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By Dick Maggiore and Mark Vandegrift

Building a Brand on Morals: Advertise Responsibly - Mark Vandegrift

Advertise Responsibly®

After a recent lecture at Grove City College, a discerning student asked me the following question, “Do you ever find yourself losing sleep at night because of a marketing campaign you created that conflicted with your morals?”

My answer was easy and without hesitation. “No.” Then I explained my answer, in short: Positioning requires a company to differentiate based on a truth inherent in the product, service, and/or company. It falls under our 4-C filter – Customer, Competition, Context, Company – whereby if a position doesn’t reflect a truthful idea about the company, it will not be adopted internally nor will it result in a fulfilled brand promise externally. It’s a recipe for disaster. Your position must be foundationally truthful.

If there was time for a longer answer, it might have been something like this…

Advertise Responsibly® – The Customer

While the marketing industry doesn’t have the best reputation when it comes to shunning moral imperatives, Innis Maggiore’s marketing philosophy — positioning — provides an innate filter as noted above. As the foundational positioning rule, when a company and its products and services can only stand for one idea in the mind of the customer, it’s critical that single idea be of the highest value. “Tricking” customers with a marketing gimmick or short-term “idea” is the fastest way to losing in the long term even if it provides short-term returns.

Coke has been the original soft drink since 1886. Pepsi has been the hip soft drink since 1964. BMW has been the ultimate performance car since 1974. Toyota has stood for reliable cars since 1957. In fact, Toyota was so known for reliability that when it wanted to enter the luxury space, it realized it needed a different brand, so it came out with Lexus – with the position of affordable luxury car – also a differentiating idea that has lasted since 1989.

Sticking with a single, high-value position for decades means advertisers don’t have to lose sleep worrying about a moral failure in their marketing.

Advertise Responsibly® – The Budget

Positioning provides the biggest bang for your marketing buck. Having 100% focus in your advertising, promoting one differentiated message, will add up in the prospect’s mind, versus having no focus with random acts of marketing. Marketing without positioning is like traveling without an address. You waste time. You waste money.

If you don’t have unlimited money, differentiation is the only way to have a strong brand. Even the largest advertisers in the world have budgets. They might be huge budgets, but they are limited, nonetheless. While you might get bored with a single message, advertising a clearly differentiated idea over a long period of time will always be kinder to your pocketbook than regularly developing new messaging that will only confuse your prospect with each new message.

Dramatizing your position in your advertising is the best use of your budget, so advertisers don’t need to stay up at night worrying about wasted spend.

Advertise Responsibly® – The Mission

Positioning brings focus to a company that brings purpose to your team. Companies thrive when the employees have a clear mission. It allows them to answer the questions, “Why am I going to work each day?” and “What is my company working toward?” It provides the why and the what, which is an innate human need.

It also provides a freedom knowing that each department already knows the company strategy. There’s no need to reinvent the wheel every day or year and churn in the cycle of constant ideation and brainstorming. If your position revolves around safety, then every new idea generated within your walls must either improve upon — or at a minimum — maintain the safety standards you’ve set for the company.

Focusing your organization on your position means marketers (and the C-Suite) can rest easy knowing the team is aligned around its highest value proposition.

Advertise Responsibly® – The Truth

In an age where moral absolutes are eroding, the truth is reason enough to stand for doing the right thing. This doesn’t mean you take a moral superiority complex. Rather, it means you are socially responsible to your company, your employees, your customers, and your communities. Doing the right thing for the right reason should never fall out of popularity. If it does, society will have bigger problems to deal with than the advertising industry.

In a 2017 PositionistView article, Dick Maggiore discusses walking the line between corporate social responsibility and social division. He ends the article with this maxim: “Good judgment comes from experience, and experience comes from poor judgment.” If there is a question as to what or how you’re marketing, you’re walking a fine line that will probably be seen as a thick line to your prospects and customers. There’s, in fact, no reason to walk that line when you follow the principles of positioning.

The student who asked the question about losing sleep at night has a bright future. Her foundational morals will provide a compass that points her to doing what’s right for our society. In this age of giving lip service to corporate responsibility, marketing with truth is to Advertise Responsibly®, something we feel so strongly about we trademarked it almost two decades ago.

If you want to ensure you’re doing the most responsible job with your company’s marketing, contact Innis Maggiore today.