No More Marketing: Why I’m Done

No More Marketing: Why I’m Done


What I’m about to tell you might kill my business, but I have to say it: I’m done (yes, you can stick a fork in me).

I’ve never wanted to build an empire — at least not one whose sole purpose was “bigger, better marketing.”

And a 4-hour work week? Puh-lease.

Those of you who read this blog on a regular basis already know I’ve got a love-hate relationship with the work that I do. That I’m advocate for Slow Marketing and creating your own recipes.

You know I love-love-love helping my clients find clarity about who they are, what their message is, and how to share that with the world.

For cryin’ out loud — my newsletter’s called the PB&J! (Purpose-Brand & Joy)

But so much about marketing drives me batty

The fact that “Internet Marketing” has become an industry unto itself, for one thing. Yes, Virginia. The Internet Marketing Industrial Complex is a real thing. And much of it is pure unadulterated crap.

There’s too much focus on things like traffic and conversions and not enough on relationships.

I’m exhausted with topics like “branding” and “lead generation.”

I’m done being worried about SEO or SERPs (even when they’re dressed up like Hummingbirds and Penguins).

I’m bored with talk about content and social media strategies.

And honestly, I don’t give a ratatouille how big my list is (or how big yours is, either).


I’m done.

Wouldn’t you like to be, too?


How I Got Here

I love words and pictures. Stories. Heroes on a mission. I totally groove on the whole communicating thing. And the Connecting with Other Humans thing. 

On getting to know you and your purpose.

Those strengths are what turned me into a marketer in the first place.

In the early days of my career, I was o-so-dutiful: I took marketing classes at the university and joined professional associations and focused on understanding things like benchmarks and best practices. I wore pantyhose and went to meetings and developed fabulous strategies for my employers.

Eventually though? I left the corporate world of spin and crazy-making for the world of good (i.e. nonprofits and local governments).

Still wearing pantyhose…but even there, I was more embroiled in politics and personalities than accomplishing things that mattered.

When Life offered me a chance to do my own thing, I created a marketing agency (aka Social Good Marketing) and recommitted to using my superpowers only for good.

Two things killed that first business:

1. I spent too much time chasing contractors and employees than I did creating work that mattered (again!).


2. I learned the hard way that there are those who use “doing good” as a cover for grabbing your money. (I thought that only happened in big organizations and governments! Imagine my surprise…)

Basically, I found just because I can do something, doesn’t mean I should do it.

AND even more important? That it’s uber-critical to keep my values aligned with the work I’m doing.

[Funny thing is the Universe keeps giving me opportunities to prove I’ve learned those lessons. I bet you’ve noticed that happens to you, too?]

This iteration of my business (Word Chef) was built on a different model: teaching and coaching. (Yep, I’m more in the teach-a-gal-to-fish camp.)

I knew what I wanted to do so that’s where I focused my efforts.

I even recently came to understand WHY that’s the particular place I get my jollies. It’s huge when you know the underlying reason for what lights you up.

But something big is still out of alignment.

If I’m honest, I’ve felt it for way over a year, now.

I’ve ranted about the craziness of blueprints and roadmaps, sure. But it’s more than that.

It’s time to hang up my “marketing” hat

Our world needs a new word for what you and I do to promote ourselves and our businesses.

need a new word for what I want to do with and for you.

Call it semantics, but the word marketing feels like fingernails on a chalkboard to me — does it bug you, too?

Unfortunately, there aren’t many options in our limited English language to talk about this thing called “marketing.”

Believe me, I’ve looked.

I’ve checked several Thesauri and I’m stumped.

I’ve asked around on social media but the best I could find was “to educate.”

I thought maybe I’d find some insights by looking at the feelings and connotations you have with me and my business.

Remember this little survey?

The responses you gave amazed me. Many of you shared similar thoughts and ideas:

branding wordle

When asked what emotion you felt when thinking of The Word Chef, several of you gave me a variation of “safe.” One person even told me she felt like I was “comfort food.”

But if you’ve ever hired me, you know I’m much more of a “feet-to-the-fire” kind of person. I want evidence. Finished projects. Outcomes.

So how can I be both a “hard ass” and “comfort food” at the same time? And why should any of this matter to you?

Do you care if what we do together is called “marketing” or “storytelling” or something else?

I really do.

I keep coming back to stories. Words, pictures and inspirational heroes. Curiosity. Inspiration. And our connections to each other. All feeding and nourishing us just like a good meal.

At heart, I’m a storyteller (and a storylistener!).

And knowing these simple facts about who I am and what I love — knowing them in my heart — means I know what I need to focus on: helping you find and tell your best stories.

So yes, things are going to shift around here BIG time. The curriculum in the Digital Dining Room is definitely gonna change.

