Performative Marketing - Las Peregrinas - Stella Orange

Performative Marketing

By: Stella Orange

Hello, you.

Recently, Rebecca and I were talking about one thing or another – as we do – and I heard myself say this:

“I am so over Performative Marketing.”

We may have paused for a moment after the words tumbled out of my mouth.

What did I mean?

What is “performative marketing”?

It sounds so fancy!

And now that those words have been spoken, I find myself with a new distinction that is helping me see the world in a new and meaningful way.

I thought you might appreciate and use this distinction as well, and so I am passing it along to you.

“Performative marketing” is doing stuff that we don’t actually want to be doing to spread the word about our good work.

It’s “performative” because our hearts aren’t in it.

But we do it anyway so that it looks like we’re Doing Our Marketing.

When the truth is, all we’re doing is going through the motions.

For any number of reasons, I suspect.

I did a lot of performative marketing on social media, back in the day. I really enjoyed the process of creating visual images and provocative messages with my team. But what I didn’t love was the “feed” – what a word! – and the exposure to all kinds of emotions and energy, without any relationship or context or bodies to hold it all.

I also didn’t like the quality of leads that those campaigns dredged up.

Those people weren’t my people. 

Likely because social media is not really my place. 

Side bar: Where are our places? This is an interesting question that we’d be wise to consider, in our contemplation of where we “show up” to do our most consistent and effective marketing. Do you meet clients on the sidelines of soccer practice? In your hairdressers’ chair? At the monthly networker? Or, heck, maybe in your DMs? Just because IG isn’t my cup of tea doesn’t mean it can’t be yours…

If I took out an ad in the Yellow Pages, that would be an example of performative marketing for me too.  When was the last time I flipped through a phone book to find a dentist?! If you said never, you would be correct. The Yellow Pages, like social media, is a tool that I don’t personally enjoy or use. So, it would be “play pretend” (as my kids like to say) for me to show up there to advertise or promote my business.

Which brings us to the questions: 

What’s the alternative?

Isn’t all marketing performative?

And simply: If I refrain from “performative marketing”… what is left?

Ah! Great questions all.  And fruitful ones, I might add.

If we strip away all the “should” and “have tos” and “because the Neighbors are all doing its”… what is left?

And what if THAT was Enough to pay the mortgage and fix the stone wall in the yard and vacation in style and buy your next car?

If that were true, what might you do?

Believing in you,

P.S. If you’re feeling called to seek accompaniment as you move, and grow, and change, please do reach out. Rebecca and I would be honored to support you on your journey.

Stella is cofounder and copywriter at Las Peregrinas, a creative and consulting agency. As our resident word nerd, she writes copy and points out the stories everyone is living and telling through their work. She is also fun at parties.

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