Selfless Marketing

Selfless Marketing

Carole King was recently honored by The Kennedy Center for her body of work as a singer-songwriter. King is regarded as one of the greatest songwriters of all time and has written or co-written over 400 songs recorded by more than 1,000 artists.

Last month, King was interviewed by Norah O’Donnell on CBS about the trajectory of her career. King believes the biggest compliment she receives from people is when they refer to her as down to earth; a value she has tried to carry with her during the course of her life.

When the taped segment finished, Norah O’Donnell turned to Charlie Rose and Gayle King in the studio and used these words to describe Carole King:

 “Soulful and Selfless.”

The words soulful and selfless have resonated since the interview and prompted this blog post.

How can we as marketers be more selfless in how we connect with customers?

For starters, commit to every day practices that ultimately benefit your customers’ experiences with your brand. In the words of the late Steve Jobs, “You’ve got to start with the customer experience and work back toward the technology – not the other way around.” Here are some useful applications for marketers:

1) Focus on the Winning Zone

The Winning Zone is the area where your brand’s clear difference matters to consumers. To become clear on why your brand matters to customers start with this exercise from the President of Beloved Brands, Graham Robertson, on how to develop Product Positioning. The below Venn diagram suggests marketers should operate in the Winning Zone by mapping out consumer needs against what you and your competitors do best. Your organization will benefit by having multiple departments contribute to this exercise (click here to visit Robertson’s post.) The outcome of clear Product Positioning results in being a useful brand to your customers.

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2) Cross-Train Your Way to being a Selfless Marketer

Selfless Marketers know the benefits of continually learning about how to improve the customer experience, inside and outside of their organization:

Go on sales calls with your sales reps. Anything that will get you closer to the customer’s interaction with your product will help you as a marketer.

Talk with the store or online associates who sell your products. Your brand might be able to impact every day pain points in a positive way.

Work in the customer service department to experience first hand what customers are complaining about. Turn those complaints into opportunities to make customers true fans of your brand.

Visit manufacturing plants routinely. If there is a discovery about an opportunity to add “wow” to a customer item or shipment during that process, do it. 

Set up practices to innovate as part of cross-training. Capture and suggest ways to make things better and different before the customer does.

Pay attention to trends and decide what (if anything) to do about them. If you regularly monitor trends but aren’t deciding if and how they impact your brand, you are leaving opportunities half-baked.

Capture and monitor customer insights and sentiment and remain agile with implementing the wisdom from the findings. Make sure whoever manages the customer responses are empowered to right the wrongs.

Use the word customer more often in everyday written business communication and conversation. One size doesn’t fit all with customers, but by starting conversations and communication with customers at the forefront, it will help you not lose sight of who keeps you in business.

A recent AMA survey of marketers reported Business Growth as one of the biggest challenges that will keep those surveyed up at night in the year ahead.

If you can relate to Business Growth being a pain point that keeps you awake at night, start with the Customer Experience. Get a handle on what your brand and your competitors’ brands do best and conduct the Product Positioning Venn diagram exercise from Graham Robertson. Think of yourself as a cross-trainer and start acting like one by interacting with more people inside and outside of your organizations, most importantly your customers. You might be surprised at how many insights you gain towards growing your business and perhaps get a better night’s sleep too.

Bonus: Here is the must-see performance of Aretha Franklin singing “(You Make Me Feel Like) A Natural Woman” to honor Carole King during The Kennedy Center special.


Piano image: from

Carole King Bio:

Graham Robertson Beloved Brands Website:

Aretha Franklin at The Kennedy Center video:

AMA Marketing Survey:

Danielle Conte is a Marketing consultant, Adjunct Professor of Marketing and founder of Youtail Retail™.

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