Welcome To SorosCo, You Inadequate Researcher

This post will tie together a bunch of my favorite topics:

  1. what I do for a living,
  2. bad reporters,
  3. upholding capitalism against ignorant droogs
  4. worse reporters, and
  5. bashing the Sorosmedia.

Let’s start at the top.

I design things for a living – usually software. Now, when you’re designing things that might have to be used by more than one type of person – software, stores, appliances, marketing websites, airliner safety equipment or what have you – you realize that it’s impossible to design something one way that works equally well for every possible consumer; if you try, you get a lowest-common-denominator that works well for nobody.

So, rather than try to design something that amalgamates an approach to every possible user, one technique is to develop a “User Persona” – a “biography” of the person (or small set of people) for whom the system has to work. For example, if you’re designing an airline cockpit, the design has to work perfectly for pilots; everyone else is secondary. Other designs are more complicated; a luxury sports car might be designed around a 45-year-old, upper-middle-class, upwardly-mobile, racially-indeterminate mortgage broker named “Pete” – all design nuances will answer the question “What would Pete want”. If it works perfectly for “Pete” – who is the “stereotype” of the person to whom the product is aimed, and who is most likely to buy the car – then it’ll be just fine for everyone else.

This technique is used in all sorts of processes – including designing retail marketing, store design, and even sales training systems. When you only have so much time and money to spend on designing something – a website, a store, a package, a cockpit – you have to focus your efforts on the right consumer.

It just makes sense.

———-

After Dan Haugen’s little gaffe the other day in the MNMon – where he wrote “Minnesota’s gun laws could be worse – look at this bozo in Tennessee who’d make guns legal in bars”, not knowing that guns are legal in bars (under certain strict conditions) in Minnesota – I got to thinking – do MinMon reporters actually research what they write about?
We’ll come back to it.

———-

Remember a few years ago, when the local dextrosphere got the vapors over Best Buy Corporation “profiling” customers That Best Buy would focus on customers with “money” and “the intention to buy”, as opposed to “bargain-hunters” who shopped only for “marked-down crap”, with an intention to “spend less time earning more money?”

The writer equated it with racial profiling – a nice, facile point that was, also, completely wrong.
Which brings us to Molly Priesmeyer, the Lindsay Lohan of the local Sorosphere. She’s on the story – a few years late:

Do blue hairs like Blu-Ray? Who cares? They’re cheap. Let’s focus on “Ray,” the bulls-eye Best Buy customer and “techno-tainment” enthusiast with a kid’s heart and wads of cash to spare. Niche marketing doesn’t get any uglier than the customer profiles created by the folks at hometown corporate behemoth Best Buy. And the good folks over at The Consumerist have a leaked internal PowerPoint presentation that renders every customer who walks into a Best Buy big-box shop an ambulatory stereotype.

Note to Lindsay Molly: if this is the first you’ve heard of this particular trend of marketing, it means you’ve never bought a used car.

Remember a few years ago when Best Buy’s lenses turned every customer into an angel or devil? Devils care about saving money—avoid those lame Beezlebubs. These new drooling drones, if they’re even worth an employee’s time, just need a good shaking (and some action movies) so that every last penny drops from their pockets.

Priesmeyer’s writing seems to be unable to proceed beyond facile stereotypes.  I mean, does what does she think every single sales-oriented business, or even salesman, does every time they look at a potential customer?

And, while we’re at it, does Ms. Priesmeyer have even a shred of evidence that there’s anything unethical or, dare we say, racist or sexist or anythingotherist about this?

(And – since a little bird once told us that Priesmeyer’s infamous hatchet job on the Center of the American Experiment dinner honoring Powerline was a result of Steve “Mister Furious” Perry telling her to take out all the “fair” stuff and be more anti-Republican and less objective, I have to ask:  is Priesmeyer that hard-up for a job?)
So why does the MNMon have people who know nothing about the law writing about law, and nothing about business writing about business?

Oh, yeah – people who know nothing about journalism…

I mean, Mol-Mol? Even Jeff Fecke has learned to get his basic facts straight.

15 thoughts on “Welcome To SorosCo, You Inadequate Researcher

  1. In another article, did you catch how Steve Perry characterized signing bonuses for military recruits as “bribes” without a whiff of irony?

  2. To be fair, they do have Andy Birkey writing about gays, drugs and church hating.

    He seems to be expert in all three areas.

  3. LF, I caught the “bribes” thing yesterday, and I just sat there in wonderment at the author’s unabashed stupidity/bias.

    Also, I see the good folks at MinMon are apparently back to their old ways, running AP and other photos without any attribution. Perhaps Sir Fecke will regress back to his plagiaristic ways as the election cycle rolls forward.

    Any bets how long MinMon will last after November?

  4. I see the good folks at MinMon are apparently back to their old ways, running AP and other photos without any attribution.

