Barbie had hundreds of careers in her illustrative life – she was a cowgirl, a chef, an artist, a pilot, a Nascar driver, a hair dresser, a secretary, a fashion model and a news anchor. There was even a McDonald’s Cashier Barbie. But there was never, not once, a Marketing Barbie.
And it's no wonder. Marketing is an ugly, uninspired word. But it’s not marketing’s fault entirely – it’s been in an abusive relationship forever. It’s misunderstood and mismanaged. It was raised incorrectly, and is the scapegoat or savior depending on our mood. Today, marketing is at best associated with funny Superbowl commercials, or Kim Kardashian’s latest tweet. And at worst, it’s associated with all things late night TV (Snuggies , PastaBoats, Slapchops, and PedEggs). (Although I admit I’m extremely attached to my Snuggie).
No matter what you associate marketing with, it’s always a confusing term. Ask someone to define Marketing and everyone will give you a slightly different answer. They’ll tell you marketing is about:
- Brand Identity
- Email campaigns
- Social media
- Thought leadership
- Product Packaging
- Bumper stickers
- T shirts
- Selling and
But in over 30 years of doing what I do, I have never once heard anyone define marketing as “the process of being who you really are, and then putting yourself out in the world.” Yet effective marketing – sustainable marketing – is all about finding your true, authentic self. Because only then will you really be seen, heard, valued, and remembered.
You have to show up to be seen. And when you do, you better show up as you.
Think of marketing as a dialogue. You are in dialogue with the market all the time. The difference between marketing and effective marketing, is the difference between making small talk at a dinner party and having a meaningful conversation with a friend. Small talk (if you are good at it, which most of us aren’t), will entertain your audience briefly. But a meaningful conversation may change the way your audience sees the world.
In a society that values instant gratification and perfection over truth and vulnerability, we often choose the banter over the meaningful conversation. We must risk the meaningful conversation. We must trust that if we communicate who we really are, the market will respond. I am not saying that witty banter isn’t awesome – that a phenomenal logo or advertising campaign can’t get help you get you some long-desired attention. But attention wanes; and you remain. You, your team and your employees are always there, long after the buttons are passed out, the website is launched, and the commercial fades to black.
Marketing is about having a meaningful conversation. It is the bedrock of your business. It is not a department. It is not a series of tactics. It is not just about getting more money, or getting more attention.
It's about your relationship with the market. Make it meaningful!