Why I hate marketing

i am a marketer. throughout my career i’ve shifted from marketing to product to development, but at heart i sell, and i always will.

here is what sucks about it.

marketing is not fun

having an idea, then making it a reality, is a blast. whether it’s a chocolate cake or an app or a book shelf, nothing beats seeing your vision come to fruition.

in marketing there is no vision, per se, just an arbitrary metric goal. if you achieve it you make money, which is great, but money alone doesn’t scratch the Make Things itch.

you also can’t do marketing at 2am on Sunday night. but makers can, and do. an average developer is probably better at coding than a senior marketer is at marketing, simply because they put in more reps.

this opinion is less controversial once you acknowledge that the “best marketers” with the most success are those who worked on products with built-in inevitability. marketers, thank your makers.

fewer choices

suppose i want to build a button on a website that, when clicked, returns the weather. or the price of a bitcoin. there are unlimited ways to do this.

my code under the hood could be good, bad, mediocre. it could be 5 lines or 50. it could rely on external APIs, scraping, open source, or paid technologies.

on the other hand, if i want someone to click on my advertisement, there are strict rules and principles to follow. character limits, proper spelling, text to graphic ratio, a high enough bid, and so on.

it’s funny how marketers think “they” are the creative ones. actually, builders solve a lot more greenfield problems than you do.


a new side project idea at 11pm? time to get to work. clever marketing idea? gotta wait till business hours to execute.

marketing is just communication. it’s sending a specific message to a specific group of people at the right time. but you can’t control when your prospect will be awake, or on their computer, or at the store.

building alleviates clocks and timezones from the equation. marketing requires painful awareness of both.

no guarantees

hire an handyman to build a kitchen table and it will be done. hire a marketer to get you 100 customers and there’s no F-ing way you can be sure.

most marketers have absolutely no clue what they’re doing. the only difference between them and their maker peers is the maker knows how to do something.

(this doesn’t mean makers can’t fail. they fail all the time. but makers don’t fail to build a product, they fail to build something people will pay for.)


if there is such thing as growth-hacking, it’s finding a non-saturated channel with a massive CPA <> CLV margin. then you exploit that channel until everyone else finds out and ruins it.*

the thing is, marketers accelerate channel saturation by sharing everything they do. i’m guilty of this myself. but not because i’m stupid, i just don’t care.

builders, on the other hand, can share everything and benefit. ship your open source library, someone else will make it better while you’re sleeping. nobody volunteers to work on my marketing campaigns while i sleep.

*sometimes sharing a case study — thus saturating the opportunity — yields more customers than exploiting it. but not usually


last year we launched Honest Marketer to sway public opinion about awful sales tactics. ambitious and perhaps futile.

the truth is, a lot of marketers are dishonest because dishonesty works. there is a symbiotic relationship between vulnerable people looking for shortcuts and fake guru cowards looking to sell them one.

on the flip side, everyone marvels at creation. from skyscrapers to the Mona Lisa. artists look more like makers than they do marketers.

dependent on others

when i wanted a personal FAQ, i built it. when i want to share a new idea on a podcast, i have to patiently wait for an invite.

you can’t be a prolific marketer, only a prolific maker. to be a marketer is to ask the world for permission, attention, and trust. these are difficult to obtain. and none are required to create.

what marketing could be

maybe we can refactor marketing into making.

instead of sending emails to strangers we can “make 1 relationship with Joe Schmoe.” instead of copy-pasting Influence tactics into our pitch deck we can “make investor laugh at coffee shop.”

build a reputation like this and suddenly Joe features your product in his newsletter. the investor invests. and customers trust you.

marketing accomplished.