Patrick Byers is the CEO of an Eastside marketing concern called Outsource Marketing — he creates marketing solutions in and out of house — and has been exploring the concept of the responsibility of marketing on his very good blog The Responsible Marketing Blog.
Responsible marketing — the warm intentionality in that bridge to exchange, to sell something, to engage in commerce, to bring to market.
When I think of “warm” marketing – exploring the concept of responsibility – I think of imagery from other cultures, where the concept of marketing might be a little more direct. You see what you get. The story is there, right in front of you.
And it comes from where I’ve been, seeing marketing (and markets) in action. So excuse the rather unique accompanying imagery.
There’s something interesting here. And I tend to think about words and their etymology as the way to find the heart of the expression. The etymon — the ancient Greek phrase for finding the true meaning of things; the hidden name, that which lies at the distant (oftentimes) center of the world of the word.
Here’s the etymological reflection:
Responsible. From the original Latin, L. responsus, pp. of respondere “to respond” — then refined: 1599, “answerable (to another, for something),” from Fr. — responsible. The later inference — meaning “morally accountable for one’s actions” is attested from 1836. Retains the sense of “obligation” in the Latin root word. Responsibility is from 1787. More…then?
Or, to explore further heart of the expression:
Respond. This hails, c.1300, respound, from O.Fr. respondere “respond, correspond,” again linking back, reflecting the Latin: respondere “respond, answer to, promise in return,” from re- “back” + spondere “to pledge”. Modern spelling and pronunciation is from c.1600. What then, of this further distant reach — spondee? Interestingly, to the accords of marketing and the sponsorship of offerings and exchanges, it’s marital.
Spondee — circa 1390, “metrical foot consisting of two long syllables,” from O.Fr. spondee, from L. spondeus, from Gk. spondeios (pous), the name of the meter originally used in chants accompanying libations, from sponde “solemn libation,” related to spendein “make a drink offering,” from Pan Indo European base *spend- “to make an offering, perform a rite,” hence “to engage oneself by a ritual act” (cf. L. spondere “to engage oneself, promise,” Hittite shipantahhi “I pour out a libation, I sacrifice”). That takes you to sponsor.
Sponsor (n.) — 1651, from L.L. sponsor “sponsor in baptism,” in L. “a surety, guarantee,” from sponsus, pp. of spondere “give assurance, promise solemnly” . Sense of “person who pays for a radio (or, after 1947, TV) program” is first recorded 1931– the link to commercial exchange — and literally: “commercials”. The verb is attested from 1884, “to favor or support;” commercial broadcasting sense is from 1931. But that sponsor is a kind of partner — responsible, conjoined and connected in supportive and worthy action, it would be presumed…
Spouse — around 1200, “a married woman in relation to her husband” (also of men), from O.Fr. spus (fem. spuse), from L. sponsus “bridegroom” (fem. sponsa “bride”), from masc. and fem. pp. of spondere “to bind oneself, promise solemnly,” from PIE *spend- “to make an offering, perform a rite”. Spouse-breach (c.1225) was an old name for adultery.
So the implications are to answer — to listen to, to answer a call. And finally, later, a pledge, a sponsorship – an ancient chant, a solemn call to alignment in principle. It’s a vow, in a manner of speaking. So what does that mean?
For me, it’s all about truth. And truth, these days, is hard to come by. Being “truth full” is laden with challenges. How can you market something being truthful? Because, in a way, the legacy of marketing is about stretching the truth — it’s telling a story that extends beyond the actual, to the imaginary in premise. When I think about it — it’s about the premise as the driver to actualization of marketing principle — and that premise delivers against a promise.
I’ve written about that a lot. I’ve spoken on it. It’s something I’m exploring — in my self. I’m trying to find the truth in my self, the work that I do, so I’m compelled to drive to find that idea(l). And sometimes you must simply go to the expression — it’s not true.
But the only way, really, to get there, is to try. Try to find the truth in what you do, what your marketing is about, what you say. And to practice that. I can only offer that which I’m trying to preach. Which means, that if I’m saying find the truth — then surely I must be doing the same, for myself. All the time.
Hong Kong, China
What’s your take – from the field?