To market, to market, to make sales that are big.
Home again, home again, jiggelty-jig.
What happens when I get home, jiggelty-jig? Do I just take off my marketer’s hat and the “me” comes back? Or has the “me” been affected by my involvement in marketing?
This blog post isn’t our standard “How Do I SEO?” article, despite the similarity in the way the title starts. It’s a reflection on the negative emotional and psychological effect that I think marketing has on me and anyone else in the business. You won’t find practical tips here – but you may find some food for thought. If you’re interested, read on.
Given #1 that I’m starting with here is that human beings have the potential for infinite depth – emotional, psychological, spiritual depth. Given #2 is that it is a value – if not one of the ultimate values – to develop that depth.
I find myself at a trade conference. At a trade conference, you have to network. That’s why you’re there. So you ready yourself with your pitch that you’ll hand out like a business card (and it’s probably the preemptive strike to “Do you want my business card?”). You’ll get lots of times to say it, because everyone’s first question to you is “So, what do you do?” Every time it happens, I give my line, something along the lines of “I help website owners increase their online business – either by doing it for them or by teaching them how to do it by themselves.” And my networking partner says, “Oh really? I do business coaching, enabling businesspeople to be more productive and make their time their own.” “Oh, very nice.” And then we proceed to have a conversation which consists of either subtly trying to impress the other with how professional, savvy and in-the-know we are, or of subtly trying to get information out of the other. And thus the conference continues – sessions, lunch, after-conference mingling. I meet lots of people, have lots of conversations, come away with lots of business cards and Twitter handles scribbled on the back of my session notes.
I met lots of marketing pitches with human faces on them. Did I meet any humans – the way the value of a human being is defined? Was I a human being? Or was I also a marketing pitch with a face?
The more I do this, the more it becomes ingrained. The more I act like a marketing pitch, the more that defines me.
One of the popular marketing recommendations now is “Be authentic. Be real.” That sounds good. But if “my realness” is part of my marketing plan, is it real? Or is it a mask of authenticity? Or was it based on realness but it became shallower once I had to market it? Did it get cut off from the inner depth from which it stemmed? And do I even know the difference any more?
You can’t market depth. If you can say it in two sentences or less, it’s not depth. If you can expose it to every person you come into contact with, it’s not depth. In fact, even if it was deep, once you expose it, bring it up, spread it out before everyone – it’s shallow now.
Some people just can’t market their authentic selves. If you are a contemplative person who thinks a lot before you say something – well, that doesn’t Twitter too well. So you’ll have to take on a persona, slip on a marketing mask of “contemplative – but outgoing and interactive and shares all her contemplations.” If you spend all day tweeting like that, who do you feel you are? “@DeepContemplativeTweeter?”
Even if you naturally have the gift of charisma and smooth, flowing interaction with anyone under the sun – is that all you are? Is that as deep as you get? What about the rest of you? The part that not many people see? Should you expose that on social media? The more authenticity the better, no?
It’s a catch-22, in both of the examples above. If you make any part of you that is truly deep part of your “marketing of my authenticity,” you’re bringing the depths of the well up into the sunlight – and then the well’s not deep anymore. If you don’t and save it for yourself, but you’re still spending the majority of your day marketing yourself with your “authentic” mask, how long will it take before you primarily identify with the mask? After all, it’s real, no?
This wasn’t a marketing pitch for the perfect solution to help you with this issue. I don’t have the perfect solution. The only thing I can think of is to be aware. Be aware of what you’re doing when you speak to other people in any context relating to “what do you do.” Think about how it’s impacting on your self-perception.
May we succeed in working as marketers but becoming people of depth.
If you agree or disagree with any of these points, or have any thoughts of your own on the topic – let’s continue the discussion in the comments below.