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711: Should Marketing Be Profitable?

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I hear this question a lot.


“If I ‘do marketing’, it should pay for itself, right?”

“If I run some ads, they should pay for themselves, right?”

“If I buy a website, it should pay for itself, right?”

These are the wrong questions to ask:

Marketing can be directly profitable, but to enforce it as a rule limits your potential:

It’s not Marketing’s job to be profitable. If it were, why would anyone use paid advertising to sell $5 books? If it had to cover its own costs directly, why would some smart brands break-even on acquisition, or run loss-leader campaigns? Treating marketing as a profitable-or-bust activity denies your important work a whole dimension of possibility. Marketing should be effective, but need not always be directly profitable.

It’s Business’ job to be profitable. A business should be profitable. With effective acquisition systems in place, a smart business can turn loss-leaders into highly profitable endeavors with effective retention systems on the back-end. Or they could acquire at cost. Or use bundles, JV and host-beneficiary relationships to create value both for those they serve and for their own bottom-line.

“Should marketing be profitable?”

Who cares, so long as it’s effective, and your business is strategic.

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My blog is dedicated to sharing ideas, insights and challenges that will help you create and sell what matters for the betterment of your cause.

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945: The Way Tools Feel

It’s why you use the computer you do. Or the phone you have. Or the car you drive, or the brand of shoes you wear. Few of those things were bought purely for functionality and price.
What do you value? How can you reveal that in your work, so that those like you can find you and buy as an expression of their shared belief?

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943: Better Than Passion

By exploring and refining craft, we often experience more passion for that craft as we progress. Passion isn’t the point, though: craftsmanship is the point.
Instead of “Do work you’re passionate about”, we should become advocates of “Refine your craft and try new things” – the results could be more fulfilling than you know.

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941: Avoid Opinion Neutrality

People don’t just buy your products. They buy why they exist. They buy as an expression of a shared belief.
If you’re opinion neutral, there’s no reason to buy beyond the need for an essential, marginalized commodity.
Are you opinion neutral? How can you be a little more yourself, for the benefit of your work and for those you wish to serve?

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940: They’ll Steal, That’s Fine

They’ll steal, that’s fine. I’ve had bodies of work stolen, even falsely attributed in award ceremonies – things that I made, and worked hard on – they‘ll steal, that’s fine.
In some cases, it’s indefensible; in others, our attorneys took care of it (and then some).

You are creating what matters.

How can we help you sell it better and make more impact?

Built For Impact

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BuiltForImpact is a focused one-page online distillation of your message with a concentrated focus on ethical, effective sales.

Marketing Isn't About You

Marketing Isn't About You

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Our latest book to help you understand the two things that matters if you sell things that matter. Get 3 chapters free:

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Sharing our journey to discover how to create & quantify the most impactful, long-lasting websites in the world.