[Advisory - this post contains vague political references. I usually try to stay away from politics entirely on this blog, but once in a blue moon, I become upset enough about something to break my rule. And this month is a blue moon. No, really, it is. Look it up.]
I majored in communication studies and always thought of it as a practical field. If not the media side of it, then at least the marketing and business side of it. Anything that sounds that boring has to be practical, right? I also remember a time, close to when I started school, when at least half the adults I knew did something that could be considered marketing or brand related. So a month or so ago, when I decided to temporarily moth-ball my media aspirations and look for marketing careers, I expected to find a much deeper field of openings. To my surprise and consternation, there wasn't. Not only was there surprisingly little online, but when I started asking around, most of my older, more experienced acquaintances who worked in the field had been laid off.
While 95% of my disappointing job search for marketing positions took place on the web and around the country, I did casually talk to a few people locally about opportunities. One of them was a friend who works for a contracting company that updates comercial hardware to new state energy efficiency standards. When I heard they were expanding, I asked him if they do any marketing (hinting that I might be interested). He replied that they "don't do that." Even though they are an independent company, the program they run is initiated by the state, so they get contracts straight from the state organization––which takes care of all of the incentivizing people to want the job done. No marketers needed.
This isn't just the story with my friend's business. So many of the companies I've looked at, whether they're health-care, environment or financial, while not controlled by the government, cater very closely to the ever expanding web of government incentives and mandates. And why shouldn't they? If those incentives and mandates create demand––artificial or not––it's only natural that they would rush to supply that demand. It's what business does. And politicians can thus correctly point to those incentives and mandates creating jobs. Reason for celebration (and re-election), right?
But what is marketing based on? Marketing is based on persuasion. It's the art of using persuasive communication and rhetoric to convince people to willingly use a product or service.
So what happens if people are forced to use a product or service? Marketing becomes irrelevant. That's what happens with tax incentives and industry mandates. The government doesn't say: "Buy this because it will save you money," or "because you'll be sexy" or "because it's right." The government just says: "Buy this or go home." Thus––and correct me if my logic is wrong––the more products and services that are mandated in our country, the less marketing will be needed. And I think we can safely say that products and services in general are becoming more incentivized and mandated by the government; not less.
There is hope though. To my unemployed graphic artist, web-developer, script-writer, social media guru, advertiser and other persuasive communication minded comrades I say this: There is a silver lining to the cloud. Once government involvement in consumer affairs and individual lives has reached its historic climax, you will find your services in great demand. The Party Ministry of Propaganda will be recruiting the brightest and the best with open arms. All you have to do is make sure now that you are in the right party, and naturally by 'right' I don't actually mean 'right,' I mean 'left.'