What is marketing? (Rory Sutherland)

I love this philosophy on marketing from Rory Sutherland. Rory is the Vice Chairman of Ogilvy & Mather Group, and I heard this on Invest Like The Best (Source).


Begin quote:

First of all, don’t think that marketing is marcoms. Because is very many businesses the two are conflated to a point where marketing is sometimes dismissed as “the coloring-in department”.

Marketing should basically be the repository for any psychological insights, particularly those which are counterintuitive, or which run against normal economic assumptions in the space of human perception and behavior. That would apply also, by the way, to internal relations, shareholder relations, and obviously customer relations.

So marketing, in a sense needs to step back up to the plate and not allow itself to be trapped in the marcoms/communication “ghetto”. The second thing is, by being trapped in that ghetto, [marketing] tends to get framed as a cost; as a necessary evil, and not a source of value creation. Once you’re in that marcoms ghetto, you’re essentially a cost center. As a result, what you get judged by is the efficiency with which you perform the necessary. This turns the whole thing into this sort of marcoms insanity, where everybody is trying to target 2% more efficiently every month.

And I would argue that a large part of marketing needs to be both experimental and probabilistic. We shouldn’t turn it into this efficiency/optimization game.

…Maybe, actually you should do very inefficient mass advertising, simply because it increases your odds of getting lucky. You can’t predict how in advance, and you can’t attribute the success in retrospect, but yet nonetheless, fame is valuable, on balance. More lucky things happen to famous people simply because more people have heard of them.

…that’s the first thing [for new clients]: don’t turn into an efficiency/optimization game. Accept that it’s probabilistic. And accept that there need’s to be a trade-off between exploit and explore.

End quote.