by John Eberhard

I have been doing marketing for 21 years. I really love marketing for a couple of reasons.

First of all, when I was a kid I really loved all the creative arts, including music, photography, painting, writing, etc. So I love marketing because it offers the chance to be creative, especially with copywriting and design.

Secondly, I love the fact that with marketing, I can craft a message and design a promotion, then send it out to thousands or millions of people, then move hundreds of people to respond. It’s like I can reach out to all those people and cause a response, i.e. create a large effect. It’s a very powerful medium.

One of the first jobs I had in marketing was at a medium sized software company. The whole team would work hard on doing surveys on our target public (IT Managers), then design the ads and write the copy. Then we’d draw pictures of what we wanted to use in the ad, then take them out and show them to IT Managers and make sure it communicated the right thing. Then we’d have the pictures created in final form by a pro illustrator, photographer or computer graphics artist, then send out the ads. Then hundreds of responses would come in, sales would boom, and the company would make millions of dollars.

So I saw how powerful marketing was and it was and is exciting to be part of that.

One of the vital components of doing marketing is that you take one communication, and you send that communication out to hundreds or thousands or millions of people. Each company has a certain target public who can potentially buy their products or services. This may be a certain type of person or it may be limited to the geographical area around the business if it serves the local public. But within that target public, you want to send out your communication as broadly and to as many people as possible.

On social media networks you can apply this principle by getting as many followers or friends as you can. Apply some sort of criteria to who you befriend or follow, so that your friends are your target public as much as possible. Also on social networks be aware of the fact that you can’t pummel people with “buy my stuff” messages all day long, because it is a social network. You have to observe the etiquette and follow the way other people communicate on the network.

In recent years I have seen certain attitudes creep into the collective consciousness that it is somehow bad to communicate a commercial message.

For some strange reason, in the IT field there is a pervasive “anti-marketing” attitude, the idea that to market some product or service is bad.

Another of these is the idea that it is not OK to send out commercial emails, or elaborate ideas of how much permission you have to have in order to send someone an email. To be sure there has been a lot of abuse on commercial email lines, and the volume of email today is high.

But my attitude is to go for it and just make sure you follow the laws. Don’t do anything deceptive in your emails, put your street address in it, include an opt-out option and take people off your list within 10 days when they request off. And don’t get into a propitiative attitude with the public of “Oh please Mr. Public, is it OK that I send you something? Are you sure it’s OK? You won’t be offended, will you?”

One boss of mine used to say that it is easier to get forgiveness than get permission. I like that idea.

Another of my former bosses said that his policy with the mailing list was to continue mailing to them (this was before email) until one of three things happened: 1) they died, 2) they asked to be off the list, or 3) they bought something. I loved this aggressive attitude and have continued in this vein throughout my marketing career.

The moral of this story is that being aggressive is the way to go in marketing. Follow the rules of the road, but don’t buy into the idea that you shouldn’t communicate. Get your ideas out there, as widely as possible, get your responses, and flourish and prosper.