In the late ’90s, I was invited to pitch the annual report business of the now-defunct While there, I asked the Communications Director about the results of their recent television spot. She said, “Oh! The spot won all kinds of awards! The advertising, marketing, and creative communities loved it!”

I asked her if it manifested any discernible business effects. She said, “It generated no increase in sales, and it pissed off the shareholders.”

Translation: The operation was a success. But the patient died.

To preclude such a fate, it might be helpful to review the Seven Deadly Sins of Marketing and Advertising:

  1. Attempting to communicate anything without clearly articulated strategic objectives. If you can’t explain what you hope to accomplish, don’t do it.
  2. Creating for your portfolio. If you create for the sake of creating, it’s art … maybe. Create to fulfill business objectives.
  3. Writing for the boss. If the sole purpose of your communication is to please The Boss, you’ve already lost. You just don’t know it yet. (It’s that pesky target audience thing again.)
  4. Reading your own press releases. We’re human. We cast ourselves in the most favorable light. And some of us won’t let the truth stand in the way of a good story. If you have to read your own press releases, don’t believe them.
  5. Staying in dogmatic comfort zones. If you still refer to your premier, leading, Web-based, end-to-end solutions, stop worrying about falling behind. That vapid jargon puts you so far out of the hunt you’ll never get back in.
  6. Treating marketing as an expense, rather than an investment. If you believe suspending marketing is a good idea when revenues get short, start rehearsing “Turn Out the Lights“. It won’t be your theme song. It’ll be your swan song.
  7. Believing Field of Dreams. If you think they’ll come because you built it, don’t build it. If you’re not strategically and relentlessly identifying needs, connecting with people who have them, and diligently fulfilling them, leave your ball and bat for someone who really wants to play.

Most of us have to shove some fairly sizable egos aside to contend with the notion that no one cares. That’s right. Unless we just cured cancer or perfected teleportation, no one cares. But that’s not to say we can’t make people care. We can and we do. To succeed at it, we have to look at what we do from the perspectives of those for whom we want to do it.

Everything else is just kissing the mirror.