Pyramids Are Tombs

by Joe Phelps

Pyramids Are Tombs covers two major topics: organizational structure and integrated marketing communications.

Many companies claim to be focused on the customer, but Joe Phelps walks the walk. His marketing agency is structured around “self-directed, client-centered teams” which he describes as “the optimum model for today’s knowledge workers.”

In this flat structure there are no functional departments, eliminating incentives for fiefdom building. Instead there are functional coaches and a collaborative atmosphere in which work-in-progress is shared with the whole firm through a feedback wall and weekly forums. “People don’t need rubber-stamped approval of their work. They need information to make it better.”

The other major topic in the book is integrated marketing communications.  The gist is that all aspects of marketing communications (PR, advertising, online, etc.) should work together to deliver a consistent message.

Because “the mindset for marketers now has to be the mindset of the consumer,” the traditional four Ps of marketing have been restated into the four Cs. Although not credited in the book, the four Cs are generally attributed to Robert Lauterborn.


Consumer wants and needs

Cost to satisfy the consumer’s need

Convenience to buy


Phelps seems to be highly influenced by the late quality guru W. Edwards Deming, who is mentioned six times throughout the book.

Phelps, Joe. Pyramids Are Tombs: Yesterday’s Corporate Structure, like the 20th Century, Is History. Santa Monica, California: IMC Publishing, 2002. Buy from