Words of wisdom. We all receive them. Words to guide us. Words to help us make sense of the world. But all too often, we have to experience them ourselves.
This was certainly true for me as a marketer. I found I had to learn things which I already knew, but somehow were alien to the marketing environment.
Here's three examples, that today are more relevant than ever.
Give, and you shall receive...
Who hasn't received this advice growing up? It was certainly known in the marketing world, with the many exhortations to stop selling and start helping. Yet instead, the prevailing marketing paradigm was one of warfare: consumers were targets, to be captured with campaigns.
However, with the launch of Tesco's Clubcard, which offered a simple thank you for shopping, I soon learnt that the less conditions you imposed on customers, the greater the response.
Today, in a world of connected customers and hyper-competition, offering unconditional help should be the start point for any young marketer.
Actions speak louder than words...
I can still hear my mother telling me this. Yet marketing focused on creating an engaging image for the brand through advertising, to persuade consumers to purchase. Meanwhile, the actions of the company behind it were hidden.
However, working in retail, I soon found that customer opinions of your brand were largely formed by their experience of shopping with you. And this had more to do with the behaviors they observed, rather than the marketing messages they encountered.
In today's ever more connected and transparent world, with the number and variety of interactions exploding for every brand, this is now the reality that every marketer faces.
Nobody is perfect...
So obviously true from our personal lives. Yet consistency was the mantra in the marketing world. And mistakes could not be admitted to, for fear of tarnishing the carefully polished image.
Working in retail, consistency was more an aspiration than a reality, due to the living, breathing, multi-faceted nature of the shopping trip. But I still found that customers could develop a very coherent and positive view of the brand, if everything it did sprang from a strong sense of purpose and beliefs, that customers could identify with. Indeed, compared to a carefully polished image, they considered it more authentic.
Today, in a world where brands are largely defined by their behaviors, developing a culture that lives and breathes the brand is a pre-requisite for any strong brand. Rather than a carefully polished image, it requires a marketer to focus as much internally as externally, to create a compelling sense of purpose.
Underlying all these of course was a simple lesson: customers were really just people. Those words of wisdom handed down to guide us as people, could also guide us as marketers.
In today's world, this is more true than ever. By connecting us, technology has put the people back into marketing.
It's an essential lesson for every young marketer...