Is Marketing a Dirty Word?

by Megan on October 10, 2011

“I went through my LinkedIn connections and declined all the ones from marketers.” I’m sorry, what? This is a quote from someone who I respect very much. Apart from the fact that my job title includes marketing, it made me wonder, is marketing a dirty word?

Then there’s Fred Wilson. Iconic VC and all-around smart dude.

“I believe that marketing is what you do when your product or service sucks or when you make so much profit on every marginal customer that it would be crazy to not spend a bit of that profit acquiring more of them (coke, zynga, bud, viagra).” – Fred Wilson

If you read the full post, it’ll quickly become clear that (as Seth Godin points out in the first comment), that you could easily replace advertising for marketing in his post, and the meaning remains the same. Looking at marketing as being all about advertising takes a very limited view. We’ve spent a total of about $500 in my entire time at Klout, but I assure you we’ve had plenty to do in the way of marketing. So, what is marketing all about? I asked this question on Google+ and some great answers:

“The art and science of matching your product differentiation to customer’s preferences.” Geoffrey Thompson (hat tip to Hermano Geoff)

“Marketing is simply communicating your brand effectively to your target audience”-  Michael Haas

“What business are you in? Who is your customer? What is your value proposition to your customer? How do you find these customers, attract their attention, persuade them to keep coming back to you?” – Howard Rheingold

To my mind, these are interesting and challenging problems. I like how Howard Rheingold phrased it as a series of questions, your job as a marketer is to find those answers. For some you’re dealing with a set product and working to maximize it’s potential. Yet, another aspect of marketing is working with product to find the slight alterations that will help sell your product to the masses. That is neither an easy, nor uninteresting task so I wonder where marketing gets lost in translation and becomes the art of pulling the wool over people eyes, being sleazy, or making up for a product viagra prix.

Are marketers bad at marketing ourselves? I think the truth here is that the good marketers aren’t worried about marketing themselves as people in the larger sense, they’re focused on the product, the problems, and the solutions like everyone else in the company. When done right, marketing seamlessly helps make the product look more awesome and engages and maximizes the community. The public image of marketers is based on the few who are in the spotlight. So let’s all take the time to notice the marketers, social media experts, and community managers who are actually doing it right and making us look good. We all thank you.

  • Cindy Ratzlaff

    Thank you Megan. We’re communicators, above all, eloquently parsing out the benefits of ours and our clients offerings as we seek to bring consumer and customer together in a mutually beneficial relationship. We’re the stage managers in this theater.

  • Megan Berry

    I love that idea: “We’re the stage managers in this theater” Indeed. and the show must go on :) u00a0

  • Jenny Delaney

    Great article!nnA lot of it will also depend on the industry itself. In the consumer packaged good industry, a marketer is called a Brand Manager. She is responsible for ensuring that the consumers needs are met, that she is talking to all other departments of the company (finance, r&d, c-level) to make sure nothing is lost, she manages her product, and she manages the P&L for her brand.u00a0nnAt a large tech firm, that same role within a company is most likely known as Product Manager, and is generally not thought of as a marketing role (even though the functions are all the same). This is the level where people can confuse marketing with pure advertising.nnAnd at a start-up, well, marketing can mean anything, but it generally means you are responsible for everything :) u00a0nnBut in the end, we are relationship and multitasking rockstars. After all, who else could work regularly with engineering,u00a0finance,u00a0customers, partners, pr, and sales and come out sane on the other end?

  • Tim Berry

    Whoops, too late for the Google+ comment, but I still very much like John Jantsch’ (that’s @ducttapemarketing:disqusu00a0 definition: “marketing is getting people to know, like, and trust you.” nnAnd defined that way, it’s important. n

  • Smart Soft Market

    Some Marketing StinksnMarketing has a terrible reputation. I feel embarrassed and sometimes defensive when explaining that I u201cdo marketingu201d. Marketing can seem sleazy and dishonest. And often it is. e.g.- SPAM emails offering Viagran- Phone calls with telesales people reading from scriptsn- TV advertising you know cost millions but you ignore itn- Junk mailn-u00a0Website popups and banner adsn- Misleadingu00a0complicated small printn- Demos using smoke and mirrorsnnSome entrepreneurs are happy to cast ethics aside so long as the money comes in.u00a0But more often itu2019s laziness or lack of marketing expertise that makes marketing stink.nGood Marketing is NOT DirtySellers have goods and services to offernA market is a place where buyers and sellers come togethernBuyers need something u2013 typically they have a problem they are trying to solve.What a marketer should be doing is bringing the buyer and seller together- Helping the buyer find the best solutionu00a0for their needs- Helping the seller make as much profit as they cannGoal of MarketingMarketingu2019s goal is to maximize profitability for the seller. u201cGoodu201d marketing is strategic and considers the full customer lifetime value. Instead of cheating or tricking buyers in the short-term, u201cgoodu201d marketing delivers happy customers who will be your advocates, providing references, referrals, and invaluable feedback for the long-term. So u201cgoodu201d marketing is good business.

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