Jul 10, 2006
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By Anne Holland, President
I got married last week, and as major life events will, it made me think about life, the universe and, naturally, marketing.
My husband (oh, the thrill it gives me to say that!) has been known to turn a fight into laughter by saying, "Marketing, Honey. Marketing." In other words, he caught me trying to spin the argument my way instead of simply stating the bald facts.
Although it may not be perfect for a marriage, there is some pride to be taken in that form of marketing. Think of the ancient Greeks and Romans who viewed powerful oratory as so important that it was a critical subject for every schoolchild.
However, there's a faint whiff of shame to being in marketing in the 21st century. Some people think marketing is using science and psychology to bend the will, empty the pocket, distract the mind from nobler thought and even ruin true culture.
If I truly believed that was the essence of marketing, I would not be able to write about it or, frankly, to work for MarketingSherpa which gives marketers the research and tools to do a better job. It would be pretty darn slimy.
If marketing is focusing on profits to the expense of all else, I want no part of it.
Instead, I see the art of marketing as akin to matchmaking. Your client Mr. Widget is seeking a bride. You research the available pool. You may even help Mr. Widget tweak his presentation a bit a la 'Queer Eye for the Straight Guy'(without, of course, changing or obscuring his true essence.) Then you introduce Ms. Right to Mr. Widget.
Sometimes they get together right away; sometimes there are
entire families to impress (the dreaded decision-by-committee). But the point is, without a little matchmaking, two people might never have found each other.
Inventors and company executives without marketing backgrounds nearly always make light of this matchmaking facet of marketing. They think the product will "sell itself."
Perhaps it would in an intimate, easy-to-network world without any other distractions. But on this crazy teeming planet, you nearly always need great marketing to get any attention from the right prospects.
Marketing in its best form is all about helping products and services connect with their perfect customers. If you do it correctly, including plenty of research to begin with, both sides -- company and customer -- will be grateful for your role in bringing them together.
(And, no, I'm not just saying that because I've got hazy romantic stars in my eyes.)
The downfall of marketing is when you're pushed for profit's sake alone to gain customers outside the product's sweet spot -- buyers that don't really fit profile. Or, when you're hired to trumpet an inadequate product that honestly no one should be buying. That's when the shame comes in.
The next time you're asked to market something, reach into your gut and consider, "Is this something I will be proud to have marketed? Will the end-consumers be delighted to have discovered it through my efforts?"
If so you can take true pride in being a marketer. It's not
about consumer manipulation; it's about helping shine the
light on the truly deserving.