Marketing is not about the marketer

By Tomás H. Lucero

It’s not your fault that sometimes you miss the forest for the trees. Really, it’s not. It’s quite natural, actually. It happens in marketing all of the time. Before us, we have myriad options on how to go about our job of marketing a certain product or service. It’s almost impossible not to get lost in the forest of marketing trends as we work on figuring out the best way to market something. In her article “Taking marketing back to its roots,” at, Liz Papagni reminds us that “while the way we market has changed, the reason why we market has not.” In doing so, Papagni does the important work of putting perplexed marketing minds back on solid ground by reminding us what the art is all about at its core.

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In Papagni’s view, marketing is about relationships. “It always has been and always will be about getting to know your client, not selling yourself outright,” she writes.

Papagni goes on to remind us that our ego can get in the way when we begin to believe that a marketing campaign is all about you. You know? You, the brilliant mind behind the brilliant marketing plan which never gets off the ground because it must be perfect.

Papagni quotes the American Marketing Association’s definition of marketing to illustrate her point. “The process for creating, communicating, delivering, and exchanging offerings that have value for clients, partners, and society at large,” reads the AMA’s dictionary entry. In Papagni’s view, this definition “suggests that the winner here is not the marketer, but the client.” And that the client wins when she gets access to the tools and ideas for their success. “When you scratch their back, they’ll eventually scratch yours,” states Papagni.

In the Information Age, it’s crossed people’s minds that marketing is actually dead. Consumers have information at their fingertips. This is simply not true. The internet has only changed how we market and how people interact with brands. Instead of marketing itself dying, what is dying are past forms and tools of marketing, according to Papagni. “What’s dying are the old, inflexible marketing systems and channels that are too rigid, take too long to measure, and are simply not cost effective.”

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For Papagni, “permission marketing” is the modern way. “It’s the idea that consumers are more open to messages when they invite the marketer to interact with them, rather than being attacked from all sides,” writes Papagni.

In dating, a potential partner measures what you will bring to the relationship and uses that evaluation to decide whether to schedule another date. Marketing entails creating this same dynamic. Through a coordinated and intelligent effort—your marketing plan—you court the potential customer with tidbits about how your product or service will solve something essential in their life. According to Papagni, a company only survives by continually building and nurturing relationships.

So yeah, get intimate.

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