3 dirty little secrets we marketers don’t want you to know

The first secret may shock you…

3 dirty little secrets we marketers don't want you to know - Katelyn Bourgoin

We marketers are a wily bunch…


We’re always thinking.


Spinning mental webs.

Our goal? To woo our way into your hearts and — if we’re good enough — into your wallet.

But, what do marketers actually do anyway?

Well… that’s kind of a loaded question (re: dirty secret #1).

But, more on that in a minute.

If I asked you to close your eyes and picture a “famous marketer”, I bet you’d think of this guy…

Steve Jobs

Or maybe this guy…

Seth Godin

Or this guy…

Walt Disney

Or, maybe even this lesser known lady…

Helen Lansdowne

I know. It’s kind of a sausage party, right?

Sorry, ladies. But according to Google, most of the “famous marketers” seem to be dudes.

This is particularly odd given the fact that women make 80% of all household spending choices.

But, I digress.

My point is…


People think of the world’s best marketers as charismatic visionaries.


They believe that marketers have an almost mythical ability to peer into the human psyche and draw out our deepest desires.

They see marketers as wild-eyed geniuses who waltz into boardrooms and amphitheatres worldwide and leave their audience desperate for more.

Good marketing builds traffic and conversions.

Great marketing builds communities of superfans.


Outstanding marketing builds companies with more money than 85% of nations worldwide. ? Hi, Apple.

[Tweet “Outstanding marketing builds companies with more money than 85% of nations worldwide. Hi, Apple. @katebour“]


So, yeah. Marketing is hella important.

But, what exactly do marketers do?

And, what would the average non-marketer need to learn to achieve the same game-changing results.

The short answer? A shit ton of stuff.

According to eConsultancy


“Digital marketing moves faster than any other market on earth. That makes peering into the future a kind of mission-critical activity.” 


But by “the future.” we don’t mean five years away – that would be ridiculous. We mean the next 12-18 months.

Marketing moves so fast that it’s almost pointless to plan tactics any further ahead than that.

So yeah, there’s A LOT to learn when you’re new to the game.

The worst part? Just when you think you’ve got it all figured out, it darn well goes and changes again.

But, don’t fret, my little marketing-newbie.

You don’t need to learn it all.

We marketers actually have a few dirty lil’ secrets that we rarely talk about.

The truth is…


1. We don’t know everything either — not even close


A lot of people lump “marketers” all into one category, but that’s dangerous.

All marketers are NOT the same.  

Marketing is nuanced and complex.

The channels and strategies that work for one company, could be lethal if applied to another company.

In some ways, marketing is a lot like medicine. But, do we get the same credit as those brain surgeons? Not bloody likely.

[Tweet “Marketing is a lot like medicine. But, do we get the same credit as those brain surgeons? Not bloody likely. ~ @katebour”]


Like in medicine, there are general practitioners (GPs) who can help to diagnose and treat lots of illnesses.

A GP has broad and expansive knowledge about many conditions, but they are not specialists.  

GPs know that for complex or life-threatening conditions that they should refer patients to a specialist.

This is the same for marketers.

According to ChiefMarTech


There are 131 different kinds of marketing.


To put that in context, WebMD lists only 61 different kinds of doctors.

And, only 27 different kinds of lawyers.

Crazy, right!!?

If you were pregnant, you wouldn’t want a podiatrist to deliver your baby.

If you were charged with murder, you wouldn’t want a divorce lawyer handling your case.

So, why do you expect one marketer to manage every aspect of your growth?

You shouldn’t.  

Marketers come in all shapes and sizes.

They have different strengths and specialties.

And, the more skills a specific marketer has, the more in-demand they’ll be and the more they can charge for their time and services.


Pro Tip:

If you’re thinking about hiring a marketer, do your research to better understand what kind of marketer you need.


(If you don’t know, hit me up and I’ll help direct you to the right specialist.)

It’s important that the person you’re hiring is familiar with your market and knows which channels and tactics to explore first.  

And, word to the wise… smart marketers don’t just sit around in boardrooms writing ideas on whiteboards.

Smart marketers don’t diagnose problems that they don’t yet understand.

Smart marketers start every project with lots of research and run oodles of tests.

(Kind of like a doctor.)


Because our other dirty little secret is…


2. We don’t always know what’s going to work


As much as it pains us to admit it, we marketers aren’t fortunetellers.

We don’t have superhuman powers that allow us to craft the perfect landing page every single time.

We don’t know for sure that your customers will prefer the red button to the blue one.

We aren’t absolutely certain that we can make your video go viral.

The truth is that we can’t guarantee immediate and exponential growth (though that doesn’t stop some shady marketers from making those promises).

We can’t do these things because…


Marketers aren’t mind readers.


And, since we can’t read minds, we must rely on the next best thing…

Listening to your customers.

