Thursday, March 22, 2007

Communication Break-ups

Day after day they clutter my inbox. Article after article, newsletter after newsletter, full of complaints and commiserations about the changing status of the marketing industry. Questions are asked. Issues are raised. Problems are pointed out. Derivative sentiments are shared about changing ad models. And yet, the only solutions offered are restatements of what is already broken and attempts to do the same old things on a different kind of screen. The truth is that none of these efforts are relevant because they aren’t even addressing the right issue. The entire philosophy is backwards.

Marketing is communication. That is all. It’s not all that complicated. It’s relationship building, and just like any healthy relationship, this effort is a two-way initiative. It’s built on trust and respect. As any husband will attest, telling your wife what to do or how to think will not only fail miserably to produce the results you’re aiming for, it will most likely end with her telling her girlfriends (and perhaps next husband) all sorts of horrible things about you and your ridiculous lack of tact. What about the relationship a consumer has with the faceless corporation that makes the car they drive or the soap they use would lead marketers to believe that they can get away with such callous behavior when even those engaged in holy matrimony wouldn’t dare?

Communication, to a consumer or to a spouse, is not about telling, it’s about connecting. You have to be honest, you have to be authentic, you have to listen, you have to care, and you have to mean it. You have no right, and no real power, to control. The best you can do is behave in line with the expectations you’ve created.

Stop being selfish. Marketing is not about what you want to tell people or what you want to convince them. It’s about what people want to know to make up their own mind.

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