I was on a deadline, working late into the night with the television on to keep me company. My muse was sulking because she wanted to write this entire blog in rhymed couplets in honor of Valentine’s Day.


So in an effort to drown out her frankly sappy iambic pentameters, I started flipping channels.

OMG. One station had “Hollywood Weight Loss Secrets!” Another had “CIA Secrets Revealed!” Still another had “Breaking the Magician’s Code: Magic’s Biggest Secrets Finally Revealed!

It does seem like it’s hard to keep a secret anymore.

And what’s with the exclamation points!?

But it did get me thinking, because over the past several months I had the pleasure of meeting with more than a dozen of our partner organizations. In nearly every meeting, at least one person asked, “So what’s the secret tactic that really gets you results?”

So I thought, “Wow! I could be infamous in BtoB circles if I finally revealed all of our marketing secrets.”

It was at this point that my muse stormed off in quite a huff. Like, she couldn’t believe I’d actually contemplate such a thing.

But I did.

Trouble is, I’m not sure I have any marketing secrets. I think that’s why they call it work. We marketers have to keep up with the trends and we have to do our homework. But good marketing requires good marketers. Good marketers keep our eyes open because inspiration can come from the most unlikely sources. We connect the dots in our heads in ways that others don’t. We have a “knack.”

Just what is a knack and where do you get it? Well, “knack” is a Middle English word that originally meant a clever or deceitful trick.

Oh wait. That doesn’t sound so great. Let me try again.

It’s like ballet or watercolor or poetry. When done well, it seems so simple.

I love baseball. It seems so effortless when played by professionals. As the ball passes over the plate, they merely swing the bat and watch the ball fly over the fence. At least that’s how it works for Andrew McCutchen of the Pittsburgh Pirates. Of course it never works for me that way. So we have to ask, “What’s Andrew McCutchen’s secret?”

I imagine Andrew would give a long explanation about angles and pitches, and bats, and superstition, and most of all he would describe a positive mental attitude and a belief that it can be done.

Hmmm …

You know what? If you’ve stuck with me to this point, I think I can finally reveal the secret. Ready?


Good marketers have a solid knowledge of best marketing practices, but we’re always listening, we’re always observing and we’re always inquisitive. We ask “Who?” and “How many?” and “How much?” But we also ask “Why?” and “What if?” and “So what?”

Oh bother. My muse is back. She seems quite smug. You don’t think she advocated that whole poetry thing just so that I’d be inspired by insipid television do you?