Intellectual Tennis — The New Game In Marketing

Intellectual Tennis - A New Marketing Term
I’ve been having all kinds of interesting marketing conversations lately, which got me thinking. Today’s marketing dialog has changed for the worse. I call it “intellectual tennis.”

The new game in marketing.

Back and forth the ball goes, no clear outcome, only monotonous boredom, mental fatigue and finally exhaustion.

In the marketing world, everyone has something to say and a “pitch.”  After all, to be a marketing expert today one merely has to amniote themselves with the title.

My personal marketing worldview can be defined in a single word…


:: talk long-windedly without making very much sense

:: to talk foolishly at length

:: voluble nonsensical or inconsequential talk or writing

But I’m not giving up, there is hope and an opportunity to educate and inform here – it’s become a personal passion for me, so much so, that I feel a “fiduciary responsibility” as an entrepreneur in this space.

Running with the bulls.

Marketing terms and proclamations are everywhere in the digitally driven world we now live in.

If you have talked to a marketing expert in the last 5 years, you have likely heard some or all of the following “must be true” statements.


…It’s all about digital.

…It’s all about social media.

…It’s all about video.

…It’s all about content marketing.

…It’s all about SEO.

…It’s all about #HashTags.

…It’s all about Influencers.

…It’s all about Blogging.

…It’s all about retargeting.

…It’s all about podcasts.

…It’s all about Facebook/Instagram

…It’s all about (insert favorite social platform here.)

…It’s all about SMS text messaging.

…It’s all about audience targeting.

…It’s all about geofencing.

…It’s all about apps.

…It’s all about landing pages.

…It’s all about lead generation.

It’s all about (I could go on and on here but let me get to the point!)

Please excuse my vulgarity in advance, but my response is…

…It’s all bullshit.

Google “Best marketing strategy for ____.”

Are you surprised to see that there are about 413,000,000 results? 

I’m not. These days, everyone is a marketing expert, which only means that no one is a marketing expert.

Think about the “best marketing strategy for 2019” question for a minute.  At its premise, the question assumes that the answer is the same for everyone.  The local dry cleaner, Walmart, Procter & Gamble, hair salons, fitness centers, plumbers, car dealers, Starbucks, etc.

Let’s be real. 

If the world operates as American novelist Thomas Berger states “The art and science of asking questions is the source of all knowledge,” – we may have a problem here!

If I may, allow me to riff off of French philosopher Voltaire’s famous quote, “Judge a marketing man by his questions rather than by his answers.”


You may have heard of the expression, “garbage in, garbage out.”  This perfectly captures the spirit of the moment – in marketing, as in science and mathematics, the quality of the output is directly determined by the quality of the input.

The best marketers don’t sell anything.  They don’t start with an input.  They start by asking intelligent questions and search to find the authenticity and value propositions that exist in the subject brand.

The best marketers ask “why do you exist and why should people care about you?”  Once fully understood and articulated, they tell stories that engage, connect and resonate with an intended audience.

Today’s worst marketers are like shoe salesmen – “here’s our shoes, what’s your size?”

They start with products and services to sell.  They specialize in shoe sizes.  Their purpose and mission is to sell shoes.  The end results are no surprise – garbage in, garbage out.

A license to market.

If you want to sell financial securities, you need a stock broker’s license and must pass a series 6 or 7 exam.  If you want to be a Nurse you need an RN license. If you want to drive a bus you need a Class B commercial drivers’ license with a “P” endorsement.

Should marketers need a license to market?

After all, marketers are responsible for billions of dollars spent annually on marketing services.

This may sound absurd, but so is the current state of marketing.

Consumers and brands deserve better.

The question is, are you giving them better?

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