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The Marketer as Philosopher: by Flint McGlaughlin

"Asking 'how' leads to information; asking 'why' leads to wisdom." This is the essence of Dr. Flint McGlaughlin's book, The Marketer as Philosopher.

After twenty five years of asking "why" to a single question and testing his hypotheses using the web as a living laboratory, McGlaughlin has released a collection of his findings. These 40 brief reflections unfold in a series of layers that suggest a new framework and theory of messaging.

For more information, you can visit www.meclabs.com/mapbook

Latest Observations

On Conversion as the Point of the Spear

Topic:Philosophy
Posted on:Feb 13, 2019
Method:Dictation
Captured by:Flint M

Conversion is the point of the marketing spear, but it is not the entire spear.  In battle, a sharp point won't defeat even a dull spear. We are surrounded by marketers charging into battle with dull, poorly formed spears. They achieve a sort of blunt force trauma; however, it is dull, desperate work.   

On the Deeper Implications of Marketing

Topic:Philosophy
Posted on:Feb 5, 2019
Method:Dictation
Captured by:Flint M

It is important for marketers to realize the deeper implications of their discipline. We are doing more than toying with some product campaign; we are working near the very core of existence. There is much in our work related to ontology, to metaphysics, and to epistemology. Powerful marketing demands more than skill; it demands wisdom.

On the Importance of Capability and Character

Topic:Communication Topic:Philosophy
Posted on:Jan 24, 2019
Method:Previous Writings
Captured by:Flint M

In the end the decision to trust someone to perform a service for you can be summarized into two questions: “Can they?” and “will they?”  Indeed, these questions thought of differently are the drivers of two positive conclusions that the marketer must achieve: the “you can” and the “you will.”

“You can” translates into capability. “You will” translates into character. Your prospective customer must believe both. Trust does not hinge on character alone, but also on capability. The nurturing phase of the lead managing process is about building trust. All collateral should serve to foster these two conclusions: that “you can” and that “you will.”

On the Danger of Rebranding

Topic:Management
Posted on:Nov 30, 2018
Method:Dictation
Captured by:Flint M

You can't fix a plumbing problem by repainting the house, and you can't fix a marketing problem by rebranding the product. Never confuse art with artifice.

From a Forbes interview with Flint McGlaughlin

On the Connection Between Brand and the Value Proposition

Topic:Communication
Posted on:Nov 26, 2018
Method:Dictation
Captured by:Flint M

Brand is an impression on the mind. The value proposition is a reason in the mind (to purchase from X instead of Y). The right reason supported by the right impression increases the probability of the right conclusion, which points to the right decision

On Marketing as an Expedition into the Mind

Topic:Philosophy
Posted on:Nov 21, 2018
Method:Dictation
Captured by:Flint M

Marketing should not be a battle of opinions between marketers, but rather an expedition into the mind of prospective customers. Salesmen make claims, but marketers shape conclusions.

On Conversion as the Apex Unit of Transformation

Topic:Philosophy
Posted on:Nov 19, 2018
Method:Dictation
Captured by:Flint M

Transformation is a grand word used by everyone, but conversion is the humble precipitator of transformation. At the fundamental level, it is a stasis change "from-to," as in from prospect to customer, as in from unbeliever to believer, as in from X to Y. Ultimately then, conversion is the apex unit of true transformation.

On Marketing and Knowing What You Don’t Know

Topic:Philosophy
Posted on:Nov 14, 2018
Method:Dictation
Captured by:Flint M

Good science can make anyone look foolish. If you are using your marketing to prove what you know, then you are consigning yourself to mediocrity. Brilliant marketers spend their time trying to discover what they need to know. For the marketing philosopher, the only thing worse than not knowing is not knowing that you do not know.

On the Importance of Embarrassment

Topic:Philosophy
Posted on:Nov 12, 2018
Method:Dictation
Captured by:Flint M

The problem with growth is that by its very nature, it creates sharp, painful contrast between "what was" and "what is"; the work/life of the past seems weak, even embarrassing. However, this embarrassment factor can be the surest indicator of progress. There is an inverse relationship between pain and growth. 

A Deep Elemental Force: What (truly) is marketing?

Topic:Philosophy
Posted on:Nov 5, 2018
Method:Dictation
Captured by:Flint M

A Deep Elemental ForceWhat (truly) is Marketing?

The great words of our society have been destroyed by the power of connotation over denotation. The speed of this demise has accelerated with the advent of mass media. Hence, great spiritual words and great social words have been irreparably marred.

"Marketing" is such a word.

Its very mention connotes trickery, subterfuge, propaganda and ultimately deception. Worse, it is considered the cunning accomplice of another blighted (often for good reason) term: sales.

Can the word "marketing" be redeemed (another damaged term)? Should one just start with a new word?

While at the universal level it can be difficult to "purify" the word, at the personal level this task is relatively simple.

But what does it matter? Why should you care? Redeemed or not, the whole concept seems boring ...

"Seems" is a dangerous word. Be careful. Be very careful. Consider three challenging, if not outrageous, statements:

  1. Marketing is the foundation of your being (ontology). Existence is predication is expression is communication; existence, in the social dynamic, is marketed.
  2. Marketing is at the height of the world's power structure. The power behind the gun is the power of the word; brutal force is subservient to elegant force.
  3. Thus, marketing is a wisdom-skill with which to transform yourself and impact your world. Its nine-letter container is hiding a rich treasure in plain sight.

That the word is so deeply misunderstood and patently undervalued can be a profound opportunity. And it is not necessary to prove the above three statements to justify deeper exploration; the very possibility of their truth is enough.

Which leads back to the original question: How then do we define this word?

First, a caution: It is more harmful than useful to engage in the militancy of once-and-for-all, fight-to-the-scholarly-death definitions. Definitions cannot be exact replicas, but they can be fairly accurate images.

With this in mind, we may (provisionally) define marketing as that collection of activities and outcomes engaged in the effort to influence choice. And when these activities and outcomes are truly effective, they become a genuine power … a deep, rich elemental force.