Stop selling and start giving.
The other day I sent out a message to all of my LinkedIn connections who are in some way or another occupied with marketing on a professional level.
The message was about a new free service that is being offered by The Danish Marketing association to their members: a mentor service designed to help members – marketing folks at large – tackle whatever work-related problems they are grappling with.
A great idea which is why I’ve signed on as a mentor (pro-bono). I support any initiative that can help companies build strong marketing capabilities which in turn can help improve their marketing practice and increase marketing’s contribution to the business.
So, I receive a lot of positive feedback but I also receive mails from people who clearly think that I’m trying to sell them this service.
At first I get a bit ticked off by this knee-jerk reaction. I’m not trying to sell you anything, all I’m saying is ‘Look, it’s a great idea and I want to share it with you; if you like it and can benefit from it, then great. If not, then no worries’.
But then it got me thinking about this, to me, cynical reaction: ‘When someone is sharing something, it must be because they want to sell it’. I get worried in particular when this reaction comes from marketing people.
It suggests that this one-dimensional mindset is still the status quo in marketing and that companies still don’t understand that consumer engagement is something to be earned – and to earn it we need to give.
Now, I’m not a philanthropist or plain naïve, we need to manage our resources and budgets, I’m not talking about doling out our products, give away our IPR, or hand out money.
But I’ve learned that the time is over where we as corporate marketers could expect consumer interest and engagement in our brands and product simply by touting them.
Today, we need to do so much more and that includes giving, sharing, inspiring, providing stuff with no strings attached. That the old fashioned sell mentality – the consumer as an object to be sold to – is prevalent among marketers is frankly concerning.
Lego, my former employer, spends a lot of resources on giving, sharing, facilitating, enabling stuff for and to their audiences. That doesn’t mean they don’t look at the bottom line, indeed they do. But they know that by giving and giving a lot, they can meet and sometimes exceed customer expectations and that’s their goal. Lego has a profit margin (ROS) of 30% and have gone from strength to strength in the past 5 years.
So what I’m trying to say: Marketers, put away the cynicism and the sell mentality. If you can’t perhaps you need to find another line of work.
As the Beatles put it in 1969: “And in the end, the love you take is equal to the love you make.” Enough said.