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MARKETING AND STORYTELLING ESSAYS

COPYRIGHT 1996 - 2008
4/6/08

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Forecasting: Marketing and Storytelling Theory


When a unifying story changes every other action follows. Throughout history all methods of forecasting have always supported a unifying story. Judgmental and objective forecasting are modern words for divination.

Forecasting in Buddhism is founded on the concept of dependent origination. The idea is that each action comes from other actions and then moves on to impact innumerable events. It is understood that no outcome can be known or predicted. We cannot know where our actions begin or end. Christianity proposes that the future is in God’s hands and that God reveals this to us. All actions begin and end with God. Not much use for the proposed methods of judgmental or objective forecasting.

Stories throughout time have always had the same purpose. Each story secures and distributes resources to followers. Current judgmental and objective marketing forecasting may be understood as simply supporting a particular unifying story. No competing methods of forecasting are allowed to enter academic marketing that do not support our unifying story. "In a forthcoming book chapter, Scott Armstrong and I examine the evidence on forecasting methods for demand and sales. We provide guidance for practitioners. For example, use structured methods, not intuition, unstructured meetings, focus groups, and data mining." (Green and Armstrong, 2005)

This makes perfect sense to a follower of academic marketing where truth is founded on applying particular methods. It is irrelevant if an interpretation applied to forecasting has ever been successful but it is imperative that it fits and supports a unifying story. Our devotion to this marketing method of forecasting is not an issue in this essay. The point is that if other forecasting models were even shown to always work they would still be rejected. To change one part of any story puts the whole at risk.

Our current opinion remains that no academic field is more important than marketing to business in the world. But, we continue to depend on a story as insightful as the one that brought us to believe that mainland China did not exist. The academic marketing story elite often professes that we are both an art and a science. Perhaps what we really mean by marketing as an art is art marketing? Try to get an article into the Journal of Marketing that follows a different unifying story and its supporting methods. I once sent JM an article in the form of a dialogue. My rejection was swift, extreme, and aggressive. Other methods of transfer of marketing thought are incomprehensible and rejected out of stark fear. The JM story cannot support a dialogue as a method in marketing. This experience gives supporters of a marketing and storytelling unifying story valuable information. The more harsh the rejection the greater the strategic insights that are gained.

So we are left "in situations where there are sufficient data, use quantitative methods including extrapolation, quantitative analogies, rule-based forecasting, and causal methods. Otherwise, use methods that structure judgment including surveys of intentions and expectations, judgmental bootstrapping, structured analogies, and simulated interaction. Managers' domain knowledge should be incorporated into statistical forecasts." (Armstrong and Green, 2005)

What have we done to our textbooks, journals, students, and practitioners by maintaining a separating unifying marketing story? We pretend in marketing to fit into other disciplines in the business school? For this reason we should move marketing into the liberal arts and link with the philosophy department. Like us, English departments do not know anything about storytelling. They are also stuck pretending to be a science applying methods that have no meaning. Perhaps they would be a better fit in the business school? Let’s trade? Or we could call marketing, English and English marketing.