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Mark Schaefer: The Future of Marketing Is Austrian

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02/11/2020Hunter Hastings

Hunter Hastings and Mark Schaefer discuss how human-centered marketing can fix a business function that has lost its way.

Key Takeaways and Actionable Insights

Marketing has lost its way — in its current state, it’s no longer a useful business growth tool for entrepreneurs. 

  • An obsession with technology has eclipsed the focus on people and human values.
  • A mania for measurement has obscured emotional connections with customers.
  • “Marketers hide behind their dashboards” and are not conducting conversations with customers.

The solution, says Mark Schaefer, lies in the principles of Human-Centered Marketing. Austrians can easily recognize these principles as our own.

 Austrian EconomicsHuman-Centered Marketing
PrincipleCustomer sovereigntyThe Customer does the marketing
MechanismEmpathic diagnosisLive in their homes / offices / factories
InsightSupport the customer’s highest valuesFind core human truths – deep, deep needs


The customer-sovereignty perspective yields actionable truths.

  • Customers don’t need ads — they don’t see them, they don’t hear them, they block them.
  • Customers are rebelling against the interrupt-and-annoy approach of marketers.
  • The customer is in charge.

What do customers want from marketers? The answer for Mark Schaefer lies in Core Human Truths — what Austrians call Highest Values.

  • They want to feel loved.
  • They want to be respected
  • They want to belong
  • They want you to advance their self-interest
  • They want proof that a firm or brand is contributing to their community

These are deep human needs that don’t change. Whatever the speed of change in market, these values are constant. Humanism lets marketers hold on to what is not changing, rather than being overwhelmed by change.

Marketing mantras like “loyalty” and “engagement” are false.

  • Customers don’t want to be loyal; they want freedom and choice — they like shopping around.
  • Engagement does not result from clicking on an e-mail and downloading a white paper or a coupon.
  • These are dashboard measurements, not human values.

Mark’s recommendations are grounded in humanism.

  • Customers respond to shared meaning and shared values — so long as the sharing is authentic. Businesses must be loyal to consumers, never let them down, always be consistent. Live on their island.
  • Seek trust. Marketers have burned through trust. The Edelman Trust Barometer shows trust in business and brands and advertising going down for 11 straight years. Now brands must transcend the public’s mistrust.
  • Flip your branding. A brand is not what you tell customers. A brand today is what customers say about you to their friends and peers. People trust other people.
  • Let customers create their own value. This is pure Austrian Economics: customer value is an experience that takes place entirely in their domain. Brands and businesses facilitate — but can’t create — the customer’s value experience. Customers hire your brand or business or product or service to help them create value.

Marketing is promise management.

  • Choose the promise you make to customers carefully — is it one they really want from you and will they trust you when you make it?
  • Ensure that you have the capabilities to deliver on the promise. Don’t over promise.
  • Keep your promise every time, with no exceptions ever.

BONUS: Small and medium businesses have the advantage in human-centered marketing.

  • The larger the business, the harder it is to connect to customers on an individual, emotional level.
  • Small business has an advantage in showing its face, demonstrating its personality and exhibiting trustworthiness.

Free Downloads & Extras

"The Future of Marketing Is Austrian" (PDF):

"Understanding The Mind of The Customer" (PDF):

Mark Schaefer’s "Human-Centered Marketing Manifesto" (JPG):

For comparison, "Menger’s Manifesto" from Principles Of Economics (PDF):

Read Mark’s book, Marketing

Mark’s website is

Note: The views expressed on are not necessarily those of the Mises Institute.

Hunter Hastings

Hunter Hastings is a member of the Mises Institute, Business Consultant, and co-chair of the Rescue California Educational Foundation. He is also host of the Economics for Entrepreneurs podcast.

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