Thinking Beyond Marketing

Thinking Beyond Marketing - Photo Credit: Aaron Weiss (

As summer turns to fall on the coast of Maine, I find my body welcoming the cooler temps, even if my mind hasn’t quite caught up yet. The changing leaves signal for me time to slow down a bit from summer’s frenetic pace and reflect on the year that has passed so far and what I want to create in the months to come.

2020 has been a wild roller coaster of a year. A year of embracing uncertainty and it’s bedfellow, anxiety; a year where I am getting uncomfortable peeling back layers of privilege from being born white in this nation; a year where leaky boundaries got me to a place of being burnt out and grouchy; a year where the simple pleasures and joys in day-to-day life and the natural world brought me back to sanity; and a year where I am so grateful to get to do the work I do with the people and organizations I do it with.

When parties or events used to be a thing we could do and I would get asked, “what do you do?”, I had my pat answer of “communications strategy and coaching with mission-driven organizations”. Responses range from everything to blank stares to sparkles of deep understanding and connection. The thing is, the word “communications” is loaded and can mean so many things to different people.

So what exactly is this work and why is it so important?

When I talk about communications or a communications strategy, what I mean is inviting a shift where the way you talk about your work becomes just as important as the work you do itself. Communications becomes the vehicle to broaden your spheres of impact. You not only DO work that changes the world, but the way you TALK about it changes the world too.

It begins with creating space for some deep reflection and introspection to get clear at the “why” at the heart of your work (More about this is my post: Why the Why). And then moves from transactional to relationship focused interactions, where your content can deeply impact someone who never becomes a customer or client. Though we all need to make money to keep doing our work, I see this as a way to free ourselves from the linear binds of capitalism.

In our action-obsessed culture, we often associate communication strategy with marketing that is purely sales oriented. And many of us, myself included, have a negative perception of this “marketing” – content that is trying to convince, trick or persuade us. Thinking beyond marketing to invite a relational, communications mindset can re-frame even simple components of an effective outreach strategy into work that feels deeply personal and meaningful. It also just so happens to have the likelihood of being much more effective, driving emotional connections and deep bonds of loyalty.

Give it a try and let yourself have some fun with the process. Keep me posted how this shift feels and the responses you get. And as always, I’m here to offer coaching or deeper hands on support:

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