Flint McGlaughlin

A Deep Elemental Force: What (truly) is marketing?

November 5th, 2018

The great words of our society have been destroyed by the power of connotation over denotation. The speed of this demise has accelerated with the advent of mass media. Hence, great spiritual words and great social words have been irreparably marred.

“Marketing” is such a word.

Its very mention connotes trickery, subterfuge, propaganda and ultimately deception. Worse, it is considered the cunning accomplice of another blighted (often for good reason) term: sales.

Can the word “marketing” be redeemed (another damaged term)? Should one just start with a new word?

While at the universal level it can be difficult to “purify” the word, at the personal level this task is relatively simple.

But what does it matter? Why should you care? Redeemed or not, the whole concept seems boring …

“Seems” is a dangerous word. Be careful. Be very careful. Consider three challenging, if not outrageous, statements:

  1. Marketing is the foundation of your being (ontology). Existence is predication is expression is communication; existence, in the social dynamic, is marketed.
  2. Marketing is at the height of the world’s power structure. The power behind the gun is the power of the word; brutal force is subservient to elegant force.
  3. Thus, marketing is a wisdom-skill with which to transform yourself and impact your world. Its nine-letter container is hiding a rich treasure in plain sight.

That the word is so deeply misunderstood and patently undervalued can be a profound opportunity. And it is not necessary to prove the above three statements to justify deeper exploration; the very possibility of their truth is enough.

Which leads back to the original question: How then do we define this word?

First, a caution: It is more harmful than useful to engage in the militancy of once-and-for-all, fight-to-the-scholarly-death definitions. Definitions cannot be exact replicas, but they can be fairly accurate images.

With this in mind, we may (provisionally) define marketing as that collection of activities and outcomes engaged in the effort to influence choice. And when these activities and outcomes are truly effective, they become a genuine power … a deep, rich elemental force.

You might also like …

The Difference Between Marketing and Advertising (and Why It Matters)

Emotional Marketing: How to be a killer marketer and have a clean conscience

My Five Greatest Mistakes as A Leader: 30 years of painful data (that might help you)

Email Testing: 7 tips from your peers for email conversion optimization

Flint McGlaughlin

About Flint McGlaughlin

Flint McGlaughlin is the founder of MECLABS, the world’s largest independent research institution focused on offer response optimization. His work has led to many discoveries regarding the philosophy of human choice, experimental design, and the cognitive psychology of conversion. Dr. McGlaughlin also served as the Director of Enterprise Research at the Transforming Business Institute, University of Cambridge (UK), as the former Chairman of the Board of Governors for St. Stephen’s University and as a former Trustee for Westminster Theological Centre. He originally studied philosophy and theology at University of London’s Specialist Jesuit College.

Categories: Marketing Tags:

We no longer accept comments on the MarketingSherpa blog, but we'd love to hear what you've learned about customer-first marketing. Send us a Letter to the Editor to share your story.