Why I Stopped Calling Myself A Marketing Guy

And why that was one of the best marketing decisions I’ve made.

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For the record — I am a marketer. But that means different things to different people. To me, marketing is a near-sacred discipline that encompasses everything from the engineering behind product development, onboarding experiences, sales processes, promotion, logistics of getting a product from point a to point b, and anything else that comes along with getting more people buying more more often.

Marketing is the umbrella that covers sales, branding, creative, product development, packaging, feature development, user engagement, retention, and so much more.

For most, marketing means advertising. Marketing is something that you do when the product team has built something and now they’re ready to sell it.

Branding means logos.

This was how a typical introduction would go.

Person: “Hey, what do you do?”

Me, with the various explanations I’ve had for the same thing: “I own a marketing company.”

or

“I have a marketing accelerator for mid to late stage startups.” or, just about any combination of explanations.

Person: “Oh cool, so you do social media?”

or

“Oh nice, yeah my friend does PPC, too.”

or

“Nice, well I’ve actually been looking for someone to build me a new website. Do you do that?”

I became incredibly frustrated. Why don’t people see it the way that I do!?

Then I realized…It’s not their job to know what marketing is. It’s mine; and the fact that I wasn’t effectively explaining that to them in a short conversation meant that I was underperforming as a marketer.

By positioning myself as a marketer, I subjected myself to people’s presuppositions of what a marketer does.

I have always chosen to focus on being a builder rather than a tool guy. If you are looking to build a house, you don’t seek out a “hammer guy”. You seek out the best builder you can, and reasonably assume that they know how to use the tools that are necessary.

If you are looking to build and scale a business, you shouldn’t seek out a “social guy,” or a “ppc guy”. You should seek out somebody who is the best business builder. But the market doesn’t view marketing in that capacity.

And that’s okay.

Business owners want a hole drilled. They don’t actually care what drill you use.

They might think they should try this new chatbot thing or Facebook ads or this whole SEO thing because they found someone online that has found success. But their ultimate objective is to sell more product.

Marketers are supposed to, at the end of the day, move the needle in a profitable, systematic manner. It doesn’t matter what tools they use, as long as that objective is accomplished.

If LeBron has a weak hamstring, then he can’t perform at the level at which he is now. The job of the trainer is to assess the entire body and make sure it is ready for competition. That is the role of a marketer.

Not calling myself a marketer does not negate my efficacy as a marketing professional. It bypasses the presuppositions that my demographic inevitably holds about the practice.

What barriers are you consistently trying to bypass? What in your business could be altered to get around that? What have you accepted as unchangeable based on principle?

I’d love to hear about them.