The Roman Emperor School of Marketing

Stoicism saved my life.

Normally I’m not one to dive into a ton of details about personal struggles in business (or life in general.)

But I came across this ancient philosophy at the perfect time. I was insecure, afraid, and depressed. None of the newer “think positive” type self-help books helped…

The answer, it turned out, was going back to the wisdom of great people in history. To read how Emperor Marcus Aurelius navigated strife within the empire. Or how an influential statesman (Seneca) was able to turn himself into one of the richest men in Rome.

Stoicism is an old philosophy — and more complex than it first appears. But the major tenets are:

  • Focus only on what you can control
  • Stop seeing events as good or bad. It’s your interpretation of them, not the events themselves, where the problem lies
  • Don’t overreact to triumph or disasters. Everything is temporary
  • Practice misfortune and preparing for hard times

As I’ve reflected on this philosophy and tried to weave it into my life, I’ve also seen it creep into my marketing.

“Stoic marketing” isn’t sexy…

It’s all about sticking to the fundamentals, and doing them well. Finding people likely to buy what you sell. Building relationships with them that last.

Platforms and channels come and go. They can make what you’re doing more effective. But they’re no replacement for the fundamentals.

Does your marketing embody this philosophy as well?

It all begins by accepting that NO marketing tactics are guaranteed to pay off. If your offer isn’t great or you’re targeting the wrong people, no doubt. Great marketing adds fuel to the fire, but it must already be burning (with people wanting to sit around it, so to speak.)

Stop obsessed over whether your latest campaign was good or bad. Instead, focus on the feedback and data. Ask yourself “What can I learn from this?” It’s amazing how many wrong avenues lead to new ideas for products, a better understanding of your audience, and even new business models.

Don’t overreact. When your marketing is kicking butt, it’s easy to start neglecting it because you get so busy with customers. But that will just cause your pipeline to dry up several months down the road. Build a consistent, repeatable system that plants seeds and grows them for the years to come. Leave the world of “feast or famine” for the amateurs. Go pro!

Finally, practice preparing for the hard times. Running through thought experiments will help. Imagine you had to half your marketing budget, the time you could spend on it, or both. What would you keep? What would you cut? You might find yourself with new ideas to be more efficient moving forward.

The Stoics approve. Not that their approval should matter to you, anyway, because it’s outside your control 🙂

Don’t know where to start?

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