The goal in business is not to sell to people who need what you have ~ it is to do business with people who believe what you believe“.

This beautiful quote from Simon Sinek, one that I use regularly in my keynotes, was written for the marketing industry. Well, not quite… but it feels to me like it was. For me, it speaks to exactly why I do what I do, and why I work where I work. The marketing industry sometimes gets a bad rep, and oftentimes with good reason. We have after all just experienced “Black Friday” and “Cyber Monday“, no longer just two days of frenzied purchases, but now a whole “Black Label Week“. Already got a TV? Never mind that. What you really need is this 4K curved screen the size of a small caravan.

Greed is good“. Gordon Gekko

Not content with buying things we don’t need, with money we don’t have, to impress people we don’t particularly like, marketers felt like we needed more stuff in our lives – so of course we needed to turn a couple of discount days into an entire week.



I’m being flippant and ungrateful. Of course much of this behaviour drives the very industry that I am lucky enough to work in, but as with all good things, there’s a darker side when things go to extremes. That’s why I work so hard to try and educate and inspire marketers and execs about the responsibility that they have (to themselves and their clients), both ethically and economically. During the last 20 years of doing this, I have noticed that there are usually three types of marketers…

“Data Driven Marketers”

Often confused with being the smartest guys in the room because they come armed with dashboards, metrics and KPI calculators, data driven marketers just want to sell more stuff. The only thing that they are concerned with is ROI. Of course they want to make money and have customers talk about them, but once they have delivered their killer campaign, shown some good numbers, or won a Cannes Lion, their work is done. I think they could do more, but in their world they often smash a campaign, take the praise, celebrate ~ and move on.

“Relationship Marketers”

Next we have relationship marketers. RM’s are not necessarily smarter than data driven marketers, but they play the long game instead of the short game. They prefer to focus on “lifetime value” rather than a quick campaign based ROI. They prefer relationships to one night stands and have a much more thoughtful and less “transactional” relationship with their customers. Their marketing strategies often show cost savings to a business as much (if not more) than increased revenue. They like “customer satisfaction” and are not big fans of reach, influencer or those generic social media engagement metrics. I like relationship marketers, but there’s a third group that I like even more.

“Meaningful Marketers”

This group of marketers don’t stop when they’ve hit their targets or KPI’s. Some campaigns need to generate ROI, some need to create awareness, advocacy or increased consideration ~ but meaningful marketers see that as a platform to do something greater. The majority of marketers get very handsomely paid when they exceed their targets, win awards and generate more sales for the brands that they represent.

But what if, instead of saving your organization $1M on the killer campaign that you just completed, what if you only saved $900K? Or what if, instead of making an extra $1M in sales for example, you only generated an additional $900K above what you expected? You’d still be a rock star, get paid, hit your bonus and receive all the credit.  AND THEN, what if 10% of your returns – $100K for example, was put towards an education program that taught young kids how to code? That could be 100,000 hours of coding lessons for inner city kids! Or what if your $100K went towards a healthcare initiative that raised awareness of a new service in the town where your HQ is located? Or what if you gave $100K of developer services to build an app for that non-profit which desperately needs it, but can’t afford it. Getting CxO’s to buy in to a meaning marketing 10% program like that could changes the lives of many people, both outside and inside the company.

That, to me, is what being a meaningful marketer is about. Smarter economically than a data driven marketer and more emotionally intelligent than a relationship marketer. It’s that kind of thinking that gets me out of bed in a morning. Being in a position where the advice and knowledge that I share allows brands to make much more money, and then being in a position to help influence an additional project that might make a meaningful difference to someone.

Better than just getting paid to help your customers sell a few more large screen TV’s hey?

Just a thought.

“The more money we make, the more we can give away, and by doing so we create business model that others want to copy”. Yvon Chouinard, Patagonia


Communications Designer @IBM • Climate Reality Leader • Lover of Old Business Books, Clever Technology and the NHS • Based in London, UK.

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