The art of focused marketing to a target audience is a mystery to me. I wish that I could get some wealthy investor to risk a boatload of money to promote these two exhibits: A & B. My ad campaign could simply repeat to the general public: “This stuff is great! This stuff is great!” And that would do the trick—it always has. Why does it work? I wish I understood.
I suppose that the majority of people allow themselves to be guided by familiarity. If a choice is familiar, they buy it—no questions asked. A smaller section of people will weigh the advice of a trustworthy leader, like a critic or tastemaker. And yet others will prefer to think through their own decisions.
For the record, I value the independence of my own thinking, but I love to contemplate the ideas of critics. I don’t consider the act of following, in and of itself, as something to be avoided—only gullible, uncritical trusting of a shepherd is [adjective].
I’m optimistic enough to believe that the art of writing will survive with the happy few. Although the unpopularity of my own books frustrates me, it doesn’t kill my spirit; because I know that, as long as I save my compositions in a format which does not depend upon electronic technology, the final word about their popularity belongs to the future.
Every present age is, at once, some past age’s future and some future age’s past. It pleases me to remember that future ages have a good track record of honoring the best writers of past ages, while consigning the shallower, popular artists to oblivion. It’s that old idea: the last shall be first. So that’s at least something to hope for.
But I wish that approval weren’t always so very posthumous. I would gratefully accept recognition at present, not to mention vast riches. (I say this on the chance that Destiny Herself is skimming this blog.)
As I wrote at the beginning of time (wake up, dear diary), the art of focused marketing to a target audience is a mystery to me. Now I think that maybe it’s supposed to stay that way, because to market something properly requires precedent—the item that you want to hype needs to have been hyped before, to ease the job of the hypers. Yet (whether or not I succeed) my aim is always unprecedentedness.
Then again, I think that what the advertising industry presumes about its efforts—all of its theories about which ads work and why—is mostly baloney: I truly believe that what causes stuff to be popular—maybe I should say “art” instead of “stuff”—is repetition (which is harnessed by capital), plain and simple. That’s why I joked about popularizing my snake oil by just repeating “It’s the best! It’s the best!” Why would people question something that’s the best?
No matter how many lovely jokers join my cult, I’ll always want a bigger congregation: I’ll never be satisfied. But, if I had to choose between attracting the pyramid’s tip or its base, I’d choose the tip. By definition, the rare geniuses of any given age are few in number. I don’t mind piloting a small church, as long as all of its gods are genuine devils.
Suppose, however, that I want to discern whether I have fulfilled my goal of appealing to the “happy few.” Such a thing will not be easy to measure; perhaps it’s even naturally un-measurable. Whereas, if mere fame is my goal, I could measure my success by checking the number of ‘Likes’ that my cult receives on the Fiendster network, or the number of sales that I can milk out of nightlong cold-calling.
But I’m against chasing after fame. It just runs in circles, anyway. To catch it, all you need to do is stand in place and hold your arm out—fame will eventually slam right into your fist. Once it’s down for the count, you can tie it up like a dinosaur and ride it in your prehistoric rodeo. You’ll make some petty cash, at least. And I’d love to take one of those animatronic models from a Creation Science museum to see if public opinion will mate with it.
And woe unto he who tries to jumpstart a sham. Kickstart, jumpkick. It’s a waste of one’s time. Even worse, it’s a waste of one’s mind. I once heard a teenager say to her mother: “What’s the use?” I love this question, and I’ve asked it of myself, and I will continue to ask it of myself. (Although I’ve never struck upon an answer that rings true, there’s a satisfaction in the very act of questioning.)
Decide on a path: either work for the self, or work for money. As it was taught of old: One cannot serve God and mammon. [Matt 6:24]
But is this good advice? Why did I ever wander around saying that?