July 30, 2012

Invasion Of The Paramarketers

We have a new breed in the advertising and marketing world. They are paramarketers -- almost marketers. They know the language. They know the look. They know the moves. But they don't have the chops.

In medicine and the law,  people who are almost doctors and almost lawyers are clearly labeled. They are paramedics and paralegals. But in marketing, there are no such labels. They are called marketing managers or account planners or strategy directors or ...

They have taken all the courses, read all the books and attended all the conferences. But they have never actually sold anything to anyone. They have never stood on the floor of a showroom and sold someone a car. They have never worked in a clothing store and sold someone a dress. Their experience is all in the theory of selling, not the activity of selling. They have never stood face-to-face with an actual person and learned what it takes to convince someone to buy something.

They don't understand that advertising and marketing are just selling at a distance.

They believe in glib notions. They think people buy tires because they are part of a "community." And they buy peanut butter because they have a "relationship" with the brand. They think consumers want to have "conversations" with them and "interact" with their advertising. They think technology is bigger than life and ideas are deader than dead.

They are taught this nonsense by professors and pundits and speakers who also have never sold anything.

They are not just young people. They are also old people trying to act young. Many are veterans who have succeeded despite having never sold anything. They have surfed the wave of someone else's successful enterprise.

The marketing world has always had its share of paraprofessionals. But never before have they had the influence or the authority they do now.


Retail$mart said...

Well said. The only problem is I watch them paraglide over my head winning the accounts that should be mine...:)

Shanghai61 said...

It's just Sturgeon's Law at work ... you know, the one that says 90% of everything is crap.   Turns out its true of clients as well.

But you are right about the power they now wield.

Thomas Townsend said...

That's not entirely correct. They are selling themselves every-time they talk, write an article or engage with a potential customer. Additionally,  the medium they choose to communicate with (technology) can be considered a sales tool too. Times have changed and the paradigm that was once used to judge a persons abilities have broadened quite a bit. The "chops" you reference are earned in the trenches just like many other professionals.  Good article, but I don't think the term "paramarketers" is going to catch on.