Is Your Marketing Plan Framed With the One Thing We’re ALL Drawn To?

One ingredient is essential if you want an effective marketing plan. One. I’m convinced it trumps all others.

“What? You’re crazy dude!”

Hold up. I get crazier. 

(For the record, I call it “boldness” in my mind. Makes it easier for me to stomach as I write this. Because I agree with you. This sounds nuts.)

But I’m sticking to my guns. With my index finger pointed to the clear blue sky, I’ll say it again. There is ONE essential to wining at marketing. Uno!

Let’s turn up the intrigue to “11”. (I know. You’re mind is already churning out guesses at the punchline.) So here are a few more hints. 

  • It’s NOT a skill per se. 
  • You can use it skillfully, but you don’t go take a course on it. 
  • It’s caught more than taught. 
  • You get to it through awareness. But you never ‘arrive’. 
  • It shows up inside many marketing plan frameworks, but I’m arguing for far more.
  • It will guarantee your marketing plan is never salesy, hacky, or manipulativey. (Yes, I just made up that word.)
  • It’s as old as the Bible.

Buckle Up. Here’s Where We’re Taking Your Marketing Plan Together

You want marketing that gathers a crowd of raving customers. And you want to know if my opening claim is nuts. So here’s where we’re headed together. I’m going to share the ‘One Thing’ that makes for an irresistible marketing plan and why it works. Then we’ll tie it all together with a bumper sticker. 

When we’re done, you’ll know what to do in your marketing plan so you grow your business with your honesty and integrity intact.

What’s the ‘One Thing’ As Old As The Bible We’re All Drawn To? 

That’s as old as the Bible.

Often a snide statement meant as a jab, I’m suggesting we can find marketing wisdom in those “dusty pages.”

With tender care, my heart compels me to thus extend to thee a branch pruned from the wisdom of fathers long forgotten, which, as good fortunes would have, likewise, appeareth in thine own beloved, modern-day marketing books.

  • In Donald Miller’s StoryBrand book, your business is the guide who must demonstrate this to your customer.
  • In her Wallstreet Journal Bestseller Everybody Writes, Ann Handley shows how you must possess this to write effective sales copy.
  • David Ogilvy, deemed The Father of Advertising and author of Ogilvy On Advertising argues for it too.

I’m also an eyewitness. Even when I see it coming in someone else’s marketing—I’m drawn in. Like the time Grandma hooked me with it at the register of a farm supply store. (I wrote about that little episode here.)

Well, there’s a story that pre-dates all the books mentioned above. The Bible not only affirms what this essential marketing ingredient is, it tells us why it works.

The Marketing Plan Essential As Old As Time Itself…Actually, Older

Let me set the scene.

The sun begins to dip towards the west. The shadows start to grow as the breeze tussles the leaves, turning them into a soft chorus. He returns to his favorite spot and tugs at a piece of fruit soaking in the golden evening light. The branch lets go in gladness. He brings his hand towards his watering mouth as he takes in the light dancing through the treetops. A burst of juice escapes and rolls down his chin. He grins like a young boy. The perfect way to spend an afternoon, he draws a long breath and fills his lungs with this little slice of heaven.

Not a bad gig, right? This is one lucky fellow. Let’s call him, I don’t know…Adam. In this story, he’s literally in paradise surrounded by everything he needs to enjoy life with God.

But God sees something in Adam past the perfection. He sees a deep, unmet need. What’s even crazier, God sees it before Adam does.

Pause. It’s not what God sees here I want you to consider for your marketing plan. It’s how God sees it. That’s the key. Because how God spots this in Adam, when Adam cannot, is what can make you a better, smarter, more authentic marketer.

God sees Adam needs a helper. Yes, smack in the middle of paradise. God sees there is no companion suitable for Adam. So God does something for Adam. He makes Eve. And she becomes the apple of his eye.

But let’s rewind the story back 30 seconds. Don’t miss this.

God sees Adam needs a helper. This detail is ripe with implications. God sees Adam’s need. Not Adam.

How? How did God spot it, even before Adam? Here’s the crux of the matter.

How did God see Adam’s need? God saw it through empathy!

Empathy.

Empathy is the marketing plan essential. Yes, empathy shows up in several trendy marketing books. But I want to suggest God built empathy into creation. Empathy shows up on page 2 of The Story! And if you’re checking scene order, Empathy makes her debut appearance before the Fall—before it all goes wrong.

That’s right. Empathy, as told in the Bible, is older than the Bible.

God sees what Adam needs and provides the perfect solution. The best marketing is a response to needs seen through the eyes of genuine empathy, not just opportunity.

If classic books are those proven to withstand the test of time, then the Bible is chief among them. In this regard, it should be required reading for those of us who are marketers.

So how can we take some lessons away from this story that transforms our marketing plan?

