Wednesday, May 30, 2007

Think In The Third Person, Communicate In The Second Person, Lead In The First Person

Getting Thinking, Communicating, And Leading In The Right Order

By David Miranda

Business is not about you or me, it's about them - those people who buy stuff, also known as consumers. More often than not, marketers get this wrong. There tends to be too much first person opinion in the boardroom as in "I like or don't like this or that".

When this happens the wrong master is served.

Frankly, it doesn't matter one iota whether a marketing executive likes or dislikes something. The true master to be served is the consumer; unless, however, the marketing executive is going to going to buy all the stuff the company wants to sell.

When a marketing executive uses his or her titled authority to impart their own first person opinions on decisions, it is ego-centric, assuming that this person speaks for consumers. This is dangerous and fatalistic, yet it happens over and over again with the same dire results.

Marketing executives should keep their personal bias in check and think in the third person, i.e "what would consumers want?" and this thinking should be supported with empirical evidence - good research with compelling and unique insights.

Although they should think in the third person, marketers should communicate calls to action in the second person, as in MacDonalds' "You Deserve A Break Today", Allstate's " You're In Good Hands With Allstate", or Nike's "Just Do It". Here the company or brand is speaking directly to the consumer in a personal one-to-one dialogue. This is preferable to marketing messages where brands speak to consumers in the first person, as in Delta Airlines old tag line "We Love To Fly And It Shows" touting themselves versus what they can offer the consumer. The Delta tag line could have been tweaked "We Love To Fly. Let Us Show You."

Thinking in the third person and communicating in the second person requires leading in the first person as in "I want our marketing to help sell more stuff to more people more often to make more money".

So next time you are in a marketing meeting - think in the third person, communicate in the second person and lead in the first person.

"They" would appreciate it. "You" would benefit from it. "I" believe it will help.