How to Stop Hating Marketing

How to Stop Hating Marketing

Marketing should be fun, engaging and exciting.

If you think I’m nuts for suggesting such a thing, you’re probably doing it wrong.

Let me tell you a little story about a friend I’ll call Tim. Tim was a software developer who enjoyed chatting with people, but hated selling his business. He didn’t want to be that cheesy guy who you avoided because all he did was try to sell you his services. He steered clear of anything labeled “marketing” for fear of becoming that guy.

Tim had a superpower: he loved chatting people up. He also had a nemesis: that cheesy sales guy.

Little did he realize that he didn’t have to give in to the evil nemesis to market his business. All he had to do was make better use of his superpower.

When I first started talking to Tim, he laid out all of his current marketing strategies – the ones he hated doing because they made him feel like a bad guy. He was cold calling businesses, using his social media as a megaphone instead of a conversation starter, and going to conferences to meet potential new clients.

Tim was doing everything he was theoretically supposed to do, but he was also miserable for every minute of it. He was going over to the dark side and becoming that which he hated.

What’s worse, it wasn’t even working.

The Shift

To get him off the depressing topic of his much-disliked marketing tactics, I asked Tim about his passions. Turned out Tim loved coffee, football, and non-fiction business books.

He talked about the smell of coffee and the anticipation of a good cup to get him moving. He talked about the tension in football and the unpredictability of each play. He talked about how a non-fiction book will almost always give him a new idea to apply to his business.

I then asked him why he liked to program. He said he loved working on something that was clean and worked well. He talked about his ability to program and oozed confidence in his programming skills.

That was where the magic was hidden.

We created a simple marketing plan around his superpowers.

  1. Find the places where he could help people
  2. Tim loved to talk about coffee. I asked him if he could help coffee shops and coffee producers with their websites – a skill well within his purview. He found a coffee conference that he will attend next month, and of course he won’t have the usual problem of only being able to talk about his own skills. Just try stopping Tim from jumping into a conversation about how to brew the perfect cup of coffee.

    And by the time that conversation wends its way around to the inevitable question “What do you do?” Tim will have a great lead-in to sell his services. After all, the people he’s talking to will already know he’s passionate about their business and that he understands what they need.

  3. Start a conversation
  4. I started Tim a Twitter account and told him to follow people he admired and people who interested him. He started following coffee people and non-fiction authors. He began to slowly engage them in conversations about their common interests, chatting about topics he really enjoyed and generating lots of goodwill.

    Instead of using social media to promote himself, he’s just using it to make new friends. When he does promote his business, those friends will naturally want to give this great guy a hand spreading the word.

  5. Create events that generate buzz
  6. The last thing we talked about was creating interactive events. He needs to create a little buzz online that allows him to connect with new people and encourage his followers to think of him as the guy in charge. Tim is a little shy, but I think he will throw a Twitter party soon for the following reasons:

    • He doesn’t need to be loud and boisterous to be in charge of an event. Tim can be himself – he just has to lead the conversation and encourage other people to get involved. Since he sometimes has trouble getting up the confidence to engage others, he can sympathize with shy people and bring them to the party.
    • He wants to talk about the work that he loves. There are thousands upon thousands of people online who love the same things Tim loves – and everyone likes to talk about the things they love. Tim doesn’t have to twist anyone’s arm or convince them to do something they don’t like. He just has to let them know there’s someplace to talk about the things they enjoy.
    • He wants to generate trust. It’s often difficult for people to trust someone they only recently met online. By showing how many other people trust him and value his opinion, Tim can generate trust that will extend out to lots of new people who might want to hire him.

Throw away the hate

Marketing should be fun. You have the ability to connect with people in a way that makes you feel good – it just means finding your superpowers and bringing them to bear on the marketing techniques you already know about (and don’t yet enjoy).

Think about it for just a moment: what type of marketing do you do now that you hate? And what aspects of your work and your life do you truly enjoy?

How can you combine the things you love with a hated marketing technique to create a new way of marketing you’ll actually enjoy?

Brainstorm in the comments – the Men with Pens crew would be happy to help you figure out new ways of approaching once-hated marketing.

Post by Karl Staib

Karl Staib is addicted to throwing Twitter Parties to bring exposure to small business launches. You can also follow Karl on Twitter so you can stay in the know on all the Twitter parties and their prizes.

Join the Discussion. Click Here to Leave a Comment.

  1. Karl, thanks for writing this! (James, thanks for running it!) I feel like you’ve put into words stuff that I’ve been slowly piecing together over the past few years.

    I guess my main takeaway from this is that marketing can be totally congruous with one’s values and enthusiasms — it doesn’t have to be something that feels awkward and sleazy.

    In 3+ years of working for myself full-time, I’ve *never* made a cold call. And I survive pretty well! In fact, I think the online world is ideally suited to gentle, heart-felt marketing: making friends on Twitter, creating and sharing great content, interacting on forums, and so on.

