Many of us get an icky feeling when we think about marketing or sales. Yet we do marketing and sales all the time. Every time you convince a friend to go to an event with you, you have just sold an idea. You also attracted your friend to that event. That’s marketing. Marketing is anything you do to attract people to an idea or event you are promoting.

The engine of any business is marketing and sales. So many people do not like sales or marketing. I learned to love marketing and sales as a teenager. My dad taught me a lesson in business while reminding me that I had violated his trust. It’s actually a bit of a skill he has. In a single conversation, he forever reframed how I think about marketing. All he had to do was ask a few questions. Ironically, he was using a sales tactic to sell me the idea that we are always doing sales and marketing.  

Marketing is anything you do to attract people to an idea or event you are promoting.

The story begins with me asking my parents for permission to have a party, to which they said yes, as long as we limited it to 25 people. On the day of the party, however, more than 150 people showed up. When I said to my dad that I did not like sales and marketing he followed up with one question.

“You remember that party where you invited 30 people and 150 showed up?

“Yes, of course.”

“How did that happen?” 

“I don’t know.” 

“What happened when you invited the first 30 people?” 

“I called them and told the theme of the party and who would be there.” 

“Well that’s marketing. How did you get them to commit to coming?”

“I asked them if they would be there. If they didn’t answer I gave them a date by which to RSVP.”

“That, son, is called closing a sale. Gaining commitment, that’s sales. ” 

Marketing is anything you do to attract clients. Sales is what you do to gain commitment. The problem is that most of us think about marketing and sales as these complicated processes or even as something sleazy. I learned that day that, although it’s true that we do sales and marketing all the time, the full truth is that you need to make whatever you’re selling shareable. People need to want to invite their friends to the party. If you make what you’re doing something that people want to talk about at a dinner table or with their friends, you’re marketing.

So, don’t think about marketing as the advertising you see on television, think of it as all the things you do to attract the people you wish to serve. We do marketing and sales every day. When we can turn it into something that is shareable, something that the people you wish to serve want to share with their social circle, you have become a marketer.