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Listen to Proctor & Gamble

by Doug Davidoff | Mar 8, 2007 11:52:16 AM

I have been preaching for quite some time that marketers need to stop focusing on their solutions, and start focusing on connecting with the problems they solve. In presentations I've been making to CEO groups around the country, I've been exhorting them to stop looking at their offerings from their own perspective and to start looking at them from their customers perspective, from the unique problems their offerings solve.

There has been one industry that has continued to experience success that did not seem to take this advice. Often times, I'd be asked about this exception. The exception was the consumer products industry. Coca-Cola, Proctor & Gamble, Kimberly Clark, etc. seemed to follow the industrial aged marketing philosophy of 'telling and selling.' All I could chalk it up was, 'the exception the proves the rule.' Now, I realize they are no longer an exception.

Catching up on some reading, I came across an Advertising Age article summarizing Jim Stengel, P&G's Global Marketing Chief. In the article, Stengle says, "It's no longer about telling and selling."

In a speech to advertising agencies, Stengel "described a major cultural shift" that must turn marketers "into a starter of conversations and a solver of consumer's problems, rather than a one-way communicator."  He says, "It's about bringing a relationship mind-set to everything we do. He cites a 'trust-starved world' and implores company's and advertisers to build experience 'with - not just for - customers.'

In the video of his presentation (which you can view from the article), he says:

"Building relationships through our brands is the future of marketing. It's not about new media models and tools; it's about engaging with people in a two-way relationship. It's about seeking to understand the other person, rather than control their actions."

If this isn't the death-knell for industrial-age marketing tactics, I don't know what is.