125: Marketing Interview

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Marketing Interview
There are a lot of books on marketing out there. I wonder if you're safest just buying the most popular one.
Title text: There are a lot of books on marketing out there. I wonder if you're safest just buying the most popular one.


Black Hat is trying to get a job running a marketing program. Cueball conducts the interview and says that although he has heard that Black Hat is the best in the business, his portfolio does not show that he has run any major marketing campaigns. Black Hat asks where he heard that rumor and Cueball begins to respond. Then he realizes that Black Hat has used his perfect marketing campaign tactics to get into the business. Then, Black Hat tries to skip ahead of the interview process and coyly asks, before being offered the job, when he can start working.

A book that becomes the most popular in its field is the one with the best marketing, not necessarily the one with the best content. The title text suggests that in this case, where the subject matter is marketing, the most popular book would in fact be written by those with the best marketing skills, and would therefore contain the best content. However, this fails to realize that the publishers of the book would only be good at marketing themselves, but not necessarily at teaching marketing.

Job interviews are a recurring topic on xkcd.


[Black Hat, standing in front of Cueball, who is sitting behind a executive desk, looking at some papers.]
Cueball: I've heard you're one of the best in the marketing business, but I've got your portfolio here and looks like you've never run a major campaign. Why should I hire you to head our new initiative?
[Same scene.]
Black Hat: If you don't mind asking, what gave you the idea I was one of the best in the business?
Cueball: Hm? I don't remember. Just word of mouth or someth-- ...oh, you're good.
Black Hat: Thank you. When can I start?

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I believe I disagree with the explanation of the title text on this one. To me it suggests that this would be a rare case in which buying the most popular book would be the best because the people who wrote it obviously know a great deal about marketing. ‎ (talk) (please sign your comments with ~~~~)

I don't understand what you mean by "rare case" 05:14, 30 December 2013 (UTC)

Agreed. The title text appears to connote that although a case of Black Hat or his ilk is rare, the tendency of good marketers' books to sell better ought most often to be the rule rather than the exception. --Jolbucley (talk) 04:16, 29 January 2014 (UTC)

or is it? i think he honestly wonders, not leaning towards one answer or the other. cause being the best selling book on marketing guarantees the writer is (or has) a very good marketer (sry, english is not my first language. is marketer a word?). anyway, it doesn't guarantee that there will be any useful information in it, just that the marketing department did their part in promoting the said book. am i going too far here? (talk) (please sign your comments with ~~~~)

The most popular book can imply the best marketing, but doesn't ever imply the best content or the best source of information about a topic. However, if the topic is marketing, the at least the reader can look at the marketing strategy for selling the marketing book, which would make the book's author the best source. 22:01, 14 May 2014 (UTC)

Well the popularity of the book tells more about the publishers marketing strategy than the authors, doesn't it? Or would a author who is good at marketing automatically select the publisher with the best marketing? Not nexessarily, it depends on his goals. If the authors goal is making money, he might go with the publisher that he gets the most out of, which isn't necessarily the one that markets his book the best way. --Lupo (talk) 10:54, 28 February 2020 (UTC)

When it comes to marketing, the most popular book isn't necessarily the one with the best content, but its popularity says more about the author's ability. Fast forward 10 years and replace "marketing" with "SEO." If money weren't an object, doesn't it follow to hire an expert listed within the first few results of googling "SEO consultants?" Another field that presents a similar situation is interviewing applicants for a Human Resources position: they're likely to know all the right answers to the usual questions, especially if it's for a high-level position that requires considerable experience and expertise in the area.