When I was still working for advertising agencies, I was often asked to create concepts that glorified the importance of the client. “We want to show that we are client-focused, client-centric, client-first.“ All of these concepts have been the main marketing narrative for decades. But they were not created by businesses. These concepts were created by people outside of businesses that knew that if a business showed their true intentions- make as much money as we can by selling you things- no one would want to buy from them. So, external partners created ways to ‘professionally lie’ for them.
For the most part, consumers are immune to the false promises that marketing puts out nowadays, especially, since many businesses have continued to fail consumers in spectacular ways. Sadly, in today’s climate, we all expect a business to lie. The people in charge of businesses are too stuck in transactional ways to change anything. And the people in charge of consuming their goods are too stuck believing the false narrative that businesses put “clients first.” Marketers rely heavily on this dissonance. It’s how they bill their hours. And the more creative they have to get, the higher the ticket. Yes, there is a metric to lying, and it’s built into the system.
So, what’s the alternative?
As always, it starts with the source: the thing that drives an organization. If a business is based on people-centric value creation, then the marketing is easy- just show your truth. And this does not always require an external, overpaid vendor (other than for creative execution).
Businesses that create human value tend to spend much less on marketing. They simply don’t need to pay for the expensive creative lie and exaggeration. They are open and transparent. Traditional marketing relies heavily on fear. When you are relieved from this pressure because your business has nothing to hide, your marketing becomes an honest path from the source of value creation to the people receiving the value.
When you create value for people, you insist on having ownership over this truth, and you are full of desire to share that story with the world. Such a truth is too awesome to be held back, reformatted or altered. You just want it out there as you feel it. This kind of marketing can become a badge of honesty, showing a company’s value proposal.
When entrepreneurs pour their personal truth into institutions that serve humans, their marketing can serve as a bridge into people’s hearts. This will account for the rawest, most human, most impressive and effective stories mankind has ever known. THIS is what good marketing is about.
People seek stories like this, and they share them and turn them into bits of their own truth because they connect with them so much. Rethink your definition of marketing. Make it the truthful multiplier of value creation. Use it to carry your flame into people’s lives, not to tell a lie about a deal that no one needs.