Monday, September 27, 2010

Why Marketing?

It's a question that everybody has to deal with at some point.  Why did you pick your chosen profession when you had a million other options at your feet? 

Of course, most of us don't really know why we did what we did in university, so we either stumble through it or attempt to rationalize a decision that probably boils down to something like "it was interesting and challenging."

I believe in marketing.  I believe in it's power to be a force for good in the world.  But that's not why I chose to major in marketing, because I didn't know it at the time.  Maybe on some intuitive level, I did, but it certainly wasn't a concrete sense.  For me, it was interesting.  It was challenging.  It seemed to excite with tantalizing possibilities and a chance to be creative and strategic in business.  Yes -- T-accounts, spreadsheets, numbers and the bottom line are important...but so is creativity. 

Here's what I believe:
  1. At its heart, marketing is about giving a plain, old, boring hunk of metal a personality.  It can can be bold, inspiring, conservative, risky, exciting, fun, quirky, or it can even play the villain.  There are as many options as there are colours in a double rainbow but there is a right one for each product and company.  Marketing is everywhere, in the clothes people wear and the cars they drive, there's plenty of fish in the sea.
    Personality is your table stake.  It gets you into the game with all the big shot agencies and mad men - and you might even get lucky - but the real players set themselves apart in the next two categories.  The game has an element of luck but it takes skill to win consistently.
  2. Marketers provide a means for fans and supporters of a brand to express themselves emotionally.  They remove a certain element of risk that makes it OK for fans to be wildly passionate about a product, so that it's acceptable to show other people a genuine part of themselves that's already trying hard to escape.  Think of a concert with thousands of screaming fans, or the ritual involved in serving a glass of fine wine.  That's passion, harnessed and displayed in a socially acceptable manner.  To me, it doesn't matter whether we're talking about rock bands or restaurants, it's still endearing.
  3. Technology can help.  In fact, it is becoming even more important with time.  Those that don't adapt will be left behind.  What if our ancestors had ignored the hammer, the wheel, or worse yet - fire?  Technology can help marketers turn metal into gold; it can help connect fans and niche interest groups around the world; and it can also permanently change the rules of game - even while we're others are still learning the old rules.
That's what I believe.  It's why I don't have problems sleeping at night and it's something to strive for both professionally and personally.  That's extraordinary marketing.

What do you think?  Share your thoughts in the comments below.


  1. Very nice perspective on marketing. I enjoyed seeing passion about marketing. I think some people feel this is a job you can't really be passionate about, but I have found the opposite to be true. Glad I have such good company :)

  2. Thanks for the comment RLMadMan.

    I completely agree. =)

  3. Hmmm....I am inspired to comment just so I am in the good company of friends. LALB. I'm also passionate about marketing, branding, and customer service. I think the sweet spot for me is when those pieces are integrated and I think it is when companies operate at their best, when they use all aspects together. Thanks for a great post Andrew and for brining it to my attention Marjorie :)

  4. ^ Most definitely. Being extraordinary at all three is difficult but when I think of the brands I love the most - they've nailed them all.

  5. In marketing—digital or otherwise—if you can't emotionally connect with your audience, you're potentially relegated to the noisy bowels of media —that is, the messages people flat out ignore.

  6. Pure stats might bring me around if I'm already inclined to listen to your message but I've already got a million things on my mind, why should I listen to YOU?