Speaking with Ardath Albee earlier this year on the If You Market podcast (episode 75) got me thinking about the idyllic image of marketing vs the reality of practical marketing. My conclusion is that it can be very counterproductive when marketers play “keeping up with the marketing Jones” instead of focusing on what works for them and their company, focusing on practical marketing.
Ardath and I were talking about creating buyer personas, and when I asked her how many buyer personas a company should have her answer surprised me. She said “However many your team can manage”. I was so ready to hear some big number that would put me in a shame spiral when realizing how inadequate my marketing efforts were. I was already mentally scrambling to come up with a believable number of personas that MountainTop Data uses, “we have 20 right now, but, but, but, uh, we’re in the middle of a reorganization and will be back up to 40 or so soon”. I didn’t want my guest to think she came on our podcast to discuss marketing and we were incompetent marketing losers. I wanted to make sure she thought I was a professional.
What a breath of fresh air to hear honest talk about marketing. A weight was lifted and suddenly I felt like my company’s marketing was worthy and could do anything. The takeaway, don’t beat yourself up if you only have one buyer persona, or two. It’s a bigger problem if you have 10 buyer personas but are so busy trying to create campaigns for all of them you aren’t making anything good for any of them and are skipping on other crucial tasks.
I now realize many of the conversations we have on the If You Market podcast may be contributing to this. So moving forward I will make a special effort to keep it practical. Sure we may talk about AI, marketing automation, bla, bla, bla, and many things the average marketer maybe shouldn’t be focusing on, but I will make sure to keep it grounded with practical marketing. We’ll still look to have advanced topics, but will make an effort to always include practical tips even if that means warning against the very topic our guest is there to discuss.
Obviously this epiphany goes way beyond marketing personas to all aspects of your marketing. It’s a simple message, but so easy to get away from: do as much as you can do well. Back when we used to go to events it was easy to absorb the expectations coming from inspiring speakers getting everyone excited about being amazing. When we returned to our daily marketing grind reality would bring us crashing back down to earth and the imposter syndrome would take over. The disconnect between the marketing elite at flashy startups and well heeled enterprises and the everyday marketer is that most of us are small companies with little resources and are not experts in every cutting edge aspect of marketing. In my experience most marketers have little to no formal marketing training and for many marketing isn’t even their #1 job. These are real ‘main street’ marketers and sometimes what works for their companies is much different than the best practices being spread around. .
In the spirit of this topic I’m going to keep this short and get back to my main job. Don’t let perceived expectations shame you or cause you to chase the latest Martech or supposed benchmark for being a real marketer. Do what you can with what you have and though sales may think marketers sit around all day trying to think of a good catchphrase remember, marketers are down in the trenches too, getting it done one little piece at a time. Keep it simple, and effective, keep it practical.
By: Sky Cassidy