How The Wizard of Oz is an excellent metaphor for marketing

I don't know about you, but I find marketing mysterious, methodical, even magical. Don't worry, I get it - the same reasons I find it exciting are the same reasons so many people find it daunting, distracting, and even distasteful.

So I'd like to pull back the curtain and give you a glance from the other side. And I'm recruiting some favored characters to help me out.

I think the scenes of Oz from the classic movie Wizard Of Oz provide excellent metaphors for both the process and the profession of marketing. The world of marketing and sales is often perceived as wonderful - where you can make yourself into something completely new and totally gorgeous - and/or terrifying - where you are confronted by your deepest fears (namely, of being exposed for the fraud that you fear you truly are). In this realm, your senses are delighted, yet you may somehow resist deferring helplessly to an "expert" whom you aren't entirely sure you can trust.

But you have arrived with great anticipation after a long journey of dancing through exhilarating self discovery. You are carrying a brave and heavy wish to make it to another destination that seems at least partially impossible.

So you come to the wizard to ask for help. You bring your lofty expectations to the magicians of public relations, of marketing, and of sales, even though you expect them to ask questions you may or may not know the answers to.

The first question they ask is "WHO are you?" The most confident of us may speak clearly on this, while others faint at the boldness of this daunting inquiry.

Any good marketing professional must ask this though, because, after all, you are asking them to tell someone else who you are, are you not? Any great marketer will go much farther, asking many others about your identity as well to help them artfully deduce the real truth of the matter (which of course is difficult for any of us to perceive objectively on our own).

We may be comforted when we realize that we don't actually need to explain ourselves too much for "the great and powerful Oz knows WHY you have come."

And well he should, for in understanding the truth of who we are, any wise wizard also gets what ultimately drives us. For our part, we must know, too, what we are really seeking in order for us to find it - and for others to help us along the way.

It is important to also note that the wizard knows his purpose as well. He knows that we expect him to have answers, even if we are timid in asking for them.

Yet we find our initial hesitations are not completely unfounded when - here's where it gets interesting - the great-and-powerful also astutely calls out our perceived weaknesses.

We may be stunned to discover, however, that this does not mean we are unworthy and will therefore be denied our wishes as we may have fearfully suspected. Indeed, "the beneficent Oz has every intention of granting your requests."

While we may come to the wizard wanting a brain (better strategy) or a heart (a rebrand), we also come bearing a much deeper need. Put simply, we need someone well suited to hold up a mirror. 

In order to have our wish fulfilled, we must first have clarity about why it hasn't been fulfilled already. This will likely necessitate some honest inquiry and it may also mean we'll need to adopt some new behaviors. The wizard inspires us to take up the challenge.

Very few enjoy change, but an excellent wizard knows that our own transformation is where the true magic lies. In meeting our challenges here, we are sure to elicit and strengthen the very qualities that we need in order for the impossible to become possible. 

The wizard is merely a catalyst - a crucial one. When the curtain is pulled back, we find that she is actually a well-intentioned and fallible human, just like us. More importantly, she demonstrates to us that, in fact, we are the great and powerful ones we've been searching for all along.