Why marketers struggle in a rational world

Marketers are more emotional than many of their colleagues, which makes earning respect difficult, but they can gain influence by speaking the language of logic.

marketing logic

Can you ‘feel’ a brand? Can you ‘sense’ what customers want? Did you ever think ‘I’m different from the other people in my firm’? You may not be alone. Many marketers are more sensual, more emotional than their colleagues. And if you are, life in firms can be rather tricky – unless you know how to communicate.

You might know the story of Eros. He was the youngest god on ancient Greece’s Mount Olympus. Eros had one irresistible skill. He could make someone love anyone he wished by wounding them with one of his arrows. Eros’s unique powers made him popular in Greek mythology.

But Eros’s talent came with problems. The other gods saw Eros as something like a wild boy. What he did was often seen as weird. Eros also showed no respect for authority. That’s why, despite his unique skills, the other gods never considered Eros sufficiently responsible to play a full part in the ruling Olympian family. Does that sound familiar?

As part of our research for The 12 Powers of a Marketing Leader, Patrick Barwise and I asked an Insead Business School psychologist to look at our data. It was a big file with profiles of over 1,000 CMOs from over 80 countries. When we met again, the first thing she said was: “Marketers are like Eros.”

What she found was striking. Many marketers and agency executives have an Eros-type personality. Over 90% describe themselves as open and creative. It’s the highest of all the numbers we’ve measured. Meanwhile, 85% believe they see the big picture well and understand the connections. If, for example, someone makes another person angry, marketers will see what’s going on – and care.

Like Eros, many marketers enjoy the emotional side of life. They love the future, new ideas, creating connections. Most importantly, marketers have that special Eros skill all CEOs value: they know how to create desire.

In meetings, don’t stay silent. Here’s another trick: speak first, before others jump in. State a strong point of view early on. Establish yourself with some force.

But marketers are Eros in a world ruled by Logos  – the ancient Greek concept of order and knowledge. And that’s where the trouble starts. As an Eros marketer, there’s a high chance that your CEO isn’t that similar to you. In fact, most people in your firm won’t be like you – and many may struggle to understand you.

In the business world, Logos leaders dominate. They prefer facts and rational arguments. Logos leaders enjoy power much more than Eros people, and worry less about other’s feelings.

A typical firm has plenty of Logos jobs. Take production, or finance, or IT. You’ve got to love facts to run these. The factory team needs clear guidelines and processes to make products that are perfect every time. The finance team must dig into the numbers in detail. The IT folks must enjoy data to organise complex systems. And many CEOs have to ruthlessly deliver the numbers each quarter, to keep the show on the road. It’s got to be that way.


When Logos meets Eros, it’s a clash of cultures. It’s brain versus heart. It’s power versus feelings. And too often, trouble awaits.

Take a typical marketing issue: How good is that marketing campaign? An Eros marketer might say ‘customers love it’. A Logos leader might respond ‘show me the numbers’. And too often, the Eros leader can’t.

Our research bears this out. Only 57% of marketers say they are really good at aligning their teams with business targets and goals. Performance management just isn’t Eros’s passion. And only half of all marketers believe they are role models in their firms. Not a big surprise for people who feel they are different.

Bosses go even further: only 48% say that marketers ‘behave appropriately’. Well, Eros wasn’t seen as behaving appropriately either. In fact, he even sometimes enjoyed creating chaos.

If you have an Eros personality, surviving in a Logos world isn’t always easy, but it’s very possible. You just have to know the rules, and communicate differently.

Like Eros, many marketers enjoy the emotional side of life. They love the future, new ideas, creating connections.

First off, realise that Logos people – and that could be the majority in your firm – need facts, figures, logical reasons. Don’t ignore that need. Marketing return on investment (ROI) is a good example. Don’t assume Logos leaders will love you when you say stuff like ‘this campaign really strengthened our brand perception’. Words like these create a warm feeling in a marketer’s breast. But a Logos leader may simply roll their eyes.

When it comes to numbers and proof, team up with Logos. Ask which facts people need in order to believe you. Here’s a trick: rather than proving your marketing success to Logos leaders, bring them on board. For example, ask your finance team to figure out marketing returns together with you. Logos leaders may be better than you at doing the numbers.

The Eros-Logos struggle is even bigger when it comes to power. When Logos leaders meet, you’ll often see power rituals. People speak out loud, cut each other off, etc. Many Logos leaders won’t even notice. They are used to it.

As an Eros leader, you may find these rituals a waste of time. But if you want to be accepted, take them seriously – and claim your seat at the table. In meetings, for example, don’t stay silent. Here’s another trick: speak first, before others jump in. State a strong point of view early on. Establish yourself with some force. Getting in early on purpose may feel odd at first, but don’t worry: Logos leaders can handle this. In fact, chances are, they’ll like your presence.

The organisational psychologist inside me says: hang on, there are way more personality dimensions than Eros and Logos. What I’ve been writing here is too simple, too stereotypical. Of course, it is. That said: in our research, almost 80% of all marketers had an Eros-type profile, so there’s clearly something going on here.

The good news is this: marketers are masters of communication. With customers, marketers know how to create desire. Why not shoot some of your Eros arrows inside the firm and create desire for marketing too?

Thomas Barta is a marketing leadership expert, speaker and the co-author of ‘The 12 Powers of a Marketing Leader’. He has teamed up with Marketing Week to launch the Marketing Leadership Masterclass, a new CPD-accredited online course designed to equip marketers with everything they need to become a better leader. To find out more and book your place visit leadership.marketingweek.com