“Don’t Sell Your Product” – An Unexpected Marketing Lesson

AUTHOR: Marshall Akita

My CEO and I recently received an education in building a brand during a call with a prospective client. She represented a household name brand in a large area of consumer products, and as a result, we expected her to be motivated primarily by the standard metrics—how much did you sell this month, and how much sales growth are you showing? However, as she went on describing her company’s approach to marketing, it sounded less like sales and more like community organizing. When we pressed her on the fact that that all must, surely, come back to selling her product, she told us quite the opposite. “I’m measured on how much impact I can make in the community. If we happen to make some sales along the way, that’s good, but really this is about doing the right thing for the community.” We told her ‘thank you,’ and scheduled our next meeting, then hung up and tried to make sense of it all.

“Did she just tell us that her job isn’t to sell her product?”

“Yeah… I think she did.”

“What is that all about?”

We sat there for a second trying to unpack what she had just told us. Slowly we started to piece it together, but only after we started trying to construct the ideal customer for her company. As we began listing off adjectives, one concept kept popping up: loyalty. At first, we had breezed by this idea, concluding that the loyalty of this company’s customers was the product of the customer’s personalities—that who they were determined how they would act in response to the brand—but we quickly realized we had it the other way around. The customers weren’t inherently loyal; they were loyal because the brand engaged with them and actually cared about their interests.

Our client believed that this strategy worked. In fact, her company had just reported over 20% growth in profits last year. She wasn’t kidding when she told us that her job was not to sell product. Her job was not even to engage with the customers, per se, but to engage with their community. Her job was to make the brand like one of the brand’s customers, to go where they go, to do what they do, and to care about what they care about. She didn’t have loyal customers because they were inherently loyal, but because they viewed the brand as a friend and as a member of their community.

If she did her job right, the product would speak for itself.


About Pet Cause Media

Pet Cause Media is the national leader in veterinary pre-education and digital out of home marketing in veterinary offices. We work closely with our veterinary and sponsor partners to ensure full compatibility and maximum results. Visit our website (petcausemedia.com) or contact Marshall Akita (marshall@petcausemedia.com) for more details.

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