From Rob Enderle’s take on this:

Marketing in a broad sense is about manipulation and this is why engineers, by and large, don’t understand it. It’s not that it isn’t based in solid science, it is, but that it is based more on psychology than it is on thermodynamics. ... Or put a different way, it is more like sales than it is like design or manufacturing. In effect it is sales at scale and the ultimate goal of a marketing effort would be to convince people that otherwise wouldn’t buy a product to instead buy it in mass [sic].

Well, no. Marketing in a broad sense is about facilitating valuable exchange. That can mean a lot of things:

  • Finding out what people want
  • Developing a product (providing the inputs to do that, dealing with pricing, features) so that it delivers value but also so that it is sustainable to produce
  • Figuring out the best way to position it so that the value of an exchange is apparent (explaining what it is, showing how it can benefit the user)

So, it’s not about “manipulating people who otherwise wouldn’t buy it.” (What does “otherwise wouldn’t buy it” mean, anyway? How would you determine who these people are?)

Of course there’s psychology involved, and there’s, for example, experimenting with what words to put on your “Download Now” button so people will be more likely to click it. But you’re doing that to remove obstacles to the transaction, and the transaction is one that you truly believe is valuable to both sides. (Right?)

“Engineers don’t understand marketing” (not always true, but assume true for the sake of argument) because it involves a very different set of skills from solving engineering problems.

It’s more like being an actor or a writer, or even like being someone who makes musical instruments. It’s not like building a house. It encompasses a broader range of the human experience, in less depth.