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Strategic insights
Marketing Doesn't Happen in the Office

Written by on December 6, 2013

I'm often asked by marketing people how they can inspire their customers. You know, the kind of things that drive true engagement. So let's talk about that.

Obviously, you first need to have a great product. It doesn't have to be an expensive product, or even a special product. But, it must have meaning. It's really hard to inspire people with average products for average people.

Secondly, you need to feel the passion. There is nothing less inspiring than engaging with a 'corporation'. It just feels dead, distant, and pointless. We don't want to 'engage' with your business. We want to engage with your people and your products. I wrote much more about this in "Social Media Strategies in 2014".

Thirdly, you need to have a reason for inspiring people. There is nothing that puts people off more than having a CEO announcing that the company has launched a new product to increase shareholder dividends. Or because they wanted to enter a 'new market'.

If your passion and purpose for existing is based around Wall Street jargon, you lose. And it doesn't matter how fancy your advertising campaign is. People can immediately spot when your campaigns are made up, while your real goal is some numbers on a spreadsheet. They can feel that you didn't make your products for them.

But apart from these vital elements, I want to point out something very critical to your marketing success. It can be summed up simply by this:

Get out of your freaking office!

If you want to inspire people, you need to think about how people are going to use your product. You need to focus on the excitement that comes from using it, the feeling of having it, and playing with it. That's what inspiration is... and none of this takes place in an office.

Think about it.

  • If you sell mountain bikes, you don't bike around your desk.
  • If you sell pillows, you don't use them in your office.
  • If you sell yoga classes, you don't do yoga over a spreadsheet.
  • If you sell kitchen utensils, you don't cook at your desk.
  • If you sell skiing jackets, you don't ski to your next meeting.
  • And even if you sell coffee, you probably do drink a lot of it at the office, but you wish you were doing it somewhere else.

If you spend all your time behind a desk, while trying to influence people to use your products, you lose something extremely vital, which is the spirit and feeling of using them.

So get the heck out of your office :)

Let me give you a brilliant example.

Bondi Harvest is a chef, and he creates some of the most inspiring videos I have seen in a long time. Instead of cooking in his kitchen, he takes his kitchen with him outside to the most wonderful places in Australia. And he mixes his passion of amazing food, with his other passions for photography, wonderful places to go, and surfing.

What a wonderful mix. It's so inspiring.

And you know what the best part is? It's literally just two guys with a simple camera, with a tiny bit of editing in iMovie. You don't have to create these amazing setups with hundreds of people and super expensive equipment. Sure, there is a little bit of planning involved, but it doesn't feel planned.

Real marketing is about people using and enjoying your products. So forget about the setup, and just have fun.

I want to show you another truly great example, but it's in Danish, and for some reason YouTube isn't applying close captioning to it. But I'm going to include it anyway. In Denmark we have a chain of hardware stores called Silvan, and with a help of a friend of mine, owner of Stagbird, he has created a series of wonderful videos that truly inspire people to make exciting things (using the products sold at the store).

In the video below (and again, sorry that it's in Danish) Torben is showing us how to make our own boxes for apples. And it's just such a positive and inspiring video. I don't own an apple tree, but I wanted to own one after watching this.

It's the same if you are selling tents. Get out of office and go camping. Just take your car, fill it up with all your products, bring your cameras and hit the road.

If you are selling coffee, take your coffee machine into the garden and show people what it is about from there. But what if it's snowing, you ask? Even better, that makes it special!

We don't have time

Whenever I tell people to leave the office, the usual response is that they don't have time for it. But apparently they have tons of time sitting in an office all day doing things that don't really inspire people.

It's a really bad excuse, and worse, a very poor sense of priorities. Marketing people in general spend so much time playing managers of campaigns from their offices that they are completely forgetting what inspiration is all about.

I had this problem every day back when I was working for a big fashion company. Our marketing team was entirely office based, and the result was not that good. So in my desperation to get some engagement going online I pushed them to always take pictures from when they were out doing something. Either having meetings with a supplier in China, going to a fair in London, or the many photoshoots.

And it worked. The difference in the purely office based activities and the more personal 'look what we are doing today' posts was spectacular. But even that wasn't good enough.

Behind the scenes posts are nice because they allow your customers to connect with the people behind the product, but they are an extra. It's not really about your product. It's more about how you work and it doesn't necessarily inspire people towards your products.

If you want to truly inspire people, get out the office and away from the 'work-mode'. And start living your products.

  • If you sell outdoor skiing jackets, go skiing.
  • If you sell bottled water, go running.
  • If you sell TVs, watch some movies with friends, play some Xbox.
  • If you sell exercise equipment, do some exercise on the roof of your building (you had to be pretty fit to get up there, right?)
  • If you sell toothpaste, go ... ah... well, never mind. It's going to suck no matter what you do.
  • If you sell books, setup your studio in a magic treehouse.
  • If you sell smartphones, go anywhere and show people how to truly live mobile.
  • If you sell candles, bring them with you to the top of a hill for a late-night picnic.
  • And if you sell teddy bears, take them on a journey.

It's really that simple.

Inspiration is when you show people how fun it can be to own and use your products. Just get the heck out of that office!

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Thomas Baekdal

Thomas Baekdal

Founder of Baekdal, author, writer, strategic consultant, and new media advocate.

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