Is Reality Crushing Your Marketing Soul?

I live at the intersection of psychology and marketing… a strangely powerful netherworld you may not want to explore with me.

I spend my days agonizing over the tension between reality and desire…

Between the magic claims people WANT to hear…

And the realistic solutions they NEED to embrace.

I persistently survey, talk to, and connect with my market,  striving not only to be influenced in product development and advertising copy, but to let it change me as a person.


Because if your market hasn’t changed you, then you haven’t really connected with the PEOPLE in it.

It’s the difference between sympathy and empathy.

Sympathy means you feel badly for “those poor people over there”… and it ALWAYS contains an element of contempt.

Sympathy is the kind of thing you hear at academic psychology conferences–or hospital team meetings–when they talk about the plight of people with Major Depressive Disorder (Recurrent, Moderate Type – DSM IV Code 296.32)

Empathy is when you so desperately want to hug it out of them you feel like your heart’s gonna literally implode if you don’t… a soul crushing emptiness which doesn’t go away until you help.

So that’s point #1 … look for that soul-crushing feeling in your market, and make it your #1 priority to find a way to help… but it’s not why I’ve written this post.

What’s hit ME hard this year is the realization of just how crushed many of you are feeling… even the VERY successful amongst you.

People are having a hard time sustaining their dreams, plain and simple.

The interesting thing about psychologists is, to really help someone, you have to REINVIGORATE AND SUSTAIN their dream while ever so gradually waking them up to the realities they don’t want to face.  (Unless they’re really in danger… in which case reality comes first!)

It was pretty challenging to do this when I was practicing… but I was damn good at it.  (I worked with over a hundred suicidal people and I never lost anyone… mostly because I knew not to kill the dream the rest of the world–including themselves–were trying to beat out of them)

But for some reason, I’ve got a harder time doing it as a marketing educator.

I really DO believe in dreaming.

I really DO want YOU to have a vibrant spirit when it comes to your goals.

But there’s something in me which goes a little nuts when I hear people talking about magical marketing solutions, and I just want to slap some common sense into them.

I’m always beating down the door to shout “don’t go into the market unprepared”, “build more marketing support first”, “run the numbers, build a launch budget”, “don’t try to do this without a back end first”, “don’t try to use some all-in-one marketing software… leverage specialty platforms which have already been stabilized and do the work to piece them together instead”, “do your fricking research!” etc.

Well, something Sharon said to me the other day made me think maybe I owe you all an apology.

She reminded me “Glenn, people need their dreams to motivate them.  Why climb a mountain if you’re not dreaming about what it’s like on top?”


But somehow, somewhere in all this I forgot.

I became the practical, left brained, statistics-on-the-brain-uber-geek who constantly stood for reason and security.

Which all of a sudden reminded me of Dwight Eisenhower’s quote (I’m paraphrasing) “If all people really wanted out of life was security, they could just go to prison… they’d have a roof over their heads and food to eat”

So here’s my message for you today.

If you’re lacking in spirit…

If reality’s been crushing your marketing soul of late…

Maybe it’s time for a time out…

Maybe it’s time to regroup and remind yourself of your dream…

What you really want to accomplish…

Why you started this thing in the first place?

How, when, and where might you have lost that spirit along the way?

I’d love to hear your thoughts below.

Dr G 🙂