Beware Digital Messiahs With Marketing Secret Sauce

Google the words “marketing secrets” and you'll quickly find that most “secrets” are well known, and trumpeted from the blogosphere to the point of being platitudes. That doesn't stop serious-looking experts from asking you to lean in closer, look into the magician’s eyes, and listen to the wisdom that they have personally discovered.

Among esoteric marketing aphorisms are every variation on "Find your story," "Make your content stand out," "Collaborate with influencers," and "Give your audience what they're looking for." That's all great advice, and it deserves to be said until we all get it, but it's far from Orphic wisdom. 

Still more, reading the profiles of “marketing wizards” might give the impression they know something they're only saying once the check is signed. "Sign up for my 10-part program and you'll soon have the gnosis of the elite and all the advantages of an adept." 



In Marketing, There Are No Unlisted Ingredients

In reality, there is no secret sauce. The only hidden knowledge resides in the world of wishes. Brutal competition, shifts in the economy, and the death of old-school search manipulation can send us looking for an edge. That's where we find the guru, waving us in from the information highway, promising a proprietary blend for success. It's the technical equivalent of $100 supplements, formulated by "scientists" that turn out to be ordinary vitamin C and rose hips we can get at any drug store.

Digital messiahs may polish up like the Tony Robbins of marketing, complete with the modern equivalents of books and tapes (video courses and white papers), but they thrive on our desire to cede control and on our fear of doing it wrong. We want magic to exist ,because then we stand some chance of finding it. We're looking for the long-lost "untapped goldmine of marketing." And, if you Google that phrase, you'll always find it, because it's in plain view, with all the neon and plastic charm of a roadside carnival.

In fact, there's no genie's lamp or magic carpet for successful business growth. What great brands are doing is transparent, and our audience is an open book, telling us constantly what moves them. If we want role models, it isn't specialists or experts, look to rock star companies in fields other than marketing.

Standards, Not Superstition, Typify Marketing Wisdom

Effective marketing has standards, not secrets, and it happens in plain sight. Just because marketing is an unregulated industry, that doesn't mean there aren't industry standards to which marketing professionals adhere. Even if they're putting a special label on it, like Jim's Powerhouse Marketing Formula, the methods aren't unique — nor can they ever be. If for no other reason than the need to reach an audience, great marketing is ubiquitous. 

If there's a special marketing technique only one person or a tiny elite knows about, that's because it doesn't work. Marketing is a communal effort that requires everyone to participate. It's an open construct, and that means business owners don't have to trust in technical sorcery. 

On the other hand, the onus is on the business to understand the basic framework of marketing in order to make effective decisions about strategy and tactics. It's not wrong to look for leadership and guidance; it's just counterproductive to imbue it with mystical properties and let our own sense of accountability take a holiday. The anti-messiah, who is less interested in branding every recognized method, and more committed to personal transparency, acknowledging the experimental nature of marketing, and holding us accountable for keeping up our end, is likely to be the real deal.

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