How Marketers Can Be a Force for the Good in Society
But these aren’t usual times. I’m sick of the bad news. Enough.
So, let’s step away from the tactical and look at the big picture. Let’s bring a ray of sunshine to a large portion of the way you spend your time in life – marketing’s role in society.
Too many marketers are trapped under a myopic view of their role in society. You’re told you just need to hit numbers. You’re told you just need to please clients.
Marketer, you do so much more.
The World Needs Marketers Today More Than Ever
For an industry that enables value perception, marketing has done a very poor job of communicating value about its very existence.
Externally, just 37% of Americans had a positive view of the advertising and public relations industry, according to Gallup, worse than pharma and banking. Internally, many marketers see their role tactically – focused on content marketing or personalization or AI.
But marketing’s role in society is vital and for that reason can be noble. Humans have free will, which means they are faced with an essential conundrum almost every moment of every day – choice. Large choices like car purchases. Small choices like whether to slip on a face mask before entering a grocery store.
Marketing enables that choice. It helps people avoid getting an infection by wanting to take actions to protect themselves and their community. It connects value creators with those who could benefit from that value.
I have met so many people and companies in my career that are truly creating exceptional value. However, they did a poor job of communicating that value to potential customers. Therefore the business was struggling, and people who could potentially be helped by the product were deprived.
In fact, there is usually a moment of elation when this value is uncovered. “Wait a minute, you do X? From your marketing I assumed you only did Y? Wow, you have to get this story out.”
Become a Force for the Good
Here’s an example so powerful we’re launching a show around it. Ten by Three is a nonprofit organization that funds its good works through product sales. It buys 10 baskets a month from impoverished artisans in rural communities of developing countries. These artisans pull themselves out of poverty in an average of three years by investing the proceeds from those basket sales in three companies in their community.
As you might guess, this model only works when baskets sell. The nonprofit sold 90% of its baskets through brick-and-mortar retailers like Whole Foods Market, Disney theme parks, and local specialty stores. Those sales came to a crashing halt with COVID-19’s spread. You can watch more of the story in the video below.
Can you see how marketing is the answer? How marketing can become the force for the good? The better the marketing is, the more baskets will sell, and the more artisans will be pulled out of extreme poverty.
A few more examples to inspire you:
- By monitoring customer reviews, Margaret Andriassian discovered that the cotton face masks she was marketing were especially helpful for people with hearing aids because of the masks’ unique design. Thus, she was able to focus her marketing on hearing aid wearers and serve more of them. (You can read the full story in Customer Discovery: 4 mini marketing case studies showing how companies discovered what their customers wanted.)
- Marketers invest money to get their brand in front of customers. When the COVID-19 pandemic hit, Visible CMO Minjae Ormes did so in a way that created a good result for customers and non-customers alike with the #VisibleActsofKindness campaign that gave away $250,000 to 1,000 people that needed it. “I am every single day humbled and reminded that the role of marketers is to earn the right to be in someone’s world,” she said. (Read more in 8 Mini Case Studies of Using Marketing as a Force for Positive Change in Our World While Getting Results for Your Company and Clients.)
- Something as simple as better button placement on its website generated 5% more clickthrough to a donation page for a local PBS affiliate, allowing it to better fund its mission to educate, inspire, and unite its community. (Read more in Website Optimization: 7 mini marketing case studies filled with examples of improved webpages.)
Use Your Power for Good
I’ll end this article by stating the obvious. Marketing is a power. And like any power, it can be used for good or ill. As Stan Lee wrote (or borrowed?), “With great power there must also come – great responsibility!”
So yes, there may be a fair reason why only 37% of Americans have a positive view of our industry.
But if there was ever a time to change that perception with our actions, it is now. The economy will not restart, people will not take the proper virus precautions, and different groups in society will not get along until they see the value in doing so.
So get out there. And get marketing.
Learn more about the new show “The Marketer as Philosopher: Become a force for the good” in the article 5 Marketing Lessons From a Unique Nonprofit That Sells Products (and why the world needs marketers today more than ever).
Daniel Burstein is the Senior Director, Content and Marketing at MECLABS Institute. Daniel oversees all content and marketing coming from the MarketingExperiments and MarketingSherpa brands while helping to shape the marketing direction for MECLABS — digging for actionable discoveries while serving as an advocate for the audience.