3 ABCs of a Marketing Plan You Can Takeaway From This 

Here’s how empathy in the Bible can transform your marketing plan.

Authentic With a Capital “A”

Show me one single customer who wants you to manipulate him or her with your marketing. That person does not exist. None of us wants to be duped. We all avoid the pushy salesperson. Most of us recoil at marketing terms like ‘growth hack’. (We all do when we’re playing the part of customer.) If given the choice, you want a good marketing plan that helps grow your business and brand without feeling like a sellout. You would choose that over pushy, salesy, hacky, manipulative marketing plan tactics every time.

Here’s the good news…

Real empathy is your antidote to a pushy, salesy, manipulative marketing plan.

marketing plan strategy quote card about pushy marketing

Real empathy is your antidote to pushy, salesy, manipulative marketing plan.

Empathy is the outworking of love and care for another person. And remember, customers are people. The list does NOT read: Plants, Animals, People, …oh yeah, and Customers.

marketing plan strategy quote card stating customers are people

Customers are people. It’s that simple.

If you finish reading the creation story referenced above, you’ll see no hesitation in Adam’s response to God’s provision. He is thrilled. He does not pause to see if strings are attached. He embraces. Real empathy is, by nature, genuine and attractive.

Think of empathy’s relationship to your marketing plan like this…

When your marketing plan is birthed out of empathy for your customer, you release a bloodhound. He will alert at any hint of disingenuous marketing tactics.

marketing plan strategy quote card showing how empathy is like a bloodhound keeping your marketing plan authentic

Release the empathy hounds.

  • Empathy can spot when you cross the line from care to coercion.
  • Empathy sniffs out when you shade the truth in hopes of one more sale.
  • Empathy picks up on any trace of foul play you’re tempted to use to you ‘get ahead’.

Genuine empathy is a long marketing plan play. It’s not a quick fix tactic. Customers are understandably skeptical. But I promise you this…

When you frame your marketing plan with empathy today, you can sleep easy tonight.

marketing plan strategy quote card sharing how empathy can let you sleep well as a marketer

Empathy in your marketing plan gives you a clean conscience.

Beauty With a Capital “B”

Second, empathy gives your marketing plan Beauty. Yes, Beauty with a capital “B”. And guys (literally), don’t confuse this with ‘pretty’ or ‘cutesy’. Otherwise, you’ll dismiss this point and miss out on the power of empathy. I’m talking about the virtue of Beauty. Not a trivial ‘outward attractive appearance’. 

In the creation story, God—through the vehicle of empathy—sees what Adam needs and provides Eve. In so doing, God reveals the Beauty of His own character. Creator caring for creation. We could even say God’s empathy does not make Him beautiful. Rather, it reveals a quality already possessed. God is beautiful. In other words, God defines Beauty in the creation story, not the other way around.

The result? Adam is unequivocably drawn to God’s beauty. He does not take God’s gift, given through empathy, and run. 

Likewise, empathy gives your marketing plan a captivating quality. When you see the world through the eyes of your customer, you are able to connect on a relational level. It moves your marketing beyond a business transaction. You reveal beauty. And we are all drawn to beauty.

marketing plan strategy quote card about how empathy makes your marketing plan relational

Empathy makes your marketing plan relational.

Compelling With a Capital “C”

Why does empathy work so well in a marketing plan? What makes it so compelling? Simple. It’s hardwired into creation. The Author of The Story setup the whole thing to run along the tracks of empathy. The minute you have relationships in the story, there is the need for empathy. Empathy is the gracious ability to see life through the perspective of another. Again, in the Bible story, empathy happens before the Fall. This builds a strong case for empathy. Empathy is likely here to stay…forever and ever. So use it to frame your marketing plan. (I parse the difference between framing your marketing plan with empathy and using empathy in your marketing plan in the next article.)

Bottom line: we should expect empathy to work. The world is tilted that way. There’s no point fighting it. There’s no need to venture down other dead ends in your marketing plan. Start here…and stay here.

marketing plan strategy quote card about starting with and staying with empathy

Start and Stay with empathy.

Your Bumper Sticker Marketing Plan Maxim

If we were to boil this all down and slap it on a bumper sticker, here’s what we’ve learned:

Pursue genuine empathy in your marketing plan and people will pursue you.

marketing plan strategy quote card stating customers follow empathy

Customers are people drawn to empathy.

The companion bumper sticker would read:

Chase people with your unempathetic marketing plan and people will pass you by.

Yeah, I could’ve said customers instead of people. But empathy wouldn’t let me.

PS: Want to Grow in Your Empathy? I created a short PDF of how the gospel can help us grow in our empathy. Get your copy below.

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Grow in your empathy with this free guide. Download the Guide Now ».

Grow in Your Empathy

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