years, to offer my user experience (UX) skills to the bright folks at Slingshot.
Though sad to leave the place I've spent so many days and nights and leave the good friends and good people who've toiled with me in rain, sleet, snow and sunshine at Click Here, I'm very excited about the opportunity that lies before me -- an opportunity to go for the win, not just for myself, but for my family, my new employer, their clients and their customers related to the projects I'll be working on with my new friends and colleagues at Slingshot.
How do you save the world? One project at a time.
In a recent conversation with a friend and project manager, Joe Wilson (this one, not that one) I expressed my philosophy on business and user experience that frames everything I do, and why I care and take my job very seriously.
In short, I enjoy helping good people and good businesses succeed for the right reasons, for their wealth brings higher employment and individual prosperity, and with that, a better opportunity to not only reduce poverty, but also help those who need assistance, voluntarily.
"You're trying to save the world," Joe exclaimed.
"Yeah," I told him, "I am," without really reflecting on just how silly it sounded.
Because for man, this is impossible. I know this. Only God has that kind of power. However, that knowledge does not aleive us of our responsibility to our part. To make strides to his purpose, sometimes you need to pass when conventional wisdom says you should run. You have to take risks. You have to play to win, even if it means stepping away from the environment to which you've been accustomed to venture out onto a new playing field and a new strategy that you hadn't originally envisioned.
For one reason or another, that time has come for me.
I extend sincerest best wishes to the entire Click Here organization and everyone I've been blessed to work with over the last 7 years. I cannot express enough gratitude for what you all mean to me.
But I also look forward to the future with great hope and anticipation. Fasten your safety belts, folks. No matter what happens, we're in for a fun ride. - Cam Beck
"You know what the first rule of flying is? ... Love. You can learn all the math in the 'Verse, but you take a boat in the air that you don't love, she'll shake you off just as sure as a turn of the worlds. Love keeps her in the air when she oughta fall down, tells you she's hurtin' before she keels. Makes her a home." - Malcom Reynolds, Serenity (2005)
There's a scene in the sci-fi classic movie, Serenity, where, after a successful heist perpetrated against the evil Alliance, the crew's captain Mal takes the booty back to the job's sponsors, Fanty and Mingo, to give them their 25% commission and (hopefully) get another job.
"Well our end is forty, precious," says Fanty. One gets the sense that there was soon going to be a major fight when the dueling parties were distracted by an even more entertaining brawl.
Can you imagine a world without trust?
You're at the checkout counter of the grocery store. You need some ingredients for apple crisp. The clerk, who has been eyeballing you for your entire visit, refuses to put the groceries in the bag until he's seen the money. You refuse to show the money until you're sure he'll let you out of the store with them.
But back up. Because before you get to the checkout, you have to inspect all of the fruit. You want to make sure they're not old, rotten mush. You also need to inspect the bags of sugar to make sure they aren't filled with sawdust. The grocer doesn't want you to open the bags, out of fear that you'll replace his sugar with sawdust. So you'd leave without buying, because you don't trust that beady-eyed grocer.
But back up. Because you can't leave your house anyway to go to the grocery store out of fear that you'll get mugged by the ruffians that patrol the neighborhood. You've never seen them, but you're sure they're there. Anyway, the grocer could never have opened a store in the first place, because no one would trust him with a loan. You get your groceries from a garden out back, which is decimated with insects, because you don't have anyone to sell you pesticides.
Successful, sustained commerce depends on a lot of things. We talk a lot about them in the course of our work. Some of them have value, some of them are hogwash. ROI. CPM. Engagement. Usability engineering. Experience. Product, Price, Place, Promotion. Branding. Income statements, balance sheets, cash flow. Social Media. Customers service.
We go to school, conferences and seminars to understand or execute them better. We send wads of cash to Amazon and Barnes and Noble to gobble up Seth Godin's books. And there's nothing wrong with ANY of that. Why would I begrudge anyone from getting better at the technical aspects of their jobs?
But what if we need something more elemental than all of that?
What if our deepest problem isn't whether we know how to calculate return on investment and successfully predict the future. Specifically, what if our deepest problem is that we don't love our neighbors well? And if that is true, what can we do about it?
What's more, how do we encourage each other to love others better? It seems a little self-serving. For when we say to our neighbors, "Love your neighbor," we're including ourselves in that group. We're saying to them, "Love us better." But as a man in the business of talking to others in business, my advice to all those who wish to be successful is this:
Love your customers better.
Thinking over the last decade, we've seen the likes of Enron, WorldCom, Bernie Madoff, Lehman Brothers -- the entire banking and investment industry -- industries run by "the best and the brightest," who went to the "best" schools run multi-billion dollar businesses into the ground as they sought to enrich themselves. It isn't a question of whether they knew how to do math. It was that they loved themselves more than they loved their neighbors.
Why is love so important to commerce?
You don't rob someone you love.
You don't try to swindle someone you love.
You don't overcharge someone you love.
You keep your promises to someone you love.
The apostle Paul tells us in 1 Corinthians 13 what love is and just how important it is. Let's look at what he says, particularly about knowledge or the ability to tell the future:
"And if I have prophetic powers, and understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have all faith, so as to remove mountains, but have not love, I am nothing. If I give away all I have, and if I deliver up my body to be burned, but have not love, I gain nothing."
"Love never ends. As for prophecies, they will pass away; as for tongues, they will cease; as for knowledge, it will pass away… So now faith, hope, and love abide, these three; but the greatest of these is love."
When you look at the last decade through the lens of improving technologies and products that change the way we communicate, it superficially appears to be a much different environment than in decades past. Could you have imagined Facebook and Twitter a decade ago? Could you have predicted its adoption?
What's more, people who are so inclined have more sophisticated methods to take advantage of/steal from others -- through economics or politics -- and that fosters an abiding suspicion of business, whether the suspicion is well founded in any particular instance or not.
But sometimes you have to take a step back from the pounding you're taking and get back to the basics. None of the things we do in business and marketing makes a difference if we have not love. What's most important to you? What do you want to accomplish? You want to see economic recovery? Then love thy customers. When you do that purely, the circumstances that follow apart from that don't even matter.