One of Many Daft Old Observations about Marketing

By Bullmore, Jeremy | Marketing, March 13, 1997 | Go to article overview

One of Many Daft Old Observations about Marketing


Bullmore, Jeremy, Marketing


This is the first in an occasional series about batty sayings which have gone too long unchallenged, thus denying marketing persons zillions of units of currency and inflicting upon them almost as many tiresome dinner-party conversations.

This is what Ralph Waldo Emerson (1803 - 1882) is fatuously believed to have said: "If a man write a better book, preach a better sermon, or make a better mouse-trap than his neigh-bout, tho' he build his house in the woods, the word will make a beaten path to his door."

To the financial director and the dinner-party didact, these are thrilling words. So who needs marketing? Who needs advertising?

I'll tell you who: that sanctimonious, pen-pushing, mouse-murderer, that's who. And if you don't believe me, try this simple experiment.

Go into deep woods and build yourself a new house. As soon as it is completed, first write then deliver a better sermon. Then wait. The following day make a better mouse-trap. And wait again.

Only if you are still unconvinced should you bother to write a better book. Because I am sorry to have to tell you that there will be no beaten path. Rather, such a path as there was will soon be overgrown from disuse.

We know five things about Emerson's man. He writes books; he preaches sermons; he builds mouse-traps; and, despite living in the middle of a wood, he has a neighbour. (Eerily, this neighbour has precisely the same eclectic set of hobbies but apparently pursues them with less skill. …

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