Article in Brief: For more than a century, marketing has been for and about the organization. The future belongs to those who put customers first. This article gives you an introduction to the mindset that drives others-first marketing.
by Keith Reynold Jennings
My breakthrough insight into the future of marketing came from a banana.
When you watch people, most open bananas from the stem. It seems the logical place. The stem is easy to grab and pull.
But the banana stem doesn’t always open so well. I’d go as far to say it often doesn’t work. Sometimes you have to twist it to tear it. Sometimes it won’t break at all. I’ve seen people dig their fingernails or teeth into the peel to rip it open.
But when you open a banana from its tip, rather than its stem, it works every time…like magic!
Here’s the interesting thing. We live in an age when everyone has access to this banana hack. Yet many continue doing what they’ve always done — wrestling with the stems of bananas — because they don’t know better.
Of course, this article isn’t really about bananas. But it’s a great metaphor for the mindset shift required to take your marketing to the next level and create a true competitive advantage.
Curiosity Killed the Copycat
Every time I see a banana, I’m reminded that we’ve learned most of what we know and do by copying what we’ve been taught or seen others do.
My theory for why so many people open bananas from the stem is that we learned to do it that way. We learned it by copying what we saw others do. And we assumed they knew what they were doing. But, like us, they’ve merely copied what they’ve seen. And the cycle continues.
However, when you start with the banana rather than yourself. And you seek to truly understand its design. You’ll come to realize that it is made to be opened by pinching the tip.
Which leaves you with a choice: You can choose to open bananas the way you want or the way it wants.
It’s kind of a no-brainer which to choose, right? Yet when it comes to marketing practices, too few choose the no-brainer option.
From Bananas to Marketing
I see these same copycat behaviors going on everywhere in the marketing world. For example, organizations start Snapping, because that’s what others are doing and recommending. Or because that’s what’s being published in the trades and pushed at conferences.
And don’t even get me started on the marketing blogs and media out there. It’s the same lame advice and “best practices” rehashed over and over with no acknowledgement of how critical situation and timing are to the successful employment of any marketing tactic.
In nearly every meeting with a company executive, I’ve fielded questions like, “We need to do a better job with social media. How can we drive more engagement?” Or, “We need to get the press interested in what we’re doing. How can we get them writing about us?”
When you back out of these types of questions and look at them for what they are, it’s obvious they’re the equivalent of trying to figure out better ways to open bananas from the stem.
For over a century, marketing has been an organization-centered function. And despite break-through writing, thinking and data starting in the early 1960s, that way has remained the dominant philosophy and practice.
But today we live in a world in which the customer is more informed than the organization. And the power of choice has shifted to the customer, as well.
The purpose of business is to serve others in ways that profit all stakeholders. The best way to do this is to start with the customer, understand the functional, emotional and social jobs they’re trying to get done in their lives and acquire or build solutions that help them get those jobs done.
Which means you have a choice. You can open your marketing “bananas” the way you want or they way they want.
I want to invite you into an others-first marketing approach. It will allow you to employ modern marketing systems, technology and communications in ways that respect and truly serve the individual.
CC0 Image from Pexels
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