I do a number of things that don’t fit into black and white boxes.
I was asked by a medical professional fairly recently whether I smoked. Without thinking, I told her I smoked 1.5 cigars per year – on average – but sometimes none at all. And maybe a cigarette or two if I ever get stinkingly drunk and stay out all night. I decided not to mention the spliff in Amsterdam.
“But… do you smoke?” she repeated, staring at me.
“No, not really,” I replied.
“I’ll just put no,” she said drily.
I’ve tried to push myself into many moulds in recent years, and I don’t fit in any of them.
I’m a pay per click expert, but not a pay per click person.
I’m a CRM expert, meaning I know more about it than your average punter. But I’m not really a systems person, and when you strip it back CRM is all about systems and not so much about technology, gadgets or automation.
I’m a writer, definitely, but not really a copywriter. Not in the sense most people think of. I don’t even like reading copywriting books very much.
When all else fails I tell people I ‘work in marketing’. Which is true at a very high level, but false in the way most people think of it. I don’t even like marketing very much, or at least the way most marketing is carried out.
I realise all of these things when I go to conferences, and see real out-and-out experts talking about PPC, CRM or copywriting, or whatever. People who hyper-specialise in a particular area, like the system we live in trains you to do. I sometimes feel envious of these people… only to realise they’re normally envious of me.
As soon as you take a multi-disciplinary approach to something, you’re in the grey zone. You’re no longer a smoker, nor a non-smoker. Easy conversations about what you do dry up. But meaningful conversations about work start to appear, if you can spot them.
I’ve noticed in hindsight that the clients I do the best work for also live in the grey zone. They’re not usually out-and-out anythings. If they were, they’d be going to Upwork for help, not coming to me.
I probably need to trademark that, and make it my next domain name (haha). Grey Zone Marketing: Marketing for the Unmarketables.