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Is marketing more than a trick?

I’m a bit hesitant about writing this post, and I took great care in crafting the headline, because I have had a bad experience writing about this subject in the past. But I think it’s too important not to talk about, because we live in a world where marketing has been reduced to nothing more than mere technique. A trick. And I think marketing can be a lot more than that. So, if you’ve been feeling more like a magician than a businessperson while doing your marketing, then maybe this is the post for you.

 Sometimes it seems as if we all want to know what the “angle” is in Internet marketing. I once wrote a blog post on the Search Engine Guide Web site called “The All-Time Top-Secret Search Marketing Trick” and told everyone that there were no tricks. You have to do old-fashioned hardworking marketing of having what your customer wants and persuading them that you do.

Andy the Magician and Peter Rabbit

Image by jeffreylcohen via Flickr

Instead of people liking this column, I got several flaming comments about what a bad post it was, including one accusing me of faking a positive comment by writing it myself! They were infuriated that they had been lured into reading the post by the headline promising a trick and yet there was none revealed.

That’s how powerful this pull is to find the secret. The inside angle. The trick.

But what I hope to convince you of is that the trick is something very basic. The trick is truly valuing your customer. The trick is really trying to give them what they need–the right information to answer their questions, the right offer that fits their budgets, the right product that solves their problems.

And, somewhere, in the dim recesses of time, this is what marketing once was. Often we treat marketing as though it is mere promotion, when that is but one of the vaunted “Four Ps of Marketing.” We need to remember that the other three involve having what our customer wants, where they want it, and at the price they want it. Marketing is a lot more than trumpeting our wares.

And it doesn’t have to be about tricks. Marketing need not be about fooling people. If you really have what your customers want, you probably don’t need to fool them. Just tell them.

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Mike Moran

Mike Moran is an expert in internet marketing, search technology, social media, text analytics, web personalization, and web metrics, who, as a Certified Speaking Professional, regularly makes speaking appearances. Mike’s previous appearances include keynote speaking appearances worldwide. Mike serves as a senior strategist for Converseon, an AI powered consumer intelligence technology and consulting firm. He is also a senior strategist for SoloSegment, a marketing automation software solutions and services firm. Mike also serves as a member of the Board of Directors of SEMPO. Mike spent 30 years at IBM, rising to Distinguished Engineer, an executive-level technical position. Mike held various roles in his IBM career, including eight years at IBM’s customer-facing website,, most recently as the Manager of Web Experience, where he led 65 information architects, web designers, webmasters, programmers, and technical architects around the world. Mike's newest book is Outside-In Marketing with world-renowned author James Mathewson. He is co-author of the best-selling Search Engine Marketing, Inc. (with fellow search marketing expert Bill Hunt), now in its Third Edition. Mike is also the author of the acclaimed internet marketing book, Do It Wrong Quickly: How the Web Changes the Old Marketing Rules, named one of best business books of 2007 by the Miami Herald. Mike founded and writes for Biznology® and writes regularly for other blogs. In addition to Mike’s broad technical background, he holds an Advanced Certificate in Market Management Practice from the Royal UK Charter Institute of Marketing and is a Visiting Lecturer at the University of Virginia’s Darden School of Business. He also teaches at Rutgers Business School. He is a Senior Fellow at the Society for New Communications Research. Mike worked at from 1998 through 2006, pioneering IBM’s successful search marketing program. IBM’s website of over two million pages was a classic “big company” website that has traditionally been difficult to optimize for search marketing. Mike, working with Bill Hunt, developed a strategy for search engine marketing that works for any business, large or small. Moran and Hunt spearheaded IBM’s content improvement that has resulted in dramatic gains in traffic from Google and other internet portals.

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  1. Avatar Heidi Wooden

    Hear, hear Mike,
    I commend you for writing about this topic, once again. Hardwork and due diligence are necessary requirements to execute impactful marketing initiatives.
    May I also underscore the notion that Marketing comprises both science and creativity.

  2. Avatar PowerPoint Templates

    Many small businesses think of marketing as an afterthought, and I really think that is a mistake. If you value your customers you will put some thought into your marketing, its much more than just trickery.

  3. Avatar web designer

    Well written article on internet marketing. Marketing is all about creating awareness of product or service among the customers and internet is becoming hub for the conversation.

  4. Avatar Hgh

    All people doing small business do a lot of marketing which is much more than what they need. But id don’t think its benefits them.

  5. Avatar British Expat

    Convincing customers of needing something that they don’t need is the real trick in marketing for me.
    Expat Network

  6. Avatar newbie blogger

    i think marketing is such an important thing, coz by marketing we can collect alot of costumer..
    marketing not about fooling peopel it’s just how to make them interest to our product it’s need intelegent and science to do that

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