    It may well be that Fecke is the most conscientious journalist of the lot, anymore.

    He may actually be too reasonable to work under a Steve Perry regime. I said “may” be.

    wouldn’t Jennifer Vogel be Lindsey Lohan?

    Gender mismatch aside, I think Vogel is more like Crispin Glover.

  5. “The writer equated it with racial profiling – a nice, facile point that was, also, completely wrong.”

    This is one of the things that bother me about the reaction to the mortgage crisis. The low down payment, loose credit standards of the early part of this decade obviously benefited low income buyers.
    When the housing market rebounds, lenders will justifiably be wary of these kind of customers.
    My guess is that when that happens we’ll have media features on people being ‘locked out’ of the housing market, featuring examples of hispanics and blacks whining because they are no longer qualify for a half million dollar mortgage when they can only show an annual income of $24k.

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  8. Couple of things, Mitchy Mitch:

    1. I’ve bought a car before. I’ve heard all the sales spins. And that’s why I posted a link to Best Buy’s internal documents: So that Best Buy shoppers can see that they are being targeted the same way they would be if they were shopping at a used-car lot or any other questionable outfit. The facts speak for themselves: Best Buy has a well-crated sales pitch for each “customer,” and customers have a right to know how they are being targeted and/or swindled. They deserve transparency. That simple

    2. These are new internal docs. Do your research before “fisking.”

    3. You are totally wrong about Perry. If you had any reporting skills, you’d ask me.

    Happy Easter, Mitch!

  9. Mitchy

    It’s “Mitch”. “Mister Berg” if you’re nasty.

    I’ve heard all the sales spins. And that’s why I posted a link to Best Buy’s internal documents: So that Best Buy shoppers can see that they are being targeted the same way they would be if they were shopping at a used-car lot or any other questionable outfit

    Oooh, the horror.

    Right, y ‘see, I caught that.

    And this is a bad thing, in and of itself, why?   I mean, sales is sales – right?   Have you ever sold anything for a living?  How much time did you spend pitching to dead ends?

    What, if I may ask, is so “scary” – or for that matter unusual – about businesses focusing their efforts where the money is?  I mean, we don’t all have George Soros paying our bills for us.

    Are  you alleging that this, or any part of it, is unethical?  Is any of it race-based?  Gender?  Anti-gay?  Anything at all?

    Is any of it anything but “trying to make a sale” – which is what retail companies do?

    These are new internal docs. Do your research before “fisking.”

    Actually, I know a number of the people involved in that effort at BBY, and while I didn’t “research” anything per se (puh-leeze), I do know, and attempted to relate to the audience, how your case of the vapors over them is really just a tad selective and misplaced.

    You are totally wrong about Perry.

    So you claim “credit” for that story you did at the CAE dinner in ’04?  Bummer.  I was trying to give you the benefit of a doubt.

    If you had any reporting skills, you’d ask me.

    And if you had any user/market research background, or had spent any time in a business outside of the Twin Cities alt-media, or managed to use your “reporting skills” for more than an easy snark at a big bad business, you’d have realized what a complete non-story your original post was. 

    And speaking of “reporting skills”, has anyone told Dan Haugen about this yet? 

    But OK, I’ll give that “ask me” thing a shot sometime!

  10. Re: Best Buy. Well, given the fact that it is the most-read and widely link post at the Consumerist this week (with almost 200 comments), I would beg to differ that it is a “non-story.” It seems that it’s done more than simply spark interest as a “snark” piece. Instead, the leaked documents have called into question the current sales ethics of big business. Just because such sales practices exist doesn’t mean they’re right or that the general public shouldn’t be informed about how sales pitches are crafted.

    Anyway…Yes, please do ask me next time. You’ve met me before. I am very willing to talk.

  11. OK. We’re getting somewhere.

    Fair enough – just because something exists doesn’t make it right. But here’s the deal; as someone who’s sold things for a living (not very well), and who works for a company that sells things (very, very well), and having not only read the stuff you released but who works in a field very close to the one that generates this kind of research, and who knows some of the people involved in BBY’s research, I’m just not seeing the problem with the “current sales ethics”.

    It could be that I missed the part where the dox say “bypass black people” or “excuse yourself to go to the bathroom when gay guys ask for help” – or, perhaps more to the point, where it said “bypass and be discourteous to people who look less like buyers”. Any of those, or things like ’em, would be truly unethical. No argument. But, unless I missed something, that’s not what BBY is doing – is it?

    Having your piece a couple of times, I’m still not seeing it.

    Kudos on the reception at Consumerist. Reaction is sure fun, although I don’t know that I’d call it dispositive (and having read Consumerist a few times, I think it’s fair to say the audience there isn’t especially sympathetic to business, right). At any rate, yes, there’s a “story”, here, but barring my missing something big, I’m not seeing the sweeping ethical indictment.

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