What Is Marketing?

by John McIntyre

What Is Marketing Have you ever thought, “This person gets me”?

You know… that special moment when someone understands you perfectly… that moment when you feel completely and utterly understood, when you don’t have to explain a thing, when you feel totally accepted and appreciated…

Feels good, doesn’t it?

This feeling is the magic ingredient of great marketing.

More on that in a moment… first, what’s the problem?

Most People Think Tactically

They think marketing is about tactics… or “something you do”…

Writing copy. Catchy bullet points and writing headlines. Guarantees. Print, radio, TV or advertising. Pay-per-click. Search engine optimization.

In other words,

Most People Think Marketing Is A
Bundle Of Tactics Created To Get The Sale

But this is wrong.

Yes, tactics work. Tactics are essential to the selling process. But without the magic ingredient, tactics don’t work.

Without the magic ingredient, tactics are empty…



So what’s the magic ingredient of marketing and how do we get it?


Yes, I am 100% serious. Marketing is about empathy. Empathy is the magic ingredient. Without empathy, all the copywriting tactics in the world will not help you.

Conversely, your marketing will succeed to the extent that you demonstrate empathy.

What is this most magic of selling ingredients? Here’s what the dictionary says –

Empathy: the ability to understand and share the feelings of another.

In the context of marketing, if you fail to understand the feelings of your prospect, HE WILL NOT BUY FROM YOU!

Steven Covey, author of The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, says it best:

“Next to physical survival, the greatest need of a human being is psychological survival – to be understood, to be affirmed, to be validated, to be appreciated.”

And in today’s world, empathy is sorely needed if marketing is to be successful.

When you use empathy in your marketing, you create the warm, fuzzy feeling that blows people away and makes them lifelong fans.

Most people don’t do it. They skip the “empathy step”. They fail to understand the prospect… I think this is one of the main reasons most businesses fail. Business owners and entrepreneurs forget that in the end… it’s all about serving the prospect (which is the same as serving the market).

When you create empathy with your prospect, you use The Strategy of Preeminence to position yourself as your prospect’s most trusted advisor.

You Have To Understand The Prospect
Better Than They Understand Themselves

That’s where the magic happens.

Most people have a number of latent wants, needs and desires. Some of them have a conscious thought attached, such as “I want to lose 10 pounds”. Others have no conscious thought; only a feeling. A person may feel he or she needs to do something but the desire hasn’t fully expressed itself in their consciousness yet.

It’s waiting for you to pull it out; to describe it and give words to the feeling.

If you can do this, you will be like a DRUG to your market.


Because people want to be understood more than anything else. If you can make them feel understood, you’re giving them what they want on the DEEPEST level. And that is powerful.

You’ll create the thought…

“This person gets me”.

When you can make someone feel like that, they will trust you. They will believe what you say. And they will buy what you tell them to buy.

Also interesting, is that in the context of empathy, tactics are redundant.

Sure, they’re important… but no longer essential, since you have a deep connection with your prospect.

When you have a deep connection with someone, you don’t need to use bullet points, headlines and sales copy to sell them. In fact, when you have their trust, using low-level tactics can HURT your chances of making the sale.

This begs the question,

If Empathy Is So Powerful, Why Aren’t More People Doing It?

Tactics are easier to understand and easier to talk about.

It’s infinitely easier to slap a few catchy bullet points on your page than it is to actually take the time to understand your prospect.

But if the catchy bullets don’t resonate with your prospect, then they’re limp and dead in the water.

Empathy is a strategy and it’s harder to teach strategy than it is to teach tactics.

Everyone loves tactics because tactics are easy to talk about. Tactics are easy to value, because they are clear-cut. Bullet points, headline formulas and guarantees are all straightforward tactics that anyone can put into practice immediately.

But empathizing with the customer… how the hell do you do that?

Sounds cheesy, doesn’t it?

“I feel ya… man…”.

I’ve made the tactics mistake before.

Without empathy, you end up selling something to someone who doesn’t want what you’re selling.

Empathy isn’t complicated.

It’s just about giving people what they want.

Not telling them what they should want (ie. what most sales copy does).

GIVING them what they want.

There’s a big difference.

And this brings us to another, equally applicable definition of marketing:

Marketing is about connecting a group of people with what they want.

Marketing is the slippery slope you build between your prospect and the thing that will solve his problem.

That’s all.

So the first step, before you do anything else, is to find out what people want.

Then, your job is simple – connect your prospect with what he or she wants.

Once you know what they want, you have your offer… and since it’s based in empathy, it’s a damn good offer, because you know exactly what people want.

Here’s the great thing about great offers (and empathy):

  • With a great offer, you can have bad copy and still make money.
  • With a poor offer, even great copy won’t make it sell.

Use empathy to infuse your marketing with power.

That’s The Philosophy… But How The Heck Do You Apply It?

This is all fine and dandy, but the real magic happens when you apply it.

Here are 4 things I like to do.

1. Forget tactics, at least in the beginning.

I explain this above. If you want to make a lot of money, stop thinking tactically.

Think strategically… with empathy being the underlying strategy that makes marketing work.

2. Ask the question, “What do people actually want?”

Put a piece of paper in front of you. Or open up a text editor on your computer.

Then brainstorm. What do people want? What problems do they have and how can you solve them?

Remember, empathize with your customer. How do they feel? What are their wants, needs, dreams and desires?

3. The 3-Question Survey

Have a list? Create a survey in Google Docs (it’s free) and send the following three questions to your list:

  1. What is the end result that you want to achieve?
  2. What is your biggest fear in attaining this goal?
  3. Is there a timeline you’d like to achieve that result?

Create a free PDF, audio or video and tell them they’ll get it when they complete the survey.

A month ago, I sent this exact survey to my list. I received almost 150 responses. At the end of the free PDF I gave for completing the survey, I provided a link to a relevant product. I made three sales.

The survey created valuable market data (150 responses) and $150 in revenue… and it took one or two hours to create. Not bad.

4. The Facts, Benefits, Offer Formula

I use this formula before writing a sales letter.

  1. Make a comprehensive list of facts about the product.
  2. Turn as many of those facts into benefits.
  3. Create a compelling offer.

I wrote a full post about this here.

. . .

This is what I have been thinking about lately. I like to break things down to their simplest form. Obviously, marketing is much more than just understanding what people want. But broken down to the basic principle… the fundamental idea…

Marketing = Empathy

Marketing is about understanding what people want… and giving it to them.

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