Marketing without the BS

While a consultant at McKinsey I was once told: “You need to either make things very simple or very complex.” Super simple projects sold because the executives understood what was going to be done and the impact seems obvious. Super complex projects sold because the McKinsey team looked like they could handle it and the executive didn’t understand it enough to get his team to do it internally.

As I look at the world today I see a lot of people selling super simple and super complex.

The gurus, most of whom have never run companies, will give you metaphors about Purple Cows and how silver bullets like improving your customer service will make everything better no matter what your current state is.

The other set of consultants will tell you how you need advanced deep learning, big data, personalized predictive, collaborative filtering algorithms to truly get ahead. Thankfully they will sell you the solution so you don’t need to really understand the black box solution.

I call BS on all of it.

Marketing used to be about ‘qualitative BS’. Salesmen like Don Draper would tell stories and convince you they knew better than the finance guy what color should be on the packaging.

More recently, the pendulum has swung in the other direction. Now ‘quantitative BSers’ build mathematical models that get you ‘scientific’ answers to all your marketing challenges. Just like the qualitative BSers before them, most of these people really believe that their tools will tell you the true distribution of your customer segments. They are BSing themselves. I should know – I used to be one.

The thesis of this site (and my career) is that when what you care about is having impact what is within your control to get that impact is often easy. The challenges are

(a) Knowing what the easy thing to do is; and

(b) Avoiding chasing random noise

The easy thing can sometimes be answered with quantified data and other times by logic and experience. The key is not to confuse what looks like an easy answer with the random noise that will always threaten to confuse you.

If I haven’t scared you off, here are a few things you can check out to help you get started on this site:

  1. I am live-writing a book and providing it on the blog for free – Marketing Is Easy. I would love it if you took a look and started reading it online. Even better if you provided comments as you went along
  2. You can start reading my blog in the traditional last-in-first-out method
  3. You can sign up for my email list. I will send an email out whenever a new chapter goes live
  4. You can check out the About and Bio pages for more about who I am and the purpose of this site