Marketing pushes the culture forward_

There isn’t really any such thing as not doing marketing. Every act that brings a message into the world is a piece of marketing. The way you price your offer. The way you execute. That sends a message. It’s inescapable. You either do it intentionally or you don’t. The most thoughtful marketing in my opinion is the marketing that considers its implications within the American culture. Or whatever culture you’re a part of.

Messaging moves people. It moves them to engage, to think, to post, to argue, to take the streets, to do things they never thought they would.

So, what is the role of the marketer in crafting a message that is inherently good?

There aren’t too many people in the world that truly want to be a part of something bad or evil. But there are people who do and there are people who are duped by it. Fake news is one example of bad actors, manipulating the people to believe something that is untrue and to act based off of those messages. The message is bad and unfortunately the people under it’s influence are hardly making a choice at all. They have essentially been programmed.

This is of course dangerous. When society can’t tell what truth is, when the division between right and wrong is so spread far apart, the idea of finding a middle path seems to strike hard at the core belief system of the individual. The mind can’t compute. The inability to understand turns into debate. Debate turns into arguing. Arguing sparks shouting matches. Shouting leads to violence. Violence breaks society with the aspiration of somehow rebuilding it.

I get it. I will admit that I don’t always know whether I am reading false messages. I have gotten this part wrong before. I have argued for things for which I only have half truths. But as there are bad actors who are sending false messages into the world, I believe marketers have the responsibility to promote goodness and combat the false news that is plaguing our culture. Here are a few things brand can do to push the culture forward.

The first is promote empathy. Using empathy in your brand voice helps you lead people. People respond to empathetic leaders. They want to follow people who can feel their pain. We see empathy playing out in several commercial campaigns right now and sometimes it feels like these brands are the only ones recognizing that we are hurting as a people.

Second, provide a path forward. Show people what they can do to improve the world around them. The television commercials that are high empathy right now are really great about selflessly promoting good will and just flashing their logo at the end rather than going for a feature pitch. Obviously, that’s not always the case and it’s not always appropriate but when you’re using empathy to invite people into your brand culture, that is the time to just provide a way forward and worry about a feature pitch for a later time.

Third is foreshadow better things to come. If you can convey to someone what their life will look like, what all of our lives will look like if we all just follow the path forward, that’s where we can trust that this ends up in a good place and not just getting more of the same. The people have to know that there is a bright light at the end of the tunnel and because we aren’t getting that out of leaders, leaders somewhere need to take the mantel and start promoting goodness again.

I’m not saying that can only be brands. Certainly, schools and churches and governments have to be a part of that. Parents need to be a part of that. Friends need to be a part of that. But most of those institutions aren’t also pouring billions of dollars into Facebook ads. Something has to combat the fake news. I believe brands have an obligation to do that and I think the pay off will be greater than if you were to focus on anything else.

I have an overwhelming sense that now is not the time for a lot of things. People are so carried away with politics and ideological battles that being a part of this thing that is bigger than everyone now is really important. I was really proud when I went to work last week and saw a huge black lives matter banner on the side of our building. I was really proud to hear about the inclusion efforts going on around us and then to see more people of color in our work place. The way you position your brand and extend your message is a piece of the culture whether you intend it to be or not. So craft a message that builds the culture you want to be a part of.

Do you want to be part of a culture where the only messages our children see are ads for products and fake news? No, absolutely not. But instead imagine a world where the people who have the money to buy ads on Facebook use it to put their name next to something that changes the direction of how we treat each other as human beings. Imagine a world where the value, whether that be entertainment, education or empathy, is outshining the lies that are spread to divide us.

Be a part of moving the culture forward on a good path. Make your message mean something.

If you don’t know much about me yet on the professional side. I work with companies who are trying to automate their marketing funnels and drive more business. My design and tech team and I do this through helping companies design and build a booking site that puts appointments right on their calendar using WP and the Periodic platform. I’m very happy to make new business friends and have whiteboard sessions. Let’s collaborate! Hop on my calendar anytime.

Torlando Hakes | Author | Speaker | Podcaster

Director of Business Development at Periodic

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