Humanity of Marketing

DATE: May 30th, 2011


For generations sales people have told us that people buy from people. Fundraisers have put their own twist on it: people give to people.

In today’s marketing environment it’s not enough to have a clever campaign. You have to integrate the message through multiple channels. While this makes so much sense in a seminar — it’s tough. You see, most organizations are organized in silos. Marketing lives in their little campaign bubble. The sales team is doing whatever they can to meet their month end numbers. Customer service is doing their darnedest to assuage customers who are upset at the marketing and sales strategies.

It’s a circus!

So why does Steve Jobs make is look so simple? And why are schools all across North America tossing all branded products but inviting Dove right into their classrooms? Why can Jimmy Choo get mothers and daughters to line up for more than a block for cloth boot with glass sequins? And why does Justin Bieber’s new haircut top the twitter charts?


Steve Jobs embodies Apple. Dove has taken a different approach — they are the face of beauty — lots of personality. Jimmy Choo has locked into the luxury market — a global fashion designer for women keen to be noticed. And Bieber? Everyone loves a good news story when a cute 17 year goes from low income housing to the top of the charts and lands a personal invitation to the White House.

In the last week I have had significant conversations about brand.

The first thing I want to establish is that brand is not about product. What you make is not your personality. RIM’s big problem right now: they don’t have a personality. They are looking in the mirror and saying: “I’m better than Apple, so why don’t people like me?” But RIM is still a kid. They’re not yet confident about their core personality (OK, they are a business suit who is obsessed about over-achievement, but they want to wear a turtleneck).

Few of us sell unique products. The differentiation of our product has to be in our personality. Your selling power is based on your ability to develop a human face, building relationships with your customers. The same face has to show up in the marketing, sales and customer service.

Why don’t we do it?

1.  Well, it’s tough. I was writing a blog for a client, when I realized that I was just writing it to get it off my desk. But I hadn’t really developed a voice for the blog. I was horrified. How could I have overlooked the most essential component of the written piece? I was in a hurry. The client was happy with the blog. I was focused on product.

So I stopped right where I was and defined the writer of the blog. Now I write it in the context of the person.

2. Coupons are easy. Yeah, they are. Easy to track.  Easy to design. Easy to respond to. But take care. Every coupon contributes to your overall message. Too many random coupons will put you on shaky ground. When push comes to shove your customers will easily walk away because they don’t know you.Loyalty is to personality.

Even if cost effectiveness is your goal, you can still have personality. President’s Choice has done and amazing job of going from the low price, no-brand alternative to a huge brand.

3. Senior leadership doesn’t get it. It happens. The boss is intent on producing — they don’t want to get involved in the superficial stuff like personality. It’s a long term mistake. Marketing innovation differentiates by developing personality.

4. There is no content to produce personality. Dove went to a lot of work finding all of those “ordinary” beautiful women. Coke spends a good deal on making sure that the red doesn’t change — ever. It takes time and effort to produce a personality.

I love to take senior leaders through a colouring exercise. I just ask them to colour their company. Few are able to do it. They feel silly. They don’t know how to express themselves outside the context of a sales sheet.

Strong key messages and personality helps you make good choices and stay on track with your marketing message. It aligns you with your customers. It attracts new customers. It’s not as quick and easy as infiltrating your market share with one off coupons, but it’s always an investment into growth.

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