Are You a “Marketing Theoretician”?

November 11th, 2009 by Bob Bly

A marketing theoretician is a blogger, author, or speaker who writes and speaks about marketing, but doesn’t actually DO marketing.

My advice is to read books and blogs and attend seminars and webinars by people who are marketing practitioners — actually doing marketing in the real world — either planning and writing campaigns, or marketing their own products.

I would also advise you to AVOID reading books and attending lectures by marketing theoreticians.


Marketing, unlike physics, is not a subject in which theory is particularly valuable: often, what a theoretician thinks will work and says will work … does NOT in fact actually work.

Conversely, marketing campaigns that theoreticians would grade a D or F often pull like gangbusters in the real world.

So let me ask, fellow marketing bloggers, speakers, and authors ….

Are you a marketing theoretician or a marketing practitioner — or both?

Whom do you read and listen to — theoreticians or practitioners — and why?


This entry was posted on Wednesday, November 11th, 2009 at 7:04 pm and is filed under General. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.

26 responses about “Are You a “Marketing Theoretician”?”

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  4. Kamil said:

    Ted Nicholas, Zig Ziglar, Seth Godin, Malcom Gladwell, Steven R Covey, Bob Bly, Robert Allen…

  5. Bill Rice said:

    Great point! I like to pull from some of the classics, because I have found that the old proven tricks are still the best.

    This is my short list:

    -David Ogilvy (who had a special respect for copywriters)
    -Alfred Taubman (his Threshold Resistance concept is magical when understood)
    -Robert Cialdini (old stuff, new books are pop, dumb-downed, drivel)

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  7. Phil Wrzesinski said:

    I am a Practitioner

    I have a highly successful independent toy & baby store that I advertise and market regularly. I also teach advertising and marketing to other indie retailers.

    As for reading, I read Roy H. Williams aka Wizard of Ads (both a Practitioner and Theoretician) and Seth Godin (also both) religiously.

  8. Ken Norkin - Freelance Copywriter said:

    As John Wanamaker is credited with saying: “I know that half of my advertising dollars are wasted … I just don’t know which half.” And he was a successful marketer.

  9. Bill Perry said:

    I’m more of a theoretician now, from the standpoint that I’m learning and slowly applying what I’ve learned, if that makes sense.

    I’ve read a lot of “tips” as to what works and what doesn’t. I finally put up a squeeze page for a free MP3 I made to build a list. The squeeze page, between the A and B versions, averaged a 43.6% signup rate.

    I’d love to claim that I did that on purpose, but I think it may have been blind luck. I’m now studying marketing principles more to see if I can find out WHY it did so well.

    I’m just applying myself more so I can be more of a practitioner than a theoritician, even though I think a healthy mix is in order, n’est-ce pas?

  10. Marc said:


    I listen to John Reese, Frank Kern, & Eben Pagan. All market exclusively online and this is the business model I wish to emulate. Least amount of time invested for maximum results with the ability to have your income be free from geographical location.

    In a word:


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  12. Joseph Taylor said:

    I agree. It’s better to stick with marketing practitioners than theoreticians cause the former have enough basis to conclude which strategy will be use or which one will be not. Very unlike if you’ll just read and read materials created by theoreticians.

  13. Ruth said:

    If you never ponder the theoretical aspects of the marketing techniques, then you are relegated to pulling off the same tricks over and over again. There is no rule saying that you have be either a thinker OR a doer, never both. Knowing the theoretical underpinnings of marketing can ultimately have a pragmatic result …if you’re clever. There’s nothing wrong with thinking conceptually, or thinking period.

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