On marketing’s place in the world

“Marketing should magnify the truth, not manipulate a message.
Our job isn’t to get everyone to believe us.
It’s to give the right people something to believe in.”

Bernadette Jiwa, Story Driven: You don’t need to compete when you know who you are


How’s that for something to wake up to?

I’ve long had a problem with marketing, at least marketing the way it’s largely been done over time.

Having come out of that business, I am cursed with the memories of countless little rooms where the same conversation took place over and over again: “What can we say to get people to buy this?”

Oh, there were variants, like “What can we tell people about our company so they’ll want to buy from us?” and “How can we convince people that they need this?”

Only rarely did I see a product or service that was marketed like this:
“Here’s who we are, and here’s why we created this. It helps (these people) do/feel/be (this way), so we invite you to give it a try and see what you think.”

An example that comes to mind:

When Bevel’s Tristan Walker talks about why he started a health and beauty company for people of color, he was motivated by how hard it is to grow up in a country where cosmetics and grooming products have been crafted with one ethnic group in mind. It was hard to find the right makeup colors if you were a dark-skinned woman, for example, and impossible to find shaving razors designed for men with coarse, curly facial hair that made shaving hell (think razor bumps…ingrown hairs…ouch). And that’s more than just an inconvenience.

When he was a young Wall Street intern, a fellow trader sneered at him to ‘clean up the hair on his face.’ “I remember being mortified not only by the fact that the guy was a jerk, but also that I didn’t know what to do,” Walker says. “There were just no products for me on the market. For a hundred years, we haven’t had products that have worked for us.” (Fast Company)

The marketing of their product lines on Walker & Co’s website magnifies the truth:
For people of color, it was very hard to find beauty/shaving products that helped them not be mortified.
So they started a company to solve that problem, because life shouldn’t be like that.

No screaming, no scarcity, no subtle or not-so-subtle social pressure.

The message isn’t, “You know you’ll be less attractive/less popular/less happy if you don’t buy/wear/experience our stuff.”

It’s “There wasn’t enough of this in the world, so we made it for you AND for us. We’re in this together.”

I like that.

What’s the truth of your business, your practice, your work?
What does the world have too much of, or not enough of?
What do you offer that helps tip that balance?

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