The two types of marketers: the Greedy and the Meaningful

Any time you say there are two types of anything, you’ve set yourself up for being wrong. Life is much too complex and nuanced for bifurcations, just as it is for absolutes; always and never are almost always never the right thing to say.

Notwithstanding these facts, saying there are two types of marketers is useful to demonstrate a point.

Recently, I came across this post: The 20 Best Marketing Podcasts (From the Playlists of CEOs & Marketers).

As someone interested in marketing, I decided to queue most of these in my podcast feed. What I discovered was that a lot of these marketers are the prototypical marketing scum; namely, they’re greedy. They do what generates traffic and an audience rather than what they actually believe, they spend their time thinking and worrying about how to scale their business rather what really matters in life (the legacy they’re leaving), and they follow marketing trends rather than create meaningful projects. We might call these the Greedy Marketers.

On the other hand, there are the Meaningful Marketers like Seth Godin. Seth is pushing hard to create insightful content. He pushes his audience to “make a ruckus” by challenging the status quo and doing the work that matters most by finding the minimum viable market. He isn’t worried about being the richest, so he isn’t chasing trends.

He’s taking the Star Trek approach rather than the Beverly Hillbillies one by focusing on developing a project that is substantive rather than appealing to mass markets.

This marketing approach isn’t centered around secret tactics or guile. It focuses on meaningful ideas that spread or quality content worth sharing.

In both camps, there is a niche understanding about human nature – the relationships between how people see themselves and how they’d like to see themselves, the tension between status and authority, and the elements that define perception. All marketers, in other words, study what makes us resonate with stuff and why. But the difference lies in those who use it to manipulate and those who use it help people be their best selves and become creators.