I attended a business networking meeting a few weeks ago and met a lot of cool and driven people from the greater Concord NH area.  Something happened at that meeting that prompted a key member of the group to make a statement that really stuck with me.  So simple, and so damn right on the money.

Of course, the insightful person I am talking about is a marketing guru and owner of a really successful marketing company. Let’s pretend, for the sake of anonymity that his name is …Kent. As it turns out, one of the other members of this group had accidentally parked his company vehicle in a parking spot that was not designated for the group. So in the middle of this networking meeting a woman bursts into the room, livid about the parking faux pas, and sternly reprimands the whole room of 20+ people. It was really awkward.

After she stormed out, the parking lot culprit (let’s call him Tom) sheepishly owned up to the offense. We all chuckled a little and went back to what we were doing, making a mental note not to EVER park in that spot. Then quietly, the guru spoke up and said “Everything you do is marketing”, looking directly at Tom, and he was dead serious.

As I processed what Kent said I started to visualize the parking lot, and then the spot in question, and then Tom’s truck, with his company name splashed all over it, and then … I got it. It’s a really obvious fact that you always want to represent your company and brand well. But this little micro experience made me expand on that logic and it really sunk in, that Marketing isn’t just something you DO when you intend to. Marketing is happening all the time, in what you wear, how you speak, the music you play in your store, events you go to, and in this case…where you park. You are always marketing.

The term marketing really translates to “anything that attracts new customers or interacts with existing ones”. That’s a pretty tall order, and you can’t ignore it, either you feed that monster or your business pipeline dies of starvation. Even worse, bad behavior or mistakes can unintentionally act as a poison without you even knowing it. (Unless of course your business IS selling bad behavior) Lesson from that day, marketing isn’t what you do, it is everything you do, like it or not.