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You Clearly Don’t Know Anything About Marketing, You Twit

By July 11, 2012June 26th, 2015Marketing Insights & Strategy
You Clearly Don't Know Anything About Marketing, You Twit

Over the Independence Day week, I had the good fortune to visit with friends for a day of eating, drinking and making merry. At some point, my attention was diverted from drinking and merrymaking to a conversation between a friend and someone I did not know; let’s call him Bob. I overheard Bob say, “I can have a successful business without any marketing.”

And I said…

“You clearly don’t know anything about marketing, you twit.”

It was taken the way it was intended; light hearted and fun. Plus, I was shitfaced so you could hardly blame me.

I asked Bob what he did. Bob described his business succinctly, intelligently, but with a palpable passion. When he was done, I paused just long enough to make it dramatic and said, “You just engaged in marketing your business.”

Bob said, “That’s not marketing. That’s just talking.”

And I said…

“You clearly don’t know anything about marketing, you twit.”

“Why’s that?” Bob asked.

This is what I slurred. Kinda.

Why Do You Need Marketing?

The mission of every business is to have paying customers.

Create positive experiences for prospects and they may turn into those paying customers. But create negative experiences and you will all but guarantee that they won’t.

Bob considers those experiences to be limited to a very narrow set of interactions such as handing out business cards or brochures. But Bob is wrong because everything he and his employees do is marketing.

The way you answer the phone is marketing. Your tone, tenor and disposition will create an immediate experience for a potential or existing customer.

The clothes you wear to a business meeting are part of your marketing.

The unkempt crinkles and folds in your business cards because you didn’t store them in a card holder is marketing.

All of these things speak to your potential customer either consciously or subconsciously. It makes an impression in their minds.

I once had a client tell me that he hired me because my belt buckle matched my cuff links. Seriously. He thought that represented attention to detail.


Too often business people fall into the false belief that marketing is a tangible good represented by business cards, brochures and ads. They don’t understand that as long as they are representing their business they are always marketing and always selling.

Good Marketing Supplemented By Bad Marketing

A few months ago, a colleague of mine fired a client after the client refused to treat his customers well. The client was losing customers, but did not understand why. He had beautiful business cards printed on gorgeous expensive paper, a knockout website, an enviable social media campaign and a variety of professional print ads.

So what was the problem? As it turns out, the client and his staff treated his customers poorly, sometimes going so far as picking fights with them. Because the business was limited to a geographic area, word got around and the loss of clients was not balanced with an inflow of new clients.

Did they have good marketing? Of course not.

Everything is marketing.

You twit.

You may read the above as less about marketing and more about customer service, but really, what’s the difference? The words “customer service” could replace every instance of the word “marketing” in this post, but the concepts would remain intact.

Here’s a personal example. I lease a nice sports car. It’s a great car. It’s solid, fast and dependable. My experience with it has been great, but my experience with the company that leased me the car is terrible. When I go to service my car, if the person behind the desk is in a personal conversation with a co-worker, they will continue unless interrupted. When my vehicle is returned after maintenance, they give me the keys and walk away without telling me where the car is. The list goes on and on and it happens each and every time.

On the walls of the dealership hang ads, brochures and photos of smiling happy employees helping an ethnically diverse set of customers. What a wonderful world. Don’t for a moment think that the quality of those ads represents good marketing and that the parallel behavior is not a part of the overall marketing mix. If you don’t agree, then…

You clearly don’t know anything about marketing, you twit.

Everything you do; every call, every email, every face-to-face interaction is marketing. Those are opportunities to create positive experiences.

So What Should You Do If You Run A Business?

For starters, do the stuff that you consider marketing, but also create a culture of marketing mindfulness in your organization. Train your staff not only to do their jobs, but to present a positive experience to customers while doing so. Your employees are your front lines, not your dopey business card.

You could have the most beautiful, glossy, high resolution, full color brochure ever produced by the creative mind of man, but if your belt buckle doesn’t match your cuff links, then…

You clearly don’t know anything about marketing, you twit.

