Marketing Is Sex, Not Manufacturing


In manufacturing, an increase in efficiency implies an increase in effectiveness.

It makes sense to pursue efficiency because there’s value in a more streamlined process, economies of scale, fewer errors etc. because it drives down cost and maximizes profit.

During the industrial revolution this straightforward, non-messy approach worked well for the quantitative systems of manufacturing widgets.

A 10% increase in efficiency directly impacted the bottom line.

But I suspect that many women would be unhappy, to put it mildly, if men started pursuing increased efficiency in the bedroom and calling it a day after a good half a minute.

Sex isn’t about efficiency. There’s an inverse correlation between efficiency and effectiveness.

But while this is so obvious in the case of sex, it seems to be much less so in the case of marketing.

There’s value in doing things that seem irrational solely viewed through an economic lens.

In fact, we humans often appreciate that inefficiency because it makes us feel valued that you’d put in that much effort.

It’s the difference between taking the time out of your day to go hunt for that perfect gift for your partner vs. pawning it off to your assistant.

The gift is the same in both cases but it’s that inefficiency that conveys that you care and are willing to do things that are inconvenient to you.

So while sending out a spam email to tens of thousands of people is efficient, I’d argue visiting qualified prospects in person with a box of donuts is more effective.

I’d argue this is the main difference between WeWork and Regus. Look at that bland, effective and sterile creative on Regus’ site (and it’s entire culture) and compare that to the creative on WeWork.

Do people pay a premium for Apple because they communicate more effectively? Giving us all the information to make a logical decision? Or is it that we’re bought into the culture, the narrative, the tribe.

There's something doctors have long since known and that is the same thing non-profits realized trying to raise money, you don't influence humans with logic, you influence them with emotion (illogic).

The logical thing to do when trying to convince someone of the necessity of vaccines would be to quote meta-analysis after meta-analysis of all the available literature.

But you'd see people's eye's glaze over. You need to tell a story instead.

When you want someone to give you money for your non-profit, you need to tell them a sad story of a single individual so they can connect with them.

The second you expand it and tell the story of how millions are starving, the connection disappears and those people turn into numbers.

‘‘ There is double the pathos for us in the death of one little New York waif from hunger than there is in a million deaths from famine in China. It is not that distance glosses over the terrible picture of the Chinese horror, or that a feeling of national kinship with the waif impresses us the more sincerely with his plight. It is merely that the mind is unable to grasp a suffering in the gross. Suffering is so intimately personal a thing that it must be explained through the personal equation, if at all. ’’ *1

Marketing done well is not a cost center, it’s a source of value creation.

And it would serve our company, our bottom line, and our tribe if we start viewing it as such.


  1. Edited by Berkman, A. (1916, May 1). A timely thought. The blast (pp.104). Retrieved from

RJ Youngling