Marketing: Four pillars of marketing: The right people

Here we are. After 20 years of writing this column, this is my final submission. As promised, my final four columns have been focused on what I believe are the four most important elements of marketing. Get these four correct and the rest is just details.


The four cornerstones of marketing are:

  • Your brand.
  • Your audience.
  • Giving first.
  • Surrounding yourself with the right people.

This week we will start with the one that I believe is most important. The people who surround you in your work world.


“The right people” is multifold. It’s not just your co-workers. It’s your customers. Your team. Your organization’s leaders. Your collaboration partners and even your competitors.


I haven’t always gotten this right. That’s how I’ve come to know how critical it is. Marketing and sales boil down to a relationship. If it’s transactional, then it stays on the surface, everyone jockeys for an advantage over the other, and there’s very little grace, loyalty or longevity.


But when you find yourself serving the right clients, working side by side with the right people, inspired by your leadership, and energized by your collaboration partners – you build relationships based on mutual respect, trust and a sense of service.


This is even true with your competitors. When you respect their work and know you need to elevate your game to compete, that creates a healthy rivalry that can lead to friendship and ultimately the consumer winning because the rising tide lifted all the boats.


How do you make sure you’ve made the right choices?


First, you need to understand and be able to articulate what the right fit is, whether it’s a client, co-worker, etc. Equally important (and something we seem to take for granted or forget) is us deciding how we want to show up in that relationship. Do we want to be very transparent? Do we want to be a mentor or guide? Should we hold our cards close to the vest?


How we show up is going to have a huge influence on how anyone else shows up.  


Unfortunately, there’s no surefire litmus test. But we all have that inner voice that tells us if we’re going to enjoy serving a certain customer or working alongside someone. If we’re smart enough to listen to it.


From there, you trust but verify. You look for clues that align or don’t align with what your gut reaction told you. You pay attention to how they step up and into the relationship with you. And for me, I pay attention to whether or not I enjoy being of service to them.


Consistency in marketing is often considered dull. But it is one of the strongest threads to create and build trust. One of the best ways for you to become trusted or know you can trust someone else is how they show up every day.


It’s not a hard science. But I believe we know when we’ve found the right-fit people to help us do our best work and provide the most good. When we do, we should double down and invest in the relationship for the long haul.


As I reflect on writing this column, that’s my final takeaway. How lucky I’ve been to work with the talented and collaborative team at BPC and to write for you.


I want to thank you for your readership over the last two decades, your email commentary and suggestions, and your photos of specific columns that found their way to your wall, bulletin board, classroom, or got passed around to your team. It’s been my privilege to be a part of the Business Publication’s family and a part of your work world.


Thanks for reading me every week!


Thank you, Drew


Publishers note: We have had the great pleasure to read the great work of Drew McLellan for more than 20 years. He is someone who is very special to both our audience and the team here at the Business Record. Most of you know Drew from these very pages of the Business Record, where he has written an outstanding column on marketing, which he began in January 2002.


This edition is tinged with bittersweet notes. As he announced earlier this month, Drew has decided it is time to hang up his Business Record pen and is ending his column with today’s installment. His time with us has produced approximately 1,050 columns — columns that have equipped us. Educated us. Kept us focused on the client. Columns that have inspired us. 


Drew describes himself as a “dad, agency guy, writer and speaker,” but he is very humble. Drew, who was named a Forty Under 40 in the first class in 2000, has had and will continue to have a remarkable career. He started his own agency in 1995 and he also owns and runs the Agency Management Institute, serving more than 250 small to

midsized agencies annually. 


Drew has often appeared in Forbes, Entrepreneur magazine, the New York Times, AdAge, CNN and Businessweek, and the Wall Street Journal calls him “one of 10 bloggers every entrepreneur should read.” He’s hosted podcasts and written four books. Wow. No wonder he was also named Forty Under 40 Alumnus of the year in 2010.


Along the way, he has also given me, Connie Wimer and Suzanna de Baca personal and professional advice that has been invaluable, authentic and spot on. 


Today, we are thanking Drew and honoring him. Drew, we are going to miss you on that last page or so of Business Record — but we wish you all the best on your next page.


— Chris Conetzkey  |  Suzanna de Baca  |  Connie Wimer