Marketing gurus and marketing morons

by. Ron Shevlin

Dr. John Dawes nails it. In a white paper titled Marketing Gurus and Fads – how to avoid them, Dawes writes:

“Marketing abounds with ‘fads’ – which over-promise and under-deliver. These messages are sometimes presented as the ‘secrets’ of companies that are supposedly fantastically successful at the moment. The sad fact is that most of these messages are incredibly over-optimistic and at worst, downright deceitful.”

Dawes defines some of the techniques that marketing gurus use, like:

1. Using concepts we already believe in. As an example, Dawes cites a recent text, “The New Marketing Manifesto”, which relates the “12 Rules of New Marketing” (not old marketing, mind you). Rule 1 is ‘Get Up Close and Personal,’ Rule 2 is  ‘Tap Basic Human Needs.’ As Dawes says “this is essentially about understanding customers, doing things customers like, and creating likeable advertising.”

2. Over-generalising a specific example. This is when gurus attribute the success of a company to one thing–the thing the guru is trying to sell (e..g, customer intimacy, focus, etc.). Dawes suggests that we hear a guru do this we should ask “”you are suggesting that the company was successful only because of X. How do we know that it would not have been as successful without doing that?”

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