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Marketing for marketers: Heal thyself

My forehead should be bleeding. I’ve pounded it against my desk about thirty times in the last 24 hours.

If I can help other people and companies market themselves, why can’t I ever do it for myself?

This isn’t the first time I’ve asked myself this question. But it’s the first time that I can look back over a year and see some things that have worked. If you want to improve your self-marketing, you have to understand the three big challenges you’ll face:


Problem: I’m so busy working with clients, working on tools, etc. that I never have time to work on marketing for my own company. But Ian, you say, work ON your business, not IN your business. Delegate.

Reality: Every morning, I get up ready to work ON Portent, delegate to abstraction and really focus on the business. Then, reality whacks me upside the head with a splintery telephone pole, while my desire to make sure every client is ecstatic with us holds my head firmly in place to make it easier for reality to do the whacking.

Solution: Set a goal to work from home one day per week. On that day, set up an e-mail auto-responder saying I’ll check e-mail at 9 AM, 12 PM, 3 PM and 5 PM. In between, work only on Portent stuff.

Solution 2: Delegate the marketing! Duh. I have a great team. When I got the hell out of the way, they rebuilt the Portent site into something truly extraordinary. Do more of that.


Problem: I have problems finding fault in my own children. They’re smart, attractive, funny and basically perfect. But I knew I was biased when I tried to defend their athletic ability. My son throws a ball like, well, me. My daughter trips while walking on level ground. They have their skills—aikido, gymnastics—but they only look athletic when compared to myself. I apparently have the same problem with my company.

Reality: I think Portent can out-market, out-present and out-sell everyone from huge international agencies to award-winning individuals. The reality is that we can’t, and we shouldn’t. We should market the hell out of Portent, instead.

Solution: Work with another marketer. Someone who’s not quite so biased. Get their feedback on the niches I’m pursuing, and use that to steer us in better directions.


Problem: I’m only one guy. I have ten fingers. I have thirty great people who are 100% busy working for clients. So exactly who is going to execute all this great stuff I come up with?

Reality: You just read it.

Solution: Hire someone to manage Portent’s marketing. Their job—allocate resources within Portent. They’ll be an account manager on the Portent account. That way, these things become internal priorities.

I cheated

OK, I cheated a little. I’ve already put many of the solutions I listed above into action. And they’re working. In the last ten months, we have:

  • Launched a completely new site;
  • Implemented inbound marketing and content marketing, like our e-mail series;
  • Freed me up to blog more often;
  • Freed me up to do more research;
  • Freed me up to spend more time on sales.

The results are measurable: 20% growth. A far better, higher-quality lead flow. Fewer instances of Ian Freak Outs.

Other stuff


CEO & Founder

Ian Lurie is CEO and founder of Portent and the EVP of Marketing Services at Clearlink. He's been a digital marketer since the days of AOL and Compuserve (25 years, if you're counting). He's recorded training for Lynda.com, writes regularly for the Portent Blog and has been published on AllThingsD, Smashing Magazine, and TechCrunch. Ian speaks at conferences around the world, including SearchLove, MozCon, Seattle Interactive Conference and ad:Tech. He has published several books about business and marketing: One Trick Ponies Get Shot, available on Kindle, The Web Marketing All-In-One Desk Reference for Dummies, and Conversation Marketing. Follow him on Twitter at portentint, and on LinkedIn at LinkedIn.com/in/ianlurie.

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  1. It’s amazing what one or two new strategic hires can do for your time.
    And I’m glad you can blog more, I definitely enjoy your writing

  2. Ian, I really like and appreciate your honesty and realism. Many people would rather die than tell the truth or be honest with themselves, and I think that’s a real admirable trait and draws me to your blog. I’m the same way, and I think overall, these types of people will do best in business (and life) in general.
    Keep tellin it like it is!
    P.S. I like the new blog design 🙂

  3. Hello Ian. I have asked that first question to myself a thousand times over… And like you, I have also started to set some action plans in motion. But I’ll tell ya’, you need a wake up call and personal assessment first before you get it right.

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