The Entertaining Teacher

If you can’t stand the idea of marketing, try teaching instead

Here’s what we’re told:

  • Marketing is selfish
  • Marketing is a scam
  • Marketing is pressuring
  • Marketing is short-term

Beliefs like this are perpetuated by business owners who don’t know any better. But they’re also embraced by marketing and ad agencies themselves. Of the latter, some do know better, but many just worship – and somehow justify – the scam-magic of marketing, which we associate with “direct marketing” [1]). Like selling “X-Ray glasses” in the back of comic books (I still want my 15 cents back!) or claiming that an online webinar is “full, would you like to get on the waiting list”? 

According to LinkedIn, there are 665,000 businesses in “Marketing and Advertising” [2]. And close to 10 million individuals classified the same way – as working in marketing and advertising.

Not easy to change the way 10 million people think about their profession. I am not even going to try. My job is limited to changing just a small group of people – maybe a few hundred, maybe a few thousand, over my lifetime. And one of the things I’d like to change is how we view the role of marketing in our business.

Why do I want to do that?

Because I want to see experts in their fields transform into authorities beyond their fields – visible to the people they serve, not just their peers in their fields. And I want to see them multiply the impact of their practice by digitalizing the way they package, promote, sell, and deliver their expertise.

And you can’t do that if you believe the old story about marketing – that it’s a scam, and yucky, and that you have to use pressure and trickery.

So here’s a new story: marketing makes change happen. But only if it’s a specific kind of change for a specific kind person. Marketing is building trust and creating clarity by listening, teaching, and guiding.

Which brings me back around to the point of this post, which is to teach. To say: if you don’t like marketing, if the very word makes you feel ill, then think of it as teaching. This works better if your classroom teaching-style is interactive, but think of your solution as the course curriculum. Think of your business “case study” as a “real-world example” you might read in a textbook. Think of your customers as students, your prospects as future students.

And the questions you ask? Those are everything to your marketing because they spawn ideas about how purchasing your solution might create results. The art of questioning is an effective ideation technique, [3] but the purpose of ideation in marketing is not just to create and sustain better marketing campaigns but to stimulate thinking in your prospects’ minds.

So do you have to make it interesting? Of course. None of us sat through boring lectures without resenting our teachers. Maybe you tell stories, maybe you have good comic timing, maybe you inspire, maybe you create content that is thought-provoking or pleasantly succinct. But part of teaching is entertaining [4].

If you teach your students about your business in a way that relates it to their lives and do so entertainingly, they might listen. And over the long run, they might get clarity on how you optimize or transform their businesses and their lives.

My best,





Footnotes & Errata
  1. Direct marketing (advertising and marketing you can measure with some degree of accuracy) has been exploited by two advertising Google and Facebook that have accelerated it to new levels of profitability. But it’s has been around for about 135 years, so it’s nothing new. And it’s not inherently evil either; you, me, almost all of us should employ a blend of direct marketing (measurable) and brand marketing (unmeasurable 
  2. The two biggest are Google and Facebook. The next 5 biggest are the “Big 5” advertising conglomerates – Omnicom, WPP, Publicus, Dentsu, and IPG. Collectively, these firms own most of the famous ad agencies (Ogilvy, Young & Rubicam) along with about 5,000 subsidiary agencies. But in a delicious twist on the usual oppressive monopolization of industries, 100,000’s of thousands of small, niche marketing agencies are thriving all over the world. 
  3. Do you think Warren Berger make a good case for this assertion, A More Beautiful Question? 
  4. Just not in the style “chilled-out entertainer”