As the old saying goes, the market wants what the market wants.

But, the only way for us to know what the market wants is by asking them.

Good marketers vigorously test their assumptions before developing a strategy.

Great marketers do that and then test every aspect of their strategy, optimizing for “awesomer” every step of the way.

People think that companies like Facebook, Google and Apple had genius marketing teams.

And, they did.

But, they also had marketing teams that understood that creativity and good ideas are just one piece of the puzzle.

Rapid growth requires rapid experimentation.

It means trying lots of things, failing learning, and then trying something else, but smarter.

As Sean Ellis, the author of Hacking Growth puts it…

Growth Hacking (also known as growth marketing) differs from traditional marketing by creating a company-wide culture of experimentation to move both key qualitative and quantitative business metrics

In simpler terms?

Smart marketers always test then invest.

[Tweet “Smart marketers always test *then* invest. @katebour”]


Pro Tip:

If a marketer promises that they can deliver fast growth and doesn’t start their process by collecting data… run.


Run fast.

This is an “old school” marketer who hails from a time where strategies were designed in closed boardrooms basing solely on gut feel, assumptions, and drinking one too many Manhattans.

Those old school marketers looks kinda like this…

Don Draper

And, while this shoot-from-the-hip kind of marketing can win big occasionally, usually it’s the geeky, data-driven style of marketing that wins in the long-term.

Your business deserves better.

And, I can help you get there.

But, truthfully? When it comes to marketing my own business, I often struggle.

Which leads me to my third and final dirty lil’ secret…


3. Most marketers hate marketing themselves


If you ask a typical marketer if they could be better at promoting themselves, most will sheepishly admit that, indeed, they could.

** shame **

Gary Vee might be an exception, but that guy has an incredibly talented production team that follows him around documenting his every move and churning out oodles of content. So, let’s assume that Gary is an outlier.

But, here’s the weird thing…

For most marketers, the problem isn’t just a lack of resources.

The problem is that marketing yourself is actually pretty tricky.

Sometimes you’re just too close to your business to see things objectively.

When you hire someone to help with your marketing you’re not just getting their expertise and creative genius.

You’re also getting their objectivity.

Objectivity is a critically important ingredient when developing something new.


The challenge with marketing ourselves is that we’re often too biased to see things how they really are.


We see ourselves and — by extension — our businesses as deep and layered.

As we design our services or products, we work hard to offer a whole host of amazing benefits, each one more noteworthy and exciting than the last.

And, the more value we want to share, the easier it is for us to overthink things and get caught in the weeds.

I recently had dinner with a few other marketers.

We all hail from different backgrounds and have had very diverse careers, but one thing rang unanimous among all of us…

Since recently going out on our own, we were all struggling how we wanted to market ourselves.

We had what us marketers refer to as “paralysis of choice.”

There are so many things we could and should be doing that it’s hard to choose exactly what to do.

And, we all agreed on one truth…


It’s far easier to advise our clients on their marketing because we’re not bogged down by the minutia or emotion.


We can assess our client’s situations objectively — without getting caught up in the fears or negative self-talk that founders often face.

But, isn’t that true in other situations as well?

For instance, have you ever noticed how you can give a friend A-M-A-Z-I-N-G advice when it comes to their challenges or relationships, but then you find yourself completely ignoring that same advice in your own life?

Or, have you ever noticed that you can help another entrepreneur to quickly cut through the noise in their business and find a winning solution, but you struggle to do the same for yourself?

You’re not alone.

As the old tale goes…

Sometimes when it comes to marketing ourselves, “the cobbler’s son has no shoes.”

[Tweet “Sometimes when it comes to marketing ourselves, “the cobbler’s son has no shoes.” @katebour”]


But, don’t fret.

Even us marketers know that we benefit from hanging out with other marketers.

Hanging out with other marketers allows us to get objective feedback on our businesses without getting tangled up in the weeds.

For me, it helps me to avoid overwhelm and focus on the right projects.

And, it provides clarity, which makes taking action so much easier.

The sooner you admit that you need outside help when it comes to marketing your business, the faster your business will grow.


Pro Tip:

The sooner you admit that you need outside help when it comes to marketing your business, the faster your business will grow.


Want to start getting help right away?  

Well, you’re in luck!

Me and my pals India White and Ashley Lecroy are getting together for a fireside chat this week at Volta (see event details and get your free ticket)

The theme of the night? Everything is marketing… and it’s complex af.

We’ll be drinking wine and diving deep into how marketing is changing and how you can adapt.

We’ll also be answering YOUR questions — ask us anything!

This first event is for the ladies only, but we’ve gotten so much interest in this topic that we’ll be hosting another co-ed session soon. Date TBD.

I hope to see you there!


Do you have any dirty little secrets in your business that you’d love to share? Post ‘em below….