Don’t get me wrong, smoke and mirrors made P.T. Barnum a fortune. The Greatest “Show” on Earth was indeed a brilliant show, but what he created was a “show.” Magicians and showmen allow the audience to see only what they want them to see. That’s what makes it a show.
I tell my clients, “if I do my job well, then marketing is easy…it will be simply holding up a mirror to your organization and reflecting it to the world.” That phrase strikes fear in the hearts of some and surprise in the minds of others as they process the reality of transparency. Organizations often want to smoke out the areas of the company that they want to hide from the world and “advertise” the aspects of their business that they want the world to “buy.” This point is well illustrated in the twenty-eighth thesis of the Cluetrain Manifesto.
Most marketing programs are based on the fear that the market might see what’s really going on inside the company.
I witness the bone rattling fear most often when clients discuss their social media policy: “Oh, we cannot let EVERYONE participate on social media because who knows what they would say about our company.” To which I ask, “then why they hell do they work for you?” When an organization is aligned with great core values, a solid core purpose and a clear brand promise, then the only social media policy should be “Be Smart” or phrased differently, “Don’t be ridiculous.”
From social media to general messaging, organizations that have are consistently aligned, are free to engage their customers without fear. The marketing conversation is no longer about putting on a show; instead it is about showing who they are.