What is marketing in this modern age?

Marketing is all about telling a convincing enough story for your audience to buy

Marketing used to rely heavily on TV and radio ads, coercion, and deception but then came the internet — a vast, fair playground for a diversity of products that may not even be about you or tailored according to your search history. The author intends to introduce readers to what marketing really is — helping someone fix a problem; their problem.

You must first identify the customer’s needs and provide them instead of forcing your products on unwilling customers. Marketing shouldn’t be about the marketer but about the customer. It’s time you quit looking for shortcuts and the social media hustle scheme and take the longer, more viable road.

In this era, the modern marketer will stand above the crowd by noticing what works and trying to understand what doesn’t. This involves patience, empathy, and respect. As a marketer,  your role includes having an eye out for people’s decisions, the dreams they have, and how it affects their actions.

A lot of these are tied to culture — the system they’re raised to have a preference for. To truly reach the customer is to create a product or service that meets the culture of the customer. Seth Godin offers a five-step approach to modern marketing.

  1. First, invent a thing worth making, with a story worth telling and a contribution worth talking about.
  2. Second, design and build it in a way that a few people will particularly benefit from and care about.
  3. Third, tell a story that matches the built-in narrative and dreams of that tiny group of people, the smallest viable market.
  4. Then you spread the word.
  5. And lastly, show up — regularly, consistently, and generously, for years and years.

The marketer knows that to effect a change in the market (world) requires consistency and commitment and that you can’t force change on people. Instead, it would be best if you made stuff for particular people.

Marketing seeks to change people through stories, connections, and experience. Stories that resonate and hold up over time. People want to be part of something, and as such, we form connections. And finally, we create an experience when we engage in using a product, calling customer service, etc.


Finding your target market is the most important and basic part of marketing

First,  consider this change you wish to make; is it customer-centered or you-centered. Is it about making a quick buck, or do you want to give your customers a better experience? Then there is the issue of attempting to make too huge a change at your first go. This is tempting, but you must first concentrate on smaller changes instead.

You have to give the customers something they can hold on to — a promise. Some call this a slogan, but it should also represent the promise or expectation from engaging in using a product. Answering the question, which is better.

Better is a relative term; it varies from person to person. What is better for Jake might not be the same for Chris. You must, as a marketer, proffer a solution for customers’ needs. You need empathy and understanding to see beyond the regular scheme of forcing products on customers.

Once you discover the customers with whom you can effect this change, you’ve found your market. Your market will consist of a select group of people whose preferences you’re already intimate with. What next? Focus.

You have decided to pick your own smaller, more viable market; you must now focus on attending to this small market. Before you know it, it’ll have grown into a larger market. The secret, however, is the focus.

Focus on what these consumers consider better in relation to other products/services, but keep in mind that better simply refers to better for them. Understanding their idiosyncrasies and why they make certain decisions is key in growing a market.

That and a sensitivity to the market, the times, and its accompanying trends. Better should represent a service that makes full positive use of a shift or a change in the way a certain commodity was sold or bought.

But a true marketer knows that’s it not about commodity. It goes beyond the bottom line. They also know to first address a problem holistically before offering a solution. It is more about what you can give the customer and how much better your services/products are. And lastly, the consumers crave a personal, authentic feel/experience — they want service, not just to spend their money.


A key factor of marketing is gaining the customer’s trust as this is the only way they will give you their money for your product

Trust is a very important part of marketing. Trust itself cannot be sold or bought but earned, cultivated, and weaponized. You’ll get to see how a marketer can use the trust to his/her advantage.

The trust exercise is two-fold, pattern-match and pattern-interrupt. When you assess a market and provide a product/service in line with the trends, you are “pattern-matching. “But when you bring a product/service that seeks to open new ground and pull users from the status quo, you are pattern-interrupting.

To interrupt a pattern, you require one key tool; tension. To change the status quo, you must employ the use of tension, but how? And just what is tension? Tension in marketing refers to the feeling of being left out a consumer feels when a product is released and everyone else but them has gotten to use it. That “you haven’t had this drink yet? You’re missing” feeling — that’s tension building. They’re like the outsiders or the ones getting shortchanged.

If your product is without this threat to the status quo, you will only be crushed by bigger firms already doing it better than you. And to successfully shift the status quo and have people follow the new trend, you need to have earned their trust. To do this, you must appeal to their “status.” You must give them a service/product that rebuffs their cultivated idea of status. This is where affiliation comes in, who you know is as important as who you are. People will trust you more if they can trust your affiliation.