There’ll be a lot more emphasis on using words and pictures (even audio and video) more effectively.

I hope you’re ready to join me and give up the marketing-as-usual shenanigans being talked about everywhere else.

AND I hope you’ll help me form and shape this new iteration into something delicious we can share with each other — and the rest of the entrepreneurial world.

Are you in? If so, I’d love to hear from you in a comment below. Even better? Share a bit about your experience with storytelling and whether or not you think focusing on that (as a skill) might be useful to you and your business (and what you’d specifically like to learn, if you know).

  • Gloria Miele, Ph.D.

    I always think I’m a lousy storyteller, but then I realize I relay all my experiences as pretty elaborate stories. I need to learn how to channel it more for my business, I think. Tea, I can always count on you to shake things up, keep me thinking, push the envelope and move me out of my comfort zone. Yes, all those things. I’m always happy to go on a ride with you. I also think you’re an engagement specialist (rife with problems, I know, but I like it).

    • Tea Silvestre, aka Word Chef

      I’m chuckling over here about that title. We’ll have to talk more about this engagement of which you speak. 😉 But YES you are a fabulous conversationalist. Very animated and full of great stories. Let’s do more of THAT!

  • Lee Drozak

    I love that you are both a storyteller and a story listener. I know it will be easier to work with stories in my business than marketing so I am excited to see what you have in store for DDR. This new direction is going to make me think and act as usual but videos, yikes! I am so ready to give up the “marketing-as-usual shenanigans” and this confirms that I have made the right decision to be a part of your tribe.

    • Tea Silvestre, aka Word Chef

      Yes! Let’s tell some stories. And don’t worry, I won’t require you to make videos if you don’t want to. Whatever medium floats your boat is the one you should use. LOVE having you in the family!

  • Prudence Shank

    I totally feel you on this. The marketing party has gotten to crowded. And sometimes, when the party is too crowded, it’s time to get the heck out and host your own. One where people can actually sit, relax, and have real conversations. I’m excited to see where this is going. Blaze a trail, Tea! We’ll be right behind you!

    • Tea Silvestre, aka Word Chef

      I’ve never liked a crowded party. Give me a good old fashioned dinner with friends ANY day. I hope at some point, you can join me for a real, in-person sit down, Prudence. So glad to have you on this adventure!

  • Blaze

    AMEN SISTER! It’s time to rewrite the spaces between “Once upon a time” and “They all lived happily ever after” both in life and in business.

    I’m in baby!

    • Tea Silvestre, aka Word Chef

      The middle part is so challenging sometimes, isn’t it? LOL I’m SO very glad you’re in, Blaze. Definitely want to be on your team, too! Here’s to plot changes. :-)

  • Megan Everett

    I’ve always loved storytelling and storylistening, Tea! And people doing their own thing instead of the herd-thing. I’m all in for finding new ways to build authentic relationships and create environments and communities where people actually listen to and collaborate with one another instead of sell-sell-sell, push-push-push all the time! I’ve been trying to find and define it myself for the last couple of years. I’d much prefer doing so in good company :)

    • Tea Silvestre, aka Word Chef

      Woo hoo! I know you’re a huge relationship person, Megan – so that means a lot to me. Human interactions. Who knew?

  • Susan Giurleo

    You know I”m right there with you, Tea! Love the concept of storytelling. I’m shifting my blogging to exploring concepts and taking action to change the world via business. It’s going to be one big open studio of creative energy. I can’t wait and so happy to kick “marketing” for marketing’s sake to the curb.

    • Tea Silvestre, aka Word Chef

      Thank you for chiming in, Susan. I’ve really enjoyed getting to know you online over these last few months and having your voice here is an honor. Really looking forward to our deeper conversations about this stuff.

  • PeterSterlacci

    Tea you always amaze me and you have struck a chief with me on this. Maybe this is also why I am in a slump and why I have questioned so much recently. Shit, is it all worth it? I believe it is on e we can put our finger on the right pulse. Anyway, “storytelling” sounds ideal but I also see this word potentially going down the same path. LOTS of people are now jumping on the story telling bandwagon. I fear it might become diluted and overused as well. Blame it on this whole new world we live in that can provide enormous opportunity for both success and meaningful work as well as opportunities for so called “experts” to sell us their wares. Lead a new charge Tea and I will follow for sure!

    • Tea Silvestre, aka Word Chef

      Peter! Long time, no see. Yes, you’re right about the word “storytelling.” Like anything, it can (and probably will) be overused and lose its magic. I’m not sure what the answer is except to focus on the thing that we would do whether or not someone wanted to pay us money. For me, I will ALWAYS want to hear people’s stories (preferably over a meal). And talking about strategy, list building, PR, etc. just doesn’t do it for me. What is it you’d do whether or not someone paid you? I know you’re passionate about cycling. Is there something there for you in terms of a service you could offer?

