Life Is Marketing

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We often forget that everything we do is Marketing.

Even if we don’t like the term “marketing.” Even if it doesn’t have the word “marketing” on your business card or in your job description… you’re in marketing.

It sometimes takes the wise words of someone who is super-successful and doesn’t consider themselves a “Marketer” to make that type of realization. I had a pretty cool week. The Canadian Marketing Association (CMA) held their National Convention in Toronto (and I was honored to be the Co-Chair of the event). In helping to put together the stellar line-up of speakers, we scored Howie Mandel (comedian, actor and host of Deal Or No Deal and this season’s America’s Got Talent). Beyond his on-screen public persona, he’s also an author (Here’s The Deal: Don’t Touch Me), producer and manages many different angles of the entertainment and content business. He’s funny… and he’s razor sharp when it comes to business. In thinking aloud as to why he was invited to be the closing keynote speaker for the second day of this Marketing conference, he suggested that everything we do, all of the time is marketing.

"Life is Marketing," said Mandel… and he’s right.

From trying to get an idea across in a meeting to closing a deal to going out on a Friday night to meet someone, we all spend our days trying to market ourselves, our ideas and the work we do. Don’t believe me (or Howie Mandel)? Think about the last time you had to fight for a promotion or a raise? What were you really doing? You were marketing yourself. Think about the last time you tried to get an idea across in a meeting. What were you really doing? You were marketing the idea to your peers.

So, should everyone be on Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, TV, in books, etc…?

According to Howie… yes! (while I might argue that one should have a strategy in place before simply diving in). Howie’s take is this: in a world where there are so many choices – from a multitude of channels and books to millions of people creating and sharing content online – that brands need to not only be where the people are, but to be doing things in enough places that they get noticed.

It’s a little bit of a mass media concept, but it makes a lot of sense.

Depending on the type of brand you have and how you need it to connect to your consumers, Mandel is spot on: the more findable you are and the more valuable the content that you are creating is, the more likelihood you will have of building a strong and vibrant brand. The brands that stick to one thing (and that includes TV and/or the Internet) are the ones, according to Howie, that are not paying attention to "what’s going ‘out there’" and being open to new and, potentially, life-changing opportunities.

And that’s no joke.

"Life is Marketing"… it feels nice to say that.


  1. Hi Mitch, The very thought of Howie Mandel is so damn true, we just need to observe things that we perform daily, we sell an idea in everything we do.
    I wrote about this topic sometime back, really gives us marketers pride that we are on our way to perfect an art which many people can’t even pretend to do due to some or the other reason.
    Thanks for sharing another valuable post.

  2. good post mitch. there is also a short essay on this in 37signals’ book ReWork. it’s titled “Marketing is not a department”. i think it’s a great concept

  3. I would agree that life is marketing – we are all fighting – some very loud and others in a more subtle way for attention. But I would ask why? Is it only to make a paycheck? Is it to feel better in the company of other people’s attention? What are we selling that is so important to other people – is it for them or for us or perhaps both? I think we all want to be heard in one way or another but on another scale we least I do..does this really give me more than I can find within myself? If not – then I would be destined to wrangle people’s attention for my whole life – does that seem right?

  4. This article gives the wrong messages and ideas to people.
    While I appreciate your attempt to be this visionary guy, spreading vision to the minds of others, what you’re doing is polluting otherwise quality free thinkers.
    We are not living to market, and the notion that every day, what we do leads to empty existences.
    Sure, we can see the world through your eyes. We could also of done that with other less appealing “leaders”.
    Your article puts the position into peoples minds that will be difficult to undo. Young malleable minds listening to this might think your right. They might not question your concept. You might be guilty of spreading a vacuous meme.
    In the late nights you look for your inspirational posts, maybe you should put down the glass, and give it a rest. Ferment on these thoughts of yours. When giving people insight, might I suggest you think about the world as a child does.
    A child does not look at everything as an opportunity, they look at life as an experience.
    Offer others the opportunity to share and live experiences, not to capitalize on others.
    This article represents what wrong with the direction of many of the minds in the world. We’ve forgottn what it is to be people, as we believe we are only here to consume, or engage consumption.
    I ranted on this on my blog. Seriously sophomoric, your assumptions lack the wisdom of age, and the gentle hand of humanity.
    We are here to define our own existence, apparently yours is about selling shit.
    Delete if you want to, I am saddened by your thoughts.

  5. Why would I delete a differing perspective? They are welcome here. Thanks for adding your side. I’m just sorry to read that you feel that getting your ideas to spread or trying to market yourself more effectively to get the job that you want is the same as “selling s*#t”. That’s not what Marketing is about (selling stuff is just a component of it), and that’s definitely not the message in this Blog post or any of my other ones.
    In order to have great experiences in life, you have to “show up”. In order to get your ideas to spread and to truly live those experiences you do have to be able to market those ideas. I think Howie Mandel expressed that one’s ability to lead the life they were meant to live is in about how they keep their minds open and, at the same time, keep their names “out there” (i.e. marketing) so that more interesting opportunities and experiences can come their way.

