Why Are Today’s Marketers Deluding Themselves?

Ours is often a pretty ridiculous business.

Ad agency people obsessively talk about creating “great work.”

Marketers delude themselves that their audiences are eager and hungry for their messages.

Hell, some marketers even think people want to be their “friends” and engage in “conversations.”

Boy howdy–– who doesn’t want to know what a corporate entity believes and thinks? It’s why we get out of bed in the morning.

We’re kooks to believe such thoughts, but sometimes our magical thinking works.

Sometimes people do care about what we say.

And they do think our work is “great.”

Some folks believe us, follow us, and we say what Sally Fields said: “You like me, right now, you like me!”

It’s rare, but it does happen. Not as rare as a unicorn sighting, but… sometimes.

Which brings me to the cliched concept of “great work”–– two words I hate married.

I cringe when I hear someone say, “we’re going to create some great work” or “we create great work.”

Says who?

The problem with “great work” is it’s completely subjective. Your idea of great may not be mine.

It’s like going to an art museum with someone, and you admire a canvas. You love the work; it speaks to you on a profound level… and your companion comes by, views the piece and says, “Ew, what a total turd!”

You’re in for a long day at the museum.

Yet, agencies throw around the term “great work” like it’s confetti.

I’ve never met a creative person who said, “My work is marginal, at best. In fact, I’ve been very lucky to cash paychecks for my mediocrity.”

Never happens.

All creatives have “great work,” and if we don’t, well, it’s because others didn’t want “great work” or sabotaged us in our Herculean efforts in producing “great work.”

Look, Michaelangelo, the work is the work is the work. Your audience will determine its worth.

If your yardstick for measuring “great work” is the awards it wins, fine. Say so, but realize that others still may not like the work as much as the award show judges.

You can say the effectiveness of your work is what makes it “great.” Okay. But again, others may think it’s shite.

I love some infomercials, but most seasoned creative pros couldn’t imagine a more heinous category of work.

Look, Ron Popeil is a god, believe it! But wait, there’s more…

Let your work stand on its own. Tell the story of why you did what you did. Context is everything. Discuss what happened after the work debuted. Give results, KPIs, whatever was your objective in producing the work.

Then let your audience decide if the work is bad, good, great, or, epic!

Your audience is always the judge and jury–– be it a client, a new business prospect, or a consumer.

Forget about creating “great work” and simply do your best keeping it empathetic to its audience, engaging, truthful, and interesting.

That’s plenty hard enough.

Although marketing is a grueling and often delusional business, sometimes unicorns do appear.

And when one does, saddle up and enjoy the ride.