  • Evelyn Kalinosky

    Stories, stories and telling (and listening to) more stories. This is who I’ve
    always been and why up until now I’ve felt like a failure and a fake in my
    business. No more. Like you Téa I am stick-a-fork-in-me done with ‘marketing.’

    • Tea Silvestre, aka Word Chef

      Hallelujah, Evelyn! Let’s focus on what’s REAL and what matters. So happy to have you with me on this adventure.

  • Debra Smouse

    I’ve been writing online since 1999 and just get ill at the thought of “marketing”. But, STORIES, now, sister, you have my attention. I believe that our best learning is done based on the stories of others. Looking forward to what’s unfolding….

    • Tea Silvestre, aka Word Chef

      Thank you, Debra. I love your stories, too. I’m already feeling lighter and brighter and am also excited about the unfolding. So happy to have your supportive energy around this!

  • Laurie Hurley

    Wow, can I ever relate! Stories are fabulous to tell and hear and I find when I am asked to speak, I go back to what I am comfortable with – strategy – and I am determined this year to have my training classes, membership sites and speaking engagement rife with real-life case studies, always with a punch line and humorous twist. I can’t stand being asked, “how big is your list?” I think it all goes back to being real, giving selflessly and forgetting about the “statistics” and comparing oneself to the BIG names in our industry who, in my opinion, are in love with auto-responders…..:)

    • Tea Silvestre, aka Word Chef

      Woo hoo! So happy to have your voice here, Laurie. The movement has begun…!

  • Helen Baldwin

    I’m in! This is so refreshing, but at the same time – story telling is age old and something we all are drawn to. (Can’t help but have the anthropologist, my college major, come out!) Here are a few sentences from a great Scientific American article about Storytelling — “We tell stories about other people and for other people. Stories help us
    to keep tabs on what is happening in our communities. The safe,
    imaginary world of a story may be a kind of training ground, where we
    can practice interacting with others and learn the customs and rules of
    society. And stories have a unique power to persuade and motivate,
    because they appeal to our emotions and capacity for empathy.” and I can definitely see how storytelling is useful to my business. Thank you, Tea, for this!

    • Tea Silvestre, aka Word Chef

      I had no idea about your anthropology beginnings, Helen. Can’t wait to hear the stories around THAT. Thanks so much for sharing that quote/article. I’ll definitely read it.

  • Kim Doyal

    I’m still working on my ‘special brand of silly’ as you so eloquently termed it because if I can’t be myself what’s the point? The amazing (and wonderful) thing is that the more ‘myself’ I am the more my business grows.

    I wish there were another word for marketing… maybe it’s time to make one up? (I love made up words).

    As always, you nailed it. 😉

    • Tea Silvestre, aka Word Chef

      Hey Woman – where you been? I MISS YOU. Thanks so much for finding your way here and chiming in…yes, we’ll have to work on creating new words for this. Will connect with you via email for a much-overdue phone call.

  • Julia Hayes


    It has taken a few days to understand and absorb the change of direction.
    I can feel the positive vibrations from your post and everyone’s comments as you’ve released the pressure we all feel from the internet marketing/not being good enough scenario.

    Does it mean we will:
    -turn our imaginations to the creation and weaving of stories?
    -ignore the commands of internet marketing success when crafting our content?
    -bravely reveal about what matters to us personally?

    This resonates with building rich communities and being our human selves.

    The Chef appears when the Table is ready.

    • Tea Silvestre, aka Word Chef

      Yes, Yes, YES! As I said before, some might say this is just semantics. That good marketing has always been about telling and sharing stories. And of course we need to be careful that we don’t fall into the trap of using this new label overmuch either. But I want to focus my efforts with all of you in a more specific way now. A lot of the content I’ve been teaching has come more from “best practices” and what’s expected (of a marketing expert) than what really matters — to me, to you, to all of us. SO ready to change that!

  • Jim Bessey

    I love your thoughts on this, Tea–and I’m in.

    For my own business, I certainly need to learn more about the best use of Story. I’m pretty good at writing short fiction, but that’s a whole different thing. I think it will help me if I can learn to take myself a bit less seriously, and to be able to laugh at parts of myself. Or something!

    In the Marketing world, I love advertisers who really understand the power of Storytelling. Geico comes to mind immediately, and many other big firms have obviously gotten the word to their own agencies to Do Something (similar to Geico’s campaigns).

