And Lo, there shall come a time when marketing shall pervade the land. It will be of such relevancy, born of such creative talent that it will be welcome wherever it appears. It will be like meat unto the starving and drink unto the parched.

I believe in great marketing. Getting just the right message in front of just the right person at just the right time.

I believe in customer analytics. Getting just the right insight from just the right data that informs just the right action at just the right time.

I believe that if you combine the best and brightest creative people with the best and brightest data gathering people and the best and brightest analytical people you end up with a marketing machine that's bigger than Procter & Gamble, more ubiquitous than Coca Cola and able to win more hearts and minds than Apple.

You may remember a movie called "Up in the Air" wherein George Clooney plays Ryan Bingham constantly flying hither and yon. Funny premise with some choice bits of travel advice.

Dark movie. But not near as dark as the novel, Up in the Air by Walter Kim. The main character is not as handsome, glib or whimsical as Mr. Clooney. His fate is more painful to watch unfold.

This book contains a passage that concisely explains the basic tenets of my marketing religion and spells out why my religion must inevitably lead to greater harm.

Ryan Bingham is desperately after a job with the mysterious marketing company MythTech. When he comes across an ex-employee, he presses for detals and she describes her consulting job as:

Marketing Ecology. The study of non-obvious interactions among diverse commercial entities.... You've heard of the human genome project? The human gene map? That's what they're after at MythTech only with commerce. All the angles. All the combinations. And they know it won't be a 'eureka.' It won't just pop some day... It won't take forever but it won't be quick....

That's why they don't worry about profits...  Because the second MythTech gets this map, the second they lock those files in the vault, everybody else is just a plowboy on their farm...

What drives investment? The fear of the code. The fear that there might be a code and somebody else is going to crack it...

But it's all a racket. It's sheer extortion. The code is a bluff. It's all Beware of Dog and Daddy's Deep Loud Voice."

That passage burst my bubble, I can tell you.

But still, when I see companies like Motion Loft making the effort to combine real world store traffic with web traffic and radio ad results and god knows what...

When I see people playing with neural marketing as described by Martin Lindstrom in his book Buy-ology...

When I see companies like Marketshare take a break-through software approach to calculating multi-channel attribution to determine marketing budget allocation...

Then I think that maybe - just maybe - there is a marketing deity somewhere and one day we shall all be happily entertained by advertising that informs us about things we actually want. 

Just the right message to just the right person at just the right time.

It could happen.


Jim Sterne

Published 22 June, 2011 by Jim Sterne

Jim Sterne is a respected author and speaker. He is also the producer of the eMetrics Marketing Optimization Summit. You can follow Jim on Twitter here.

7 more posts from this author

You might be interested in

Comments (5)


Nick Stamoulis

I too believe in great marketing, but I don't think great comes from a formula. Our genes determine what color hair we have, but not how we choose to cut and style it. The "code" will only get you so far.

about 7 years ago

Jim Sterne

Jim Sterne, Producer at eMetrics Marketing Optimization Summit

Ahhh but Nick - the code is an iteratively self learning, neural-net based, artificially intelligent set of instructions that thrive on trial and error without tiring out. It can try on 4 billion hairstyles in a heartbeat. Such is the power of technology just beyond the grasp of modern man and why they call it MythTech.

about 7 years ago


Aloysius Carl

The problem is that the perfect formula is transitory; here this second and then gone. This is the nature of complex systems with multiple impacts occuring at the same instant.

about 7 years ago


Dick Davies

I buy my peaches for one dollar, I sell them for two. I take my ten percent and go home.
MythTech is going for parts of a percent.
Better to jump into a rising tide.

about 7 years ago


office supplies

I work in marketing for a company that sells office supplies. I'd love it if there werea magic code... a magic way to track down who buys what and when. The closest that we have gotten so far is to run our database through experian to give us an idea of the type of companies that we are selling to.....but everybody does that, right?!

Martin fairall

about 7 years ago

Save or Cancel

Enjoying this article?

Get more just like this, delivered to your inbox.

Keep up to date with the latest analysis, inspiration and learning from the Econsultancy blog with our free Digital Pulse newsletter. You will receive a hand-picked digest of the latest and greatest articles, as well as snippets of new market data, best practice guides and trends research.