Category: Purpose

The Unifying Theory of Marketing

There are two distinct schools of marketing.

The “Data Is Everything” school – The Scientists.

And the “If You Don’t Get Noticed Everything Else Is Academic” school – The Big Bangers.

I can’t figure if they’re like the Christians and the Jews (both believing in the same god, but trying hard to convince consumers the only real way to get the benefit of the product is with their brand) or like Catholics and Anglicans (both selling the same brand, but trying hard to convince consumers the only real way to get the benefit of the product is with their model).

Based on the conversations we’re hearing over here in the shallow end of the internet, both schools, like the two sides of modern politics, seem to believe the only way to convince non-believers is to take a very black and white view.

It’s no surprise really.

The whole world has become a chaotic scramble for people’s attention.

And it’s hard to write a headline which grabs someone’s attention when the point you want to make is, “It’s a bit of both, a relevant balance, an appropriate dollop of I’m sorry I drifted off when you started being dull.”

(Quick aside. Before anyone writes in and says, “Headlines are so old school, it’s not about headlines it’s about visuals, it’s about the story, it’s starting a conversation with the audience, it’s creating an engaging experience” please, with respect, take your overly pedantic point and shove it up your clacker. It’s the people who make those points who are to blame for the ongoing I’m Right You’re Wrong mess we find ourselves in.)

The answer is simple.

It comes down to understanding the purpose of marketing. (Not purpose-driven marketing. That’s a tactic dressed up as a strategy. Sorry.) What is the purpose of what you’re doing?

Surely the answer has to be, “Creating value.”

You’re either giving people permission to pay more for a product.

Or you’re finding a way to reduce the cost to serve the product.

For the Scientists, the road to value is largely paved with media channels and repetition.

Their path to value appeals to people who love the smell of ROI in the morning. They can see exactly where the effectiveness happens, but can’t necessarily put their finger on the trigger.

For the Big Bangers, the road to value is probably signposted with a panda trying to shag a stuffed cat, paved black and white and smelling of bamboo and tiger wee. Their path to value appeals to people who want to get people’s attention. They can’t necessarily tell you how effective their efforts are, but they can tell you exactly why it’s so-o-o-oo effective.

And, yes, I am treating both camps with an overly simplistic view.

Because they’re worth it.

Marketing is, in theory, a simple game.

Create value.

Maintain value.

Harvest value.

Pick the path you’re most comfortable with. It’s like Bryson deChambeau’s golf swing. It works for him and everyone else can laugh but he’s leading the money list and he’s just won two of the biggest tournaments in the world, in a row.

The two marketing methods.mentioned above can be incredibly effective. And both can be a colossal waste of time and money.

There are other ways.

But, the theory stands.

If you do create value, you win.

If you don’t create value, you fail.

It’s as easy as that.

The trouble with brand values

A value isn’t a value until it costs you money.

For many businesses, the values carefully typeset and hung on the foyer wall are simple statements which the business would like to be true, or would like their customers and their people to believe are true.

Until the time a business decision must be made which pits profits against values, most values go unnoticed by both the business, staff and customers.

And too often, for these businesses, in the battle between the irresistible moral high ground and the immovable bottom line, the bottom line wins.

Not that the value wasn’t good. Just that the value wasn’t right for the business.

They can and should be your secret weapon in realising your business goals.

Values are the core of the moral code.

A value is something you will not compromise on.

This is true of people.

And true of business.

The problem with many business values is not the values themselves, it’s the role those values play in business.

Honesty, Sustainability and Genuine Value For The Customer are good values.

Little wonder they’re shared by 90% of all businesses.

The question is a simple one, “What purpose do they serve?”

If they do not help a business reach its business and reputational goals, they’re just something nice you’d like your customers to hear.

Values serve a simple function. They align the behaviour of the people in the business with the goals of the business. They provide an objective foundation for judging the actions of others and provide a clear decision lens through which to determine the ideal behaviour of individuals, teams, management and the board.

The provide solid foundations for the development of behaviours which win new business and retain existing customers.


… too many businesses determine their values before they determine their business and reputational goals.

No wonder the actions of the people are counter to the promises the business is making to its market, and at odds with the drive to business success.

Determine the business goals first.

From there, determine the reputational goal.

And then ask yourself, “How must we act in order to reach those goals?”

Those action cues become your values.

If your business and reputational goals are different to your competitors, your values will be different, which means your people will behave differently, which provides an authentic, differentiating reason for your customer to stay with you.

Let your goals determine your values.

Your values are the pact you make with your people.

They are seen in your behaviour and reflected in their actions.

The actions of your people become proof of the promises you make to your customers.


Thanks for reading.

Enjoy the weekend