At every business related conference I end up having a conversation like this with someone so I thought I might flesh some of my thoughts out into a blog post.
I have found that there are a couple of different types of online marketers that frequent conferences, social networks and the blogs of others.
The first group are the Online Marketer A-Holes
I know you have ended up on one of their lists before. You receive several emails a week pitching something they have never actually used before but for some reason they are passionate enough about it to blow you up with emails. This type of marketer is the pushy salesman that toutes that his product will net you tons of ROI and brag about the money he has made making “satisfied customers” with whatever product he/she is pushing. Of course this can range from the typical “get rich quick” scheme to the “download my free e-book and receive a special offer” that results in scores of spam and ridiculous emails of the guy pretending to talk to you directly when he could give less of a crap who you are.
Especially online, it is easy for marketers to exploit human desires such as the desire to make tons of money. These people are the modern day equivalent of the “used car salesman” who would sell any piece of crap to a body with a pulse.
It is easy to notice these people because of how they present themselves online. Their websites look the same, they are usually one page websites called “sales landing pages” and the biggest element on the page is the cash you “should” earn. Their videos are filmed with a consumer level camera using it’s internal microphone (horrible audio) and they are wearing a teeshirt with some sort of blogging comment on it.
Then there are the Social Marketer A-Holes
In my experience this is the person who got a small amount of popularity in some space online and in person is a total A-hole who alienates people and asumes everybody knows who he/she is. They think the world is small and that their reach is wide. You should just appreciate them because they are in your presence. This person has came about because of social media thus dubbed a Social Media A-Hole. They make the mistake of thinking that their 10,000 Twitter followers are actually fans of theirs putting them at a higher level then the rest of us. Their fame is not wide, it has came because people truly believed in them for a second and now they are exploiting that attention.
So how do you keep from becoming an A-Hole Marketer?
The number one thing you can do is just care about people. It’s not rocket science and it goes back to what all of us were told by someone, probably our Mother. If you want people to like you, be genuinely interested in them. It’s hard to juggle this correctly because most of us are in business to make money. We also want to enjoy what we do and contribute something to society through our work all the while keeping a roof over our head and food in our mouths.
In most situations, marketing is what sells products. Marketing is the simple act of promoting and selling products.
Producing great content and products that actually add value is the number one goal. Promoting that content and products in a way we can feel good about but still reach our customers is the second goal.
We want to produce from the heart, but we also want to be heard, not to languish in obscurity.
To me, it’s always a work in progress. We test the limits of douchebaggery and then head back towards idealism, exploring boundaries in both directions.
To make sure we don’t swing too far in either direction, it’s important to have an anchor. This is something that keeps you in check, a compass you can refer to when you find yourself wandering.
My anchors are:
a) Focusing on being as helpful as I can possibly be to everyone I interact with
b) Being open to criticism and suggestion from both customers and peers
c) Asking myself, would I respect someone else for producing what I’ve produced? Would I respect someone else for marketing something as I’ve marketed it? Would I be a customer of my own product or a reader of my work?
What are your anchors? How do you “keep it between the ditches,” as a friend’s grandpa used to say (about driving)?
What’s your happy medium?
Let’s hear it in the comments!