I would like to think that marketing is about sexy advertising and wearing all-black clothing.
But marketing is much closer to what Warren Buffet does with a balance sheet. Or an expert fantasy basketball player does with a roster. Or a Warcraft player does with resources. That is, absorbing a shit load of data, freakishly observing trends, and subconsciously reaching a decision that kills the competition.
If investing were a video game, Warren Buffet would be Gosu. Buffet regularly skims small companies’ financials for 5 minutes and immediately determines if he would like to make an acquisition. He’s that good. I imagine that it’s almost second nature for him–he glances at cash flow, balance sheets, and income statements, subconsciously identifying trends invisible to average investors. This takes years of experience (think Gladwell’s 10,000 hours), instinct, and skill.
Fantasy Basketball = Buffet. Not to undermine Buffet’s talent, but I believe that gamers hone similar skills. If you’ve ever played fantasy basketball/baseball/football, it’s about the dynamics of stats and managing a roster of players. No need to know sports–elite users merely understand how stats accumulate as if it were second nature. They could review a roster and uncover trends and holes in mere minutes.
Warcraft is no different. For those geeks that have played real-time strategy games (Starcraft, C+C, Warcraft), expert gameplay is grounded in intuition and hundreds of incredible subconscious decisions. Managing resources and understanding a strong in-game position are no different than what Buffet does with balance sheets.
In short, an expert marketer perfects these same skills. She can observe industry dynamics, quickly breeze over business data, and formulate decisions as if they were second nature. Market research reveals more customer insight to her than any half-wit MBA. The intuition and subconscious decisions are Steve Jobs-esque.
And this is what I strive for.