Two of the hardest words to say in marketing are "I disagree". It might not seem like that, of course, if you imbibe your marketing discourse from the ever-bubbling spring of Twitter or books on the business shelves at airports.
In those formats professionals do not merely beg to differ but insist on bulldozing the intellectual ground others stand on. Twitter exchanges will kick off with insults like 'More nonsense on brand purpose from @someone', while book titles promise to inform the hapless practitioner 'Why everything you thought you knew about [sub-topic goes here] is wrong'.
But this is disagreement at a distance, licence through a lens. The blogger, tweeter, author – or columnist – who strides out on a contentious path is doing merely what is necessary to make a dent in the rankings and fulfil minimum expectations of the reader. To declare that you will be a ‘fearlessly uncompromising voice’ in those vectors is to settle into a well-established niche of iconoclast convention.
It’s another matter when it is just you, a mid-rank marketer, around a big table of peers and colleagues in a consensus-driven culture, with everyone closing in on an agreed way forward for targeting, or distribution or brand strategy, and a voice in your head going ‘this isn’t right’, accompanied by a disconcerting awareness that your pulse is racing.
To say, simply and clearly, in that context, ‘Look, I disagree with this approach and here’s why’, takes a lot more courage than firing off a contrarian tweet.