I work in marketing. Marketing as a concept has a range from sophisticated and sexy to cheap and manipulative. If I could leave my mark I’d like to shape the understanding of what marketers do a bit. I’d especially like to demystify and clear out some of the crap that sells itself as “Marketing” but is really just scheming to game the system.
I have a degree in Liberal Arts and Culture. That means I studied the foundations of our western civilization, and that also means I studied Logic and Rhetoric. From the beginning I loved Rhetoric. I was good at Logic (it came naturally). I found myself helping others in study group sort the 256 syllogisms according to conditional and unconditional validity because I just “got it.” AAA-1 is the first one, if I remember correctly. But from the beginning I sensed that Rhetoric was the real game. Rhetoric is where you convince people, not Logic. Good logic is fine and dandy, but people don’t make decisions with sound arguments, they justify their decisions with sound arguments, which we seem to have a natural aptitude for inventing.
The modern equivalent of Rhetoric then is, more or less, Marketing. The classical authors argued about whether or not Rhetoric was an art. The most compelling argument came from Aristotle who argued that persuasion was inescapable, and hence, Rhetoric was just the shaping of forces of nature, and not an artificial and manipulative skill. The distinction between rhetoric and sophistry then shows up as a distinction between purposes. Rhetoric shapes legitimate communication for honorable purpose, and sophistry uses the skills of communication for manipulation and self-enriching purpose.
And this, I believe, is the background perspective that goes into my understanding that purpose of Marketing is to help businesses and organizations tell the best version of their story. To help people join the community conversations as articulately as possible– increasing the potential for understanding and consensus, and avoiding both misunderstanding and missed opportunity.
So if I could shape the cultural understanding of marketing I’d want everyone to know that we’re elevating the conversation. If each business and institution brings their best ideas expressed beautifully and succinctly to table, the conversation is better. Everyone grows, and new ideas and innovations can blossom.