Truth Is Just Perception

Why Marketing Often Has To Overcome Ultracrepidarianism

An issue dating back to the fourth century B.C.

As pointed out a few days ago on Twitter by Marc Andreessen, co-founder of Netscape and now a venture capitalist, ultracrepidarianism is “the habit of giving opinions and advice on matters outside of one’s knowledge.”

This term is derived from a comment made by Greek artist Apelles to a cobbler who criticized one of his paintings: “Sutor, ne supra crepidam” (“Cobbler, stick to your last“), i.e. critics should only comment on topics they are proficient about.

(CC) Sue Richards

(CC) Sue Richards

IMHO, marketing often has to overcome ultracrepidarianism because it combines two characteristics:

  • It (mostly) targets members of the general public who feel therefore entitled to comment on what they see/read/hear and, doing so, slide imperceptibly from expressing a taste preference to stating a supposedly professional judgment.
  • Unlike other activities targeted to the general public, it isn’t always obvious that marketing is a very technical, highly complex activity requiring a steep learning curve.

This is why marketers must often morph into pedagogues explaining a discipline that so many people think they know all about when they don’t.

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