The Learning Curve

New tricks for an old dog.

Marketing principles – The law of domains

The law of domains

1. A territory over which rule or control is exercised.
2. A sphere of activity, concern, or function; a field of interest.

This is not about internet domains. It is about the many virtual worlds individuals inhabit simultaneously at different levels. Each person has a private world and a public world happening at the same time. Sometimes the inner wold matches up with the person’s outer world, but not always. This says nothing more than appearances are often deceptive.

Beyond this, there are a multitude of overlapping virtual domains a person inhabits. For example, the domain of romantic relationships between two people and the domain of non-romantic social relationships.

Venn diagram of romantic and social relationships

The overlap between commercial relationships and social relationships is commonly encountered in life, and custom has evolved to guide appropriate behavior. If my neighbor calls across the backyard fence to ask if I wanted some home-grown tomatoes, I’d be very surprised if after handing me a few she then told me that I owed her two bucks. The reverse would be the case if a farmer at market asked me the same question. I’d never assume that the tomatoes were being offered for free.

On internet social media, the intersection is not so well-defined with people who are also total strangers.

Venn diagram of commercial and social relationships

And, it can get even more complicated than that.

Total strangers can meet and interact online on topics of common interest, as in discussion groups. The common interest can involve buying and selling, as with Pez collectors being the original semi-commercial group with eBay. People can work together through online connections for a common purpose or project, all while remaining total strangers. This would be nearly impossible in the face-to-face world.

Venn diagram of commercial, social, common interest, and common cause relationships

The areas of overlap legitimately can cause confusion due to boundary misunderstanding and vagueness. Presuming an overlap when none exists can cause even bigger problems.


Written by Tom Fox

09/27/2010 at 12:40 pm

Posted in Marketing

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