Join the discussion 17 Comments

  • I’m with you, Ralph. “Bob” may be able to do without “advertising” (although, i would not stake my reputation on that) which is what many “twits” confuse with marketing.
    Great post.

    • Thanks Roy,

      From what I understand, “Bob”‘s disposition changed after our conversation. If we can each lead one person toward a better insight into their marketing, then it’s a good day.

  • Marketing is a state of being, that might have been another title for the post. That is what I realized early on when I jumped into the field in 2010. I began to understand that you can always make an impression no matter what your budget. That is why we see elegant simple campaigns and extravagant ones in the same space. Your business can always find ways to go the extra mile to dazzle your potential clients.

    I think the issue is that “marketing” can seem ethereal to business owners. The strings we pull are sometimes invisible. What do you think? How can marketers show that what we do matters?

    • “State of being,” I like that. You’re right about the sometimes ethereal nature of marketing. Building a quality brand can sometimes not be quantified on a spreadsheet.

  • This reminds me of my corporate days when one of the roles I had was doing onsite audits of customer service. I often expressed it isn’t rocket science as long as you understand every action IS customer service, no matter the communication channel.

    • That’s right. No matter what an organization calls it, the outside view; the perspective of the customer or potential customer should always be positive.

  • A.B.M.= Always be marketing. or A.B.S. = Always be selling. Either way what we do should always reflect “what we do.”

    I thoroughly agree that those who own a business are always promoting their business. It’s who we are it’s not that our business stops when we change out of our business cloths.

    Ken Pickard
    The Network Dad

  • Sonia says:

    This was great you twit! Na, just kidding. Seriously, spot on tips about how to get it wrong. You are marketing from the time you open your mouth actually. I once attended a conference to see someone I really admired and the moment they opened their mouth it was like listening to a pissed off sailor. Now if they marketed themselves like that from the “start” and people knew their “style”, it would have been expected, but the way they presented their material was off key.

    I really love the part where you said a client became a customer because of your belt buckle. Now as weird as it sounds, I have seen some other things similar and my first reaction was, “Uh?, but I got it. People have this perception of you and most times its what they “see”. Like in a job interview, you’re this perfect onion. Over time after you have been hired, layers of that onion start to “peel” off to reveal the real you. Again, perception and only what they can “see”.

    Once they start listening, you still have an uphill battle because now you have to sell them on YOU. Crazy world of marketing.

    • The ideal principle to follow is to always be the best you can be so that you present well to whomever you are engaging. Even a casual conversation at a social outing can turn into a business opportunity. A few years ago, I used to go out and get my morning coffee by just throwing on a hat and walking out the door. After a few times of running into local colleagues and prospects unexpectedly, I realized that I needed to not do that any more because whether I new it or not, those marketing and business opportunities were going to pop up. Always be marketing.

  • I love the married with two cats statement 🙂

    Wow, great post. I so agree with you, Ralph. Marketing is basically everything a company does and for those who think even for a minute that how they treat their customers before, during and after they purchase doesn’t make a difference they are so out of touch that’s not even funny.

    Marketing includes what customers are going to experience with the company and the type of mouth to ear they will spread around.

    Thank you for the very good insightful post, Ralph.

  • Adrienne says:

    What a great post Ralph, I love this. Even though you may have had a few drinks, you told him. Funny how even the most successful people still don’t totally “get it” at times.

    You are so right, everything we do is marketing. I finally learned this even though when I was in the corporate world and always dealing with vendors, I felt the same way. How you treat me and how you present yourself is a reflection of the company. So if it ain’t good, you’re not keeping me around.

    Loved this post and thanks for such an honest share Ralph. Carol has a real gem in you. I bet you guys have some fun times.

    Enjoy the rest of your week.


  • Offering the right things to the right people is definitely part of the equation so keep doing that! And remember that everything you do is marketing – how you look, how you speak and how you act. Even online.

  • The Selling Agency says:

    I enjoy the “twit” label. It stops just short of calling Bob a Dumb Ass. Shows restraint with a hint of respect. Classy.