The “M” Word

Maybe you’re a poet. Maybe you’re an activist. Maybe you knit lampshades.

You spent a lot of time writing those poems, agitating and knitting. The one thing that we all have in common is that we all need to connect with people who might, at some point, want what we create.

If you want people to pay money, and even if you want to keep your art pure, by getting people to pay in attention rather than money, we all have to get our stuff to market. Eek. Marketing. (Please read on!)

(Please forgive me, ghost of Bill Hicks. Just trying to help.)

You might sing a better song than that person on TV, but they somehow (probably unfairly, using evil trickery) got their stuff to market.

Fame isn’t meritocratic. In the bad old days, all you could do was whine about monopolists and the TV-industrial complex. Doesn’t have to be like that anymore.

Some people don’t like the word “marketing”, and that’s why Malcolm Gladwell wrote a book about ideas spreading and called it The Tipping Point. It made people feel clever and became a best-seller.

Turns out people are interested in marketing if you call it something else. This is marketing marketing.

Where Gladwell wrote the The Tipping Point for the general audience, Seth Godin wrote Spreading The Ideavirus for people who wanted to get stuff done and out there.

He made it free and downloadable.

In All Marketers Are Liars, Godin suggests that if you have an idea, and you want people to engage with it, you’re in marketing, whether you know it or not. (He might be lying, though!)

But Seth’s early innovation was Permission Marketing. The idea here is that you shouldn’t bother people who don’t want to hear from you. It’s common sense to you and me, but some in the marketing world needed Seth to write a whole book about it!

The old model revolved around the right (purchased with bales of cash) to interrupt people over and over again until they give in, and buy Coke or vote for UKIP.

It still works, evidently, but the internet changes things a little bit – and it’s good news for you!

How many Viagra emails have you opened lately? How many ads have you skipped lately? Now think about emails and messages from people you want to hear from (anticipated, personal and relevant, as Godin puts it).

That Viagra salesman (it has to be a man, right?) that just spammed a billion people is getting his ass kicked, in attention terms, by your little mailing list, because everybody on it wanted to hear from you.

Your list (or however you prefer to connect) wins, because you made a genuine connection with people who like what you do.

Whatever it is you’re making, (poems, social change, knitted lampshades), if it’s for other people, you need to build a following and get it to them.

Yes, it’s a lot harder to do for those of us without powerful media connections, but it used to be impossible. Now it’s not.

So, just to round up, build away with the social networks, lists, and what have you, but build permission at the same time.

Good luck!

PS. Some of my best friends are marketers. Go easy on me if you read this, guys!


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