One of the reasons people have trouble with being marketers is that they incorrectly believe they’ll need to learn to deceive, manipulate, or somehow coerce people into being interested in them. With so many people doing those exact things for the sake of “marketing,” I can see how people could feel that way.

Yet we’re constantly marketed to and want to be marketed to by the brands, companies, and people we adore. I, for one, am excited when I hear about a new gadget from Apple, a new album from Amos Lee, or a new book or product from someone in my network, even when the new thing isn’t for me.

The difference between the marketers we want to hear from and the marketers we don’t is that the former tell the truth about things we care about. Which means that if it works for them, it can work for you, too.

The hard part here is not being clear about which truth people will care about. Telling people about all the great features of your product is the truth, but we don’t really care about features — we care about benefits. We need to hear more of the truth about how we’ll be better off.

Rather than making it so that you’re another me-too company, you can tell us the truth about how you’re the first, only, or best for people like us. It takes a lot more work and courage to be the first, only, or best, but that’s why there are so many other me-too companies.

Or maybe there’s some unsettling or inconvenient truth that none of us want to talk about but we all need to talk about. In this case, you’re just telling the truth that so many other people think but don’t say, and you’ve thus earned our trust because now we can say other things we need to say, too.

Instead of coming up with all the ways you think we’ll be better off because of your product or service, share the truth about the results other customers and clients have had. That’s the truth we want to see because we’ll see ourselves in those stories.

Lastly, maybe you’re worried about how people perceive you or your brand. Speaking the truth here is the very best way to own the part of the narrative that you can own and let go of the rest. Misinformation and misconceptions thrive only when the truth is hidden or muted; in due time, the truth always surfaces.

Whatever your marketing problem, the truth can help you solve it. Start with it, stick with it, and share it broadly.

One last thing: we’re all marketers.


  • Charlie Gilkey

    Author, Speaker, Business Strategist, Coach

    Charlie Gilkey helps people start finish the stuff that matters. He's the founder of Productive Flourishing, author of the forthcoming Start Finishing and The Small Business Lifecycle, and host of the Productive Flourishing podcast. Prior to starting Productive Flourishing, Charlie was a Joint Force Military Logistics Coordinator while simultaneously pursuing a PhD in Philosophy. He lives with his wife, Angela, in Portland, Oregon.