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No matter how hard you work, and no matter how much blood, sweat, and tears have been shed on corporate battlefields in service of bringing your great campaign idea to life -- in all likelihood, your intended customer won’t care.

If it is a TV commercial and it has an A-List celebrity in it, then most consumers may pause, watch, and then forget. If it is a magazine ad, celebrity or not, they will glance, flip and then forget. If it is a banner or search ad, they won’t even remember it long enough to forget it.  If you are so fortunate as to lead someone to your website, app, or social media account, the most probable behavior is view and bounce. And when they “bounce,” they are gone.

Hard truths.

Don’t feel bad. It is not your fault. It is also not your manager’s fault. Nor is it the agency’s, the production company’s, or the talent’s fault.

Most consumers simply don’t care about what you have to say.


No one likes being sold to.

When you are selling, your message only really matters to or resonates with people who are buying or open to buying. Most people who see your message are not looking to buy. Your campaign for most people is a complete waste.

Hard truths.

Most of the time, we are simply doing marketing wrong.

That said, there is another approach to marketing besides selling, and that is serving.

The difference is simple.

is about you – your campaign, your objectives, your sales, and your KPIs.
Serving is about your customer – their information, their needs, the value that they receive, the benefit to them.
Serving -- when done the right way, with right context -- beats selling. 

The universal truth is that while almost no one enjoys being sold to, almost everyone appreciates great service. Almost everyone values knowing that someone stands for them.

To serve, we need to ask ourselves different questions. We need to forget about the typical advertising and marketing brief questions like those below:
• Who is our target?
• What are their unmet needs?
• How will we find them?
• What is their reason to believe?
• What is the communication idea?
• What KPIs should be achieved

Instead, ask yourself:
• Who are we serving?
  → Pro tip - Don’t say everyone. Serving everyone is the same as serving no one.  Choose a consumer to believe in.

• Why is it important for us to serve them?
  → Beyond money and KPIs, why serve this audience at this time? Why does it matter? If you can’t answer why it matters, then it probably doesn’t and neither will your campaign.

• How can we serve them?
  → Where are they now, and what is the best way for us to be there, to be helpful and useful to them? When should we be there? When we are there, what is the most helpful way for us to support them?

• How can we demonstrate that our commitment and capability to serve is real?
  → How do we say it? How do we live it? How do we make the audience we serve feel reassured?

• How will we measure the value we will be adding?
  → EVEN the campaign itself when positioned from the point of view of serving should add value.

Great brands do this well.

The best recent example is the 2018 Colin Kaepernick Nike ad in the USA. This was Nike taking a supportive stand behind an African-American football player and his protest movement against police brutality.

It was bold. It angered other Nike customers, and the president of the United States at the time.

Since the airing of the ad, Nike earned the loyalty of more consumers, by $6 billion because without hesitation, they decided who they were serving and how their communication offered value to those they served. 

 This was before the resurgence of the BLM movement, before the death of George Floyd, and before the 2020 protests. They didn’t sell brand, product or functional value; they served their audience.

The good news is that hard truths bring new opportunities.

 This is not about corporate social responsibility or about social good.

It doesn’t matter if you sell hamburgers or soda or cars or even sneakers.

 It is about deciding who you serve, and how you will serve them.

 If you do that, your marketing campaign will resonate more, and deliver value.

As a marketing agency, we at relativ* believe it is our #1 job to help our clients make money and win.

We believe that the brand that wins is usually the one that serves their audience best.

Cairo Marsh Managing Partner
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