Oct 10, 2006

When the marketers take over the asylum.

These days, marketers and marketing simultaneously share the business spotlight and act as universal scourge for all that ails our consumer culture.

Yet in our age of specialization--think long snapper or food stylist--it only seems normal that this business function would become it's own special domain. (That it's come to dominate some industries and companies provides a much larger story, but that's another post.)

That said, I find something extremely relevant the notion that pure marketing without connection to the service or product being, well, "marketed," signifies a dangerous mbalance that can really mess up your business plan.

A smart man named John Gruber posted about this very topic last week. He lists his objections to Adobe naming its new photographic app Lightroom "Photoshop Lightroom". Aside from semantic issues, he identifies this problem:

Calling Lightroom “Photoshop Lightroom” is another sign of this: it’s marketing for the sake of marketing itself, as opposed to marketing that serves and respects the actual products. Any great company must be run by people who both understand and love the products the company creates; a car company needs to be run by car people; a movie studio by movie people; and a software company by software people. This is why so many great companies fade away after their founding generation retires: the companies are taken over by “sales and marketing” people.

I agree with him, as I also do with his assertion that good marketing rings true. As I've babbled too many times to mention, your company's message has to be based in truth, otherwise people will eventually wise up and abandon you. Or worse, they'll actively despise you.

Does this mean that pure marketers don't have a place in business? Not at all. They just need to believe in and understand their product or service on a gut level. Just going through motions will result in vapid, self-centered blah-blah-blah.

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