Purpose The purpose of this paper is to explain and discuss a paradoxical tension in the practice of marketing and the consequent dilemmas posed for practitioners in general and planners in particular. Design-methodology-approach A “Viewpoint” contribution, with implicit permission to “think aloud.” Informed opinion and logical argument are in this case founded on but not exclusively derived from the existing research-based marketing literature, plus selected transfer of principles from other disciplines. Findings The paradox is that, by concentrating on the contribution of accepted theory and principles to practice, in fact intellectual and conceptual progress might be hindered. A way out of this dilemma is to shift the focus from marketing-as-content (doing) to marketing-as-questioning (thinking). A new working definition emphasizes the value of this focus and the benefits of equal participation in the process by both academics and practitioners. Practical implications A route map is offered for productive collaboration across the much-discussed academic-practitioner gap, which should lead to mitigation of the constraining (hindering) effect of the conventional wisdom and the way it is applied to strategy. Originality-value The paper presents a point of view, to stimulate lateral thinking and alternative positions. It shifts the focus from “what” to “how” and “why” and exhorts academics and practitioners to move in the same direction together.