An affiliation rests heavily on what people can associate you and your product with. In layman’s terms, a symbol or a logo. A strong logo tells a story and provides users with a legacy to affiliate with. People trust a brand because they’ve built a relationship over time with its logo, slang, and story.


There are many truths about marketing, and the master marketer knows them all

There are a lot of truths in the world of marketing. Seth Godin aims to intimate readers with some of these truths:

  • There is no such thing as being too expensive; the price just isn’t right for the customer.
  • Trust is as scarce as attention; while the world is rife with many attention-grabbing ads on the internet, trust is even lesser in supply.
  • Have a source to proliferate your services, build trust and tension and incite forward movement.


In marketing there is no perfect way to market, there is only your way, and how your market is up to you

As a marketer, you must free yourself of the burden of achieving perfection. There is a fear that good enough is not good enough, and it could be better. The possibility of better gives room for the chance to seek dramatic improvement on behalf of those we seek to serve. While good enough is a boost, an encouragement to move forward and improve, a chance to learn and do better, and sometimes, get it all the way to perfect.

Marketing offers an opportunity to effect changes before thought impossible — affect purchase choice, voting options, etc. thus, it requires a lot of commitment, time, and money.

If marketing doesn’t work, then many of us are wasting a great deal of effort (and cash), but marketing works.

So are marketers and marketing evil? Marketing? Maybe, marketers? Some of them. Some marketers are bent on making their profits, regardless of the price or who pays it. The goal for them is the money they’ll get, the commission. They simply peddle products they know are not what you need or good for your health. Some even know that the purchase they’re coercing you into will hurt your account and leave you in debt. They turn off their conscience and force people into investing more than they can afford.

It is evil to persuade kids to start smoking, cynically manipulate the electoral or political process, and lie to people in ways that cause disastrous side effects. I think it’s evil to sell an ineffective potion when an effective medicine is available. I think it isn’t very good to come up with new ways to make smoking acceptable so you can make a few more bucks.

Marketing is beautiful when it persuades people to get a polio vaccine or wash their hands before performing surgery. Marketing is powerful when it sells a product to someone who discovers more joy or productivity because he bought it. Marketing is magic when it elects someone who changes the community for the better.

Just like every powerful tool, the impact comes from the craftsman, not the tool. Marketing has more reach, with more speed, than it has ever had before. You can have more impact than anyone could have imagined just ten years ago with less money. The question, one I hope you’ll ask yourself, is What are you going to do with that impact?

Marketing works for society when the marketer and consumer are both aware of what’s happening and are both satisfied with the ultimate outcome. It’s not evil to make someone happy by selling them cosmetics because beauty isn’t the goal — it’s the process that brings joy. On the other hand, swindling someone out of their house to make a sales commission…is, of course, evil.

Just because you can market something doesn’t mean you should. You’ve got the power, so you’re responsible, regardless of what your boss tells you to do.

The good news is that you — the marketer is not in charge of what’s evil and what’s not. You, your customers, and their neighbors are. The even better news is that ethical, public marketing will eventually defeat the kind that depends on the shadows.

There’s a difference between being good at what you do, being good at making a thing, and being good at marketing. We need your craft, without a doubt. But we need your change even more.

If you bring your best self to the world, your best work, and the world doesn’t receive it, it’s entirely possible that your marketing sucked.

It’s entirely possible that you chose the wrong axes and that you failed to go to the edges.

It’s entirely possible you were telling the wrong story to the wrong person in the wrong way on the right day or even on the wrong day.

Fine, but that doesn’t say anything about you. It tells about your skills as a marketer. And you can get better at that craft and hone your marketing skills.

Whether it’s surgery or gardening or marketing, this thing that we do — it’s not us. It’s the work that we do. We’re humans. Our work isn’t us. As humans, we can choose to do the work and choose to improve our work.



Marketing is all around us. You’ve been inundated by marketing from your very first memories to the moment before you opened this. You learned to read from the logos on the side of the road, and you spend your time and your money in response to what marketers have paid to put in front of you.

Try this:

Create a small viable market. Take a survey and design a product/service that suits this market. Offer honest and stable promises and service. Be consistent in your service and product quality. Provide consumers with an experience, a connection that gives them a sense of family. Whether you’re a big firm or a small startup, it isn’t important. These techniques work, time after time.