I remember when I first started as a marketing freelancer. I wanted to change things. I’d been working in agencies where the budgets were big and the results consistent. But the desire to make a profit margin had diluted the creativity, risk and even some of the decision making processes.
In marketing, there are two things that can rob campaigns of true meaning:
1. A focus on profit margin
2. A focus on ego satisfying
The thinking becomes money-centric or centred on living out some creative fantasy. And it’s a problem that faces companies, agencies or freelancers. It’s usually a symptom of looking too closely at the work and not enough at the whole picture.
Marketing gets a bad name because some people choose it as a vehicle for getting rich and famous. It becomes sullied by the desire to be the fat cat in town. Or they treat it like a job with a list of TO DO’s as opposed to applying a creative approach.
When I quit agency life, it was because I wanted to tip the balance away from agency profit margins dictating the campaigns. I wanted marketing to return to a communication medium as opposed to one for the office trophy cabinet.
I wanted to put truth and creativity back into marketing. The best way to do that was to become a marketing freelancer. And I haven’t looked back.
Why on earth would you want marketing that’s truthful and creative?
What the people behind the marketing machine often forget is that the reason marketing exists is to tell a story.
In fact, everything we learn is through story telling.
Story telling means that we can listen to someone describe being burnt by the stove so we know better. Story allows us to experience our friend’s holiday or love life without having to get off the couch or date their partner.
Story is what makes analogies and similes work. It gives life to common idioms. And it continues to educate and inform us.
The more interesting, funny, heartfelt and easy to relate to the story is, the better we understand the situation or product. We rely on story to direct us away from the things that are unpleasant and guide us towards the things we enjoy.
And the closer the story is to the truth of the matter, the smaller the gap disappointment can grow in. The more creative and engaging the story told, the more likely we are to remember it and share it with our friends.
This is why I set off to put that truth and creativity back into marketing. The aim was to make the story match the experience and to delight the intended audience so they would remember it.
I wanted to help people get their story out. Without my chequebook or some tired process dictating the terms.
As a freelance marketer, it’s wrong to admit I want to help people
I’m surrounded by freelancers and agencies, business people and entrepreneurs who do well at what they do. They make money. They have notoriety in their field. They shift product.
A lot of them do it to support their families. And they compete against the earning clock. They do it for travel or to study. They do it so they can spend more time with their kids or carve out time for creative pursuits.
All of these things are noble motivations.
I do what I do because I want to help people. I love using my big nerdy brain to give people advice. I get a kick out of doing something for someone that works. And that they love.
Because I don’t give a damn about money and fame, some people even seem to think I have been selling myself short. Or that I am failing to reach my full potential.
I don’t buy that for a second.
In business (and in life), there’s always someone somewhere who thinks they know a better way to do things. Or that you need to take their advice, even if they can’t quite grasp what you’re doing.
I call them 5 minute experts. The advice often comes from a place of listening for 5 minutes and not much else.
Most of the time, these people can get in your head quite easily. They can do that because they’ve uncovered your doubts and can needle you in a way that makes you second guess yourself.
It feeds the imposter syndrome.
But that doesn’t mean their advice is right.
One of my favourite sayings is “never take advice from someone whose position you don’t want to be in.”
So my ears only prick up when I meet someone less stressed, happier and as productive as me.
I use my nerdy super powers of writing, marketing and creating ideas to help other people with their business ideas.
I do these things because I want to help, feel useful and make a difference.