Where Do You Fit in This Marketing Fable?

Once upon a time,  there was a (hypothetical) Mary who built a business around her love of gardening. She used to be a gardening columnist in newspapers and magazines. StoryShe had written a couple of books on gardening. She developed a couple of software applications related to seeds and the care of plants. She has a website where she shares her knowledge and sells her books and software along with gardening tools, books, seeds, and related items.

Are you the one who sends her emails suggesting that she sell your books instead of hers? That she adds your content to her website to compete with her content? That her readers and customers would be better served by your stuff rather than her stuff?

Don’t be that one. I’m amazed at how much marketing time and effort is wasted like this. If you’re not in Mary’s situation, you wouldn’t believe how much of this happens.

Think about it first. Why in the world would Mary put your stuff into her marketing mix? She owns hers. She doesn’t have to ask, attribute, or share.

Here’s the point: If what you do is different and complementary to what she does, so that she can offer her customers a broader range or more products, and make a margin on it, then offer it to her. Don’t take her time, or insult her intelligence, suggesting that she use competing content, from competing sites, instead of her own.

On this one I can’t help sharing a past moment standing on the side of a soccer field, watching one of my kids play. I was standing next to a friend who also had a kid on the field. A guy neither of us knew walked up to us and talked for a while about how great his kids was. We listened. Finally the guy walked away. My friend said, quietly, to me only: “Yeah, but I still like my kid better.”

As the classic blues song says: ”God bless the child that’s got its own.”

Moral of the story: don’t be that marketer. Be smarter.

(Image: feng yu/Shutterstock)


  • Simon Raybould - public speaking coach says:

    I’m Mary. And I’m with you.

    What I can’t understand is why they bother bugging me: surely no Mary is going to say ‘yes’. But enough Maries must do, I suppose, to make it worth their while annoying the hell out of us by calling and emailing. 🙁

    I wish to heavens there was a way of charging them for my wasted time. If there was, I’d barely have to work, given the number of these intrusions I’ve suffered recently.


    • Tim Berry says:

      Thanks Simon. I’m with you, it’s surprising how often this happens. If they’d just read our websites, they’d see what we already do. Tim

  • Matthew Ray Scott says:


    Just yesterday I had Pitney Bowes call me and ask if they could advertise on my podcast. Initially, I was flattered until I heard the pitch. I didn’t feel that special at 5m and 1 second when I politely said, I’m not interested.

    No thought into how they could be of service to me. Just a wam..bam.. thankyou…well, you know how this ends.

    Conversely, I’m amazed at why more people focused on a certain niche or city don’t combine efforts and start a free WP blog where each volunteers to create practical and relevant information to help a market that’s big enough for everyone to benefit.

    Great post.

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