Selling Ideas = Selling a World View
When a client buys into an idea, they are latching onto your worldview. When a client picks you as a partner, they are really saying, "Your understanding of how the world works is both believable and exciting."
In my experience, I see these world views that we're selling fragmented into two main arguments: The Manipulator view and the Dreamer view.
The Two World Views
This school of thought emphasizes the power of technology and data to improve customer segmentation, customer journey mapping, and creative optimizations. Advertising messaging is still relevant, and improved tactics will drive desired outcomes. Advertising messaging can be relevant in the awareness, consideration, and purchase phase informed by better information, and optimized based on customer response. This article by Richard Ting in the Harvard Business Review sums up this worldview pretty nicely:
"Brands already have siloes of data about their consumers. Combined, this information would be enough to create the ultimate 360-degree customer profile, which would allow enhanced targeting and personalization."
Fundamental Belief: Artfully architected databases and data analysis will reveal opportunities to personalize communications and drive customer engagement, affinity, and loyalty.
This school of thought emphasizes that the power of brands stems from their ability to create culture. We live in a world where consumer culture has replaced popular culture, and the brands you associate with and buy are an integral part of personal identity formation.
For marketers then, the best way to win and stay culturally relevant is to create communications and tools that are either too useful or too cool to be ignored. The best brands provide consumers all the tools they need to "hijack" the brand, co-creating a brand promise and meaning more authentic, impactful, and spreadable than anything that could have been dreamt up in a board room.
Fundamental Belief: Authentic and transparent brands that make things people want will win in a world where push messaging falls on deaf ears and brands without purpose fail to be relevant.
No longer can these imagined futures (or presents) be mutually exclusive.
Those who have the manipulator world view have the incredibly important job of delivering information based on customer needs (on demand information).
Our friends the dreamers help brands create demand by articulating a promise in a way that is culturally relevant and aligned with potential customer interests.
Both approaches require empathy, understanding, and data. It is my view that the ability to create demand is largely driven by creative ideas, while the ability to deliver effective on demand content is primarily driven by technology and effective analysis.
We need advertising professionals who can bring together these two world views.
As advertisers we need to define a brand's promise, give a brand cultural relevance, and understand and capitalize on customer needs.
Let's build authentic brands with real promise, communicated with purpose, that fulfill customer needs.