Marketers Need New Experiences to Be Effective
If you want to communicate your point to someone, the first thing you do is to get their attention, then you speak clearly in language they understand, being sure your comments aren’t too pushy or self-centered, and you wrap things up before becoming long-winded. This is easy to do with friends in your circle, but if you head to a friend’s family gathering you might be out of your comfort zone and the common ground you have with your friends doesn’t hold the same kind of weight. These situations make us uncomfortable, even if the new crew of people are pretty similar but just new.
However I argue that seeking new social experiences and exploring the various cultural niches in our society is vital for marketers. We need to be able to put ourselves in the shoes of different groups of people to gain insight on where they’re coming from, what tickles their funny bone, understand what keeps them up at night, and what they value in order to make smart strategic communication recommendations to our clients on how to resonate with the audience. Imagine the description of a natural flow of conversation at the beginning of this post, but remove any one piece of the equation and your chances of that person being receptive to your point plummet. In order to successfully communicate with the target audience on a client’s behalf, you have to understand the audience’s lifestyle and how the client’s brand fits into their natural flow.
At our core, humans are more similar than we realize. The more different kinds of people you meet, the more you find overarching commonalities that were previously clouded by all the nuances of subcultural differences. It’s important to understand both the differences and the commonalities if you are going to be understood and heard by a person or an audience. However you’re not going to gain an understanding of either if you’re not getting outside your front door and having new experiences and conversations.
So here’s my challenge to fellow marketers: one night a week don’t hang out with your regular buddies. Put down the book, mouse, and remote. Go out and do something you’ve never done before with people you don’t know. Maybe you go to an obscure museum, live music you’re not familiar with, a fundraising potluck dinner for a nonprofit, a champagne tasting, a survival skills workshop, mixers night at a bowling hall, audition for a part in a local play, or witness a live auction. Even if these people don’t happen to be your customer’s ideal clients, you will learn something, you will practice seeing things from other people’s points of view, and your creative synapses will be fueled by all the new variations on the typical.
I bring this challenge to me too. I love new experiences, but have a tendency to attempt to satisfy that craving with one incredible international adventure that I look forward to for months or years. But if I seek out new experiences day to day, I will get both personal delight and become a better marketer and brander. So who knows, maybe I’ll run into you soon at some social gathering you’d never think to find me at.