    And you’re right: it IS fun. 🙂

    • I like this post. I admire how you present the idea that marketing shouldn’t be hated. I also like how Ali perceived it and how she said the above statement. I kind of feel the same way. 🙂

      Marketing is not my “talent”. I mean I don’t exactly know how to do it. Although I like making friends and sharing all good stuff, so probably that’s a good start when situation calls for some “marketing moves”…

      Nice input! It’s great you put this “marketing” issue on a lighter mode.


  2. Love it – throw away the hate.

    This is what I hate – the elevator pitch. THat 2 minutes when I am supposed to get you to understand what I do and why you need it.

    Seriously I don’t want to work that way. My first insttinct is to want to listen to others, find out what interests them.

    So that it how I have tried to flip the technique at networking events. As soon as someone looks like they are going to ask me what i do – I quickly ask them another question.


    • Ainslie, you would enjoy biz coach Michael Port. One of his mottos/goals is banishing the elevator speech. He does suggest every has a sentence or two that explains what you do, but it is not meant to be a pitch, rather a conversation starter. Hopefully then, what you suggest happens, everybody gets a chance to talk in a real conversation.

  3. Hey Karl,

    What a refreshing biz philosophy! Love it.

    I, too, didn’t like marketing avenues being sold to me as by marketing gurus. Do this and do that. Even the ones saying not to market still marketed like the ways they told us not to. Felt so Simon Saysish – so homogenized that I made up my own.

    And it works for me. Once I got into my own groove and spread my enthusiasm about all the things in life I loved, then folks found me. Cool folks. So I know what you suggested for Tim works.

    Will find you on Twitter. Your parties sound fun!


    • Hi Giulietta,

      Too often people feel like that have to do a certain type of marketing to be successful, when in reality they will fail because they really don’t want to do it that way.

      Making the marketing process fun generates motivation that helps sell products and services.

  4. I’m not much of a coffee fan, but I’m going to heat up a cup of tea and think about my superpowers:)

    I’ve trying to learn more about “inbound marketing” and in my next life it’s a toss-up between wanting to be a webdesigner and in marketing. There are definitely some fun possibilities out there. Thanks.

    • Hi Mary,

      Those are two really different next life options. That’s cool that you have two superpowers in different areas. There has to be a way to combine them into one business that leverages both talents.

      • Actually, I think having a web designer that is both into and understands marketing would be heaven for many businesses! Often, designers can do “pretty/functional” which is certainly necessary, but to be able to create at least a simple marketing strategy to begin with and then design around it would put you on a different, potentially highly desired level in my opinion.

        What often happens now is the designer asks the client what he wants assuming he knows how he intends to use the site, what kind of content he’s going to create etc. Problem is, the customer often has no idea because marketing is either hated or an after thought.

        If you can do a simple site, around a simple strategy that at least gets things rolling, I believe you’ll keep plenty busy and probably enjoy yourself too 🙂

  5. Great way to describe it, Karl! Passing this on to some writer friends. 🙂

  6. I for one like connecting via Twitter. It allows me to “talk” to friends I met online and people I admire.

  7. I believe the pleasure we get from marketing has to do with our expectations.

    If we go into marketing with the expectation of meeting like minded people and making new friends we feel very different than if the sole purpose was to make money.

    Not only do we feel different, but we behave very differently as well.

  8. super superb post Kari!! I haven’t thought of this idea at all, and you know what? Here are some things “I” like to do :D:D:

    I love talking about art with people who do art, I love talking about blogging with people who actually do blogging, and I especially love talking about web design with people who are really good at it. I’m pretty much a web design whore though lol :p. It’s my life :D.

    Do you suggest I start going on twitter, and finding people who love drawing, blogging, and/or web designing; and talking to them to build trust for marketing?

  9. One of the best parts of marketing is the useful feedback that you get. It’s great meeting new people and sharing idea’s.

    If you look at marketing as nothing but a sales tactic it can get very boring and mechanical very quickly.

    I like the fact that Tim is doing what he loves and when it’s done properly it feels more like socializing than marketing.

    It’s like hanging out with friends that share the same idea’s and support one another.

  10. G’Day Karl,
    I’ve run a business for 33 years. If I’ve learnt anything in that time it’s this.
    Marketing isn’t everything: but everything is marketing.

    I tried to find out what marketing was all about for the first 13 years I was in business. Then someone referred me to “Positioning; The Battle for The MInd” by Al Ries and Jack Trout.

    My eyes were opened. Interestingly enough, that same book, first published in 1981, was voted Best Marketing Book Ever by the readers of Advertising Age, early this year, 2011. Must have something going for it.



  11. James and I have had a million conversations about this. Although I’ve moved from doing something I enjoyed (coaching) to doing something I love (writing YA fantasy), I still get this big ugh feeling when I think about all the work it’ll take to sell my books (especially since I’m going the indie-publisher route).

    What creates that ugh? The time it takes to engage people initially one-on-one and then later in groups. I’m great speaking to groups of people but hate one-on-one networking in any form – from face-to-face to social media. It exhausts me, drains me and otherwise takes energy away from my desire to write. I want the writing to speak for itself, which it will but first I have to get that writing out in front of people’s eyes. Ugh.

    So, what am I doing about it? Right now, nothing. I’ve decided that I can be patient and I’m waiting until I have several books published with more on the horizon in rapid fire so that the marketing efforts I do make have a bigger impact than just one $4.99 book. Yes, it’s slightly an excuse, but it’s also a reality – why put a lot of effort into little product?

