Marketers are remarkable people. Thanks to a few cowboys, they sometimes get a bad rap. But most marketers do a sterling job of understanding human nature, helping businesses to grow, and selling products.
Marketing isn’t just for marketers. If you plan to do well in life, you’ll need to learn some basic marketing skills. Integrate these into your life, and you’ll find you see the world in a whole new way.
1. Looking for the Best In Things
The marketer’s role is to help businesses put their best foot forward. Marketers look for the best in their clients and shape that into a compelling story.
Learning to look on the bright side is a brilliant life skill whatever your field of work.
Whenever you come across something you’re unsure or feel skeptical about, instead of dismissing it, see what you can learn from it. Look for the best in things, and the world will become a brighter place.
Practice: At the end of each day, look back over your day and notice three things you are grateful for.
2. Making Connections
Marketers are always joining the dots and making unlikely connections. It’s not just about creativity, either.
How you get on in the world will have more to do with who you know than what you know. As such, it’s essential that you make connections with people who can help you achieve your dreams.
Networking isn’t about clinical business relationships. It’s about making friends for life, who will enrich your life and offer you a helping hand when you need it. But if you’re not willing to give, you won’t get anything in return.
Practice: Connect with someone new every week, whether through email or face-to-face. Even if only 50% of those you reach out to become part of your network, by the end of the year you’ll have 25 new contacts.
3. Telling Stories
People make sense of the world through stories. We all do it. We shape our lives into stories to make them meaningful. We escape into stories through movies, TV, and novels in our free time. Stories forge connections between people and shape the path of history.
Stories don’t have to be long. A story can be as short as a few words. A single image can tell many stories, all at the same time.
Learn to tell stories that make people sit up and listen. Stories will get people to back you and your vision.
Practice: Keep a “story box” of stories you can tell to new people you meet. You’ll use your best stories over and over again.
4. Adding Value
In the story of Cinderella, the fairy godmother uses her magic wand to turn a pumpkin into a horse-drawn carriage. That’s adding value. It’s taking something that already exists and making it even better.
You don’t need a magic wand to add value. You just need ideas for improving stuff that already exists. Whenever you’re in a situation and you make it better, you’re adding value.
If you have a job or you run a business, the reason you earn a living is because you add value.
Practice: Consciously add value to something today. The easiest way to add value is during conversation. You can do this by:
- Saying thank you when someone helps you out.
- Offering to help a colleague on a project with a tight deadline, even though it’s not technically your “role” to do so.
- Giving away free advice.
- Listening more than you speak.
- Asking insightful questions.
5. Pushing Yourself to Be Your Best
Marketers always want to improve. They’re forever on the lookout for tiny tweaks that will make things slightly better. Marketers often work on commission, so if they can shift more products, they’ll take home a bigger paycheck.
Yes, it’s great to notice the best in what you already have. But alongside that, being willing to grow is a valuable approach to life. This is known as the growth mindset.
Practice: What is one area of your life where things aren’t as rosy as you’d like them to be? Maybe it’s a relationship, your job, your fitness, or how you spend your free time. Think of a small tweak you can make to improve things (just one), and commit to it for a week.
6. Adopting Beginner’s Mind
Marketers who assume what their audience wants are destined to fail. They have to be in touch with the zeitgeist of the times, and with the specific needs and desires of their target market.
Likewise, a marketer who refuses to learn new things is a marketer who’s heading out of a job.
That’s why marketers need “beginner’s mind.” This means setting aside assumptions and adopting an attitude of openness. The person with beginner’s mind is always willing to learn new things.
As Zen teacher Shunryu Suzuki says: “In the beginner’s mind there are many possibilities, in the expert’s mind there are few.”
Practice: When your curiosity is piqued, follow it. Seek to learn new things every day, and allow your life to be an adventure.
7. Learning from Failure
Marketing is both a science and an art.
It’s a science because you can track data to discover what works. Making decisions based on data is one of marks of a good marketer.
Marketing is an art because there’s never a guarantee of success. What worked yesterday might not work tomorrow. Failure lurks around every corner.
Rather than allowing the risk of failure to invoke despondency, the marketer treats every failure as a learning opportunity. For the marketer, life is an experience. Failures don’t mean that they’ve failed. Failures are an opportunity to try again.
Practice: Think over some of the mistakes you’ve made in your life. What did you learn from them? Did your mistakes help you to grow, or did you use them as excuses and let them hold you back?
8. Communicating Simply
Marketers know that jargon excludes people. They’re aware that everyone is busy, and few people have the time to untangle complicated sentences.
That’s why marketers communicate in a simple, no-nonsense style. They’re not trying to impress anyone with their vocabulary or their specialist knowledge. Instead, they’re willing to step across the chasm, to do the hard work of bridging differences, to make communication possible.
Because of this, marketers are more likely to be listened to. They’re more likely to make a difference.
Practice: The next time you write an email, go back through it and get rid of jargon and long words. Make each sentence only as long as it needs to be and no longer.