No Marketers Should Go to Heaven

Source: Wikipedia (Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse)

I think a lot about the sorry state of marketing. And I came from marketing. I ran marketing departments in high-tech before I started my own company to create storytelling that was human, fun, sometimes funny, and real. That last one is huge.

Back in tech, sadly, we could have bottled a lot of “content” we created and sold it to the CIA for its advanced interrogation techniques. It was that bad. It was torture. Not because I or my employees wanted it to be. It was bad because that’s what management insisted on, no matter how much I protested.

Marketing needs to do better. The current state of marketing — especially in tech — stinks. Which is part of the reason I hope marketers don’t get to Heaven. They’d really f@%k things up. The worst thing to happen to marketing — marketers.

Here are three reasons marketing stinks (yes, there are more) and where I see an opportunity to do better.

1. Jargon

Jargon-monoxide is one of the biggest problems in marketing. It’s a symptom of the bigger issue: that marketing lacks a bigger story. If you have a clear story that rocks, you don’t hide behind jargon. It only highlights a lack of a compelling story. It’s a tell-tale sign.

If I have a great story, I sure won’t be hiding behind nonsense. I would shout my story from the Swiss Alps, Julie Andrews-style. Damn straight.

2. Guilt-Based Tactics

Every day I see crap in my inbox (Inbox Zero please come with a detonator!) that I wish I didn’t. For example, just today I saw a slew of guilt-based headlines.

If you use guilt-based marketing tactics, you are cheating your long-term game. A few of the headlines from today: “Your last chance or you’ll regret it.” Wow. Really? Will I?

Another one: “This is Sally. She didn’t sign up for Conference X and, because of that, her sales plummeted and now she’s sad (replete with a silhouette pic of Sally crying).” Wow. OK, so now her life is spinning out of control because she didn’t attend your conference? Ugh.

And, the coup d’ grace headline: “Do you hate being successful that much that you can’t respond?” Seriously? If I had known you would solve all my problems, I would have responded earlier. No, wait. I wouldn’t have. Because it’s ridiculous. And these are just a few of the many bad emails and solicitations I get on a daily basis. When I see a headline like “You need me,” I think it’s either porn or crappy marketing. Then, I think, “Dear God, given the choice, let it be porn.”

This is exactly why I believe and I’ve said this many times: the fifth horseman of the apocalypse is a marketer.

Marketing and marketers: do better. This is pure nonsense! And I love fun nonsense. This stuff is not fun. It’s base-level frontal cortex masturbation. I want your hands out of my wallet and my marketing (and cranial!) pants.

All this does is create scarcity and fear and buyer’s remorse. You’re not interested in building a relationship with me; you are just looking to score in the short-run. It’s pandering at its worst.


I have written in other posts that there is one rags-to-riches story that is going around the internet. It’s bullshit when it comes to authenticity. Your story doesn’t need a bow; its needs a real ending. When I see a video, a boosted post or ad that shows (usually a dude) someone opening up the door of their “mansion” and their fancy car, I bolt. Literally. I am out of there. Yes, some of these stories are real; most, however, follow a manipulative template designed to pull at your emotions.

Emotions are important in marketing. Really. I get it. Yet, false promises, hype, template stories that lack authenticity, guilt and deficit-based tactics, and jargon focus on the worst parts of who we are.

People want hope, not predatory nonsense.

Instead, focus on inspiring people — giving them hope and making them feel that your company can help them somehow. No, it’s not about rags-to-riches; it’s about making promises that are commensurate with reality.

The rest is bullshit and marketers need to stop it. Do better marketers. I’m playing my mom card and ordering you to a time-out! You just got “mom-ed.”

What do you think?


I am a speaker, author (“Stop Boring Me!”- on Amazon), storyteller, improv comic, and creative excavator. I help organizations solve problems creatively and collaboratively with idea orgasms. Getting rid of jargon-monoxide and boring storytelling and content, I also help companies create powerful cultures from the inside-out.

I am a fan of good nonsense in the name of creativity. My 8-yr-old thinks I am hilarious. I know that window is closing soon. My company is Join the community! Follow Kathy on Twitter. Kathy speaks on humor, improvisation, and organizational storytelling and how to generate new ideas. I do also like to write occasionally about serious stuff too. Her livestream show is #yesandbrand and you can catch that on her FB page every Friday at 10AM PDT.




Author, speaker, comedian. I turn teams into thriving idea-driven startups who lead in the moment with humor and improvisation. CEO, MA, MBA

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Kathy Klotz-Guest

Kathy Klotz-Guest

Author, speaker, comedian. I turn teams into thriving idea-driven startups who lead in the moment with humor and improvisation. CEO, MA, MBA

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