How Are You a “Marketing Consultant” When You’re Not Even a Marketer?

How Are You a “Marketing Consultant” When You’re Not Even a Marketer?

I can?t put up with this nonsense anymore

Image for postImage licensed from Adobe Stock // master1305

Writing articles on Medium does not a marketer make. I don?t care how many Seth Godin books you?ve read or Gary Vee videos you?ve downloaded, if you?re not a practitioner, you are not a marketer. You are not a marketing expert because you?ve built your personal brand. If your first words aren?t who?s your customer and what data sets are you using, you?re not a marketer. If you don?t know the difference between brand, branding, and brand strategy, you?re not a marketer. Being a copywriter, albeit an excellent one, doesn?t make you a brand strategist. Writing about marketing trends doesn?t make you a marketer ? you?re a consumer giving an opinion on marketing.

End of story.

There?s a difference between saying ?this approach worked for me? versus ?here?s my strategy that will work for everyone.? Marketing 101: No one strategy fits all. A strategy is defined by a confluence of factors including discrete and specific goals and objectives, the brand, business, business model, operating territory, the market, target consumers, their demo and psychographics/buying behavior, category data and experience. Methodologies and frameworks might be similar, but the outcomes are not.

Don?t even bother trying to convince me otherwise. I?m not a surgeon because I?ve watched two years worth of OR videos on the Discovery Channel. I?m not a PR specialist because I?ve spent the bulk of my career working alongside publicists. I respect their discipline and experience. Proximity doesn?t make me an expert. I don?t equate expertise with being a witness.

I?ve been in marketing for 21 years and in the past few years the fauxs have become a contagion.

Here?s why I?m fired up. Faux marketers make my life difficult. They underprice their services, inflate their promises, produce shoddy, non-sensical, incomprehensible deliverables, and misrepresent the process and discipline. They incant the acronym ROI until it loses its meaning. I?ve actually had someone ask me what the ROI was of a brand voice guide and I deadpanned, the success of your business. What?s next? The direct ROI of a logo? What are the pretenders pitching now? Inquiring minds want to know.

Clients leave engagements frustrated and confused, and they carry that caution and skepticism to people like me, who invariably have to clean up some idiot?s mess. Educate clients and give them a dire reality check. Explain why X, Y, Z doesn?t come cheap.

You pay more for cheap in the long run.

No, you can?t create customer profiles by pasting stock photos in a Word document with a persona you brainstormed from the ether or scanned a few posts on Amazon or social media. That?s called a character sketch and it?s used in fiction.

I can?t tell you how many times I?ve seen a faux marketer?s deliverable and thought, what the fuck is this? I?m being blunt about this because people don?t respect the discipline and the work real marketers do if they?re willing to put out garbage rooted in fantasy and YouTube videos.

We live in an age where 77% of people wouldn?t care if all the brands in the world disappeared. If marketing was so simple, everyone would be good at it.

Here?s the reality. Formulating a brand is not easy. I?ve been doing it consistently for the past twelve years and it still takes me 4?6 weeks, a considerable amount of research, data analysis, and work. Marketing products and services ? especially in an age when consumers are increasingly (and rightfully) skeptical and paralyzed by choice ? is hard. You have to navigate minefields of data, organizational infrastructure, and internal politicking, competitors coming out of the woodwork, technology, geography, social, political, and economic factors, and most importantly ? sophisticated, discerning customers.

What fake players fail to understand are context and consumer behavior. You can?t build a brand or a business in a vacuum. In fact, I wrote a 70,000 word, eight-part tutorial on building a brand and that was a summary.

Telling a story, and convincing people to buy into you and your products, is more than just common sense. Otherwise, everyone would be swimming in glory and cash money.

Marketing, good marketing, is an art and a science. It?s understanding when to use data and when to use experience. It?s a precarious balancing act of customer service and CRM, PR, digital and social, paid media, traditional (i.e., broadcast, TV, OOH) and digital advertising, partnerships, distribution and retail channels and partners, sales training and collateral, and so much more.

You?re not a skilled surgeon if you?ve never been in the operating theater. If you?ve never borne the risk of holding a scalpel in your hands. Standing over a patient. About to make the first cut.

And you?re not a skilled marketer if you haven?t done the thing you purport to do for a multitude of clients over a period of time.

I know it?s tempting to give advice because it garners claps, shares, and income. I?ve had to unfollow publications and people who have given marketing advice, yet the get basic terminology wrong because they?ve no clue what they?re talking about. But they sure think they do. I know it?s easy to teach that which is supposedly trendy. You might feel cool calling yourself a brand strategist or marketing consultant when you are in fact not (parenthetical: I never considered my being a marketer cool since so many people shit on the discipline, but that?s just me), but resist the temptation.

I know enough about SEO/SEM to speak cogently about it, but I always turn engagements over to the pros. I know enough about PR to communicate its use and value, but I always make referrals to the experts. There are many parts of the marketing discipline of which I?m not a practitioner and I never pretend to know what I don?t.

And I don?t use clients as a training ground.

Don?t be someone you?re not because you?re hurting people who are.


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