Thesis Driven Marketers

I've written before about gaps between marketing and investment ( see The strategist's deal memo). Since they have similar objectives (growth), I think one can learn from the other. 

One time that struck me when I started reading about venture capital is that a lot of firms have an investment thesis. I didn't study finances and was never interested in investment before. I thought there were investors with money and companies with business plans. And they met halfway, in the marketplace. I didn't think a clear investment thesis allowed investors to focus.

Here's Brad Burnham from Union Square Venture, describing their 2011 investment thesis in a tweet:

How many marketing agencies or services firms describe their practice with that level of precision? And in 140 characters.

Capital is relatively less abundant than marketing services. There's almost no incentive for a marketing firm to develop and communicate a clear thesis about its services. An investor needs to develop a thesis that allows him to focus – to say no more than to say yes. A marketing agency needs to develop a thesis that appeals to a lot of clients.

But I still think developing a thesis and communicating it (the important part) can be extremely powerful. The thesis can and should be updated. Here's what Fred Wilson, again from Union Square Venture, had to say about this:

The thing about our investment thesis it that it evolves over time. We stick to it but we evolve it. And we do it consciously. Writing it down forces us to be clear in our thinking and draw distinctions that matter.
— Fred Wilson

Obviously, not all investment firms do that. And a lot of marketing agencies have a pretty clear vision that they articulate and communicate well.

But I think the gap is real: thesis-driven marketers are not as common as thesis-driven investors.