Marketing is Not an Opinion

written by Ann Marie Richards

“Opinion had caused more trouble on this little earth
than plagues or earthquakes.”

~Voltaire

Do you think you could you walk into an operating room during brain surgery and take over having never attended medical school?

Do you believe it is perfectly reasonable that you could draw the plans for a towering Manhattan skyscraper without having experience in an architectural firm?

How about building a bridge across the Mississippi having received no teaching concerning physics, engineering or construction?

Of course not! You’d be arrested and/or institutionalized. Yet every day, small business owners think they are eminently qualified to provide concepting, phrasing and design for marketing campaigns. They believe their opinions are good enough to be put out into the marketplace to garner results – with no experience or understanding of how marketing and advertising actually work on the human brain.

I witnessed a sales rep tell a room full of her colleagues that she was just as qualified to design a candy wrapper as the seasoned, skilled and widely awarded graphic artist who was sitting across from her. She explained that she would do as good of a job because she regularly eats that brand of candy bar. The mixture of arrogance and ignorance dumbfounded me. She no longer works for the company.

Although that level of arrogance and social ineptitude is rare, the belief that one can not only judge but also create a commercial campaign is quite common – even with no education or experience in the field of marketing.

There are principles, processes and psychology coupled with years of training, research and focus that go into developing the understanding and honing the skills required to create effective marketing. Every campaign is a combination of neuroscience and art, designed to produce a precise economic outcome.

“This is my business and I should know what to put in my own ad,” is not all that far from: I eat the candy bar; therefore, I am qualified to design it’s packaging. In fact, it’s much harder for those within a business who are intimately associated with its inner workings to be objective about it, or to see it as a consumer would. This makes it far more difficult for them to know how to reach out in any meaningful way.

Of course, any business consulting group, marketing firm or advertising agency worth its salt will conduct in-depth input sessions, interviews and research on a company and its customers before beginning work, but they won’t be yes men.

Professional firms will tell you the truth, unprofessional firms will tell you what you want to hear or whatever it takes to get the business… and the next thing you know, you’ll be marching down the street for all the world to see, emperor of your business without a stitch of clothing on, because you thought you knew best and then surrounded yourself with those who weren’t smart enough to know the truth or brave enough to tell it.

Please, keep the engineers, the sales team and the HR staff out of the advertising. Let the industry experts who are skilled, trained and experienced with a good track record create it.

You don’t need copywriters from your ad agency building your bridges or performing your surgeries, and we don’t need your personal assistants coming up with tag lines and color schemes.

Both result in disaster.