How to Market a Modern Business

The organic marketing mindset

How to Market a Modern Business

Originally published on Medium.

Of course you’re running ads, but let me guess, you’re not happy with your overall marketing results, and you’re looking to branch out.

Until recently, it was pretty simple: stuff your website with keywords; email blogs to guest write for links; post three times a day on Facebook; post once on Instagram. Boom.

“It’s National Hug Your Mailman Day?
Yes! That’s my post for today.”
— 🤦‍♂️

None of that works anymore.

What does work?

To get better marketing results, our marketing needs to align with how people use the internet today.

I call this organic marketing, which is a broadened industry term, but it’s really just modern marketing.

Modern marketing is a mindset, and here are three keys to understanding how it can work for your business.

1. Understand marketing lifecycles

The first thing to understand is the lifecycle that every marketing technique goes through- from novel and unsaturated (inexpensive) to mature and saturated (expensive). Effectiveness is directly correlated to popularity.

By understanding where any marketing technique falls in this common lifecycle, we can better decide what resources to put towards it and the realistic value we can expect from it.

This is the root of Gary Vaynerchuk’s Marketing In The Year That We Actually Live In concept, and it’s what he attributes his personal success to (he took advantage of AdWords and YouTube when they were early in their lifecycles).

While taking advantage of an unsaturated technique will yield the best results, we don’t need to do only new things. By spreading marketing across different lifecycle stages, we can increase our chances of an overall return that beats the average.

2. Leverage people and communities

Participate in communities

Communities are important pillars of organic marketing. By specifically focusing on communities (other people to amplify a message), businesses can leverage organic opportunities from marketing to product feedback to hiring.

Not surprisingly, the way to improve community presence is to be active in different communities. Communities can be neighborhood organizations, Facebook groups, or even a niche corner of Twitter.

Businesses seem to understand communities are important, but they often execute incorrectly. Communities are made of people who give and receive value somewhat equally. Businesses need to approach them as interested, individual participants and should probably start as observers. The effects grow slowly but exponentially over time.

Create communities

Creating communities can be more valuable than just participating in them. But remember, a following is not a community. Facilitating a community requires participation from more than just you.

I was recently introduced to the concept of community-as-a-service, and I think companies like Melt are in exactly the right place. They’re pushing a future where companies treat community building as an integral part their business stack.

A company’s brand is the sum of its peoples’ brands

Related to communities, it’s also important to understand that modern brands are the sum of their people. As recently as three or four years ago, brands themselves could have a voice that was separate of any individual, but today people want to connect with actual people.

That’s why marketing emails now come from Joe Person at and are signed with a headshot and Joe’s name.

3. Be objectively authentic

Lastly, it’s important that marketing doesn’t look like marketing. I don’t mean we should disguise it. I mean we should be authentic and transparent.

Companies are finally allowed to have faults, and businesses gain trust by being vulnerable and/or opinionated. Smart businesses take advantage of this by marketing candidly and organically, and the authenticity is paying off.

Older marketers’ minds (like mine) are blown by this. Businesses used to be buttoned up, and Corporate had to approve anything that was customer-facing. Today, we break important company announcements on Twitter using 🎉 emojis, and our CEOs smoke weed on the Joe Rogan Experience.

This feels more natural to people, though, and they connect better with brands when brands act like real people. A good brand is very important, but we don’t have to pretend it’s an untouchable, magical thing anymore. A brand is ultimately a group of people with a shared goal or outlook that their customers align with. Authenticity plays a key role in that.

Hope this helps

I get asked a lot about what small businesses can do beyond paid advertising. The answer is organic marketing, but the challenge is that different strategies and techniques work for different businesses. We need to be creative. Modern marketing, like a Zozo shirt, is individually tailored to every business, and that’s exactly where the leverage comes from. That’s why it works.

Starting with the right marketing mindset is the best thing any business can do today to discover their own organic marketing opportunities. There are lessons we can learn from others, but ultimately, organic marketing requires us to find niche solutions that are absolutely perfect for our specific business and our specific audience. The right mindset is an important first step, but it’s only the beginning.