The role of marketing is to influence the exchange of outcomes between 2 parties, which generally involves one party parting with money in return for a product of service.

We’re all marketers, and to quote David Packard, it’s too important to be left to the marketing department.  The advent of social media in the last 5 years has encouraged us all to build our community in the first instance by giving, without expecting anything in return.  A good article, an informative white paper, a recommendation.  This is really hard to do genuinely without it being – or appearing to be – self-serving.  After all, you’re looking generate interest, demand, and ultimately pipeline.

We read an article on a fabulous but little known anti-oxidant, which just happens to be something the writer has an vested interest in.  We consume a white paper on the benefits of cloud-based customer relationship management, which is sponsored by or written by a cloud-based CRM provider.  (White papers these days should be called brochures, shouldn’t they?)  We get invited to a webinar on how to use linkedin for business, run by a company that sells courses on how to use linkedin for business.

Of course, this has been going on for centuries.  I’m reminded of the hilarious situation comedy Blackadder, where a doctor prescribes a course of leeches for every aliment, and has connections to the largest leech farm in Europe.

It’s unnerving to offer content which is not self-serving, certainly in the commercial realm.   The challenge is to offer something compelling to your audience where you don’t rely on a form to capture their details, and you don’t worry that your ideas will be appropriated by someone else for their own purposes,  but you do rely on the promise that if your content is good enough, a small number will ‘pay it forward’ and refer you on, or else come back to you to start a conversation.  Then you know you genuinely have a intersection of their requirements and your unique offering.