A Shocking Revelation About Your Marketing

Why Most Marketing Sucks

I can’t tell you how often I see entrepreneurs whose marketing hits me (and I’m sure their prospects) like a blunt object. They reach into their toolbox of tactics and pull out a template, swipe some copy stick it all together and voila!


Advertising legend David Ogilvy once said,

“The customer isn’t a moron. She is your wife! You insult her intelligence if you assume that a mere slogan and a few vapid adjectives (or a bunch of ready-made marketing tactics) will persuade her to buy anything.”

People instinctively know when a marketer is trying to manipulate them with simple tactics. The alarms in their internal BS meters start blaring like crazy. And of course, they react appropriately.

Beating them over the head with tactics (persuasion or otherwise) isn’t marketing and will not carry the day.

And to me that is what’s at the heart of most people’s misunderstanding of marketing. They want to shortcut their way to marketing tactics without actually understanding its definition.

A Brief A-D-D Tangent

I’d like to go on a random ADD tangent for a second. (But pay attention anyway!)

Definitions in any field of study are incredibly important.

The way you master any area of knowledge, including marketing, is by mastering its definitions.

Most people don’t have clear definitions of things. And because they don’t, it means they also can’t think clearly.

But once you do, you can start thinking the way you need to think. And start reviewing what you need to review in order to use that knowledge like a master.

If you don’t have a well thought out definition of marketing, that’s a problem.

You need one. You don’t need to agree with my or anyone else’s definition, but you need a definition because…

The Other Reason Marketing Fails

Your definition of marketing has to be clear and precise because it also guides your actions. That means it determines, in large part, how potentially effective your marketing can be.

So what is your definition of marketing? Take some time to write it down and “Cocktail Napkin” it. (Summarize your whole definition so it fits on a cocktail napkin.)

And then share it below.

If you’re willing to take this little exercise on, I’ll bet you’re going to see something shocking.

You’re going to see how tightly your responses to my last post are tied to (and maybe even limited by) the quality of the definition you operate from.

Try it out. And let me know what you find out!

That’s it for now. But stay tuned! In Monday’s post I’m going to…

  • Share my definition of marketing…
  • Give you the answer to the question I asked on Wednesday and…
  • Announce the winners of this little contest.

Don’t miss it!

23 thoughts on “A Shocking Revelation About Your Marketing”

  1. The definition of marketing is: Process of focusing prospects desires into demand for your solution, to get more people to buy more stuff, more often, for more money, Marketing connects your prospect with your solution, And it helps prospects realize that what you offer fulfills their desires.

  2. Hi Rich,

    My definition of marketing is effectively presenting my product or service in a manner that shows it advantages and benefit driven qualities over my competition in order for the customer to make an informed and pleasurable buying experience ( and never once had to consult my dictionary 🙂 )

    ind regards

  3. Marketing is the process of spreading corn on the ground so the ducks flying by will land, and get their feet stuck in the glue under the corn, so Sales can get them… the only trick is having the delicious corn and a glue that makes them stick around.

    • ^_^

      Eli Goldratt… He was so funny when he delivered this definition.

      “Sales, shooting a sitting duck….but, if you miss they not gonna be a sitting anymore…That’s why good marketing is like putting glue on the feet of sitting ducks so you get all the time you need to get them!” – Paraphrased

      • Exactly! It was a refreshing take on Marketing – I’d known his Theory of Constraints from my work in manufacturing, and was very impressed with his later work showing its use in marketing and education! I still use his techniques on a daily basis. And that definition is what I teach all my clients and coaching students. The image is priceless.

  4. My Definition of Marketing: Reaching those that require my services or products in way that influences them to take action to secure these believing that what I have best fulfils their needs and desires above all others

  5. My favorite definition of marketing comes from Eugene Schwartz. When I read it for the first time I was blown away—literally. I had to put the book down because it changed everything…

    Here is the definition I use…


    To direct and channel the hopes, dreams, desires and fears that already exist in the hearts of millions of people onto your product or service.

    This definition seems relevant for religions, mass movements, politics, cults, and business. It takes the focus off of the “marketer” and what he does… and keeps the focus on what matters most—the market we’re trying to serve and influence.

    Now that we have an idea of marketing, we also need to address the definition for “sales.”

    It seems the two get confused all the time. I would say it is the main reason why most “marketing” out there is just a pitch to “buy my stuff” or “buy more of my stuff…I’m better than the next guy, trust me” An explicit call to action that the market sees is all about the marketer.

    Let’s capture it with a story…

    Imagine we’re all at Joe Sent Me, the bar in North Cambridge. I walk in 30 minutes late with a cheesy smile on my face… All the guys don’t know what to make of it…

    My best friend on the other hand knows… I’ve been talking to this girl Andrea for a couple of weeks, and I was with her before heading to hang out with the guys.

    Now, I’m sure you can guess why I had the cheesy grin on my face…

    I see Sales as the process of “sealing the deal” – “closing the sale” – getting someone to give us money, influence, or take a desired action.

    Marketing is the process of building trust, influence, and the respect to make sealing the deal an appropriate next step.

    In the case of Andrea, this would be getting to know her while not being to much of a creep.

    to recap…

    Marketing: The process of tapping into the hearts of your marketplace and positioning your product/service as the knight in shining armor who can help (i.e. solve their problem, make them feel better, make them feel safe…etc)

    Sales: The process of sealing the deal. Turning them into clients, or true believers in the case of a movement.

  6. BeLoved Miracles to You and Yours from Norway!
    Great post and responses thanks one and all. Definition we learned from you Rich still “rings:”

    Marketing is that which makes selling superfluous.

