Thomas Barta: Why marketers struggle in a rational world

Marketers are more emotional than many of their colleagues, which makes earning respect difficult, but they can gain influence by speaking the language of logic.

Can you ‘feel’ a brand? Can you ‘sense’ what customers want? Did you ever think ‘I’m different from the other people in my firm’? You may not be alone. Many marketers are more sensual, more emotional than their colleagues. And if you are, life in firms can be rather tricky – unless you know how to communicate.

You might know the story of Eros. He was the youngest god on ancient Greece’s Mount Olympus. Eros had one irresistible skill. He could make someone love anyone he wished by wounding them with one of his arrows. Eros’s unique powers made him popular in Greek mythology.

But Eros’s talent came with problems. The other gods saw Eros as something like a wild boy. What he did was often seen as weird. Eros also showed no respect for authority. That’s why, despite his unique skills, the other gods never considered Eros sufficiently responsible to play a full part in the ruling Olympian family. Does that sound familiar?

As part of our research for The 12 Powers of a Marketing Leader, Patrick Barwise and I asked an Insead Business School psychologist to look at our data. It was a big file with profiles of over 1,000 CMOs from over 80 countries. When we met again, the first thing she said was: “Marketers are like Eros.”

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