Plus ça change (plus c’est la même chose)

I recently read an article by Jon Steel, Global Planning Head for WPP.  If you don’t know about Jon, I highly recommend his two books: Truth, Lies and Advertising: The Art of Account Planning and Perfect Pitch: The Art of Selling Ideas and Winning New Business

Jon talks about the fact that despite all the talk about this new age and better connected world, the reality is that some truisms never change and that people throughout all ages have sought to put forth their opinions about service/value from any trade.  He cites examples from as far back as AD79.

He goes on to point out seven aspects of the world of business and retailing that haven’t changed, even in the digital age (or whatever we want to call the times we are in):

  • Know what you are trying to solve – everything has to start with a real understanding of what you are trying to achieve.  As someone once said “If you don’t know where your going, then any road will take you there”
  • Assess it in the context of life, not category – remember that you are not the most important thing in customers’ lives.  Sometimes you’re a desire, sometimes you’re a need and sometimes you’re a distress purchase.  You need to know that and appreciate that to understand how they are likely to approach any interaction with you
  • Not everything that can’t be measured is bad – there is a current management desperation for measuring everything.  this can be good, but it can also stop you from doing the right thing.
  • Do what you need to, not what others believe you should – as Jon puts it “why do dogs lick their balls?  Because they can”.  Too often activity is dictated by what’s possible not by what’s needed.
  • K.I.S.S. – we all know it and we’re all guilty of not always following it.  
  • Keep it personal – give your customers credit for thinking for themselves and being able to derive their own value/message/interpretation rather than dictate these to them
  • Remember who you’re talking to – they are human and should be treated as such.  And that means that their human interaction is as important (if not more) than the marketing one.
That was just a short synopsis of an interesting article from a much greater brain than mine and I’d highly recommend you read it.

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