Why Does Marketing Exist? Hasn’t Dilbert Proven It’s The Most Worthless Department In Any Business?

The differentiation between the actual material development of a product, the cost-setting and accounting involved in making/selling the product, and the actual selling of the product leads us to think there are three distinct “arts” involved in business, at least. There is the art of the engineer, the art of the accountant, and the art of the marketer.

And we take this logic and reach the absurd conclusion that Scott Adams has documented many a time. The cost-setter creates a bottom line for the company that is the perfection of his art, but prevents the engineer from creating a decent product. The marketer then concludes that his art always involves extolling the virtues of substandard products, and in making great sales works entirely independently of the engineer and cost-setter.

Even more dysfunctional is the attempt of companies to bring these disparate elements together through “team-building” exercises. The very setup of the busy-ness is doomed to fail; “leadership” only unites the clinically insane, and is a most unnecessary and unwelcome fourth art.

The modern self always begins by taking account: What do I have, what do I need, what do I want? That’s a perfectly reasonable beginning, but because it is an economical beginning, frugality – losing as little as possible – is assumed a virtue as the questions are being asked. That “frugality” is what destroys the engineer and debases the marketer: in the latter’s case, he is the most frugal of all, as he is able to get direct gains out of things that at best do nothing, at worst do harm.

One fun thing about blogging is that one may get to learn lessons in business the hard way fast (it should be noted what works for the individual does not always work for the group). You do your own production, accounting and marketing. What you learn is that none of the activities are firmly distinguishable: if I put pink bunnies all over this blog, it might attract 6 year old girls as readers in droves. Would that be an appropriate audience? And yet most companies don’t care what attention they get, as long as it’s attention. Heck, it doesn’t even look like world leaders – esp. despots like the President of Iran – care about what attention they get.

What you find, in blogging at least, is that accounting and marketing both start with production. You start with an analysis of what you’re capable of and what you think you can be capable of, and note the costs. Marketing enters immediately at the development stage: it is actually a calculation not about “selling” the product, but determining its worth to others. From there, nothing changes: the excellence of each “art” depends on the excellence of the others. Bad content is impossible to promote and wastes time. Bad promotion means that good content will languish and in world where there are millions of people online, content will become redundant. “Leadership” isn’t a forced working together that maximizes profit: it stems naturally from an endeavor in which all, as equals, strive to create something of worth.

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