Fundamental marketing labor

Philip Morgan

Every method of earning visibility requires an input: a willingness to perform fundamental marketing labor.

I wrote a 1,500-word article on the topic of fundamental marketing labor, then threw it away after I realized the main idea was much simpler and didn't warrant such a long treatment.

(Those of you who are reaching for the REPLY button in order to type the words "You should do more of that"… zip it. :) )

I think the idea of fundamental marketing labor is important, but pretty simply expressed:

Solo experts can't delegate the emotional labor required for their marketing, and some marketing approaches require significant emotional labor.

We have all received cold outreach that ranges from annoying to infuriating. The reason this outreach sucks is because the sender avoided the emotional labor -- the fundamental marketing labor -- of caring. Of actually caring about relevance. Of spending the time to look at our contact info in a spreadsheet and ponder for a moment whether we could possibly have any need for (just to name a few irrelevant outreach messages that I've recently received) HR benchmarking services, warehouse security camera solutions, or a podcast guest who wants to talk about something way outside our podcast's clearly stated focus.

There are other forms of fundamental marketing labor beyond emotional labor. Here's the whole list:

  • Emotional labor (caring, connecting, empathizing)
  • Teaching
  • Cognitive labor (perceiving, analyzing, predicting, planning, problemsolving, dreaming)
  • Entertaining
  • Persuading/Arguing

We run into problems most often when we choose a marketing approach based on its apparent low cost. This includes tools like digital outreach.

Executing these well requires very little money and a significant, real, EXPENSIVE investment of emotional labor. If doing emotional labor is relatively easy for you, then these marketing approaches are actually low-cost for you. But if it's not and you "cut costs" by avoiding the emotional labor, then you're committing marketing malpractice.

The bottom line: you have to consider the cost of fundamental marketing labor when thinking about how to earn visibility. is available now.

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