Why Don’t Marketers Have a Mantra?

Everyone else has a mantra. Sales people have ‘always be closing’. Boy scouts have ‘always be prepared’.

Why can’t we have one?

Probably because marketers would never be able to agree on one. There’d be a lot of brainstorming sessions. A lot of white boarding and wire framing.

But no mantra.

Well, I’m putting one out there. Here’s my vote:

Always be producing.

Clearly this is borrowed. But for good reason.

The sales mantra is effective because it reminds the sales person what their primary activity should be.

At any point in a conversation with a prospect, they should be pushing the sales conversation towards the close.

What’s the primary activity of a marketer? The one thing we should always be doing? The activity we should default to when we’re not sure what to do next?

Producing content.

Content is the currency of marketing. When we’re producing content, we’re doing our work. And when we’re not, something is amiss.

The nature of marketing, and the role it plays in any organization, makes it easy to get caught up in excessive planning and deliberation.

But the rubber only hits the road when something tangible is produced. I know from my experience, I’d be a much better marketer if I produced something more often.

Passion is for Amateurs

“The people who started Staples didn’t do it because they love office supplies. They did it because they love organizing and running profitable retail businesses. They love hiring and leasing and telling a story that converts prospects into customers. Postits are sort of irrelevant.”
Seth Godin

It’s an irresistible proposition.

Follow your passion and you’ll somehow stumble across money, happiness, and eternal fulfillment.

Of course, “what you’re passionate about” is almost never “what you’re doing”.

It’s a trap.

Following your passion, or any other elusive emotion, is a surefire way to confuse yourself and waste lots of time.

But it’s a mantra that has become incredibly popular.

We celebrate, even envy, the guy with a family of 5 who quits his job to launch a startup out of his garage.

It’s a great story when it works. Not so much when the kids go hungry.

If you hate your job but you’re sticking with it because of the medical benefits, it might be a story you need to hear.

But for the rest of us, it’s destructive.

It gives us a reason to not do our work. It distracts us with the idea that there’s something else we should be doing. Instead of doing what’s in front of us.

That’s what separates the amateur from the professional.

The amateur looks for passion. The professional creates it.

What Not To Do When Your Project Goes Terribly Wrong

There’s no escaping it. Disaster and crisis flock to great projects like moths to a flame. The greater the project, the more dramatic.

It’s guaranteed. If you’re stretching yourself and doing great work — there will be a point where everything comes crashing down in front of you.

When it happens, not doing the following will help you escape the debacle with your head on straight:

  1. Don’t act surprised. It will happen. It happens in every project. And it happens to everyone. You’re not special enough to be the exception. So get over your astonishment quickly and deal with it.
  2. Don’t be dramatic. It’s usually never as bad as you think it is. Even if it’s really bad. We tend to exaggerate the implications of a crisis to the tune of the emotional significance of the project. If you brain tells you it’s a 10, it’s probably a 7.
  3. Don’t look for a quick fix. Chances are the crisis didn’t come out of nowhere. It was probably a long time coming — and deep down you knew it was coming. If you’re only worried about cleaning up the immediate mess, how do you know it won’t happen again?

Here’s the thing: for a project, a crisis is like a mild fever. It’s your project telling you that’s something’s not quite right and you need to address it before it gets worse.

If you take heed, you can correct course.

The alternative is failure.

The Placebo of Coffee


I finally got the chance to sit down and read (most of) Seth Godin’s latest ebook on placebos.

The basic premise of the book is that placebos work. Not only in medicine, but in marketing too.

In marketing, placebos are induced by stories. The right story can actually enhance our enjoyment of a product.

Seth uses of the example of the sommelier in a restaurant. You can buy a bottle of wine from the store for half the price you’ll pay in a restaurant. But the experience created by the sommelier is worth paying for. Same product, different experience.

I don’t drink wine. So I didn’t really get it. Until I brewed my afternoon cup of coffee.

I recently bought a subscription to The Roasters Pack — a monthly subscription service that delivers three coffees from different roasters every month.

The cup I brewed this afternoon was from a roaster I’d never heard of: Monigram Coffee Roasters in Cambridge, ON.

On the bag, there was a quote from the roaster that read:

“We get a very clean finish on this coffee. Just a gorgeous rich cup that changes its composition as it cools.”
— Graham Braun, Owner/Roaster

With just a few well-placed words, my cup of coffee was given a story.

I noticed the clean finish. The rich cup. The changing composition as it cooled. I could literally feel the placebo effect doing its work.

Before today, I didn’t know a thing about Monigram Coffee Roasters. I had no reason to be inclined toward the coffee.

And whether or not the cup actually was clean, rich, or anything else — that simple story was enough to kick in the placebo effect and dramatically improve its chances of making an impression on me.

Now I get it.