How Would Max Weber PPC? (Part I)

Yes, yes, yes, I know you’ve been up at night wondering, “If Max Weber were alive and got a job running Google Ad campaigns, how would he go about it?” and–alas!–the answer is here for you.

So Max Weber wrote brilliantly about many topics, and today he’s remembered largely for one idea: The Protestant Work Ethic. But he is the father of sociology–today, so I need to say the “parent” of sociology?–and he wrote in a sophisticated way on many topics, and I’m going to focus on another one: bureaucracy. He wrote a book of that name and likely even coined the word. Indeed, he was one of the great and original defenders of bureaucracy. In short, he had a great observation about bureaucracy (I’m simplifying it, of course): leaders were traditional Great Men, the strong men who managed and controlled everything, and they swayed everyone with their charm. This is what he called the “charismatic” leader. And Weber argued for bureaucracy as the alternative to the charismatic strong man. Rather than decisions made by the whims of a powerful man, instead, decisions could be made through the clearly-defined processes and systems, which themselves are built on logical and scientific approaches, in the bureaucratic method. Of course, Weber, being absurdly sophisticated, delved into the good and the bad of all sites in subtle details.

Now, let’s apply this approach to running a PPC campaign. In short, there are two sorts of PPCs: we could call them, the Charismatic PPC, and the Bureaucrat PPC. (Random choice of words, I know!).

The Charismatic PPC is the genius kid who runs a killer campaign. You hire him and go, go go, he does this search term report, and has an idea for this micro-campaign, and adds these extensions, and finds a whole new demographic to try out display ads on–wow, now That is a PPC!

But the Charismatic PPC has his downsides. That type tends to be more emotionally driven, on average. Higher likelihood to just disappear. High risk, high reward: maybe it won’t go great but maybe it will revolutionize the company.

Now let’s contrast this with the Bureaucrat PPC. You’re unlikely to get flashes of brilliance. But he’ll always be there. Always do the reports and provide you the information you need. He’ll make sure things never go over-budget, that the negative keywords are added regularly. Keep things up-to-date and spotlessly clean (if he’s a good bureaucrat, and we’ll optimistically assume he is so that this doesn’t turn into an 11,000-word essay).

Which type of PPC are you? Which one would you want to be?

Of course, every PPC wants to be the best of both, and every client wants to hire the best of both. But finding that balance is hard to achieve maybe not even achievable. (I have my strategies… but send me a note and we can have a virtual coffee to talk about them!)

But all of this still leaves the question: which type of PPC would Weber be? He was such a prolific thinker and writer and producer, that he might be that best of both worlds.

But he also had an interesting idea that is usually called in English “disenchantment” (Entzauberung if I want to be pretentious and use his German word). He argued that there is an element of mystery, mysticism and perhaps even magic in the pre-bureaucratic world, and–for all the efficiencies bureaucracy gives us–it weakens and then possibly kills. Working towards worldly goals kills the magical otherworldly yearning which is core to our humanity. And to be a great PPC, you need that spark of otherworldly magic to truly go “above and beyond.”

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