A simple question, right?
Yet, this creates a complexity greater than the atoms that bind the universe.
No, I’m not being facetious. It’s a genuine question.
I find myself asking this every time I open social media and see the leftovers from the chunders of ‘snackable’ bites from those proprietors of the original thoughts of leadership.
Honestly, I’ve lost count of the number of ‘No shit, Sherlock’ moments.
But maybe I’m missing something.
Marketing by definition is ‘the part of a business which controls the way that goods and services are sold.’ (Collins English Dictionary Reference Edition)
But marketing is contextual. Isn’t it?!
Marketing is a channel.
Marketing is a campaign.
Marketing is a hack.
Marketing is Cupid.
Marketing is a tweet.
The truth is if you go by the current dogma, you would be hard-pressed to not conclude that no one has a bloody clue.
It’s like marketing has become defined by the limitations of perspectives, rather than the discipline itself.
We have become fascinated with the short term. Putting our eggs in one basket. Forgetting the bigger picture or finding it too much to digest as a snack. Like the entities that will always play their part – free will.
For those with any kind of formal training, we’re silenced by those who shout the loudest. Playing on the emotions and aspirations of a fugazi that marketing can change the world through a hashtag.
‘Blah, blah, blah.’
Yes, we may struggle to rationalise with these individuals, but it’s easy to become stunned into disbelief by the rhetoric our peers consume. They seek it. They crave it. They believe it.
Decades of academic study has been reduced to 280 characters, and unless you buzzword your way onto a stage, no one’s listening.
It’s easy to become disheartened. Frustrated. Even resulting in questioning your knowledge and place in the universe.
The rationale of building a personal brand is no longer about the quality of your work or the respect you show to colleagues and customers, it’s about the statuses you write.
The content you share. The likes you generate. That’s power. That’s one for the eulogy.
Substance is lost. Vanity is king.
The challenge we face is the bullshit sword used to split customers from their money, which has been used against us. It’s penetrated our minds. We believe it’s ‘just this one thing’.
Maybe we should have heeded the warning of ‘live by the sword, die by the sword.
Generations are defined by the Greek alphabet, and not through the experiences prescribed by the rich tapestry of life. We’ve forgotten that as we grow, so does our thinking and perspectives.
We live in a world where we fall for the words and forget the actions. Cheap and convenient is what we want, but we’ll tell you we want brands to be superheroes saving the world.
We believe what we read without question online. Yet, we’ll question those who have done the work. Opinion over fact. Every time.
For those starting out, it’s a realisation that the gap between theory and practice is ever-widening.
What first seems like common sense, soon becomes clear that it’s not very common. It becomes leverage in an ever-growing game of who has the most eyes balls and clicks.
A frustration for those working in the very institutions and individuals who are desperate for the 20,000+ word doc to be condensed into 280 characters.
‘Ain’t nobody got time for that.’
Career tip: if you want to get ahead, rebrand existing theory and you’ll be set for life.
Truth is, marketing is broad. That’s the whole point ‘…controls the way that goods and services are sold.’
There’s more than one way.
New technology has allowed an expansion in specialisms due to the complexity that now comes with each channel and tool. But we mustn’t be fooled into thinking that the dominance and perseverance of manipulating algorithms and building communities are enough to conquer all.
It’s two pieces of the puzzle.
Nor should we be disillusioned that one person can do it all. We wouldn’t expect a bricklayer, to also be the architect, electrician, landscaper, plumber, plasterer, interior designer and carpenter.
And if we do, you better have the cheque book ready.
Generalists and specialists will continue to ‘discuss’, their place in the marketing universe. Their relevance and importance of their particular set of skills.
For some, a one-man-band agency is their forte, for another, their worst nightmare.
The beauty of marketing is that, by its very nature, it’s a broad discipline. A profession. Certified. The how and why a business does what it does. We are the shapers.
It’s the product.
It’s the promotion.
It’s the place.
It’s the price.
We can recite the models. But we need to apply the theory. Use them as the workable tools as they were originally intended. That’s how we convince those in the power of its relevance from every context.
We have to demonstrate our value, our breadth of knowledge. To our internal critics, just like we do to our external ones.
We’re talented. There’s space for everyone.
If you’re the conductor, then you have to understand the value each musician brings. Don’t sacrifice the elegance of the melody for the temptation of adding an extra beat.
The more we double down on one particular aspect, the more we taint our vision.
Yet, with a little bit of respect and understanding, we can realise the strategy, the influencer connection, and that TikTok video, all plays their part.
We, all play our part.
Context is important. Understanding ‘why’ is crucial. And if you want to know what marketing is, open your mind to the possibility that there might be more puzzle pieces left in the box. You’ll discover a more vibrant, complete picture is possible.
What is marketing? It’s everything.
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