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Problem

A too-simple answer to a complicated problem

This may be of some interest.

The problem: how can we get people what they want and need?

It turns out that the simple short-term answer is the market.

The marketplace makes it possible to buy a nail clipper made of hardened steel for just four dollars, but only when you’re ready. The marketplace offers some people a solid brass set of the cups and balls magic trick and other people a hand-blown glass vase.

The marketplace is hyper-alert and never tires of finding overlooked corners of desire.

But the marketplace is not wise.

It’s blind, short-term and fairly stupid. Because it has no overarching goal. The market is nothing but billions of selfish people, trading this for that, without regard for what’s next.

Left alone, capitalism will devolve into corruption, bribery and predatory pricing leading to monopoly. Left alone, capitalism will pollute rivers, damage our health and create ever greater divides.

Capitalism gets us an opioid epidemic, the dark patterns of social media and doom scrolling.

Because the market isn’t wise. It has no sense of time or proportion.

The only way for the simple answer to solve our complicated problems is for it to have guardrails, boundaries that enable it to function for the long haul.

That’s something we need leadership to get done. And it’s more likely to get done if we acknowledge that we need to do it.

Thank you for reading.

This 22-foot long ‘problem map’ looks at the systemic failures that made COVID spread in the U.S.

This may be of some interest.

Can we use the pandemic to come up with broad solutions that fix more than just the virus?

The U.S. now has more than two million confirmed coronavirus cases, more than any other country in the world. A new, staggeringly detailed “problem map” charts out the system failures that helped the virus spread—and helps uncover opportunities for groups of solutions that tackle multiple, interconnected problems that the virus has exposed at the same time.

Read Full Story

Thank you for reading.

The problem for freelancers

This may be of some interest.

Getting found.

No clients, no work.

And the clients have a problem as well: Figuring out who the truly good freelancers are.

A marketplace like Upwork is supposed to solve a classic two-sided problem like this one. But the problem is so difficult that marketplaces often make it worse (and charge too much as well).

They make it worse by pushing people to be bottom-fishing cheap commodity providers. If someone searches for ‘logo designer’, there is a huge amount of pressure to be the freelancer who checks all the boxes, has decent reviews and is also the cheapest.

The problem with that race to the bottom is that you might win. Compliance and commodity pricing can’t possibly work well for an independent freelancer, because there’s always someone cheaper than you.

And clients? Well, every once in a while a good client encounters a freelancer who is worth sticking with. The marketplaces, though, want to be sure to get paid for every hour worked, not simply surface the good ones. Upwork is trying to slip through a change in their terms of service (effective in four weeks) that will subject any client who hires a freelancer they found on their site to a fine of up to $50,000–per freelancer. That’s not good for either the freelancer or the client.

The gig economy is based on the magic of finding the right person for the right job. It falls apart when it becomes a commodity marketplace in which each freelancer struggles to be valued for the work they are able to create.

For most freelancers, the hard part isn’t doing the work–it’s being tricked into believing that they have to be the lowest bidder to succeed.

More on this in our upcoming workshop for freelancers. Sign up for updates now and we’ll let you know when it’s launching.

Thank you for reading.

You might have a marketing problem

This may be of some interest.

Democracy is a marketing problem.

Health is a marketing problem.

Climate change is a marketing problem.

Growing your organization, spreading the word, doing work you’re proud of–these aren’t engineering problems or economics problems. They’re marketing problems.

That’s because humans make choices. If we live in a culture where people are free to choose, we’ve offered control over our future to others.

When humans make choices–that’s marketing. Marketing is the difficult work of telling a story that resonates, of bringing a consistent set of promises to people who want to hear them.

If you want to change things, it helps to understand how humans make choices. And if you’ve got a change in mind, I hope you’ll spend the time and effort it takes to get better at bringing your story to the people who need to hear it.

I’m thrilled that we’re launching the eighth edition of The Marketing Seminar today. My bestselling book This is Marketing (more than 250,000 copies sold worldwide in less than a year) is based on this workshop. Every time we run the seminar, it gets better and our participants find what they’re looking for. If you want to join the 8,000 people who have found a path forward, today’s the best day. Look for the purple circle to find a discount.

Marketing isn’t about shortcuts, hustle or deception. Marketing is the art (and the science) of serving the people you seek to serve, to do better work by finding and satisfying needs. Marketing is the practice of making things better by making better things.

Click here to find out more.

Thank you for reading.