Thanks to a very small percentage of the industry, marketing hasn’t been living the greatest reputation in the grand scheme of things.
You know exactly what I mean. The shady stuff, the get-rich-quick-style sleaze, the hacking, the pushy selling, the look-I’m-better-than-you messaging, the data breaches and misuse, the whole thing.
It makes us look like the only thing we care about is getting to the end result—the sales, the conversions, the year-end bonuses—in the shortest amount of time, even if it means we have to be unethical and deceptive as we do that.
And I get how we’ve earned that reputation as an industry.
Any industry with such privilege would end up in the same place.
As marketers, we have the privilege to reach more people, families, communities, and companies than any other industry or job role on its own.
Being able to stand on a stage and have undivided attention of 50, 500, or 5,000 people is a privilege.
Being able to pay a search engine or a social network and have your message reach hundreds or thousands of people is a privilege.
Being able to get people to click, watch, listen, and share your ideas for the simple reason they see they’re coming from you is a privilege.
We get to influence people’s thoughts, behaviors, and decisions.
That is wild, and beautiful, and makes me feel like we carry a whole lot of responsibility just for choosing this career path, too often not even aware that’s what we’re doing.
Most of us are just trying to do good work, do well by our colleagues, bosses, and/or clients, make a positive change in our respective communities and industries, and feel good about the way we do it.
The issue? Because of the few extremely loud people, those that force-feed everyone with their macho-ness, their aim for (their definition of) success at anyone else’s cost make the whole industry come across as toxic.
These few individuals create the breeding ground for shutting down opinions and ideas of people that look differently than them.
Different backgrounds, beliefs, and outlooks on life all seem to be suffocated by the noise of the few loud, pushy ones. The issue is that they’re so loud that they make everyone else feel outnumbered and you can’t help but think there’s nothing to be done.
So you say, “this is just what marketing is” and move on.
I’ve said that same thing before, many times.
And I’m now here to say: I’m done doing that.
I’m done looking at such a passionate, driven industry and seeing it ruined by a few folks only led by money, status, and power.
I’m done accepting that we’re all just going to be seen as a mean, sleazy industry until the end of time.
I’m done keeping quiet. My time of saying nothing about it is over.
Because here’s the thing.
We’re marketers, and our job is to create relationships with potential customers. That’s the core of what we’re paid for.
We, the marketers, are not conversion optimizers, algorithm hackers, or internet crawlers.
They, the people we’re trying to reach, aren’t just machines looking at every word we serve them to know which link we want them to click on.
Us, and them, are human beings with hearts and souls and skin and flesh and bones. We bleed when we’re cut. We feel our own way about our interactions with the world. We crave connection and being part of something bigger than us.
We are not monetary transactions and numbers on bank accounts.
So as marketers, it’s our job to use the reach and impact we have to give voices to those who don’t. Because we have that voice.
We can do so much.
We can make an introduction between two people who’d benefit from knowing each other.
We can reach out to a marketing graduate we’ve recently met and ask how we can help them as they enter the industry.
We can support a company who works hard to be carbon-neutral and donates their money to causes that matter to them.
We can write our job descriptions in a way that will attract diverse people.
We can create a company culture that gives everyone an open space to work through challenges and fears just like they do through successes and celebrations.
We can make a conscious effort to build a diverse line of conference speakers so that your attendees can feel like this is where they belong.
We can make sure that those attendees have a safe way to ask for help if they need it.
We can reach out to someone that we know we can make any difference for.
We can identify parts of our community we can impact and invest our time and funds into making a difference.
We have the power to share kindness, generosity, and empathy with everyone we get to talk to, both in and out of marketing.
And doing that is the only way to compound our impact and show that our industry isn’t made of vanity.
I know no vanity. People that have helped me get where I am today have never been anything but giving when it comes to their energy, time, advice, and support.
This industry is made of selflessness, tolerance, diversity, and people who know they’re lucky enough to be able to make a true positive change.
So let’s do exactly that.