what does it even mean to "do the marketing?" — tincan #001

what does it even mean to "do the marketing?" — tincan #001

Welcome to Tincan, a newsletter for and about people who are doing the marketing.

Let’s get this out of the way first: the term “marketing” is slightly repulsive to me. Like many 90s kids, I grew up watching a lot of TV while simultaneously being told by the adults around me to cast a critical eye over the commercials. I learned to pick apart advertisements and their methods of manipulation in the same way that kids today dissect scams and fake news on social media. It worked, too. I still find myself muttering aloud about how delusional mop ads are and I’ve grown to lump the entire field of marketing into the same sleazy category as Swiffer commercials. But despite all those bad vibes, I call myself a marketer. Like many of the freelancers/businessowners/whatevers out there, I’m required to be a marketer.

It’s also worth mentioning that I don’t technically have a background in marketing (it’s in video and design). I’ve amassed a marketing-adjacent skillset over the years because I frequently work in conjunction with marketing teams to design the components that then get mashed together to become The Marketing. I also do my own marketing (if you can even call it that) for my freelance business so that organizations will hire me to help with their marketing. But what even is it?

a lot of us are “doing the marketing” 

I think of marketing as a patchwork quilt. When each square is threaded together just right, it can all come together and really brighten up the room. But marketing today has become way too good. The quilt is starting to look intimidatingly complex and, unless you’re a professional, it’s likely to turn into a mess. Today’s brands have hip visual identities, strong websites, values that you can get behind, data-backed goals for the future, a savvy social presence, pithy content, a gaggle of influencers who make everything cooler…the list goes on and on it seems.

These super brands aren’t cheap to create or maintain and are thus elite. Talent-stacked ad agencies are waiting in the wings to help but only if you can afford it. Those of us with a one-person marketing team (who also do other things, like oh I don’t know…everything else) don’t have the resources or time to keep up with it all. It’s also not possible to log off and opt out — participation is required, even if you’re slightly repulsed by it. It’s harder still when a new platform emerges or when audience expectations change. The bar for “good” marketing keeps getting higher. 

Unlike super brands, the “marketing” that I do for myself is merely out of necessity: I need to communicate what I do to potential clients and so I have a website that describes my services. But occasionally I need to think in broader, more complicated strokes like: How can I find new clients? Or, What am I doing to further engage with existing clients? Or, literally, What’s worth my time? Does any of it add up to anything?

Those sorts of questions aren’t easily Google-able. They’re the kind of questions that would prompt an organizational leader to hire a Director of Marketing or a consultant to help answer. But as a solo operator, it’s all on me to string it together myself.

…which brings me to tin cans. 

why I’m starting this newsletter 

The name Tincan stems from the age-old pseudo-telephone trick of stringing soup cans together and whisper-shouting secrets to a friend. It embodies a scrappy, creative mentality — precisely the kind of mindset that’s required when you’re the only person available to roll up their sleeves and do the marketing. It’s also a mindset that allows you not to take everything so seriously — you’re doing the best you can with what you have. And you are, after all, playing with soup cans! So ignore the weirdness and let loose. 

I started Tincan so that people who wear the proverbial marketing hat can kick around ideas and learn from one another. Tincan is here to prove that it’s very possible to build and manage a brand yourself, if only with a little help from other folks who are doing it too. 

what’s inside 

Inside the issues of Tincan and on tincancooperative.com, you’ll find deep dives into different aspects of diy brand management, as well as interviews with real people who are doing the marketing themselves. We’ll hear about what they did, in what order, and what their plans are now. We’ll even open up the budgeting can of worms to get a genuine sense of what things cost. 

Tincan is exactly the type of resource that I feel like I need and I hope others feel the same. We have a lot to talk about, so pick up your cans! 

about anne marie 

Anne Marie is a designer and diy-er who lives in Philadelphia with her partner, Alyssa, and two cats and a dog. You can find her on Instagram and LinkedIn and at amlindemann.com. Reach her directly at: annemarie [at] amlindemann [dot] com.