“Marketing” is Not a Dirty Word

by Crystal Paradis-Catanzaro

You know what word people hate? “Marketing.” As a descriptor, it’s often used pejoratively—as in, “This has a marketing feel to it.” And really great marketing? It’s not “marketing” anymore—suddenly it’s “creative genius” or “authentic” or “transparent.”

Oh, and did I mention I work in marketing? I’m a writer and content strategist in the digital marketing, or “inbound marketing,” field, to be specific (and if there’s a term more misunderstood than “marketing,” it’s “inbound marketing“). This region is packed with tech and creative agencies, web design firms and development shops.

In my last decade of working in the digital marketing and communications world, I’ve become somewhat desensitized to the negative effect that the word “marketing” has to the world at large. Since I love my job and am obsessive about staying on top of current trends, I now have RSS folders, Evernote tags and Twitter lists under the category of “Marketing”—and those repositories dominate where I spend my time when I’m in front of a screen.

It’s gotten to the point that I recently considered adding the sentence, “I love marketing” to one of my bios.

*record scratch sound*

“I love marketing”?!

Apparently there WAS still a part of my brain that realized how that sounds to people who don’t work in marketing for 50+ hours per week. And that was the part that reacted viscerally to that line as it flashed across my consciousness.

But here’s the thing—I really DO love learning about what people respond to online. I love to see how new technology platforms are working, or not working, across various industries. I love testing new tools to find out how they can help my friends who run their business’ blogs or social media accounts. I love seeing how altering strategies will affect metrics, analytics and conversion rates. All that stuff? Marketing.

In taxonomy for Evernote or Feedly subscription lists, the word “marketing” makes sense to me. It correctly describes the subject matter covered by all of these interrelated resources, articles and musings. So I almost forgot how smarmy and icky that word can come off to the general public, who conjure images of snake oil salesmen or annoying, flashy ads when they hear that word.

Being a good marketer does not require trading in authenticity.

There are good reasons to learn best practices in marketing, even if your goal is to remain 100% authentic. You can still retain credibility and integrity while getting more eyeballs on your blog posts, more engagement on social media and more people at your events.

You don’t have to sell your soul to sell more of your products and services. You CAN put out genuine, quality content that will be easy for your present and future admirers to find and share.

It doesn’t mean you have to write garbage click-bait titles; it does mean you need to think about using a title that does justice to the article it appears above—or else no one will read it.

Keeping on top of SEO and digital marketing trends might be turning me into a metrics nerd, using the terms “ROI” and “CRO” a little more than the average writer. But they are also things that give me the tools to help my clients and friends succeed.

And it doesn’t just mean making more money—it also means I’m more qualified to help the nonprofit organizations and causes I volunteer for raise more funds for people in need, and get more people involved in important community issues.

So yes, marketing matters. Maybe there’s a better word for it… but I’m okay with it.