Reflections On The Art of Marketing

On Wednesday, I attended my third Art of Marketing Conference (you can read about #1 and #2 here). When I found out one of the speakers was going to be Seth Godin, I knew I had to go. I’m a huge fan.

I’ve been spending the last few days trying to synthesize all that I learned and here is my attempt.

Image by Wendy D photography for Art of Marketing.
Seth Godin by Wendy D photography for Art of Marketing.

1. I love being a marketer. I loved being in that room with so many people that I respected and have had had the privilege to exchange ideas with. I love that our profession allows us to be creative–Godin often talks about being an artist, and in many ways, we are. That creative core of marketing is what so appeals to my creative soul. The constant asking “what if??”

2. Marketing is not as creative as it has been, or could be. Let’s face it: there are a lot of us out there. We’re all trying to make our way. Make our clients or bosses happy. And being creative and brilliant all the time is difficult at best, possibly even unsustainable, unless you’re Don Draper. So all of us, even me, have days when we play the game, feed the machine. Post a Facebook status update because we need to get one up there. This is our reality, but it’s also the road to mediocrity.

Mitch Joel by Wendy D photography for Art of Marketing.
Mitch Joel by Wendy D photography for Art of Marketing.

3. Carving our own paths. One of the main themes that ran through the day was encouragement to stand out. “Sheep are not good marketers,” was one of my fave Godin quotes of the day. Simply put, the ability to mass-market is gone. There are so many screens in front of us, our media is so fractured, that being able to get a message out to everyone is simply impossible. You can, however, discover your “tribe,” and “you don’t have to invent a new sub-culture. But you do have to show up to lead them.”

4. Failing in an upward direction. Godin used a quote from Vonnegut that I particularly adored: “We have to continually be jumping off cliffs and developing our wings on the way down.” He referenced the Greek Myth of Icarus: we’re afraid to fly too close to the sun, but the part that is often left out of that story is the part where Icarus’ father, Daedalus, warns him to not fly too close to the water, for the dew would weigh down his wings and pull him into the water and he would drown. In order for us as marketers to be successful, we must risk failure. That’s because, in order for us to create something new, we need to take risks, to do something that might fall flat. But as Godin says, “failure is cheaper than ever before.” He referenced an Italian saying: salto mortale, which means ‘leaping into the void.’ Leaping with danger is the only kind of leap that matters. Sometimes you’re going to fail, maybe even most of the time, but “success is just failing over and over again until you get it right.”

John Jantsch by Wendy D photography for Art of Marketing.
John Jantsch by Wendy D photography for Art of Marketing.

5. Adding value. The difference between marketing and advertising is that advertising is broadcasting out through our channels. Marketing needs to create value, or else, what’s the point? “Everyone today has the opportunity to create a personal channel. Everyone who creates value gets value back. Create value and utility for your consumers,” says Mitch Joel. We have to stop broadcasting on our channels: “We’ve driven ‘social’ out of social media,” says John Jantsch.

“Surprise and delight are amazing marketing techniques,” says UBC grad, 23-year-old Brian Wong, CEO of Kiip.

Brian Wong by Wendy D photography for Art of Marketing.
Brian Wong by Wendy D photography for Art of Marketing.

6. Create connections. In the same vein as taking risks, we also need to put ourselves out there. We need to be vulnerable, human. Because those are the things that connect us to other humans. And that emotional connection is what makes marketing successful. “The pinnacle of all relationships is the willingness to be vulnerable,” says Keith Ferrazzi. “If you want someone to build a relationship with you, don’t try to build a relationship with them. Care about them. All relationships lead with one thing: generosity.”

Keith Ferrazzi by Wendy D photography for Art of Marketing.
Keith Ferrazzi by Wendy D photography for Art of Marketing.

My top takeaways?

  • Go make something happen.
  • Be weird.
  • Don’t hold back.
  • Don’t be afraid to ask. The worst anyone can say is no.

Big thanks to the fabulous Wendy D for allowing me to use her photographs.

If you’d like to see my 100 or tweets from the day (along with everyone elses’), go to #theartof.


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Rebecca Coleman

Social Media Marketing Strategist, Blogger, Author, Teacher, Trainer. Passionate foodie, mom to Michael, fueled by Americanos. I love my bike. Soon-to-be cookbook author. Localvore with a wanderlust.

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