A review of ‘Difference’ by Bernadette Jiwa
By Christopher Melotti
BComm:Mtkg, MCommLaw, AMAMI CPM
(This article was featured in the August/September 2014 Issue of B&T Magazine).
I’m not going to mince words here: this book is the very timely wake-up call that absolutely all Marketers need, and I highly recommend it. It’s extremely relevant to the current Marketing landscape, succinct, punchy and full of well-researched, supportive case studies.
With technology rapidly interconnecting global societies, and our lives racing at an even faster speed than ever before, it’s becoming obvious that today’s Marketing efforts as a whole are failing to evolve in sync with such a pace, which has meant that our target audiences are becoming increasingly resistant and more elusive when exposed to our ‘same-old’ practises.
Difference, by Bernadette Jiwa, perfectly summarises exactly what we are all starting to realise: Marketing just because ‘we can’ is not good enough anymore. Yelling “notice us!” more frequently and loudly to the masses is not good enough anymore. Communication strategies solely based on numerical statistics and quantifiable metrics are not good enough anymore. Marketing has lost touch of its empathetic, artistic qualities and has forgotten the humanistic roots essential to connect with an audience.
Today, all target markets are extremely well-informed, intensively focused and exceedingly time poor, leading them to become increasingly frustrated with blatant bombardment of intrusive, irrelevant and unengaging communication efforts, manifested from yet another uninspiring, mechanical Marketing strategy. This is not an emerging trend, it’s an unfortunate reality.
If you want a perfect example, look at all of the ads on YouTube (look anywhere for that matter): when searching for relaxing music, we are met with an explosively loud, completely untargeted ad that we grit our teeth through, our cursor hovering above the ‘skip-ad’ button that will appear within five seconds.
We need a wakeup call. We need difference.
Jiwa logically puts forward her theory of difference: people first. On the surface, this doesn’t seem ground-breaking, but therein lies the truth of our issue: Marketers think we know this, but we’ve completely lost touch of it when it comes to execution.
Marketing evolution theory states that our focus has moved from production, to product, then selling, marketing and finally to societal marketing. I believe we now need to shift forward to the next stage, which I have coined as Empathetic Marketing. This means not simply scoping out the consumer and surrounding society alone and throwing a blanket over it all, but to delve deeper to really connect and truly understand what the priorities of consumers are and what parts of their external and internal environments actually have relevant meaning to them. This is completely possible now too, given advancement in technology: it is us as Marketers that need to catch up, and this book shows us the way.
Our products and Marketing efforts must now actually matter to people, not bombard them because we now have access to more channels than ever before. We need to conduct our efforts to truly thrill by putting ourselves utterly in the customer’s shoes, rather than spam the market and hope in the statistics that tell us a handful may care: this is now a zero-sum game that doesn’t work anymore.
To quote Jiwa, ‘The P that the old Marketing Mix forgot was People. Today, [consumers] are powerful influences who discern and care and want and choose. Because [they] can.’ In a modern world with unlimited choice, Marketers need to wake up and refocus on ensuring the right people care, and this book is the way to realign and reacquaint our perspective with the progressive and individualistic humans we hope to engage every day.