Here’s to the rule breakers: How to re-frame marketing

When I say “marketing”, which words pop into your head?

Necessary evil? Something to avoid? Discomfort? Unethical?

These and many more negative associations with marketing are all too common.

In this blog, I would like to reframe marketing and show you how marketing can shift from something you tolerate at best (or dread at worst) to something that genuinely feels good.

Freelancer working at laptop

My feel-good marketing story

Why should you believe me when I say marketing can feel good? Because I know what doing toxic marketing feels like.

In my previous life working in agencies, marketing was something that brought me a salary, not joy. Working as an employee, I had to park my own beliefs and convictions at the door and instead follow a script of what marketing “should” look like.

This typically meant mainstream marketing practices with which I didn’t agree, for example publishing poorly researched content with no regard for the readers, using clickbaity titles, emailing people without their content, and harvesting as much personal data in order to sell harder to individuals.

It felt grubby. It WAS grubby.

The issue is that marketing practices such as these are normalised. For many business owners, this status quo feels at odds with their own beliefs - and they are faced with a conundrum. Do I do what the experts tell me to do, or … what?!

Here’s to the rule breakers

When confronted with the “rules” of marketing,  the default response is usually that assumes whoever made the rules are the experts so they must be right,

We ignore the little inner voice that shouts: “But I don’t want to pressure people into buying!”

So instead of trusting our intuition, we follow the rules. We do the icky marketing because we assume that’s what’s needed to achieve success. It doesn’t feel great, and it’s certainly not sustainable.

Some of us may simply think: “Well I’m not going to do any of that!” And then we don’t do any marketing at all.

Neither of these options feel good either.

The third option: feel-good marketing

What if I told you there’s another option? This option lets you ignore the rules AND still do marketing - in a way that feels good to you AND gets results.

So what is feel-good marketing then? For me this is marketing that feels natural and in alignment with who you are.

I often compare marketing with relationships, because ultimately that is what marketing is: the building of a relationship (which, by the way could be a romantic drelationship but also any other type of relationship, such as familial or friendship).

It’s about being yourself (in relationships and marketing). In fact, it is when you are true to yourself that the right people are most drawn to you. You don’t need to pretend to be anything you’re not - you’re loved just as you are FOR exactly who you are.

5 ways to cultivate feel-good marketing

1. Remember why you started

The first step to ensure your marketing is in alignment with who you are is to get clear on your purpose, values, and goals. Notice how your marketing supports you in each of these fundamental areas of your business.

By remembering that you’re not just doing marketing for the sake of doing marketing - or because someone else told you to - you will likely feel more motivated to get it done.

2. Focus on the good 

I wish I could tell you that you only need to do the marketing tasks you actually enjoy doing, but unfortunately it’s not quite that simple.

Like in any aspect of your business, there will be some bits that just need doing even when you don’t enjoy them (for me that’s bookkeeping or anything to do with taxes).

The difference is that those things can be tolerated as long as they don’t overshadow the good stuff.

So what do you actually enjoy? Writing blog posts? Taking brilliant photos? Planning out a strategy? Whatever it is, figure out a way to make more opportunities to include more of that in your marketing.

3. Make it fun

Unless you can outsource some things you don’t enjoy to someone else, you’re going to have to do it at some point.

How can you make these tasks more enjoyable?

Can you attach a nice ritual to the tasks you don’t enjoy? Schedule your social media with a lovely candle or while sipping a cup of tea (mine’s a cup of Bird and Blend Chocolate Digestive tea - makes any tedious task more bearable).

If you don’t really like writing long-form content, how about using speech-type functionality so it feels more like a conversation than actual writing?

Or spend an hour co-working with a business buddy to keep each other accountable for getting those annoying marketing jobs done.

4. Make it easy

There are so many marketing jobs that you probably think about for hours, and then when you finally do them, they’re done in just a few minutes. How can you make it easier?

There are two things I try.

  • Only do what’s necessary. I ask myself if it really, genuinely, absolutely does need doing. Often, I actually need to do far less than I thought (e.g. when I think I need to write a series of social media posts on a topic, when I could actually repurpose a blog post I wrote a while ago instead).
  • Get focused with Pomodoro. To stop myself from getting distracted and dragging out a quick job into hours, I set the timer for 25 minutes, work without distraction, have a short break and then go for another 25 minutes. I employ this technique in my coworking sessions too, and it’s remarkable how much we all get done in this timeframe.

5. Unlearn marketing

Marketing will feel good to you if you have agency over it. If you feel that you are making good choices for you and your business, rather than following the script written by someone else.

To do this, you need to shed some of the old stories about marketing and create your own approach.

This means you need to shift your thinking from marketing being something you have to do, to being something you get to do. It’s an opportunity, not a punishment!

When we start to see marketing as an act of generosity, rather than something that is about taking, we approach it in a much different way.

Join Karen's marketing session at this year's National Freelancers Day on 16 June! Register using the link below.

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Meet the author

Karen headshot Nov 21 - Karen Webber.jpg
Karen Webber

Karen Webber is a marketing strategist with specific focus on ethical marketing.

As the owner of Goodness Marketing. Karen helps small businesses with big hearts do marketing that feels good, does good and gets good results.

She is also part of the team behind The Ethical Move, creating a movement around ethical marketing.