My earliest foray into the world of marketing was back in 2011 when, aged 23, I launched my first business as a self-employed birth coach (aka doula) and childbirth educator. For me, it was about building a career that mattered, and helping women on this journey ticked the box and fulfilled a passion. Marketing was just an afterthought, a necessary discomfort, though I quite enjoyed it.
After two or three years it was time to move on from this pursuit. Love it as I did, I outgrew it. Motherhood and sickness formed my two main identity threads for some time, and through both I augmented my passion for writing.
Finally it was time to begin the degree I had waited all my life to study (kids came first, in my case), and I was naturally drawn towards majoring in Creative Writing. But I couldn’t shake the niggle: I wanted a career and knew my degree would not be very marketable.
I settled on a compromise – a more marketable qualification that allowed scope to develop my professional writing – a Bachelor of Communication with a major in Marketing.
I realised, quickly, I was surprisingly good at it. Through pure chance, I had stumbled upon something I excelled in. Me – the high school drop out who, at one point in life, would have been happy to get a B. So I rolled with it, stuffing my electives with personal development topics like anthropology, film-making and critical thinking.
In my spare time, I read about marketing. I followed marketing blogs and I attended marketing webinars. It wasn’t because I was studying it – I’m not that studious. I just found that I really love it. It’s me. It speaks to my entrepreneurial streak and it simultaneously speaks to my creativity.
For a while, this all sat quite uneasily with me. I thought it was a mismatch, that it did not align well with my core objectives, which were to add value to the world, to make a difference. Surely marketing did not achieve that? Surely marketing, when it boils down to it, is just about making money for people who want to be rich?
I dithered over my choice. I considered straight business studies, but found it too dull. I considered following my heart and forgetting the career, but the creative courses did not motivate me to succeed.
Then it hit me. Marketing is all about adding value. It is not just the territory of greedy snake oil salesmen. Marketing is for those who want to give people the best experience. More pertinently, marketing is for those who wish to combine creativity with business. It is the place where my Yin and Yang meet.
In my heart, I am a writer. In my head, I am a marketer. My personal definition of success – the pot of gold at the end of my rainbow – involves a future where both of these come together. In the comments, I would love to hear where your Yin and Yang meet. How did you arrive there, or are you still travelling?