Marketing and Making Friends

Marketing is the act of promoting, and/or selling products and/or services and refers to any actions a company takes to attract an audience to the its product or services through high-quality messaging. Marketing’s aim is to deliver standalone value for prospects and consumers through content, with the long-term goal of demonstrating product value, strengthening brand loyalty, and ultimately increasing sales. Sounds good, right? That describes the process of marketing (at least I think it does), but does it touch on the essence of what marketing’s intention is?

I like to describe marketing in a much simpler way. I believe that, at its most basic level, it is a handshake between strangers. It’s the act of reaching out to someone with whom you want to connect. When the gesture is offered, the other now has a choice — accept the offer or not. The hands meet in the middle. That is where the connection happens. The middle is where the conversion happens, where it changes from “I don’t care” to “Now, I’m interested.”

What makes someone decide to make the connection? The answer to that question should be the foundation of where your marketing campaign should grow. From the perspective of the public, does your brand reflect the smiling eyes of a welcoming face? Does the messaging reflect the relaxed stance of a potential friend? Does your pitch carry with it the honesty and vulnerability of an outreached hand asking for an audience to take a moment and connect? Does your campaign really speak to people so it is worth their time and attention?

To answer those questions, you also have to answer others: Does your marketing campaign really speak to people in a way that is worth their time and attention? Does your brand support that approach? We’ve all heard marketing gurus say your brand is more than just your logo. It defines your intention and carries the weight of its promise you’re making much further than most business owners realize. A truly effective brand is discovered rather than created. There is a piece of folklore that says when Michelangelo was asked about the secret of his genius, particularly regarding the statue of David, Michelangelo responded by saying, “It’s simple. I just remove everything that was not David.”

The same goes for building your brand. A brand is discovered, not created. Once you knock out the things that are not relevant and really focus on the uniqueness of the way you do business, the brand reveals itself. That makes it easier to define, refine and design.

The building of a brand takes time. And if it is done well, the purpose of your business will be easily revealed to anyone who connects with it. That is the moment when your brand can reach out to a like-minded market that will then respond, accept the gesture and engage with your services — much like a new friend shaking your hand.

Alex Raffi is a partner and creative director at Imagine Communications.

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