Un-marketing: Examples of Marketing That Don't Look Like Marketing

February 18, 2024

Tyler Suomala

Founder of Growthitect

I saw this tweet from Katelyn recently and I can’t stop thinking about it:

It resonates strongly with my own personal and professional experience with marketing. I’ve found that marketing is most effective when it doesn’t seem to be marketing at all.

This is one reason that I’m such a huge proponent of posting on LinkedIn and creating consistent and valuable content for your audience - it’s a marketing machine that, if done right, appears as helpful content but performs like an effective marketing campaign.

In fact, I get 10-20 subscribers (eg. leads) PER DAY that come directly from LinkedIn. If you’re reading this, there’s a 3/4 chance that you joined after finding my content on LinkedIn - yes, 75% of Growthitects discovered this newsletter on LinkedIn.

That’s pretty wild considering that LinkedIn is an organic marketing channel - I haven’t paid a dime for any of those subscribers.

But at this point you might be scratching your head…

“How can you create marketing that doesn’t look like marketing? What does that even mean?”

Let’s dive in.

Un-Marketing Examples

Did you know the average person sees 10,000 ads per day? 10,000!!! That’s insane. Ask yourself how many ads actually capture your attention each day.

Usually, ads will capture your attention for one of a few reasons:

  1. Education: They teach you something new.

  2. Entertainment: They make you laugh, cry, or gossip.

  3. Improvement: They make your life easier.

  4. Alignment: They mirror or substantiate your own beliefs.

Now let’s remove the “ads” part of this evaluation and simply consider all marketing as content, both paid and unpaid. Different types of content include video, audio, text, and visual across many channels like social media or websites.

My guess is that most of the time, you’re able to accurately identify whether or not a piece of content is marketing. It might outright promote a product or service or simply appear very professional and refined, making it obvious that time and effort has gone into capturing your attention.

But what about other types of content that doesn’t appear to be marketing? For example:

  • The story from someone that recently got laid off describing how they were caught off-guard by the news.

  • The funny meme with Usher and Alicia Keys from the Super Bowl halftime show.

  • The Revit keyboard shortcuts cheatsheet that somebody shared on LinkedIn.

Guess what? Those are all marketing too.

All content is marketing. If you’re putting something out in the world - it’s marketing.

What’s the goal of putting something out there? More often than not (and sometimes unbeknownst to the author), it’s because they want to get something in return. They want to be noticed or appreciated or praised or agreed with or hired. You get the picture.

  • The story of the person that recently got laid off started as a personal update. But it ended with that person getting tons of messages from other companies looking to hire them. That’s marketing. (Alignment)

  • The funny meme with Usher and Alicia Keys was posted by a clothing brand and brought in thousands of new followers. That’s marketing. (Entertainment)

  • The Revit cheatsheet was posted by a BIM consultant and it encourage 10 leads to reach out about their services because they appreciated the value of the cheatsheet. That’s marketing. (Improvement)

We’ve all seen content like this, right? It doesn’t look like marketing. But it is. And it’s extremely effective marketing at that.

Below are some examples from my content on LinkedIn. It doesn’t look like marketing because I’m not pitching this newsletter in the content. But when people engage with the content, my following grows and more people find their way to Growthitect and sign up for this newsletter.

Education: Don’t say → Do say

Entertainment: Scare an architect in 5 words or less

  • This post generated 700+ (pretty hilarious) comments and kept my audience engaged.

Improvement: 25 ways architects save their clients money

  • A helpful list of things that architects can use to justify their value.

Alignment: Stop glorifying the grind

  • A post that taps into the psyche of common challenges in the profession, with which many architects can relate.


The best marketing doesn’t look like marketing.

The best marketing:

  • Educates

  • Entertains

  • Improves

  • Aligns

…and does so by sharing genuinely valuable and/or personal content.

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