We live in a world where our senses are constantly bombarded by someone or some company’s attempt at marketing. We cannot walk down the street without seeing storefronts screaming at us; we cannot drive across town without being accosted by billboards; we cannot watch our favorite show without seeing “product placement”; we cannot even check our social media accounts without ads showing up, popping up or coming right into our stream. Marketing is ubiquitous in our modern world. But, really, what is marketing, and why is it everywhere?
One definition of marketing in Merriam-Webster is “the process or technique of promoting, selling, and distributing a product or service” to the consumer. This basic definition has defined marketing throughout the ages; it’s the way that it has always been done. You can imagine the street vendor in ancient times hawking his fish as the freshest in the seven kingdoms, the smithy in King Arthur’s realm shouting that his special blend of polish will make your suit of armor the shiniest in the court, or the storefront owner in colonial times promising that his magical elixir will keep away demons in the night and freshen your breath! It seems that for as long as people have been selling and trading their wares, there has been someone involved in marketing, and it continues to this day.
It can be argued that to be successful in today’s crowded marketplace, the honest business owner must be involved in an entirely different type of marketing. Traditionally, marketing was thought of as simply advertising your product, in the hopes that everyone would want to make a purchase. However, to be truly successful, to develop a business that you are proud to call your own, you must be able to transcend the street vendor attitude and become your marketing. You must become the living aggregate of your marketing; the sum of all your efforts. Everything you do and everything you present to the world is your marketing. The product that you offer, the level of service that you provide, the life that you live are all incorporated into your marketing. The things that others notice about us: what we do and how we do it, that is marketing.
We all have an opportunity to present ourselves, through our marketing, to our potential clients. The choice we must make in our (business) lives is one of integrity. Do we choose to push onto our clients something that they don’t need or something that is not our best effort, simply to make the sale? Or do we design our company, design our career, design our life to be the best that it can be? Do we wish to create something transcendent; something that people would want to be associated with if they knew the truth about our intentions? Will we stoop to negative marketing: manipulative networking, yelling, screaming and spamming our way to success? Or do we want to do something that has lasting impact; weaving a story, building a group or developing a product that has meaning and can facilitate a positive change in someone’s life?
In our modern world, everyone has access to social media, and everyone is their own network: broadcasting their observations to all who will listen. Whether by you or by the people that you encounter in your daily life, everything that you do is being broadcast for all the world to see. So, regardless of your intentions, you are always marketing yourself, your values and your business. Awareness of and control over this fact can be the most influential thing that you can do to help ensure the success of your efforts.
Take control of your business, your life and your future success: be your marketing.
* This post was inspired by a TED talk given by author, entrepreneur, marketer and public speaker Seth Godin. For more info on him and his work, simply Google “Seth”.
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