Marketing isn’t about spinning the truth into something we think our customers will like. It’s also not about calling attention to ourselves at any cost.
Content marketing is about revealing the truth – about us, our mission, our products and services – to strike a chord with our customers.
Joseph Pulitzer reportedly said that publicity is the greatest moral influence in public life. In essence, public messages help shape society’s conscience.
Without getting too philosophical, we’re talking about something more than just drawing attention to ourselves. Especially if this means doing whatever it takes – ethical or not – to get that attention.
If all you’re looking for is some attention, and you carry no weight with your message – or, worse, if your message is calculated to draw attention because of its controversial nature – you run the risk of skewing the public conscience in a negative way.
History is filled with examples of dishonest marketing used for the good of one group at the expense of another. Propaganda is a weapon used by political parties and governments to gain favor with the public, regardless of the rights or wrongs of the message.
But that’s not what marketing should be. And although your company’s marketing efforts may not sway the general public’s conscience all that much, it may influence it more than you think.
Some would have us believe that business is war. But given the amount of collateral damage wars create, should that really be the case? Should our public conscience be collateral damage?
Advertising ministers to the spiritual side of trade. It is great power that has been entrusted to your keeping which charges you with the high responsibility of inspiring and ennobling the commercial world. It is all part of the greater work of the regeneration and redemption of mankind.
– Calvin Coolidge
Marketing in Business
In terms of business, marketing helps shape how our customers and the public at large view our company.
But, again, we’re not talking about directionless publicity or calculated propaganda. We’re talking about disseminating the truth of who we are as individuals and companies in the hopes of connecting with our audience.
Basically, we don’t try to trick our customers into thinking we’re something we’re not. And there’s no point in trying to be perfect – no individual or company is perfect.
Instead, we’re just trying to convey our character through our messaging – showing them who we are and hoping they approve of not only our products and services but of our ideas, tastes, approach or mission.
Marketing Is a Story
PR is the strategic crafting of your story. It’s the focused examination of your interactions and tactics and products and pricing that, when combined, determine what and how people talk about you.
Regis McKenna was great at PR. Yes, he got Steve Jobs and the Mac on the cover of more than 30 magazines in the year it launched. That was just publicity. The real insight was crafting the story of the Mac (and yes, the story of Steve Jobs).
– Seth Godin
Everybody loves a good story. And what makes a good story? Human interest, complex human nature, conflict, overcoming obstacles…
The story of Steve Jobs and Apple is a great one because it has all those earmarks of great drama. And it was smart of Apple to get that story out there because it enabled Apple customers to connect with the company and its products.
But perhaps the real genius of Apple’s marketing efforts over the years was creating messaging that talked not about the products they sold but about their customers.
The iPod wasn’t about the iPod – it was about people being able to take their music with them, to have a soundtrack to their lives. The iPhone wasn’t about the iPhone – it was about people being able to have their whole lives at their fingertips. The iPad wasn’t about the iPad – it was, again, about people being able to take their lives on the road with them.
Reveal Your Story
Marketing is a story – a true story about who you and your company are and how the products or services you create and sell benefit the lives of your customers.
There’s no point in trying to conjure up a good story. Much of the time, people can tell when it’s just a story – especially when a company’s actions don’t match up with its words.
Say what you mean, and mean what you say.
– George S. Patton