‘Marketing is like sex: Everyone thinks they’re good at it’ and other truisms

“Legendary Silicon Valley venture capitalist and former Intel executive Bill Davidow said, ‘Marketing must invent complete products and drive them to commanding positions in defensible market segments.’ The man should know. He wrote the seminal book on high-tech marketing,” Steve Tobak reports for Entrepreneur.

“Funny thing is, Davidow didn’t learn marketing in school. All his degrees are in electrical engineering. Steve Jobs, another brilliant marketer, dropped out of school. I’ve run marketing for a number of high-tech companies and my degrees are technical, as well. Not an MBA in the bunch,” Tobak reports. “So how do great marketers learn about marketing? On the job.”

Tobak reports, “Marketing is like sex: Everyone thinks they’re good at it. There are more posers in marketing than other fields, probably because the demand is strong, the supply is weak, and it’s easy to fake. As David Hornik of August Capital once said, ‘VCs like to think that they are marketing geniuses. We really do.’ The reason, he says, is because ‘we can fake it far more convincingly than in other areas…’ They’re not the only ones.”

“Many thought e-commerce would level the playing field and render branding irrelevant. Not only has that not happened, I can make a case for the opposite being true,” Tobak reports. “Back in the heyday of AOL, Bob Pittman said, “Coca-Cola does not win the taste test. Microsoft does not have the best operating system. Brands win.” Big brands like Apple, Google, Coca Cola, IBM and Microsoft have never been more powerful.”

Read more in the full article here.


      1. Microsoft’s success with windows was because every mother’s son could sell it on their own branded equipment in the early days. Whether you bought an IBM, Compaq, TI, Gateway, Dell or any number of lesser know computer manufacturers, they all had windows.

        It was easier to “sell” a windows machine because all you to do is have a cheap price than the company down the street.

        If you were looking for a computer and went to a store, you had to be convince to by an Apple product, whether it was the Apple II, the Apple III or the Mac.

        1. Fortunately for me, I was one of the ones convinced. In ’84, it was a choice between the new ones: the original Mac and an IBM PC-AT. The Mac won. (I wish I had kept that one. I did keep my old SE 30 — it still runs fine today with a System 7.) 🙂

          1. I started selling computers in 1980 with the Terrell Brothers (the ones that ordered the first 50 Apple II’s from Jobs) at the Byte Shop in Seattle, WA so I saw it first hand.

            Even selling technically superior hardware that was IBM compatible was a challenge. Zenith and TI had better hardware but the clones and Compaq was generally cheaper so they ultimately won the day.

  1. Everyone think’s their good at it? Really now!? And then there are the virgins. Just because a eunuch has seen it done a 100 times doesn’t mean they can do it themselves.

  2. Many years ago Tandy Leather Co decided to close all their retail stores and do everything with e-commerce. They almost went out of business and sold the leather work part to their competitor. People liked to go to the stores to talk to the “experts” . I like to pick through what I want to buy.

  3. Marketing is like sex: Everyone thinks they’re good at it.

    Apparently, I have been proven to NOT be ‘everybody’ once again.

    Studying human personalities points out that there is a range of personalities that is good at inter-relational work, which is one core of marketing. And there is a range of personalities that is not good at inter-relational work. I think you too can figure out which one I am.

    Here is the general set of categories I use when describing people in marketing:

    1) Marketing Mavens: Treat the customer with respect at ALL times. They know that business is all about delighting the customer. It’s never about screwing the customer. When someone tries to screw the customer, Marketing Mavens come to the rescue. They make real capitalism work. They balance out the unrelational creators and producers within a company. Absolutely required for any company to work effectively. Can’t do without them.

    2) MBA boring whatever: faking it, pretending, looking for attention, has mediocre skills, walking barely adequate, uninspired. Fell asleep in class. Vacillating between useful and detrimental.

    3) Marketing Morons: Went to a worthless, horrifying business school, if any. Treat customers with contempt. The customer is ‘the mark’ and they are ‘the con’. Total pretenders to anything related to actual capitalism. Parasites. Out to gut the world and eat it raw. They destroy everywhere they work. The worst enemy of any creative and productive people within a company. Shoot to kill.

    1. During a store sales meeting, I had a sales manager whose mantra was “get them shaking their head yes” and go for the close. Didn’t matter whether you had satisfied their needs or even considered them. Just ask enough yes questions and try to close them.

      I had to tell him bullshit.

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