Why marketing is an unacknowledged art form

Why marketing is an unacknowledged art form

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Marketing is often simplified by saying that it’s only done without integrity. In an interview that I read with documentary maker Louis Theroux, he claims that marketing is an “unacknowledged art form”. Louis mentions that he sees much in marketing “to enjoy” and is intrigued by the balance of “seduction and sales”. I couldn’t agree more on that I think. Let me explain you why.

The misconception

In the world of bringing ideas into life, there’s one conception that’s reducing marketing as an unacknowledged art form. It’s the conception that it would only be something that’s striving for sales, leads and money. 

Because of that, marketing is often considered as unauthentic, shady and dishonest. Look for example at the campaign that promoted the Duracell Ultra Advanced and the Duracell Ultra Power. To promote these batteries the brand came up with the slogan: “Lasts Even Longer”.

Unfortunately in 2012 Duracell, Inc & Gamble Company got sued by customers claiming that the companies were delivering deceptive marketing and misleading facts. Although the batteries were more expensive than regular ones, they did not provide longer life.      

All in all it’s a good example of a brand (un)intentionally bringing false promises. I think if you’re seducing people with a false promise or you’re seducing people to buy something by popping up all the time or using agressive methods to grab attention, then you place the importance of earning money over the importance of creating value.  

Yet there’s also another side to marketing. As Theroux put it: 

“There’s an aspect of marketing that I do find interesting that hinges on that combination of seduction and sales, which I don’t think is antagonistic in itself. There’s much about marketing to enjoy.” 

This other side of marketing is what Seth Godin calls Marketing The Right Way. He explains the core of this kind of marketing by saying that’s about understanding human behaviour and putting relationship-building first. It’s more about trying to help people instead of selling them something. It’s the kind of marketing that is about meaningfully connect with people who actually want it.


What advertisers, broadcasters and Me have in common

Although Louis Theroux has never made marketing a priority to his career as a documentary maker, Louis admits that there are similarities between what broadcasters do and what advertisers do.

Their focus may not be as different as it seems. Because if marketing is done the right way, both try to build close relationships with their audience, whether they are viewers or consumers.

People like us, do things like this

Look for example what advertisers seek for. If you’re an advertiser longing to promote an artist in music business, you seek for people who listen to a certain type of music and like to experience that with their like-minded friends. And if you’re an advertiser longing to promote a coffee brand through banners online, you seek for people who like to drink coffee and are present in certain areas of the web.

The advertiser’s mission is to get people excited about the stuff that they are making. Therefore, you have to reach out for people who act in accordance to a certain internal narrative, so that you can find out what certain people truly like and how they want to spend their time and money. It’s what Seth Godin says about Marketing The Right Way, “people like us, do things like this”.

For example, buying cosmetics that are all-natural, environmentally friendly and cruelty-free is important to many consumers today, and it’s a way that people identify themselves — they feel proud to use products they believe in.

Therefore, to create a meaningful connection with the people you are trying to serve, it’s important to understand the way certain people identify themselves and how they want to show that to the world through the products they buy, or the kind of music that they listen to. It all says something about the stories that we tell ourselves. Those internal narratives are inside all of us, and help determine the way we live our lives.

Compelling narratives

Even broadcasters seek for narratives to make a meaningful connection with people. Louis Theroux mentions at the Festival of Marketing last October that creating compelling narratives is required for great marketing.

He says that those narratives are needed to build a close connection with the audience, and that stories are about finding something in common. He says:

“It’s the case of finding something [in common] and a lot of that resides in getting in touch with your own desire. We are, as banal as it may sound, not so very different from each other. And the more we get separated from one another in society, the more refreshing and redemptive it is when we find small connections. […] “I like to try and do that with my programmes. I like to try and find stories that are full of angst and darkness but at the same time find light and connection, and it’s that tension and release.”

What I seek for

For me, blogging is all about that too. I publish my own articles because I like to get in touch with likeminded people. I truly like to tell stories – especially the onces that are untold. If you have a good look around you, there are many important stories that remain in silence. Some of them make it to the news, or to our dinner tables. But most of them don’t. Take for example the story about diarrhea that I wrote, which truly seems a non-topic for most of us. But for many children in developing countries it’s a matter of life and death.

To me there is no bigger joy than writing about ideas that are worth spreading, sharing personal lessons that may be useful for you or sharing quotes that may broaden your perspective on things. I do am in the business of allowing people to see the best of themselves through the work that I do and the stories that I am able to tell. With the hope that it is gonna bring some more meaning, joy and wisdom to your life to make the best of it.

If you like to know more about me, head over to my about-page by clicking on my face:

… And so?!

And so what does it take to make marketing an acknowledged art form? 

If marketing is done the right way, big similarities can be found between the focus of an advertiser, an artist, a copywriter or whatever kind of job you’re in. People buy from brands when they think these are relatable to them. They buy into products, services or stories if it represents them and the people they associate themselves with. Therefore, the art of marketing is about understanding why people buy certain things.

Building brands that are relatable is in the heart of great marketing. The art of marketing is about serving your audience in the first place. By understanding them, by knowing what’s in their minds and by fully getting what they wish for. 

What would be a step forward is if more brands and people would show by example that marketing is more than just selling stuff. In fact, if marketing becomes synonymous with creating value. If marketing equals creating things and services that enrich one’s life.  

And that is quite an art in itself.

150 150 Lisanne Swart
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