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Ideas. Insights. Inspiration.

Unpopular Opinions (Volume 1)

The following is a list of opinions I hold that I suspect are quite unpopular based on how often I read opposing views on the Internet.


On Marketing...

1. "Performance Marketing" and "Growth Marketing" are both redundant terms.

All marketing done properly is about performance and growth, and if you think otherwise, you don't really understand marketing.

2. People who believe "Brand Marketing" doesn't drive business performance aren't doing brand marketing properly.

The same goes for people who believe brand marketing a) can't be measured, b) isn't relevant for B2B businesses, and c) is not worth the investment.

3. "Product" should not be separate from "Marketing".

Anyone who has ever taken an introductory marketing course can tell you two things with certainty. First, marketing is fundamentally about understanding the consumer and then developing, promoting, and ultimately selling products and services to meet their needs. And second, "Product" is one of the 4Ps of marketing, right there with "Price", "Promotion", and "Place".

I've been a marketer at several Fortune 500 organizations, and I've been directly responsible for bringing products to market a few times in my career. I've yet to hear a compelling reason why "product" (i.e. the people developing the product or service that is to be sold) should be a separate function from "marketing" (i.e. the group responsible for identifying what customers actually need) in any organization where marketing is well understood.


On Recruiting...

1. Recruiters who exclusively speak with passive candidates aren't better than other recruiters... they're worse.

"The best candidates are already working" is no longer a given.... if it ever was.

What about phenomenal candidates who left a job to start an entrepreneurial venture, pursue higher education, take care of a family member, or immigrate to a new country... and now wish to reenter the workforce? Are these people somehow automatically inferior to those who have chosen to remain in "corporate"? How about employees who were so good at their jobs that they made themselves redundant, or candidates who learn so quickly that they outgrew their role and decided it was better to leave than stay and dull their senses... should these "active candidates" be disregarded?

Sure, some passive candidates are better than some active candidates. But exclusively looking at passive candidates means overlooking a lot of potentially hyper-qualified people who could bring much better, much more diverse experience to the role. To take pride in only looking at "passive candidates" is like bragging about being able to find a penny in a jar full of pennies: it's nothing to boast about.

2. A person's relationship with an employer doesn't start on their first day as an employee, it starts with the application process.

Companies that have some variation of "we care about our people" on their website and then submit job applicants to an onerous recruitment process don't care about their people. Because if they don't care about taking care of an applicant who might eventually become an employee, what makes you think they'll suddenly start caring about them once they've been hired?


On various topics in the news...

1. Not every business needs to be involved with Cryptocurrency, or NFTs, or the Metaverse.

Every business should understand these things. But once they do, the first question to ask isn't "how should we get involved with these things?". It's "should we get involved with these things?" More specifically, it's "does getting involved in these things make sense for our business?" Companies need to stop chasing shiny objects simply because they're shiny.

2. Air Canada's CEO doesn't need to be bilingual.

Would it be nice if Michael Rousseau was fully bilingual? Sure, because French is one of Canada's two official languages and the company happens to be headquartered in Montreal. But is knowing how to speak French absolutely necessary in order to be successful as the CEO of Air Canada? Absolutely not. It's a nice-to-have, not a must-have.

Michael Rousseau's faux-pas wasn't his inability to speak French, or even his unwillingness to learn. It was his arrogance in flaunting his unilingualism to a Quebec audience. And for members of the Canadian government to suggest otherwise, and even to go so far as to recommend that "Knowledge of French" be added as a metric to Rousseau's annual performance review, is simply absurd.

3. It's perfectly acceptable for Billionaires to (legally) minimize their tax obligations.

In all the years I've been working, I've never voluntarily paid more tax than the government told me I was required to pay. In fact, I've often used legal tactics (such as contributing to my RRSP, for example) so I could pay less... and I'm willing to bet you have as well.

So... why would we expect the very wealthy to do anything differently than what we ourselves do every April?

If the ultra-wealthy are employing illegal methods to hide income, then they should be stopped... just as we would want to stop any illegal tax evader.

But if we think our societies need more funding and believe the very wealthy among us should contribute more, let's not be upset with billionaires who legally minimize their tax obligations (even if the ways they do it are unavailable to the average Jane and Joe)... let's direct our outrage to the governments and lawmakers that allow those tax-reducing mechanisms to exist. Or, if you prefer, "don't hate the player, hate the game."

4. Tim Hortons X Bieber was... just okay.

Was "TimBiebs" a great promotional stunt to drive incremental traffic and short-term sales? Clearly, yes.

Should Tim Hortons be focusing less on promotional stunts and more on addressing business fundamentals like better quality products, better customer service, and better franchisee relationships? Also, yes.

Is Justin Bieber, despite his popularity, an ideal partner to associate with your brand given his history of questionable behaviour? Um... probably not, especially when the company's namesake is an almost revered figure in Canada and the company has previously partnered with outstanding individuals like Sydney Crosby. Justin Bieber is no Sydney Crosby.

But if you're going to do a promotional stunt instead of focusing on business fundamentals, and you're going to partner with the likes of Justin Bieber...

Was not officially calling them "BieberBalls" a real miss? Absolutely!

Disagree with any of these opinions? I love a good debate, and you know how to reach me...


Dec 25, 2021

Marketing is not "the group responsible for identifying what customers actually need". That's product management. I have never heard of marketing writing a PRD

David Pullara
David Pullara
Apr 11, 2022
Replying to

There are four "P"s in marketing... And one of them is "Product". Marketing is not "advertising": it's much, much broader than that, and everything starts with the customer. Product is a subset of marketing.


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