By Danny Knesek
At some point, everybody in marketing deals with the problem of having their campaigns not produce any results. Great marketers come up with the catchiest and most clever advertising slogans, fancy branded puns, or subtle jokes that have the potential to push huge volumes of product.
But there’s always the potential to completely flop. It’s every marketer’s worst nightmare. To have spent a bunch of money or hours on design and production, not to mention the media cost to run the TV and online ads, for no boost in revenue. There’s no longevity. These marketers aren’t always fully conscious of their own limitations.
What does a good marketer look like, then? A marketer that can consistently deliver results, albeit maybe not record-breaking results, but consistent results that steadily grow companies’ revenue. And not only that, but a marketer who is a decent person in general, one who understands and empathizes with the world, and knows how to craft messages to speak to the world’s pain with a plan to lead people out of it.
I posit that marketers read too many business and leadership books and not enough of the classics. 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, EntreLeadership, Good to Great, etc. are all good books, but they aren’t original. We need to go back to the beginning if we’re really going to understand how to be fundamentally good marketers, not just great in the short term.
What Are The Great Books?
I’m a StoryBrand Certified Guide. If you are familiar at all with StoryBrand, you’ll know that Donald Miller built a marketing framework out of what he calls “a 2000-year old model for telling stories.” For anybody is business, I definitely recommend going through the StoryBrand online course, but for those of us that want a more novel (and slower) approach to understanding stories and human nature, then let’s go back to the fundamentals of the stories from 2,000+ years ago. I’m talking about the Great Books of The Western World.
Since the dawn of time, humans have been passing along and building upon ideas. Ever heard of the car? That probably came from trying to remove the need for horses to move large carts. The cart? A way to move more items than a person normally can carry across distance using a bucket and wheels. The wheel? Credited as being one of the first ideas and invention of man.
See how an idea can form and then be built upon? The same is true in the philosophical and psychological realm. If you’ve ever tangoed with the idea of free will vs. determinism, you’d trace the debate all the way to the gods intervening during the battles of the Trojan War, found in Homer’s Iliad.
That’s where the Great Books begin, the Iliad and then the Odyssey. No matter whether you like them or not, there are plenty of lessons to learn that can be applied. (A lesson I took away from the Iliad was that on the brink or during war, the army/nation/house that breaks cultural norms the quickest will have the upper hand. See: Game of Thrones).
“I’m not going to swear an oath I can’t uphold. When enough people make false promises, words stop meaning anything. Then there are no more answers, only better and better lies.” – Jon Snow
The quote has nothing to do with marketing (or does it?), and it’s besides the point. The point is this: if you want to be a good marketer, you have to be a person who understands more; to do that, you need to move from a place of less understanding about the world. The best way to do that is by actively reading.
I’m Ready To Start Reading, But The Books Are Old And Pretty Overwhelming.
Truly, they can be overwhelming. That’s why it’s important to get into groups that you can read along with. Whether it’s people on your block, a church group, local business leaders, your pickup basketball team, whatever it is, it doesn’t matter. These books were meant to be accessible to anyone, and everyone.
If for some reason you can’t get a group going at home, then there are online groups. About the same time I started operating Rhythm, I joined Online Great Books. It’s been one of the best decisions I’ve ever made for myself.
So Here’s To Those That Understand Less.
May You Begin To Understand More.