Earning The Right To Be Heard

Hand on wet window By Milada VigerovaWhen you really stop to think about it, the brands that enter our lives, and especially purpose-driven brands, are not about messages.

The brands and organizations that matter to us are about experiences.

Adrift in the sea of indignity

That occurred to me last Saturday, as it does every Saturday, while I slouched over a cart bulging with $215.00 worth of groceries in a line longer than a Kevin Costner film.

There I was, one solitary soul in sea a of humanity. A sea teaming with other schmucks with bulging carts in six more lines just like the one I was languishing in.

It was shaping up to be a long, slow, boring brand experience in paradise.

Then, all of sudden, it happened

Out of the corner of my eye I saw him. And so did everyone else.

It was Joe Sixpack with three packs of Bud and seven cartons of Beef Jerky striding down the aisle up to the cashier and out of the store.

No matter how you view it, but especially if you view it from a lifetime customer value perspective, there is something terribly wrong with this scene.

It made me think of my mother

Not that mom was a beer swigging, Beef Jerky junky who jumped grocery store lines. It made think of relationships.

We had a good one. Chiefly because she believed in me. Even when I didn’t believe in myself.

And as a result, she treated me differently than she treated other people. She treated me special. She did things for me. She helped me.

And as a result of that, she talked to me differently. It was a dialogue of caring, helping and doing. It was never about selling me or hyping me.

First things first

I guess my mother understood one thing the great marketing minds, even of most purpose-driven organizations, still don’t get.

And that is you have to actually treat people differently before the act of talking to them differently will mean anything to them.

After 20 minutes in a grocery store line watching snacker after snacker glide through the checkout counter I was not ready for a message about how valuable and appreciated my long-term patronage is to Food Circus.

The sanctity of tribes

Once someone commits to your cause they are no longer part of the market. They are no longer an audience. They are part of your tribe. And they deserve to be treated differently.

And if you want to lead them and create a movement, you first have to do something of value for them.

So before you worry about message strategy, messaging and message maps, you might want to ask yourself:

  • What is the cause or purpose that we share with our tribe?
  • What can we make to engage them in actions around the cause?
  • What can we do to help them?
  • What utility can we make that can unite them?
  • What things can we make available to them that will empower them around our common cause?
  • What can we create that will connect them?

The root of relationships is not marketing

The root of tribe relationship is not messaging. It is action.

That thing we mistakenly, in my opinion, call relationship marketing, it seems to me, is not about fancy schmancy CRM systems. It is first about treating people differently — specially.

Everything else, including brand communications, emanates from that.

Being it comes before saying it

But that’s just my opinion. What’s your take?


Photo from Milada Vigerova