    It continues to serve us well, thanks for the reminder!

  7. I think marketing is about helping people satisfy an emotion. Either obtain a positive or evade a negative emotion. It seems to be what everyone wants: To have more or to avoid having less; to either feel great or to not feel bad 🙂

  8. This has been a really fun conversation. Based on the quality of this pre-framing, I’m guessing the insights Rich is going to share will be awesome.

    I prefer Josh Kaufman’s definition of marketing: “Attracting attention and building demand for what you’ve created.” (& just like Rich said, it does line up with my comment before – lol)

    For the question, many of us assumed that we already had the attention of the prospect in our answers… maybe we shouldn’t have?

    I don’t know. But my curiosity is certainly ramped up to see where this is going…

    Thanks Rich!

  9. Heeey Rich…the best and most concise definition I’ve ever heard on Marketing came from you…so here it goes…

    “MARKETING is Bringing the Market to DESIRE your Product or Service”

    But before I heard this definition and (I’ve read a lot of marketing material)…In my own world I’ve always understood it this way “Marketing = Serving” or another way I translate it is “Evangelizing Customers With Passion” but that would be rather vague for people to understand but it is how I conceptualize it in my own unique way. And if you’ve ever met anyone who knows me the majority are predisposed to doing business with me because they Feel SERVED. And to me the BEST Marketing is always SERVING the Customer and leaving the Great Feeling of being SERVED. Even when it means providing something the Customer never even imagined they needed. Because the reality often is…that most Customers don’t even know what they need. So in a world where they don’t know what they need or Never imagined what they needed…there are no target markets. In those cases we are Creating the Markets out of thin air and finding a way to SERVE the needs of the Prospect or Customer. I owe most of the empathic intuitive aspects of Marketing to my blind Great Grandmother who never had an education but only knew about Marketing from having to meet the Needs of others. She passed this on to me…Marketing = SERVING. When your Market is not buying it’s always because you’re Not SERVING. If you are not SERVING that means you are not aware of the needs of your Prospect or Customer or you don’t care about their needs.

  10. Hi Rich,

    Marketing is “Making You WANT What You don’t NEED”
    at least in one way,
    On the other way, Advanced Marketing has two main categories:
    1. The little SMART guy, who gives you a present at present, lets you enjoy it, and asks you for donation in a smart way like: “What if we would meet on the street? Would you invite me for a beer, or a caffee (or whatever he likes) or are you on higher budget able to support my engineering process? (Dominik Reichl for example, thanks a lot!)
    2. The Big Guys like Adidas, Amazon, Associated Press, The New York Times or Norton. They built a Brand that sells like crazy no matter if they are really the best or not (mostly yes).
    I belong to neither one: I am a small fish who surely knows he would be a dead fish one day, but in the hope of living a long life fulfilling the desires of my clients, and surviving with a people-centered attitude.

  11. “Marketing is creating an environment where people want to buy”, I admit this definition is not my invention but it always comes to my mind whenever someone is asking me this question, Rich. Actually I am violating this definition sometimes in order to … shortcut. And, worse still, sometimes the shortcuts work. But rarely for a long time and – another point: they are not satifying for me.

  12. Hey everyone… Just wanted to chime in here. These are some great definitions. Can you see how your definition shapes or influences the way you do your marketing? DOES your definition shape or influence your marketing? Think about it!

  13. Peter Drucker had some pearls of wisdom on this subject “Because the purpose of business is to create a customer, the business enterprise has two–and only two–basic functions: marketing and innovation. Marketing and innovation produce results; all the rest are costs. Marketing is the distinguishing, unique function of the business.” To me marketing is everything that you do and it all comes down to how you create and keep a customer.

    • Great Point…

      Often when working with clients they have their processes built, products/services ready to go, and employees to handle fulfillment. They have almost everything except a clear idea of how “everything” fits into a message people will respond to…Most of the time, we need to rethink the service/product offering…Either how it is positioned, or the specific hook clients connect to, or the segment to target…

      The discussion would revolve around trying to find a market segment that fits the service/product.

      I believe it is important for marketing to be involved throughout the business operations.
      The way customer support works, product development, training material, client facing material, offers, company policies, ordering procedures, everything… The majority of opportunities I find in a business come from working in different sections of a company (i.e. having a marketing minded person looking at the situation).

      It makes the marketing and sales part a whole lot easier because we’ve gone about things the “right” way.

      First, Identify a need/desire …. then, create product or service to fill the desire in a unique way

      Instead of what I run into when people ask me for help…
      They’ve already created the product/service and now they are trying to figure out the need it fills in the marketplace or how to reach a specific segment in the marketplace…

      We can get both situations to work; but, molding a market to match a product is much harder than molding a product to match a market….

  14. Marketing in it’s essence is the means in which you communicate as a business to your existing or potential clients/customers. How you communicate with the different sectors of your market is the key to marketing.

  15. Marketing is everything you do in order to
    1. Attract a prospect who already badly needs or badly wants a solution to their problem
    2. Convert that prospect into a first time buyer (client) of your product/service
    3. Ethically exploit the lifetime value of that client. (fleece their wallet like a demon lover…Muhahaha)

    No. Seriously, in case anyone believed the last part – you never know !! – you need to give more value than the money they pay you. In the end I think that’s more fulfilling for both parties.

  16. Marketing is what turns prospects into excited, hungry and loyal clients who want what you have to offer without you having to sell them, because you have uniquely flipped a switch in relation to their problem, which makes them feel enlightened, empowered and able to achieve what before seemed impossible,


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