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Marketing & Communications

Hopping Off the Marketing Moebius Strip

Here’s a terrible truth: outside of the 40-ish hours I work every week, and the morning I spend writing/drawing this thing… I don’t think much about marketing.

Yet another terrible truth: I find “24/7/365” marketing culture kind of unnerving.

I’m legitimately a bit jealous of anyone who has found their jam to the point that it’s all they want to do or think about. Since about the age of 12 and my first paper route, I’ve never gone more than a week without some sort of job… and I’ve never found a “love what you do” profession to the point that I’m ardently chasing or thinking about work in my free time.

Other people have written more, and better, about the constructed realities of online life and social media, exacerbated by a pandemic pushing us all a little more toward digital over the last 12(!) months.

I’ve certainly noticed that my feelings of constant guilt over not being marketing-minded every minute of every day have been exacerbated by Facebook and LinkedIn. The steady drip of Type-A high-performers continually broadcasting triumphs, sharing articles, pushing white papers. It feels like if you’re not on the treadmill, you’re getting left behind.

I definitely feel like I’m being left behind.

I scroll through social media with a lurching dread rising in my gorge that everyone else is working harder, being more brilliant, doing more.

But… countervailing that fear, and outweighing it… I also don’t feel like making my life about just one thing.

It’s a consequence of having a magpie mind, and more interests and ideas than I can pursue in three lifetimes. I’ve made some furniture and designed some t-shirts; I’m pursuing a Masters in Law. I cook a lot, practice the banjo, obsessively tag a ridiculous music collection, canoe, build hobby websites. I’ve done radio shows and podcasts. I’ve written bad drafts of books I never finished. I own and operate the world’s smallest art gallery.

Point being: when I’m off the clock, I’m off the clock. I don’t read about marketing. I don’t watch documentaries about marketing. I don’t listen to podcasts about marketing.

I avoid the marketers writing for marketers who read about marketing and then talk about marketing with other marketers.

It’s a Moebius strip: it connects to itself. It’s a closed ecosystem.

And I suspect people like me are the ones injecting new ideas into that space when they return to it.

In other words: I think studiously avoiding thinking about marketing when I’m not being paid to think about marketing… makes me much better at marketing.

What am I doing today, after this? I’m not sure: possibly re-reading Dan Slott and the Allreds’ exemplary 2014-16 run on Silver Surfer. Maybe trying to do some make-up cooking after a disastrous curried-tofu-couscous experiment from the other night. Possibly shopping for a frame for some amazing artwork from a friend. Probably working on a paper for a copyright law course I’m taking this semester. Tonight, Sunday night movie with my wife — her turn to pick, I have no idea what’s going to happen there.

But… not marketing.

And what am I going to bring back with me on Monday? I don’t know. But I’m getting new inputs. From time with my family and friends. From nature. From all sorts of media — music, books, comics, video games. I think the lateral connections bring something that the direct connections don’t. And — ergo — not doing marketing is good for marketing.

So — a bit of self-reflection and self-therapizing here, but also a permission slip for anyone else who feels a sense of lurching dread when they look at all the 24/7 marketing minds whirring away out there, and wonder why they’re not wired that way, or feel like they’re being outpaced.

It’s okay. It’s better than okay, it’s good. We need people to forage out into the wide world and bring the new things back.

As much as some goofball on the Internet with a blog can sanction you to think about and do other things, I sanction you. I’m waving my hand in a weird way and saying something vaguely Latin. You have my blessing and best wishes.

Go forth and do not think about this stuff for a while.

I’m going to.

March 7, 2021

Soundtrack:

Dominique Fils-Aimé, “Three Little Words

Ween, “Shinola (Volume 1)

Art of Noise, “And What Have You Done With My Body, God?

By mattshepherd

I love your story.
You’ve got one. Everybody does. Storytelling is what makes people people, and it’s what makes organizations succeed or fail.
For 40-odd years, I’ve been in love with stories, and I’ve spent a lifetime building structures to help people tell them.