What did the principal say? “I have to be a marketer now.”

Front page story in the Tribune about kids leaving Chicago’s neighborhood schools. Choosing charter schools instead. Or “selective enrollment” schools. Or anything but that hulking institution down the street that’s been churning out semi-literate kids for years.

So people who’ve spent their whole careers as educators, administrators, bureaucrats are now forced to become … marketers.

We know just how they feel, don’t we?

The truth is, no matter what business you’re in, you are a marketer. Because if you’re not telling the world what you can do for them, you’re missing out on clients and customers and ultimately on cash.

You work for someone else, maybe? Sorry, you’re not off the hook. You’re a marketer too. As so many employees have discovered, your position is only as solid as the perception that you are valuable. (And sometimes even that isn’t enough.)

And if you don’t have a job?

I met a roomful of executives in transition the other night. Many of them, delightful, earnest people. AND, when they talked about what they do, they sounded like human LinkedIn profiles. Oy.

We forget, all of us, the difficult lesson the principal of Kelly High School is learning. We have to be marketers now.

So what is this marketing we have to do? There are as many definitions as there are marketing professionals. But they mostly boil down to three things.

Connect with people you can serve. Let them know what you offer. And tell your story in a way that makes them want it.

Business owners better be doing that, or they’re out of business. Employees better be doing that, or they’re out of work.

And those who are already out of work better be doing that, or they’ll have to settle in for a long relationship with the Department of Employment Security. (That’s the oxymoronic name for the people who provide services to UN-employed Illinoisans. Turns out there was no employment security.)

As many definitions of marketing as there are, there are nearly as many marketing channels. Those are the specific ways we connect, let people know what we offer, and make them want it.

I’m out to help all of us get a better handle on this. It’s not enough to just “be a marketer now.” I want to be a successful marketer, and I assume you do too.

So here’s where we can pool our expertise. If you help your clients connect, let people know what they offer, and make them want it, I’d like to hear from you.

Tell me your three top tips in the comments. I’m looking for the things you tell your clients they must do to grow their business.

Of course I’m partial to attracting clients by way of speaking. It works for me and I guide other business owners to use it well too. And, I’m aware that speaking is only one of a whole slew of ways we can connect, let people know what we offer, and make them want it.

Public relations. Social media. Sponsorships. Blogging. Networking. Advertising. Hosting events. Graphic design. Video.

If you’re an expert in any of those areas – or a marketing method I haven’t mentioned – I’d love to hear your stellar suggestions. Give us the must-dos that set the stage for your clients’ success.

I’ll put them all together for all of us next week. So in the comments add your tips and of course include your website so we all know how to find you to learn more.

Of course you might not believe bureaucrats and businesspeople have to be marketers now. If you’ve found a way to avoid marketing, I want to hear it. Share your point of view…