Why Marketonomy?

by Chris Kenton on February 15, 2005

Main Entry: -nomy
Etymology: Middle English -nomie, from Old French, from Latin -nomia, from Greek, from nomos
: system of laws governing or sum of knowledge regarding a (specified) field <agronomy>

We live in the age of information. We call ourselves knowledge workers no less. And yet we are surprisingly ignorant. Then again, maybe it’s not so surprising. We’ve been swept away in such a flood of information that we no longer have any grounding in principles. Intelligence now means "new information", or "insider information", but it rarely means "good information". What, after all, is "good information"? How can you tell?

The answer today is that you bob on the surface of the flood: when enough of a current is moving in one direction, you go in that direction too. In our society, the earlier you point in the "right direction", the smarter you are. So, "good information" is news that gives you a jump on moving where everyone else is bound to go. The trouble is, the current on the surface often moves in one direction while the tide is moving in another. If you don’t know how to read the deeper water, if you don’t have the tools and the skills to move against the current, you’re bound to wind up lost. Nowhere have I seen those tools and skills more lacking than in my own profession.

I won’t mince words. I think the state of the marketing profession today is pathetic. In what should be one of the most exciting ages of a century-long evolution of marketing as a discipline, the profession is struggling for crediblity. While technologies like databases, networks and the internet have revolutionized marketing channels, too many marketers still seem awed and perplexed. While business operations and finance have focused on quality and process improvements for decades, marketers treat accountability initiatives as some new affront to creative freedom. Instead of trying to understand what’s shaping the business environment, marketers adopt the language of the latest trend, like Marketing ROI, while simultaneously disparaging those who demand accountability for failing to "get" what marketing is really about.

Marketing needs new direction. If there’s any way I can contribute, it’s by sparking a dialog for rediscovering and reinventing the fundamentals. That is absurdly ambitious, especially in a world that’s already overflowing with gurus. So instead of trying to be another guru–always angling to have a unique and authoritative spin on the latest trend–my goal is only to explore the relevance of marketing as thoroughly, as publicly and as honestly as possible. What is marketing’s real contribution to the value of a business? How can it be measured and improved? What skills and what tools do marketers need to be effective in today’s business environment? How should marketing be judged as a profession? How should it be scrutinized? In short, how can the practice of marketing be elevated to produce the value to both businesses and customers that is its responsibility to provide?

That is the absurd ambition of Marketonomy: to dig through the mud and find the solid foundations of this profession. Like any blog, it’ll be a running dialog and commentary, sometimes boring and pedantic but hopefully, more often, brilliant. That will depend on the quality of conversation and debate, so please don’t hesitate to add your own ideas and your own voice.

In the next few days, you’ll find some broken links and unfinished pages if you poke around. I’m just getting ramped up, so please excuse the dust.

{ 1 comment… read it below or add one }

raul lilloy July 4, 2006 at 8:17 am

From epistemological point of view, is very difficult to ask, what is the marketing, and probably is possible to say that marketing is interdisciplinary land, sometimes is one branch of sociology, or political sciences, or economy, sicology, or is only the empirical desire to sell converted in systematic practices and subsequents theories.
When Marx write “das kapital”, marketing was in his prehistory.
The main point about marketing is its empirical existence, marketing is truth when working and is not truth when dont. The same idea that modern political science, that is truth not when you get (st. thomas) the common wealth but when you get, double or keep the power.
Some time the gurus like Ries, Kaplan or Kotler is their “carnal” proximity with the real buzz, not with the university or theories.
The metaphysic object of marketing is the desire or wish hide in the market; it is not physical object, neither is information, but is a deeper concept.

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