Saturday, July 18, 2009

Marketing School of thoughts?

A few weeks of vacation in old Europe enabled to me to catch up with some non-marketing centric reading and thinking that was not solely driven by urgent client needs or very urgent New Business concepts. One thing that struck me as a result of my random reading behavior was the observation that so many disciplines have different “Schools” of thoughts, like in Design (e.g. Bauhaus), in psychology (e.g. the Freudian school), or in economics (e.g. the Chicago School). Additionally the visit to two outstanding exhibitions, the “Blaue Reiter” in Baden-Baden, Germany, and the amazing Van Gough landscape exhibition in Basel, Switzerland, strengthened this particular observation, since the group called “Blaue Reiter” had very specific beliefs and ideas, expressed in their famous manifesto “The Blue Rider Almanac” from 1911. Van Gough was drifting back and forth between different affiliations to various schools within expressionism before his mental state did not allow anymore for a constant commitment to a particular group or abstract concept of common beliefs.

Why is there a total lack of different “schools” in marketing, especially in the domain of marketing agencies and brand marketing departments? It seems that there are few reasons:

  • Marketing service provider are too scared on missing out on client opportunities if they would adhere too strict to a particular set of paradigms that could be read in a manifesto. It’s easier to chameleon like adjust to particular clients needs and tell them “I will be what you want me to be”
  • Brand marketers most often don’t have the intellectual freedom and time to pursue the development of a particular school. It’s too hard to write down, improve, and practice strong beliefs in today’s time of daily pressure and sales goals. The brand for which the marketer works is the hero, not a potential school of thought.
  • The academic community of marketers doesn’t seem to have the impact and influence of creating leading “School of thoughts” that people in the marketing practice would follow. It seems to be easier to work on more specialized topics, transformed into specific research papers, than defining a very broad point of view towards the marketing universe.

And still, I would not be surprised if we will see in the next five years a stronger effort of different groups, especially in the marketing agency and academic community to create a particular “school”, all with the goal of setting down principles and believes that can guide them and their followers. Today’s ever more complex marketing discourse screams for a holistic and simpler view of things, all expressed in a concise document. One needs a powerful Manifesto that generates strong following to create a “School of Marketing”. But the group “The Blue rider” has shown how a few strong personalities can create something permanent that is still considered a school almost hundred years after its creation.


Anonymous Trish said...

While the field of Marketing doesn't necesarily have different schools of thought, the various approaches to marketing can be considered to be the basis of establishing one.

2:38 AM  
Anonymous Akin Arikan said...

Without meaning to disagree, one area in which marketers do have different schools of thought are online vs. direct vs. brand marketers.

It is just that they work on different channels with differen laws.

But the web site guys "thoughts" are all around aggregate level actions, e.g. to improve a web page or improve their ads. They tend to focus on acquisition and quick conversion + cross-sales.

In contrast, the direct marketing mindset is closer to relationship marketing. Besices acquire / convert / retain they focus on individual customer level analytics. They look to increase the lifetime value of not so much advertising but individual customers.

Online serving an extra banner or sending one more email is almost free. So marketers don't bother as much with being predictive.

Offline reaching individuals' is expensive. So in theory direct marketers are very predictive of who is most likely to care and respond. Granted, not that they seem to be doing a super great job at that.

How about the TV commercial guys? Isn't their mind all about influencing "willingness to buy" without bothering to look for more detailed metrics or testing? Not sure. This 3d group is the one I know least of.

You raise a good point. Even economists have different schools of thought. why not us ...


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