Marketing and Emotional Labor


Recently I was talking with my wife about the work I’ve been doing for clients lately and a strange thought occurred to me…

I’m doing marketing. 

But why am I doing marketing? I have no formal training in marketing. What makes people think I’m the guy to help them market their products and services? 

This question belies a more foundational problem, though. It’s a problem I actually do feel confident addressing. 

Marketing used to be the purview of men in suits with massive budgets to throw around. It was a game of find a hold in the market and fill it as quickly as possible. 

In the early days of marketing, this worked just fine. There weren’t enough products that the work of marketing needed to evolve to handle. 

Contrast that with today. We are inundated with choices. At first glance, this may seem like a good thing for consumers, but it’s not. Being inundated is just as confusing and unpleasant as it sounds. 

We are constantly bombarded with messages at every turn. Cutting through all of that noise is increasingly difficult if you’re trying to play the same game as everyone else. 

In today’s marketing landscape, the people who tell the best stories, the people who make their audiences feel something, who generously seek to solve a problem…these are the people who win. 

Because, at the end of the day, marketing isn’t (or shouldn’t) be about spamming your way to sales. It should be about understanding the deep, emotional drivers of your audience’s decision making. 

And that’s a really hard job. 

Thankfully, it’s a job that doesn’t require a degree in marketing to learn. You either get it or you don’t. And you learn it by practicing.

One more thing…there’s an idea that, if you know how to use the tools, you can spam your way to success. 

Just dump a few thousand (or a few tens of thousands) dollars into Facebook ads and watch the money start to roll in, right? 


There’s a massive difference between knowing how to use marketing tools and knowing what to say with those tools. 

Anyone can learn to use tools.

But not everyone knows how to tell the right story. Or, as Seth Godin puts it, not everyone can figure out how to change the culture with their marketing. 

Marketing is a deeply personal, almost entirely emotional act. You have to know your audience, understand where they are, and figure out how to take them where they want to go.