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The Sport of Unhappiness

November 17, 2008  

In a post at his blog, Seth Godin notes some of the seemingly unfounded whining in which our consumer culture likes to indulge. We bitch and moan about a Facebook redesign, when it's a free service; we can't wait to get our hands on the new 3G iPhone, but dogpile on Apple when free software upgrades don't appear quickly enough for our taste; and we wring our hands over Amazon's customer service despite the company's free, speedy delivery.

"I'm not saying that consumers don't deserve respect and quality in exchange for their attention," says Godin. "I'm pointing out that we make ourselves unhappy just for the sport of it."

And therein lies the quandary for many marketers. On one hand, playing to this sensibility can improve your position in the marketplace; on the other, by constantly raising the bar for yourself, you create a customer base with ever-increasing—and potentially unreasonable—expectations.

According to Godin, you have two options:

Accept the situation. "Embrace the whining," he says, "and realize that this attitude gives you an opportunity to answer the question with, 'No! Wait, there's more!'"

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