10 Things I’ve Discovered about Marketing


dartClassic Countdown In the month leading up to the fourth anniversary of this blog’s launch, I am sharing my favorite posts. This was published on Aug. 20, 2009.


Having earned a master’s degree in marketing, I feel confident in asserting that marketing is not really all that complicated.

When I taught marketing at a local university, the CEO of a major company invited me to speak at the planning retreat of his regional managers. He sheepishly asked, “Can you condense into 15 minutes everything you teach in a 16-week class?” Tongue-in-cheek, I replied, “Actually, I only have 15 minutes of marketing knowledge. The hard part is stretching that over an entire semester.”

In more than 20 years of working on projects and coaching others as they engaged in their own marketing endeavors, I have learned the following 10 things about marketing:

  1. Marketing is based upon common sense, though such sense is uncommon.
  2. The social media revolution is the best thing to happen to marketing in a long, long time—even though the rules for marketing success are forever changed.
  3. Old-school marketers who try to tightly control the message will become increasingly frustrated, disoriented and ultimately obsolete.
  4. If you’re not creating community and engaging people in conversations, then you’re still living in a 1.0 world—even if you are using 2.0 tools and technology.
  5. Communications comes at the end of the marketing process, not at the beginning.
  6. If you aim your message at no one in particular, don’t be surprised if no one in particular responds.
  7. Marketing will always flounder when not in pursuit of a measurable goal.
  8. If a product, service or person cannot be differentiated, it cannot be marketed.
  9. Without a quid-pro-quo exchange, you’ll never have a solid marketing program. After all, marketing is the exchange of something of value for something you need.
  10. Value can be defined only by the customer, not the company producing the product or service. (Nonprofit organizations especially have trouble with this.)

From your experience, what additional observations can you share? Can you elaborate on any of these axioms? Do you disagree with any of them?

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