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Confusion in the “World Class Marketers” Marketplace


(The following is excerpted from The NextStage Irregular #3, the latest NextStage email newsletter)

I recently received a call from an international brand. I actually received several calls from this international brand. Each time we talked on the phone, I was told (repeatedly…ad nauseum…perhaps they weren’t sure, now that I think of it) that by golly, this major international brand had world class marketers.

I offered that I was very happy for them.

Just imagine. World Class.

I have this mental construct of “world class”… anything. I hear “world class” and I start thinking of Olympic athletes, Roger Penrose, Audrey Hepburn, Brian Blessed, Danny Kaye, most of my teachers, my wife, Susan, … and here were some world class marketers.

I had no idea why they’d be calling me. Maybe they wanted a presentation on some of NextStage’s findings.

No. They were world class marketers. They didn’t need a presentation. On anything. These people had PhDs and MBAs. They already knew all that stuff.

So they weren’t interested in our research?

No. They were world class marketers. They probably knew more research than I did.

Did they want me to come in and give a training on some concepts we study and publish on?

No. They were world class marketers. They already understood everything there was to understand about all kinds of marketing concepts.

Finally, close to the end of the third or fourth call (they were always calling me, I never called them), I was told it was “execution”.

“Execution? I’m not sure I understand. Do you mean as in how to do something? ‘What colors to use where to make something happen?’, ‘What images should we use on our website?’? Things like that?”

“Yes! That’s exactly the kind of thing we’re looking for.”

I admit to being a little…dumbfounded. My mind tends to work in equations and I’m having lots of trouble forming the equation:

World Class Marketers =/= don’t know how to design marketing material

Wait a second…that’s a semantics challenge. And it don’t just matter to talking with marketers about marketing, right?

The moral is a simple one: make sure your definitions are shared, understood and accepted. Think of it as leveling the playing field. Until everybody accepts and agrees to the basic assumptions, nothing’s gonna get done.

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