The inertia trap

No,” says Adam Ferrier, chief thinker at Thinkerbell, “I disagree with the premise”. Upon asking the question – ‘is marketing an inherently risky practice?’ – to marketers on both the agency and brand side, it became clear that every one had a different interpretation. According to Ferrier, marketing as a practice is at least not as risky as it used to be. “Marketing used to be a lot riskier than it is [now],” he says.

“Back in the day, marketers used to look at agency people” and they would say “‘trust me’, and that was the end of the conversation.”

In the past 10 to 15 years, however, marketing sciences began to “infiltrate”, arming the industry with demonstrable tactics, strategies and bullshit detectors. According to Ferrier, marketing’s enlightenment period took “some of the ambiguity out of marketing... we’re starting to understand better what works and what doesn’t and how to generalise those learnings.”

“A lot of the risk can be mitigated with just good education.”


Risk implies uncertainty in conclusion – which, as a reductionist would have it, means every part of business is inherently risky. In a marketing context, Ferrier is right, the professionals of this industry have had an influx of information in recent years. And according to Alex Amado, vice president of experience marketing at Adobe, this is the fastest it’s ever grown.

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