  12. This was a great article!!!! Thanks for reminding me that I don’t need to be a pesky used car salesman to engage with potential clients and businesses and that it’s ok to be shy. Any other suggestions for the shy ones that aren’t sure of exactly what to say at times.

  13. what type of marketing do you do now that you hate? And what aspects of your work and your life do you truly enjoy?

    When i reviewed type of marketing that i do it occured to me that i just dont do the one i hate. I used to hate going in person to different student organisations and offering them free workshops on speed reading and effective learning (the things i teach in my little firm). Lots of effort and no effects.

    But the proble also is that there lies my hate (or maybe dislike would be better form) for direct marketing and personal selling. I wont explain why but it has to do with me personally. Neverthless the problem is that intodays world there are no marketing tactics for introverted people like me.

    The aspects of my work and life that i enjoy are connected with creating and creativity. Although im not an artist i think i have above average sense of aesthetics – i usually knwo if something is odd and out of place from the big picture (i was always good at games like find differences, connect the dots and other right brain activities). The problem is that to live (and write selling offers, articles for blog) and work also left brain is needed.
    Other thing is that i like discoverng new things, topics and ideas and coming up with my owns. I have played for years Role Playing games as dungeon master, so im experienced script and scenario maker, and also i can improvise pretty good. As i used to create only bare frame of adventures and general direction whre i want the action to go and then i filled in the rest based on players observations. They were always telling that they want more and more because thye love my adventures scenarios.

    I wonder if i could use some of tgose strenghts to create my own sort of marketing so that it was fun marketing like Tim now has. But i fear that i will treat all people on twitter as potnetial customers and thus it wont work. As i said it might be hard if not impossible for me to befriend lots of people on twiter and facebook as im an introvert and i value few but deeper relations that lots of them but shallow ones. Unfortunatrly not having lots of people on mailing list, twitter or facebook wont help me in reaching business goals o fseling and feeding my family.

    Am i doomed to failure in a extravert dominated marketing techniques? Or is there a hpoe for me and i can somehow build upon my superpowers? Can you give me some suggestions based on what i wrote?

  14. Good post Karl. Step 1 in my book is to install the belief in your CORE that what you do is valuable to the client.

    If you are anxious about, “selling” what you do, I’d say your internal beliefs are the first place to look for a solution.

    “I don’t want to SELL what I do?” Kind of sounds nuts when you say it out loud even though we’ve all probably felt something like that at one time or another. After all, who else is going to sell it? 🙂

    The fact is, if YOU don’t believe in the value of what you do no one else is going to believe it either.

  15. Today after read this blog I’m learn another amazing fact about marketing hope there are many more blogs here for reading on different marketing issues.

  16. Rebecca says:

    This post is real synchronicity for me today!

    Among my many projects, I’m assistant-directing a show for a local theater group, and doing most of the marketing for it. The company’s marketing practices– like most small theater groups’– revolve around stuff that just doesn’t work. Like handing out postcards on the street, or sending press releases to arts reviewers who only ever review much bigger shows. Part of the problem, too, is that this area is saturated with theater especially in summer, so people are inundated with ads for shows. Worse, there’s such a huge range from really excellent theater to painfully bad theater, that the theatergoing community is extremely skeptical.

    I realized that social proof is absolutely essential to bringing in an audience in this environment– and I’ve noticed that this company’s shows are attended mostly by people who’ve seen the company’s shows in the past, who’ve been part of the company, or who know someone in the show. But with limited time before the production opens, I’m struggling to find the best ways to make more connections.

    I even caught myself getting frustrated that it was so hard to engage anyone in the production in any marketing efforts, and then realized that I hate the idea of “selling” as much as they do. I’m trying to find ways to get the word out that are more fun, that capitalize on the passion and excitement we all feel for this production.

    My superpower– besides being so on fire for the show itself– is humor. I’m a good writer, I have above average graphic design skills, and I’m at my best when I use those things in concert with my weird, absurd, outrageous sense of humor. Since the play’s an over-the-top comedy, it wouldn’t be out of place to use humor to market the show. I’m just not sure how to get that peanut butter inside that chocolate. Ideas, anyone?

  17. With that combination of skills, there have to be some great things you can do. First thought that came to mind is how about a quirky, humorous flash mob or street performance? Maybe pick an oldie but goodie, somewhat campy song from the past and hit a shopping mall or grocery store. I know the participants are focused on the play, but hopefully something only a couple minutes long might be possible, and it’s not in the realm of “selling”. Maybe you could approach those with smaller roles first. You’d still need to hand out flyers or post cards, but it would be different than just standing on the sidewalk randomly trying to engage people.

    You might also have some sort of contest such as whoever gets the biggest group there on one night wins something and maybe each guest gets something small. Make it something silly or maybe an annual “award”. Hopefully, that would remind people to get in touch with all their contacts.

    Hope I’ve been helpful. Good luck with the production!


  1. […] How to Stop Hating Marketing from Men with Pens by Karl Staib […]

Leave a Comment