Good Marketing vs Bad Marketing and Evil Marketing

Like many of you I have a teeth grinding, nails on the chalkboard, trip to the dentist reaction to the term marketing that conjures up memories of late night infomercials, telemarketers, and internet/twitter/email spammers. Corporately you may also encounter the term used in the following context: "Marketing says they need [impossible changes] to [something you're responsible for] by [impossible deadline] because of [illogical reasoning/self-promoting corporate politics]".

In fact in most contexts the term Marketing is about as well received as a charbroiled cat at a PETA luncheon.

Believe it or not though, while it can be used for evil, marketing isn't inherently evil. At its heart marketing is simply an attempt to take something that you're selling and make it appear favorable. Yes you could be selling a product but thinking more broadly you could also be selling an idea or even selling yourself (think about the last time you went on an interview).

Evil marketing says: We have a awful product/service/idea that we want you to think is great! Often the product was designed primarily to be sellable, but not necessarily useful or reliable.

Good marketing stems from the product itself. It only occurs when you've worked hard to create an awesome, usable product that fills a need and, having done that, seek to get the message out to the people that it will help.

To simplify it further, marketing is the sum of the messages that you are putting out there about something you want others to care about, whether it be your company, your product, your team, or yourself. It is critical to be aware of the messages you are putting out, how consistent they are and the perception that they are creating.

How good your product/blog/software looks sends a message. How it's presented sends another. How useful it is, while critical, can be buried behind the all the other messages that are being sent. Perception is often more important than reality and perception is exactly what marketing seeks to influence.

Companies are marketing their products; Managers are marketing their teams; Team members are marketing their skills and their usefulness to the company. Good marketing takes something worthwhile and aligns perception with reality; poor marketing fails to do so. Evil marketing takes something worthless and attempts to skew perceptions to make it seem worthwhile.