Marketing is a Hardcore Disciplinarian – And It Does Not Take Lip Service

When you ARE the brand or work tightly with one it is often extremely difficult to look objectively at you own marketing.

If you are the brand (the face, the owner, creator or main marketing person) it can be nearly impossible to stop what you are doing, step outside of your brand fortress and take a long, hard look at your marketing. But you must.

There is this absolutely horrible phrase in El Salvador that when translated loosely meant “look really hard at this now” or maybe even “Mad dog stare at THIS!” However whenever you heard it you knew bad news was coming because what it really meant was “You see what happened was…”. And then they would outline all of the ways that what you wanted to happen, and what they promised you would happen, was in fact NOT going to happen now (or likely ever). It became a much-hated phrase uttered far too often in the two years we lived there.

However it does do a good job of catching your attention so here we go: Fijese que.

I just told you to stare hard at this right now! And I also implied that disaster was imminent but might be avoided.

For the last 10 years or so I have been the brand. I created it, nurtured it, built it and managed it. I was more than somewhat close, I was too often indistinguishable. I learned about 30 years worth of business and marketing experience in those years and amassed a massive treasure chest of sales and marketing strategies and tactics. I kept both the most successful and the biggest failures because failure is often where the best teachings lie. I have always failed fast and early and then leapt forward.

But one thing I found extremely difficult to do was look completely objectively at our marketing, branding and positioning. Of course I tried and even succeeded at times however it is extremely difficult to see the forest for the trees. Especially if you personally planted each and every tree and nurtured it to health. For the last several months I have had the remarkable experience of being the person who takes a long hard and critical look at your organization’s marketing and now I get to say: “I know you are doing marketing, but…” Fijese que!

Marketing is a discipline. It is a science buffered by art. It is an objective process built upon subjective ideas. And no matter how freaking awesome your marketing is it can be better. It can be tighter, more focused, better executed, slicker, more relevant, timely and topical and basically more disciplined. Let’s face it, most of us marketing professionals are practicing what I call RAM (Random Acts of Marketing). We know all the tactics we think we should be using and we try to use as many of them as we can. We throw everything at the wall and hope it sticks. (I think you know what substance tends to stick when you throw it at a wall)

So I do social strategy consulting for a boutique social marketing agency and now I get to look at an organization’s marketing from the outside with an ‘objective eye’. And it quite often ‘ain’t none too pretty’. I also have the luxury of studying the top experts and thought leaders in every category and totally absconding with their best ideas. Add to that getting to work with a wonderfully wide array of companies in varied industries and I have been re-reminded that marketing is a discipline.

Yes, the best marketing is often built around feelings and emotions, however it is always grounded in and executed based on the discipline of science. Not that science can make your next video viral but it can certainly improve its odds. To me the glorious and wonderful thing about marketing is that it contains so many technical sciencey data bits AND still abounds with magic and unicorn dust. I am continuously amazed when I work with a company how obvious their highlights and missing pieces are to me from the outside. I can look at the totality of their marketing, put it into a framework of ‘marketing as a discipline’ and hold it up against their objectives and easily see where the opportunities are.

“Opportunities” is one of those awesome marketing keywords that means the areas that you are NOT doing an amazing job in that you should be in order to accomplish your goals. This was NOT as clear when I was the brand. That ability to see objectively and see those key opportunities is one of the highlights of being the outside marketing guy.

Marketing is a hard disciplinarian but a loving boss.