Good article. I enjoyed it.
I am no Marketing Expert, and Neither are You
Why keeping our egos in check helps both our clients and the industry.
Here’s some interesting information about a few professions we’ve all come to know.
Lawyers must pass a standardized bar exam after completing a set of courses from an accredited institute, then must adhere to rules and policies set out by their governing body, or risk losing their ability to practice.
Real estate agents must complete industry accredited courses and pass multiple exams in order to act on behalf of others in the buying and selling of homes. Like lawyers, an agent risks losing their licence if they do not adhere to a defined set of rules and policies.
A plumber must pass a set of courses from an accredited institution, become an apprentice, then pass an exam to get a licence. Plumbers who do not have a licence cannot get insurance, thus will have a hard time getting work.
A marketer can classify themselves as an expert, master, guru, or god-like giver of knowledge with the simple act of saying so. They answer to no one, can practice in any industry, and are bound by no industry rules or guidelines covering such things as ethics, conduct, or liability.
Now before you start pointing your finger at the screen in anger, lets keep two important things in mind: first I am a marketer and yes, I admit to not being obligated to follow any rules but my own. Second, for all the marketing associations that exist (over 20 US national associations that I know of), none of them make joining a prerequisite to being able to practice. None of them offer licences, and few if any operate together in ways that benefit the industry as a whole.
So what’s my point?
Some time ago I wrote an article for Biznik.com, a knowledge sharing site focused on small business. My article was somewhat controversial in that I made statements that, while many business owners were grateful to hear, many marketers did not agree with - with some even taking offence.
However after reading the comments posted by readers, I began to realize that all of them, both good and bad, were subjective. And in many ways, that is reflective of the marketing industry as a whole.
Unlike other industries like medicine and law, there are no predefined rules, standards, or definitions. In the field of marketing, terms such as social networking, guerrilla marketing, and marketing warfare are created by people with ideas - some original, others based on existing concepts. Those that support the creators of these ideas tend to latch on to the terms they invent.
And while some terms have made it into everyday use, others such as “duct tape marketing”, have simply become brands with no standard definition.
So is the marketing industry just another unregulated “wild west”? As a marketer I say no. But I do acknowledge it can look that way to any company looking for marketing advice.
Marketers are in the business of ideas. And the marketer with the best ideas usually experience the greatest success. Who decides what the best idea is? The client that asked for it.
Marketing is client driven. We cannot create our own business. If no one wants our services, we end up with a lot of free time. We are also only as good as our last job. As referrals are a big source of business for us, we must be focused on providing premium service before, during, and after the job is done.
And regardless of what names, terms, or jargon a marketer chooses to use, the goal is always the same: to help a client get more business.
As new marketing companies and consultants enter and leave their respective markets, Darwin’s philosophy of survival of the fittest keeps things in check. And I believe that is what keeps the marketing industry from being compared to the wild west.
As there is no governing body, we must freely share ideas with each other not as competitors, but as teammates. We must also become less dependant on terms and definitions and focus more on ideas and strategies.
So to those that reminded me that social marketing is a term created in the 1950’s, and thus cannot be used to describe how businesses use social networking, I would ask them to forget the definition and instead focus on the idea behind it. After all, it is ideas that benefit both marketers and their clients. And that is a definition for success I think we can all agree on.
Learn more about the author, Marc Gordon.
Comment on this article
Posted by Robert Muller, Seattle, Washington |
Mar 19, 2010
Posted by Julie Weishaar, Nanuet, New York |
Mar 20, 2010
Nice article Marc and interesting points made. In keeping to your word about sharing of ideas, check your Linkedin inbox for a message from me :)
Posted by Richard Gabel, Issaquah, Washington |
Mar 20, 2010
Another great article. You're right on with regard to the lack of standards and the ability for people to know who knows what. I have a degree in marketing, but I've never considered myself particularly gifted in the area. I've run a large marketing department and run several businesses. I never tried to play the role as the creative source. I do feel I can pick what will work and what won't when presented with several ideas.
The only time I do feel that I'm a creative genius is when I encounter one of the legions of people that are self anointed gurus. I wrote an article of the perils of these gurus -
Great marketers are a rare find and worth their weight in gold to the intrepid entrepreneur and large corporations alike.
Posted by Jayesh Khandor, Mumbai, Maharashtra India |
Apr 02, 2010
Hi Marc, Fantastic Article! What i like most about it is your words "we must freely share ideas with each other not as competitors, but as teammates." I am a great believer of this theory.
You rightly said we can be as good as our last job as only our work can speak for us.
i hope you will keep writing and i will keep following you.
A lot to learn for every one from this article.
Posted by Howard Howell, Seattle, Washington |
Apr 11, 2010
Marc... Thank you for another great thought provoking article.
As an Entrepreneurial Junkie with a Masters Degree from the School of Hard Knocks, and YES, my comment is subjective, (but tempered with experience), I agree with about 98% of your view points.
Helping a client get more business regardless of how we obtained our credentials IS the ultimate purpose of a Marketer, and we succeed or fail on the merits of our performance.
If we were constrained like the "regulated experts", in our creative art of ideas, we would be useless.
Before you write that new article, consider this.
I am not an SEO Expert but look what I did!
A couple of weeks back, a student in one of my classes challenged me when I proposed that anyone can get to be #1 in an organic Google search with a relevant keyword phrase and 10 minutes of effort.
I picked an obscure person who had never before marketed herself, and a pertinent business related 3 word phrase, and gave her 5 minutes of instruction. It took her about 5 more minutes to follow my instruction. Within 10 days she achieved #1 Google organic search placement.
Of course, it does take more effort to stay there for long under a relevant and competitive key word phrase. Two weeks have passed and she's still there.
I'm trying my best to keep my ego in check, but, wow, how can I best help small business owners understand that there is no need to spend big bucks for search and social marketing results?
Stay out of the ring, and keep your great posts coming. A new devoted fan. ...Howard
Posted by Deborah Rowell, Manchester, New Hampshire |
Apr 26, 2010
Congratulations Marc on that accomplishment. You ought to be proud!
This article is so well written and easy to read. I noticed other sites that put their domain name in the title also. I think it looks good on the listing.
After 8 months, my site is #2 on Yahoo and #4 on Bing. I know they're not the best, but still a welcome surprise. This morning, I did a straight up, no quotes search on Goggle and it came up on as #4 for my main keywords, creative gift ideas. That just doesn't account for the low traffic; only about 100/day and hoping for more.
I think the better rankings are due to creating back links to my site.
Thanks again, Deborah
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