What do philosophers and marketers have in common

We worry about things that seems not important to everyone else and can use language that is obscure and difficult to follow.

 I was reminded of this when I attended a philosophy lecture
discussing how the philosopher Richard Rorty struggled to reconcile the
fact that he was passionate about social justice and at the same time
want to be selfish and spend time on transient personal pleasures such
as the cultivation of rare orchids. It seemed that the philosopher’s
intelligence led them to worry about things that seem quite
straightforward to the rest of us.


Most of us have accepted that a part of our life may be devoted to
causes whilst other parts of our lives are around personal stuff and
other parts of our lives are economic. We know we have these different
needs. We do not struggle with needing to explain a dilemma as Richard
Rorty did.
As I left I found myself thinking that as marketers we can be seen
to worry about things that the rest of the business are not so
concerned about (e.g. brand essence, brand wheels, abstract ideas).
This makes us seem a bit detached from the day to day realities.
The second tendency marketers share with philosophers is to use
language that seems somewhat obscure to the rest of the business?
happened to me in this lecture where I felt like an outsider observing
a rather strange parallel universe in which the language of discussion
was unnecessarily complex and obscure.
Our own research has shown that marketing teams who do not
communicate internally and have less frequent interactions with the
rest of the business and are less well regarded. 
Whereas, the best market driven businesses have marketers who are
well regarded and have invested time in interacting with the whole
business so that their ideas are practical and useful and they
communicate effectively so people understand the benefits.
There are two behaviours of these philosophers that we have
observed in marketers and if you fall into this then you run a big risk
of seeming detached from reality and reducing your impact on the
Firstly, like the philosophers, marketers can spend time exploring
things that seem unconnected with the reality of getting more
profitable growth.
  I have sat through U&A presentations that
provide interesting descriptions of consumer behaviour but offer little
insight as to how the business could do things differently to satisfy
customers.  Then on other occasions there are lengthy meetings to
develop and discuss things like “brand essence” or the “brand
pyramid”.  These discussions can seem to have little to do with the day
to day business of getting more growth and hitting targets.   These
discussions have little practical bearing on the decisions about
products, services, prices, distribution and marketing communications
that will drive growth.
Secondly, like the philosophers, marketers can use words and
language that seems disconnected
from the reality of getting more
profitable growth. The use of this language can obscure the real value
that marketer’s programmes and ideas might have. So whilst the business
discusses customers, consumers, sales, products, services, reputation,
distribution, logistics, prices, profit margins, promotions. Marketers
talk about branding, brand image, strategy, awareness, design and
identity. Many of these things may well be important but the links to
profitable business growth and real practical decisions are less than
clear to your colleagues in other functions.
So I left this lecture reflecting on how marketers can avoid
behaviours that will restrict their influence and may mean the business
is less market and customer driven.  Try this instead.

1.  Use shorter words.
2.  Use the language of the business, not the language of the text book or the advertising agency.
Make sure that the ideas and concepts you discuss will help you make
practical decisions.  We call these concepts “really useful concepts”.