This is a quick and dirty draft I wrote while at work.
There’s this Italian guy on TED- Ernesto Sirolli who said there are three parts to business- you make it, you sell it, you handle the money.
Peter Drucker said the same thing: “Because the purpose of business is to create a customer, the business enterprise has two—and only two—basic functions: marketing and innovation.” “Everything else is either just executing on what innovation and marketing unearth (production, sales) or helping innovation and marketing do their job (HR, accounting, etc).
I hate handling the money- I just hate it, full stop. I will outsource it to people and processes I trust. I just need to see the most big-picture stuff. Are we in the green? Can we keep going? Good enough for me.
I like product innovation, I like reading about it, learning about it, and I really appreciate it, but I don’t like doing it myself. Or rather, I know for a fact that there will always be others who are better at it than me.
Marketing though, that falls right within my core competencies and interests. I’ve always loved ideas, books, movies, art, theater, dance. Framing. Context.
Marketing is the process of creating a customer, where a customer is a novel and stable pattern of behavior. It’s about helping people see themselves in a different way, it’s about improving the meaning or value of something often just by rearranging and realigning things, sometimes by removing things. The amount of value you get for the amount of work done is almost magical to me. Consider the following: Let’s replace “lose your virginity” with “make your sexual debut”. Do you see how that makes things completely different? Or how about this- let’s replace “drugs are bad for you” with “drugs are for losers”. (OK, I know, there are mental illness implications/consequences, but do you see where I’m coming from?)
My marketing “career” began when I was playing in a shitty band as a teenager. We weren’t that great as musicians. But I focused on building relationships with concertgoers who were interested in having a great experience. I got us to wear coordinated outfits, I set up our MySpace page all nice and showy, I posted witty comments on everybody’s walls. I came up with the onstage banter, I positioned us as a fun, dancy band. We got to play on one of the largest stages in my country because we could pull a sizeable crowd, even though we were one of the shittiest bands around.
When I got on stage, with the lights and the roar of the crowd, I knew that marketing was the life for me. It still is. I won’t build the rocket that gets us to Mars, or the electric driverless cars that will save us from killing each other on the roads, but I sure as hell am going to devote my energies towards making them palatable for everybody.