I’ve heard a lot of these kinds of jokes. They are funny and true in some cases. Things aren’t funny unless they contain a dash or more of honesty. Many believe that the “job” of marketing professionals is more than just pitching a client’s brand to the marketplace. It’s believed that the true goal is to keep the earth spinning in a vortex of mindless, consumer convenience and an insatiable hunger for more, more, more. We are shallow and shortsighted and driven by a want to deceive the unwitting public out of their hard-earned money, etc., etc. We are the people your wise old uncle warned you about. The people who will say anything to get you in the door with an open wallet and a manic smile. We use anything at our disposal to find creative ways to jingle shiny lures that are designed to lead you, like zombies, into the abyss of unnecessary products and pointless services.
The idea illustrated above is one of the reasons we decided to change the descriptive tag on our firm’s name from “Marketing” to “Communications.” The perception of marketing is as limiting as it is misunderstood in terms of our perception of it. Marketing and communications is simply the bridge between a client and consumer. Our goal is to give people a reason to get on our bridge. When you consider this at face value, you can see why many firms will focus more on the interruption prior to the point of sale rather than the experience one associates with the brand. That’s where most of the mistakes are made in the age of Facebook, YouTube, Yelp and Twitter, to only name a few. We realize we can’t control perception, and to think you can sets you up for long-term failure. We live in an age where everyone is media. Consumers are much more informed and savvy these days – and much more likely to share their highly detailed and sophisticated opinions on products and services with friends and family. It’s better to take a holistic approach to communicating the benefits of associating yourself with a brand.
I often hear people say they want to show how they are different from the competition because that is what people will notice. That may not be the best strategy. If you build your brand on a comparison, you are not showing what is true about your business. It’s best to dig deep and find what it is about your business philosophy that makes you successful. The interesting thing is, at times clients aren’t even sure what that thing is. Once you are able to figure it out, you are able to build campaigns on those ideals. This creates a truer experience with the consumer and attracts the kind of people who value those ideals.
This process not only works for external marketing. It feeds into internal as well. It illustrates to staff the truth of why they should be proud to be associated with their employer. That, in turn, is expressed to the consumer. This is a long-term strategy that, in the end, leaves you with something more than marketing, it leaves you with credibility. And that lasts much longer than fraud.
Alex Raffi serves as Creative Director for Imagine Communications. To contact Alex, email firstname.lastname@example.org.