  6. Interesting positioning of your words.
    Let me reiterate the position, for clarification.
    You can position your statement, as you’ve cleverly done, and clearly seem right. But, this is not about being right or wrong. This is about what we teach and guide people with.
    When we guide people to believe they are there to make others think as they do, or consume as they want them to, we are not teaching people to look at others as people.
    We are teaching people to look at others as points of consumption, or points of manipulation. We can manipulate words, as you know, and even people, but does that make it right?
    I appreciate your usage of my “selling shit”, or as your put it, “selling s*#t”. That was a perfect representation of my meaning. I choose to use colorful words, like my blog, my life, my beliefs, its colorful.
    You choose to take my meaning and make it fit within your confines of communication, as you feel are appropriate. I love that. That’s your comfort level, and I accept it and embrace it.
    Now, are you marketing an idea because you don’t want to say “shit”? Or, are you simply in a state of being?
    Not every moment we live is about getting others to accept an idea. Every moment is not selling.
    You’re article clearly positions itself to say that “Life Is Marketing”. While your internal dialogue might not believe that whole heartedly, you started your article with that title. You took that position, thus spreading that meme.
    On the web, words have weight. Words are our definition. Words are our swords. Words are our physical being, neatly packaged in 0’s and 1’s, so that others might be able to share and engage in the conversation.
    I don’t want to sell you anything. I don’t want anything from you. What I do want is for others to stop listening to the marketing shpeel. Its not all about that. It’s only become this way so that we can consume more, so we can sell more.
    People listen to you, thus you must double think your thoughts. If you inspire someone to live a life all about marketing, what have you done for that person? How about all the people that this person interacts with. Have you enhanced this communication, interaction, life etc. Or, have you made it easier for XYZ company to sell ZYX consumer something else?
    Inspire greatness, not consumption.

  7. When people spend 10-12 hours of their day at work and then come home and have to negotiate the complicated world we have created of relationships, etc… I find Mitch’s point completely valid and true. It’s not just about getting people to consume or buy things, but life is about how you market yourself and your ideas. It’s a very deep and powerful concept.
    Also, it sounds to me like you’re just trying to market your way of thinking… which was, in the end, Mitch’s point.

  8. Good counter point. To that effect, when do you turn it off?
    My hope is that you will all think different.
    Everyone, and I do mean everyone, is thinking on the same wavelengths. This is producing the same results. These are making everything the same.
    Great for companies to forecast better, bad for a world that thrives on diversity.
    Tip of my hat, wag of my finger. So many are so deep, they can’t smell the stink.

  9. I think it just “is” vs. something you have to turn on and off… because that comes off as fake. Real marketing (at least, to me) is about being authentic and connecting and helping ideas to spread. I don’t think we’re all on the same wavelength (just look at this conversation). The beauty of this (and of marketing) is the sharing of different ideals and perspectives.

  10. Good comment/ insight.
    By, “same wavelength”, I am more suggesting that the greater body of marketers are increasingly becoming disconnected from the consumer (and here I go into my marketing mind). By consumer, I am meaning those that we are marketing towards.
    We can view anything and everything as we want to see it. The heart of this thread is , is it ok to position your mind to view everything as a marketing opportunity?
    What considerations do you abandon by thinking of the world through the eyes of a marketer? What realities are we closing, what ideals are we promoting? Are these healthy, sustainable positions?
    I am a fish out of water here, in that my argument flies in the face of the entire marketing program. Which, considering my profession, I should be promoting and protecting, but I am clearly not.

  11. I attended an event called Startups Uncensored a couple of months back. The theme was “12 Golden Rules to Marketing for Startups”. The first rule was: “Marketing is not something you do… It’s who you are.”
    Agreed 1,000%.

  12. The first definition I remember about marketing is figuring out what the problem is and finding a solution that does the job for the consumer. Of course, distribution of the message and/or product is necessary for the consumers to get their hands on whatever the solution is, no?
    I don’t know much but it seems to make a lot of sense to me. If that is right, then life IS marketing (we do solve problems on a regular basis even at a personal level, I would hope).
    I dare to say (could be wrong!) most marketing DEPARTMENTS, however, don’t practice “Life is Marketing” or “problem/solution”. Companies still work in a very factory-like fashion and seem to prefer that people who are super at putting caps on a bottle stay where they are. Hence the marketing “department”. Separated from their product-perfecting, solution-finding counterpart called the R&D “department”.
    Thanks, Mitch for sharing Howie Mandel’s insight. I do agree that some sort of strategy helps before randomly signing yourself up for the next 500 bright and shiny objects. Saves a lot of time and headache in the long run.

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