Marketing is like …

individuals… nothing else. And everything else. It’s complicated. And very personal. Let me use a few analogies.

Marketing is like decorating. The colors, furniture, art, and other elements say a lot about us. They give clues about our personalities. The style of our logo, the avenues of communication we use, our spokespeople, among other factors, tell people what our companies are like. And, just like marketing, individual. For example, I wouldn’t want to walk into someone’s home and see the exact same colors, items, placement, etc as in my home. (I would be creeped out.)

Marketing is also like exercise. We have to do it regularly to get any benefit, and we don’t generally see the benefit immediately. It takes time to train for that 5K run or ramp up to that 20% sales increase. Sometimes we find that something doesn’t “work” for us – or we don’t have the time for long workouts. For example, we might love to walk outside, but won’t tolerate a treadmill – even though they’re both using the same muscles. Maybe we don’t have the time to take full advantage of social media. Like exercise, it might take a while to find what works – and, like exercise, it will change over time. Once we live the benefits or exercise or marketing, though, we rarely stop. Same with marketing. We have to trust that what we’re doing will work, and continue doing it once it starts working.

Marketing is like financial investing. For example, I have no need to save for a child’s college, but the parents of a newborn do. Our investment strategies require regular attention and adjustments, just as our marketing does. Different stages of our lives require different investing strategies, just as different stages of a company’s life require different marketing strategies and avenues.

Marketing is like an automobile. A commuter might drive something maneuverable and fuel-efficient, while a hunter might need something that holds equipment and can handle rough terrain. Heated seats will be important to someone in northern climates, while A/C is mandatory in the south.

Marketing is like relationships. Oh, wait. Marketing is relationships. With our employees, our customers, our vendors, everyone. We don’t treat our partner the same as we would our child’s Sunday school teacher or a sommelier. We don’t even treat our individual employees the same (although we’re supposed to).

Marketing analogies are everywhere – just as marketing is.