The #1 Thing Marketers Must Know About the #1 Thing They Should Never Do

The #1 Thing Marketers Must Know About the #1 Thing They Should Never Do

As a marketer, the list of things you “must do” is short — so short that it contains exactly zero items.

You wouldn’t know this, though, if you were to tally the sheer number of “must do” blog posts, articles, white papers, infographics and thought leadership pieces being churned out by marketing practitioners each and every day. You know the kind of content I’m talking about — the content that reveals the seven reasons you must include this channel or that in your marketing mix, the 11 specific elements you must incorporate into your website’s home page design, the nine skills you must have on your team, the 13 tools every content marketer must use, or the #1 reason you must follow a specific approach if you want to get a certain result.

As a marketer, the list of things you 'must do' is short -- it contains exactly zero items. Click To Tweet

Posts like these would be grating at best, even coming from a place of deep knowledge and empirical evidence. Often though, they contain overly facile generalizations drawn from a single case or a casual observation. Sometimes they’re published under the guise of “content marketing” by a technology vendor or solution provider who just so happens to sell a product or service that helps you do the very things they’re telling you you must. Shocker…

Evidently, “must do” makes for a great headline. But it won’t make you a better marketer. In fact, it will make you a worse marketer — a lazy marketer, a more tactical marketer, a me-too marketer, and a shiny object chaser.

'Must do' makes for a great headline, but it won't make you a better marketer. Click To Tweet

Instead of following someone else’s ‘must do‘ list, make your own ‘must know’ list. And if you’re a marketing content creator, then by all means be a source for ‘must know’ information. Because if the list of things a marketer must do is short, the list of things a marketer must know is nearly endless.

What Marketers Must Know

You must know more about what your audience believes and how your audience behaves. You must know more about what options are available for engaging that audience. You must know how the competitive landscape is changing. You must know how the media, tools, channels and platforms are evolving around you. You must know more about what your customers value and how you can provide them value. You must know how others inside and outside your category are innovating. You must know how to draw lessons and insights from ideas and examples — not how to copy what they’ve done but to learn from what they’ve done and think through how it applies to you. You must know how to synthesize information and apply it to your specific business needs. And most of all, you must know how to see through the hype in headlines to find the underlying truth for you.

Instead of following someone else's 'must do' list, make your own 'must know' list. Click To Tweet

Now, I’ll admit there’s nothing wrong with good advice — but “must do” declarations rarely fit the bill. On the other hand, if you commit to learning the things you must know, you’ll be able to decide what you should do for yourself.

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