I Wish I Could Make a Case For Marketing to Bill Hicks
A large percentage of people who refer to themselves as Marketers are in fact Advertisers. To many people the distinction might seem insignificant, but when you begin to understand what marketing can be, what its true potential is, it becomes clear the two concepts are diametrically opposed. No one hates advertising as much as a real marketer.
Besides being a marketing strategist, I’m also a stand up comedian. One of my heroes is a man named Bill Hicks. He was one of the main influences that brought the schticky comedy of the 80’s to a halt and helped give birth to a new kind of comedic voice providing the missing link from Carlin and Pryor to modern comics like Louis CK and Hannibal Burress. He worked to tear down artifice wherever he found it.
In a famous routine, he exhorts all the marketers in the crowd to go home and kill themselves. After the crowd finishes laughing, he pauses and then says “No. Seriously. Go home and kill yourself.” He goes on to repeat the line maybe eight or nine times before the joke is over. It is difficult to have one of your artistic heroes hate your day job so much.
What is it about marketing that makes people so angry? Marketing is often conflated with advertising. Advertising is an almost universally hated concept. It is synonymous with manipulation, dishonesty, hypocrisy and pandering. To whatever degree marketing shares goals with advertising, it is complicit by association. And there is no denying that many marketing campaigns are just advertising campaigns with maybe a little extra strategy and better content.
But the truth is that marketing, when done right, is not only an incredibly honest endeavor, it is an opportunity for innovation, evolution, advancement and unification. In fact most of our the problems facing us toady will be solved through some form of marketing.
All of the same strategies that can be used to sell penis enlargement pills on pornography sites can be applied to higher minded ideals, lead to personal and global development and create communities that transcend traditional demographic boundaries.
Marketing gives an individual or a company the chance to share ideas and solutions to the people who are most interested in them. It can be used to create engagement, collect feedback, test hypotheses and share breakthroughs.
Even more strategic concepts like unique value proposition and product market fit are simply the new protocols for introducing solutions to the human race at large.
Marketing will always be used like advertising. And when it is, it is the worst, because it wears authentic clothing while remaining deceitful. But I wish I could sit down with Bill and explain to him that real marketing actually provides the opportunity for honest communication; something he would have appreciated.