The Marketing Dilemma
Look, I know you came here looking for a marketing company but we can’t offer you that! In fact, we want to offer you the exact opposite of that: Not Marketing.
Well, it’s not the exact opposite. It’s more like a reformulation of the thing that marketing did into something it can and should do. There are already plenty of markets. These are known. In fact, they’re known very bloody well. With online marketing becoming more and more sophisticated, and big data coming into its own, the use of marketing, segmenting and targeting groups of people is essentially in a state of overkill.
Massive teams of people, huge budgets, disruptive companies getting disrupted by the next. Marketing is happening big time. And married with the principle of competition it means that there is an enormous mound of human creativity and potential being spent competing for… clicks.
Let’s try something different?
It’s a shame that that enormous energy from humans is going into something as vacuous as clicks and conversions. We want to try and take this heady landscape and bring it back down to the heart and guts. How else can we use that human potential? Can we direct it towards a higher purpose while still making sure that we have significant profit to move towards that purpose. Could we use it to make sure our planet doesn’t die? Or that people lead happier, healthier, or more meaningful lives?
What we’re essentially talking about here is purpose marketing (I’ve included that phrase in here to take care of SEO – no need to throw the whole baby out with the bathwater). We’d like to steer companies towards a higher calling that helps people and planet, while offering the previous tools of marketing to do that. But it’s not really marketing because we don’t want to use the construct of “markets” as the thing we work with. We more see the thing we work with as purpose itself. We look for purposes and we find ways to make them happen, and part of that can be creating visibility (what marketing does too) and creating time (what marketing automation does). But we also want to create more truth – what does your organisation really want to do beyond just bringing in capital? People don’t wake up in the morning to make capital (well, not us anyways), and if they say they do then they’re not being wholly truthful with themselves. So, at the moment we can say that we’re purposing. Maybe we’ll call it something different soon – who knows! But the essence is we’re making larger, more meaningful things happen, using profit as fuel.
Another way of reframing this is that we want to shift focus from zero-sum games to positive-sum games. Marketing is traditionally zero-sum, which means that I win at the expense of you. Some of this competition is good but when overused it leads to a huge waste of energy. We want to move to working on positive-sum games. What are the larger purposes that unite people, and which previously competing businesses actually share? Why does a physiotherapist need to compete with a chiropractor or osteopath? They share the same goal – to heal people. Can we organise around that so that we all win?
Can we change up how we do things please?
In amongst all of this there’s some other stuff I got beef with and that I no longer want to do. I think each needs a bit of space so maybe I’ll make a longer article soon but for now, here’s a list:
- Treating people like sheep to be herded, or game to be hunted. This is dehumanising!
- Treat people like numbers. It’s reductive and removes you from the essence of what’s actually happening “on the ground”.
- Marketing just to bring in sales. But why? What can the new sales ultimately enable you to accomplish?
- Following marketing practices just because they exist. I mean, am I the only one who has a problem with advertising directly into peoples’ inboxes? That crap is whack-sauce.
- Creating biased content or content only for keywords. Leads to distrust on the web. Net worse content.
- Leverage decent human drives in service of empty causes – e.g. “leverage storytelling to get a higher CTR”. Storytelling is awesome so use it for something meaningful, don’t besmirch it by tricking people into clicking an ad. NEVER BESMIRCH.
- Create tools that will just be used to sell more stuff. Again – why??
- Being deceitful in relations with people in business. This is pervasive and often encouraged but it feels bad for everyone involved.
- All the other forms of duplicity that come with business as usual. You know them!
- Use all those crappy buzzwords. You know these words too! They come out of your mouth before you realise it. Examples: Consumers, targeting, synergy, align, blaablaa.
- Using purpose as an afterthought in business. Purpose should lead, not be pasted over the drive to make profit.
- Focus on zero-sum games. Situations where only 1 person wins, at the loss of another. We need collaboration and shared wins.
What the actual France does this look like… practically?
Well that is a bloody good question. And the answer is: we don’t know yet! We have some ideas, such as Purpose-Lead Content. But the rest we’re still working out. But that’s ok! We know where we want to move, and something will form out of that.
Here are some initial thoughts on how we will do the marketing side differently:
- Purpose up front. We are going to use new social technologies to get at the purpose you and your whole organisation wants to move towards.
- Measuring 4 P’s rather than 1. We measure how we’re doing by whether we’re helping Purpose, People, Planet and Prosperity, rather than just profit. If one needs more TLC, then we help on that until another needs attention.
- Purpose-Lead Content. Content which is organised around a higher purpose, rather than just a tool to bring in more clicks.
- Less optimising, more sensing and reflecting. We are optimising too much. A small adwords account doesn’t need that much optimising as there’s not enough data to optimise on. Can we pull back the hours spent optimising and spend them on more out-of-the-box thinking that would be genuinely helpful for you and your organisation’s purpose?
- Less focusing on just what people want to hear, and more on what needs to be said. A lot of SEO is about finding the words people write in google and retrofitting content to those words. That’s fine to an extent. But only doing that flattens out creativity and makes you just a “Yes Man/Woman”, rather than actually guiding people to what’s true.
- More TLC! The human is being taken out of the modern business relationship, and we want to put that back in. We want to spend a little less time optimising, and a bit more time giving people the care and attention that’s needed.
- Giving! Giving feels good and is energising. We want to give in places that we can, no strings attached.
If you think this is something you’d like to be involved with, please get in touch with us! If you think it’s crazy – we’d also like to hear that.