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PERPETUAL marketing

Listening to the endless debates on marketing is like sitting on a giant pendulum.

Swing one way, you get to the Evidencers and the Biases. Swing the other, the Purposes and the Trads.

Everyone’s adamant they hold the high ground. All you know is you have motion sickness.

The ear-bashing never stops.

Out left, the Evidencers say people don’t care much about brands, so stop believing they do. Focus on penetration, physical and mental availability, category entry points, distinctive assets and data, data, data.

The Biases say it’s all about nudging people’s behaviour without them even knowing. But they have so many theories now on how to do this, the only way forward is to test, test, test.

Out right, the Purposes believe people do care about brands. So it now matters more than ever what companies are up to besides selling a product.

And the Trads still believe people can be persuaded to buy a brand, by rational or emotional means. All it takes is a sharp insight and a bright idea.

So you hang on in there, going back and forth, trying to work out who’s right.

At the low-point on each swing, you pass a group of people shouting at you to jump off. It isn’t ‘either/or’, they yell, everyone’s right, which makes them the right-est.

But gravity means you’re moving too fast, maximum kinetic energy, so your mind’s a blur.

It’s only when you reach the points of zero velocity, you get to reflect on your potential energy. Then the moment’s over, as soon as it began.

Will it ever end, this to-ing and fro-ing?

Perpetual motion is impossible, of course, according to the first and second laws of thermodynamics (I knew that degree wasn’t wasted).

But as long as you have some input of energy, you can keep on going.

Fortunately, marketing is never short of that. A lot of the debate is just hot air.

But it’s also the desire to stand out and stand apart. Which is as true of marketers and marketeers as brands.

So it’ll never stop.

Every year there’ll be more books and blogs and talks and tweets and courses and comments.

More art and awards and science and sneering.

And more moaning about how no one in C-Suites takes marketing seriously because the industry can’t stop arguing with itself.

Because the thing is, if everyone did one day miraculously agree to agree on a single theory of marketing, there would immediately be an opportunity for a brand to do something different.

And off we’d go again. Everyone shifting their own position on the pendulum ever so slightly.


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