“It is difficult to get a man to understand something when his salary depends on his not understanding it.”

When I was little I never thought I would be a marketer. I wanted to be a lot of things but marketer was never the career I thought I would have. To say I have a career as a marketer is an even stranger concept given the current state of the economy.

In the beginning…

It was just me, dreams of graduate school and my degree in psychology. I graduated in December of 2008 from High Point University after starting less than three years prior.

Coatesville Area Sr. High Class of ’06!!!

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Graduating in 2008, newly married and broke, I found myself struggling to find work. With a Bachelors in Psychology there isn’t much in the field that doesn’t require further education. In addition the economy was now in a recession (In 2008 and 2009, the U.S. labor market lost 8.4 million jobs, or 6.1% of all payroll employment) and all the positions that used to be paid (like research assistants for Duke University) had become unpaid internships available ONLY to those enrolled at the schools themselves.

Long story short; I feel into marketing for a local auto dealer in High Point, North Carolina – Vann York Auto Group.

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#FunFact Many of my first advertisements and designs can still be found on their website almost a decade later!

It was time to say, “Good-Bye”

Looking back on it Vann York Auto Group was one of my favorite places to work. I just outgrew them and had to say farewell. As someone who strives to understand others I believed I had to move on for the sake of my continued development.

I continued to design creative marketing strategies for two more dealerships, an organic restaurant, a spa and beauty salon, a real estate company, an author and  several solopreneurs. While developing my strategy, either as a W2  and/or a 1099 employee one common theme shone brightly amongst all the noise…

“It is difficult to get a man to understand something when his salary depends on his not understanding it.”

So I found myself conforming:

Beware the Sheeple

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Marketing decides its actions on the basis of a spectacularly dangerous delusion: that people know and can accurately describe the mental mechanisms underlying their decisions and actions.*

People DO NOT make decisions based on perfect information.

People DO NOT compare value between different categories.

People are NOT unaffected by the behavior of others (or by their own past behavior when marking their decision). 

People’s preferences and ideas of value ARE affected by context. 


The above information is not new. Everyone who seeks to understand people has known instinctively for years that the marketing world has a vast and disabling blind spot in understanding both individual and collective behavior.

Those whom I admire, met, engaged with and/or collaborated with over the years understand this as well and demonstrate their belief in their own work.

There is even a hashtag in the UK, #OgilvyChange, and it’s mantra is to underscore the importance of the small things: ‘Dare to be Trivial.’

Hello Old Friend

Recently I was reminded of my psychology roots by a man named Phil Barden. Confronted by a new mental model of marketing and consumer decision making (or the latest conclusions from the latest collective learnings from neuroscience, behavioral journal economics, cognitive and social psychology) he states in his book,

“It was the first time I had experienced the power of an approach that was based NOT on beliefs and assumptions but on the latest scientific findings.”

WOW right?!? Powerful stuff.

After 25 years spent marketing in Unilever, Diageo and T-Mobile he made the decision to latterly immerse himself into the science behind why we buy, or decision science. <–Not a huge fan of this terminology, but its what they are calling it right now.

A recent study by the Fournaise Marketing Group found that amoung 1,200 CEOs across North America, Europe and Asia Pacific reported:

80% of chef executives believe marketers are ‘disconnected’ from business results and focus on the wrong areas

78% also said that marketers ‘too often lose sight of what their real job is’ – namely, to increase demand for goods and services in a quantifiable way

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Together We Can Change Marketing Ourselves, and Our Businesses

Join me as I put into practice better explanations and predictability from a deeper level of insight, sharper propositions, more precise briefings, greater efficiency and effectiveness in the client-agency relationship, more confidence and an enhanced ability to scale knowledge and training.

Don’t you think its time to enjoy the release from the tension and frustration involved in typical ‘centre’ versus ‘local’ debates about brand positioning and development? 

*Source: Barden, Phil. Decoded: The Science Behind Why We Buy. N.p.: John Wiley & Sons Incorporated, 2013. Print.

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