This is Marketing in the Real World

by | Mar 19, 2024 | Marketing, Updates

I’m trying to teach businesses how marketing works in the real world.

I’ve been involved in some kind of marketing at pretty much every point for the last quarter of a century—which kind of makes me contemplate my own mortality, but whatever.

For about half that time, I ran a marketing agency that worked with everything from mom-and-pop startups to Fortune 500 companies. I eventually sold that agency to a larger international agency and then went in-house for various companies. For the past several years, I’ve been the chief marketing officer for a technology company.

That keeps me pretty busy, so why am I bothering to do this?

Well, I have a lot of friends who run small and mid-sized businesses, and most of them do it without ever having had any education or training or expertise in how to do marketing.

I think marketing is the thing that’s going to save the world; I don’t know if anything else can actually do it. I believe small businesses have a huge role in how that plays out. As corporations grow and grow, they become so large that they become detached from any real human interest and exist solely to grow their own numbers. I personally believe that our economy and the world in general would be a lot better off with a much more robust layer of small and midsize businesses finding success and driving the market, instead of everything being dominated by huge corporations because of the radical efficiencies they can find.

The main problem, of course, is that small businesses are typically run by people who only have a smattering of knowledge of how to do all the different things required to run a business, with marketing being one of the big ones. Major corporations can put tremendous brainpower and expertise toward marketing; they know how to do it—it’s a solved problem.

My goal—which might be unrealistic—is to take the caliber of marketing that happens in big corporations and bring that to small businesses.

I’m not talking about huge budgets, Super Bowl ads, and complicated campaigns. I’m talking about perspective, experience, understanding, and knowing what marketing really is, how it really works, and how to really move a market.

This is crucial because it’s one of the key things that keeps small businesses down and giant corporations successful. A small business could have the best offering in the market, but a giant corporation will have the marketing prowess to just leapfrog right past them. They will be the ones that say all the right things, that you see all the time, whose ads resonate with you and connect with you on a visceral and emotional level—not because they’re better, but because nobody taught the small business owner how to do it.

So that’s what I’m planning to do.

The challenge, of course, is that I’m going to say things that are different from what small business owners are used to hearing. This isn’t about how to “hack SEO” or “get more followers on Instagram.” This is the actual marketing stuff. This is about taking a huge audience of people and moving them toward your business, helping them see that yours is the right solution for them.

And that’s going to be a big hurdle for small business owners looking for a silver bullet, something they can throw money or time at and have it magically work. But for those willing to take that leap, it’s not far-fetched that this could significantly increase their revenue.

Getting small business marketing to perform closer to the level of big corporations is how we change the market. It’s how we shift how well they compete versus those giant companies, and it’s how we bring a much-needed human element back to the economy and our everyday lives. Small and midsize business owners still understand this; they haven’t forgotten it the way large corporations have.

Marketing really isn’t that complicated. The longer I do it, the more I realize it’s made of just a few fundamental principles. But it took me a long time to understand those principles, and a lot of them are either counterintuitive or run contrary to common prevailing wisdom.

The things you learned in marketing class very well may have been written by academics with little connection to marketing in the real world. Those very eloquent public speakers are often focused on saying what sounds good and makes them very quotable, more than they are about the nuts and bolts of what happens every day in a business. And even when you talk to other business owners, it’s hard to separate out practical, applicable knowledge from luck and random anecdotes.

So my goal with this initiative is to take a quarter century of marketing experience and inject it into the brains of small and mid-sized business owners to help them be as successful as I know they could be if they just understood these things.

If that’s something you’re into, keep reading.

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