Has anyone asked you recently what inspired you to take on a marketing career?
If you’re like many marketers, you went into this career because you have an innate desire to create, to connect and collaborate with your customers. You are a visual storyteller, teacher, psychologist, and collaborator all in one.
You are your customer’s first exposure to a story about meaning. You can tell the story because you know something deeper about your buyers’ experiences and you work to innovate on their behalf.
I see B2B enterprise marketers working harder than ever.
You are being asked to perform as revenue acrobats in an unprecedented era of high-wire pressure for big returns. 20% annual growth is a common mandate for companies in Silicon Valley. It often feels like metrics and data science have become the tail that wags the dog. Without a doubt, B2B marketing has become a highly tactical, pressurized job.
Marketers must know everything there is to know about marketing and DO everything under the AMA sun. I dashed off this fake, online 2017 marketer job listing. It’s my parody, but I might just be poking fun at the new normal for marketers:
“Proven Expert in anything we’ve forgotten to mention but start with:
Data modeling, Digital Marketing…Corporate Banding, Positioning…SEO, Content, Social Media, Lead Gen… Marketing Automation, Ad placement…show how you and your family are power users of our products…”
- “Desire to crush it all the time.
- Scientifically eradicate anything but total profitability perfection.
- Risk-averse guarantee in every strategy, with proof you are in the cult of our off-the-charts sales projections.
- Optional but mandatory: A healthy suspicion of empathy (It just gets in the way).”
You also have had to historically fight to stay relevant as a marketer:
— Generations of clever television commercials typecast marketing as risky entertainment.
— Leadership thinks the offering is so great it doesn’t even need marketing.
— Aren’t dry, sales capabilities sheets enough for all the awesome, low hanging fruit!?
What will help you hold on to your love of marketing?
The love of marketing is the creative work of opening minds to new possibilities. I’ve seen first-hand that, for many marketers, there is a make-or-break connection between being engaged with your work and an ability to engage your customers. Engagement occurs when you tell an authentic story. Ann Handley, Chief Content Officer for MarketingProfs, adds a clarifying thought to this sought after goal in the micro-documentary, The Story of Content: “It’s not about storytelling, as much as it is about telling a true story, really well,” she says in the film.
How does truth engage both you, the marketer, and your buyer?
The truth has an emotional power. A true story is one about how you’ve tapped into what your clients care about and how you’ve helped your buyers succeed. When you solve problems for your clients, you use your knowledge and expertise to make your buyers successful. You’ve ripped the lid off what they truly care about and found what motivates them to do great work. Authentically tapping into your customers’ motivations for success is rocket fuel for your own motivations: You’re engaged because you’ve found what truly engages them.
Just for a moment, leave your current job.
Now, let’s say you are the marketing brain for an international educational recruitment company that finds American English teachers jobs in Korea.
You could market a story about how solid and trusted the company is in the industry. However, Glassdoor and social media have already told that story for you. Instead, you create content pillars focused on what it’s like to have an adventure in a foreign country. That’s tapping into a young English teacher’s Visionary Goal.
You’ve been given the green light to do what you want to do. So you ask yourself:
What does an early-career English teacher from the USA really want?
A life adventure, of course.
Create content for the true story. That’s everything they need to know to experience a successful Korean adventure: How to rent an apartment and succeed in the dating scene…articles about where to find cheap eats, and the coolest dance clubs…What are the right social customs in Korea to ensure you get the buy-in from elders so you don’t blow it out there during your amazing adventure?
Authenticity makes your story and your work more meaningful.
It’s not creativity in a vacuum; it has context and value. It’s a creativity shaped by your interest in and understanding of the deeper emotional reasons why your customers buy. You understand the goals they hold as most meaningful. Your English teachers might not have known it was even possible to have a Korean adventure. You knew enough to tell the truth and to be part of their journey.