Vocational Inspiration for Marketing

Sushi from the film, "Jiro Dreams of Sushi"Marketing is difficult to do well. There are whole industries of inspiring marketing tools to fuel the creativity of the professional marketer: social media outlets, project management software, marketing automation utilities, analytics packages, and much more. But what about broader sources of inspiration for marketing as a vocation?

I have found several documentaries on Netflix to be personally inspiring. They are not about marketing per se; rather, they exhibit individuals who are wholly devoted to their craft. The first two feature prominently the Japanese culture of work and how seriously certain craftsmen approach their trade: Jiro Dreams of Sushi and The Birth of Sake.

From these two documentaries I learned the importance of the long-run view of work. Marketing success is rarely something you can capture in the first few years of work. It takes many years to master even a new craft such as digital marketing. Expecting an immediate windfall of prosperity in marketing can lead to disappointment.

A documentary literally closer to home is Crafting a Nation about upstart craft beer brewers in America. From this film, I grew to appreciate the amount of obstacles that lie in the path of most professional endeavors and how much hard work is required to overcome them. This is true of marketing as well. Sometimes it is difficult to appreciate the value of work when many of one’s digital campaigns (especially in the early phases) are underperforming. It’s one thing to say to oneself that marketing is an iterative process, it’s another quality entirely to convince oneself that things will improve in the long run as one perfects a craft.

This brings me to my final question: how does a professional marketer improve their craftsmanship? Well, marketing is both creative and analytical work. To the former end, radio personality Ira Glass (of This American Life fame) describes in this interview the process required. Nothing else is a substitute for hard work and perseverance to bring eventual results in creative projects.

If you’re looking for sources of vocational inspiration, check out the ones I listed above. What others resources have inspired you to keeping your marketing chops sharp?

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