Marketing Pretenders and How to Spot One

Marketing Rant

I don’t do this often.  At least I don’t think I do.  But you should be forewarned…this is a marketing rant. Marketing pretenders

Well, it’s a bit more than just a marketing rant.  It is about how presenters need to…

a) know their stuff really well before they present and

b) be careful about the words they use to communicate.

After all, no one needs to learn from a pretender and words have meaning.

By reading about my recent experience, you may save yourself some time and money if you read or hear someone spouting the following junk.  You’ll know they’re full of it.

I just came back from a marketing presentation where the presenter made three inaccurate statements.

1.  “Marketing’s job is to create a “want”.

2.  Public Relations creates the “image”.

3.  You don’t make sales on social media.

Hello?  What?

This is where I want to pull my hair and scream.

Is it any wonder that many small business owners are confused about marketing and social media?  There are people out there confusing the heck out of them with inaccurate and false statements like these.

Let me explain why each of these statements so distorting and frankly untrue.

Marketing’s job is to C R E A T E “WANT”? 

I don’t think so.

Let’s begin by making certain we understand the meaning behind the words used.  According to Merriman-Webster, the meaning of the word ‘create’ is:


: to make or produce (something) : to cause (something new) to exist

: to cause (a particular situation) to exist

: to produce (something new, such as a work of art) by using your talents and imagination

Merriman-Webster’s  definition of the word ‘want’ is:


: to desire or wish for (something)

: to need (something)

: to be without (something needed)

Customers already have wants.  We all come pre-wired with wants and desires.  That’s what Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs is all about.

They already WANT to be successful, more productive, less stressed, more joy in their lives.

Marketing is the act of creating customers by filling their natural wants and desires.

Understanding what Marketing is and isn’t makes a big difference in how you approach your communications.

No one ‘wants’ to buy health insurance.
We buy health insurance it because it satisfies our natural want for security.

No one wants to hire an Interior Decorator.
We do, because we want to ensure the success of a costly kitchen remodel.

No one ‘wants’ to spend a premium price for an Apple Air.
People spend more than necessary because they naturally want to be associated with the Apple brand.

Trying to ‘create’ a want or desire is the hard way…it is the sleazy way, the spammy way.  It’s the used car sales approach.  Often, it isn’t very successful.

The easy and ethical way is by filling your customers natural wants and desire.  There’s no convincing needed.  All you have to do is present what you are offering to address the natural want or desire.  This is by far a more successful approach.

The more a small business owner taps into their customers’ natural wants and desires – by associating their product or service with that want or desire – the more successful the small business owner’s marketing will be.

But perhaps the biggest untruth was her second comment.

Public Relations creates the “image” 

This statement absolutely floored me and is simply untrue.

It is NOT the role of PR to create an image.

The image of a company is created in a thousand and one ways and all are inter-related.  Each serves to project and reinforce the image.

Some of these image attributes are itty-bitty yet each contributes a brush stroke in the image you paint in your customers’ minds.

  • Company name
  • Font used in logo, on business cards, in signage, on website, in advertising, in slide presentations
  • Colors used in logo, in store, on website, in promotions, in communications, store packaging, product packaging, slide presentations
  • Photos and images used in logo, advertising, on social media, in store promotions
  • Staff appearance, staff interaction
  • Quality of service delivered
  • Location of store or office
  • Fixtures used in store
  • Lighting
  • The selection of words used in communications – including PR

All of the above and more create a company’s image.

Does Public Relations have a role?


But crafting an image does NOT begin nor end with PR. It begins with the Company’s mission and vision.

To find out more about how Public Relations can help your company, you should read this series of PR posts.

Okay.  The last statement.

You don’t make sales on social media.


Why do people say such silly things?

In fairness, the presenter did allow as e-commerce does happen online and that many internet marketers make money through social media.

The position of the presenter was that this was NOT the case for brick and mortar businesses.  All they should expect are to generate “leads”.

Really?  Why just leads?  Why not hot buyers on their mobile phones ready and willing to visit the store – ready to dial a phone number?  Why not sales?

If being on social media doesn’t help make sales, why bother?  Why invest the time and energy?

You are in business to create customers and you do that by making sales.   You certainly don’t need to waste time doing social media if it doesn’t contribute to the bottom line.

Social media IS part of the sales process, just as advertising, direct mail, sales promotion, public relations or any other marketing tool is part of the sales process.

Every time you post a Facebook update or participate on LinkedIn or tweet, you are sending out a communications that your audience or audiences will see and hopefully respond to.

The role of social media is identical to any media…it is to encourage them to find out more about what you do and offer…to pull them toward you…and to ultimately buy.

If social media isn’t about “making sales”, then  it must be about wasting time.

Make me a promise Marketing Pretenders

The next time you hear someone talking about marketing or social media…listen, listen hard to their words.  If it sounds like they are making declarative statements that don’t ring true, then chances are high they’re a pretender.

When you hear people spout this poppycock about marketing, public relations or social media, run.  Hide.  Get as far away as possible.

Whatever it is they are trying to sell you, you don’t want.

Your Turn To Rant

Do you hear or see these things being said about marketing?

Does it make you crazy or does what they say just confuse you?

Share your thoughts in the comments section below and feel free to share this post with others who might come across Marketing Pretenders.


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Sheila Hibbard

Sheila Hibbard takes the fluff, hype and confusion out of marketing and social media. She provides small business owners with straight forward, no nonsense marketing guidance and techniques that produce results based on her 35 plus years in advertising, communications, research, strategic planning and social media. Author of Marketing Online Made Simple - WHO.

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