    One recent radio spot that featured NASCAR driver Danica Patrick did a wonderful job with show-don’t-tell, one of the key features of great storytelling. Patrick is the new spokesperson for Ideal Image’s laser hair removal program. Instead of having her Tell how much she loves the results she’s gotten, the spot has her explaining her recent “fastest time” as being the result of her incredibly smooth skin. It’s just one of three very well-written spots that grab and hold your attention because they are creative and fun to listen to. And, hey, it obviously works–I’m paying attention, and I care nothing at all about hair removal. -smile-

    “Marketing” done well is so much fun that you and your audience forget they are being “marketed to” at all. I hope one day to learn how to do that for myself. If it works, that’ll be a great story, don’t you think?

    • Tea Silvestre, aka Word Chef

      Absolutely, Jim! And love your NASCAR example, too. Really glad to hear that the storytelling perspective could be helpful for you.

  • Dianne Nicole

    It is amazingly refreshing to hear someone speak their truth and be true to themself. Now I’m hooked.

    • Tea Silvestre, aka Word Chef

      So glad this resonated for you, Dianne. Looking forward to hearing more from you in the future!

  • Jeremy


    First you hit me between the eyes with the post on teaching and mentoring. It made me realize that’s what I love doing: seeing someone else’s eyes sparkle when something clicks into place.

    And now, you’re using a very similar phrasing to something Jeff Goins said: “helping other people tell their stories.” And it rings me like a gong.

    But then comes the amuse-bouche, the little touch that lets you know that you’re in good hands with the chef: hanging up the marketing hat.

    Maybe it’s just the language we use, sure–but then again, look at the difference “just ingredients” makes between McDonald’s and a home-grilled backyard burger.

    Pleeeeeeeeeeze, yes, let’s get away from the marketing talk and do something else. Thank you for pointing the way.

    • Tea Silvestre, aka Word Chef

      Thanks so much for chiming in, Jeremy. I love to hear when things hit folks “between the eyes,” LOL. This new “way” is quite the adventure and I’m honored to have you along for the ride.

  • MamaRed

    Oh, you’ve done it again Tea! I too am a storyteller and what matters most, to me, is that those stories, those messages, get shared with the world in a way that creates a world worth living in, and leaving to. Most of the time I’m sharing stories as examples of what to do (or, more often, what NOT to do!) and use recipes and cooking analogies to explain things. I’m not coming up with a title for you and totally support you as you go forward! THis article gave me a reminder of why I’m struggling with a webinar at the moment…I totally believe what I’m sharing and this “it will drive this much money” conversation is driving me batty!!!!!!!!!!!! And I’ve realized being called by my given name no longer fits for me (although many want to know my “real” name ‘cuz they don’t feel comfortable with MamaRed…weeding out folks maybe?)

    • Tea Silvestre, aka Word Chef

      Thanks, MamaRed. If my struggle (and surrender) experience can help even a few people figure out their own, it’ll have been worthwhile.
      Also – I’m a big fan of naming yourself. Tea is not (gasp!) my birth name, either. I legally changed it in college. You must find what fits and yes, what fits will change and evolve over time. Keep at it!

  • cherylpickett

    Had to chime in to say Amen! and Amen! to so much of what you’re doing and saying here. I was in a similar boat probably a year ago. One of my skills is writing so blogging then content marketing seemed to be the way to go with it beyond freelance writing and the book I had out then.

    Once I got in though it was way overwhelming to do for myself, let alone try to help others with it. I tried pretty hard to get going but I didn’t really like it that much in the end. I think a lot of it was similar to what you’re feeling. Maybe it’s the circles we’ve managed to get in with but some days it is just so much to take and enough, enough enough. Does it really have to be this hard, does it really have to change every other day?

    Parts of it yes, but the core, the stuff that really connects with people, I don’t think so.

    I’m also not sure you’re out of marketing because it’s a pretty big umbrella. If you’re helping people who own businesses find and communicate their stories to connect with clients, that’s still part of marketing/promoting. I’m a big fan of the thesauri myself, can’t really think of a way around that at the moment either. If you aren’t doing it for that kind of connections, then you’d be helping people become authors essentially.

    Whatever it becomes, I think you’ve got a good idea. Honestly, it’s one I’ve recently thought about too. Interesting to see/hear where you go. Maybe we’ll meet up again :-)

    • Tea Silvestre, aka Word Chef

      Hehe – yep, I know it’s really semantics here. But I have to change the way *I* talk about it so that it’s not so freakin’ HEAVY. It also helps me to not say “marketing” because it IS such a huge umbrella. And because I’ve talked about the whole enchilada for so long (as “marketing”) it’s easy for me to fall into old habits of trying to help people with ALL of it. Instead of just the stories. But of course, then there’s the sharing of the stories…another rabbit hole to look out for. I’m glad to hear it wasn’t happening to just me.

  • Michael Martine

    Welcome to the club, Tea. :)

    • Tea Silvestre, aka Word Chef

      LOL, thanks Michael!

  • Michael Martine

    Welcome to the club. :)

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