Marketing: A Love Story: How to Matter to Your Customers by Bernadette Jiwa

I picked up this book because I wanted and felt the need to be reminded an re-inspired by good marketing. This certainly did the trick. Not necessarily new ideas, but it still felt refreshing to read and great to see things from another perspective.

(Kindle) Notes I took along the way:
‘You’ve got to find what you love. And that is as true for your work as it is for your lovers. Your work is going to fill a large part of your life, and the only way to be truly satisfied is to do what you believe is great work.’ —Steve Jobs, Stanford commencement address

  • We were heavily invested in the rinse-and-repeat process of getting customers in, selling what was in stock and getting them back out again with the least amount of fuss. We had systems and processes, we provided coupons and discounts, and yet we lost sight of what could have made us really matter to those customers.
  • I know it seems strange to see the words ‘marketing’ and ‘love’ juxtaposed in the same sentence. Marketing is usually billed as that icky thing you have to do to sell more tins of beans, to get attention for your work, your business or your cause, and the only reason to care about it is because it’s how you survive. Marketing is supposed to be what you do after you’ve done the work to create awareness, attract customers, shift more stuff and beat the competition. But what if we thought about the work as marketing, and marketing as the work—as part of a symbiotic relationship where neither could be separated from the other? What if marketing was intrinsic—not something to hand off, but rather something to bake in? Traditional marketing makes you feel uncomfortable because you know in your heart that you are interrupting people, just as you have been interrupted when you’ve been on the receiving end.
  • It isn’t the ‘what’ of marketing that has gotten it a bad rap but how we’ve done it and the shortcuts we have taken in the past. But it turns out that if we work hard to show people that we care, they care back.
  • Research conducted into how people are persuaded proves that the way we are treated—and the way that treatment makes us feel—affects our opinions and our behaviour.
  • People can’t help wanting to give back the kind of behaviour or service that they receive, and if we can find ways to authentically show our customers that they matter to us, then we have a better chance of mattering to them.
  • All the ideas, technology and domain knowledge in the world are worthless unless we can find ways to communicate why people should care about them.
  • One of the biggest challenges an entrepreneur or innovator has is understanding how to make his ideas resonate.

What if marketing was less about promotion or coercion and more about reaching out to people and helping them to solve problems? What if marketing was how we found more ways to do better work and to matter to our customers? What if marketing was where we began our journey towards understanding what people need and want? What if it was our vantage point for seeing the world through the eyes of our customers?

When was the last time you stood in your customers’ shoes?

  • If you’re ever in doubt about how to create value, simply work out how to make your customers feel good. Then do that.
  • Start by figuring out how people want to feel.
    1. Focus on doing the best work you can do today.
    2. Learn how to see the truth and the opportunity in what’s right here, right now.
    3. Listen to what’s going on around you instead of to the voice in your head.
    4. Be grateful for who and what you have in your life at this moment.
    5. Decide what matters, then make that happen.
    6. Stop worrying about where you’ll be this time next year
  • It’s far more important to reach out to the people who care than to take aim at everyone.
    1. Creates meaning around your product or service.
    2. Determines what you sell, where and when.
    3. Dictates the price range you can sell at.
    4. Influences the kind of customers you can sell to.
    5. Changes how people feel about commodities.
    6. Sets expectations.
    7. Affects the kind of staff you can attract.
    8. Demonstrates your values.
    9. Shapes business models.
    10. Enables loyalty, connection, belonging and love.
  • ‘what do I need to do to get us from here to there?’
  • ‘What can we do to get our customers from here to there?’
  • People place a premium on the things that you can never hand them over the counter (real or virtual). It turns out that trust is the scarcest resource we have.
  • And yet as busy business owners and idea creators, we struggle to find time to ask really important questions of ourselves. Here, then, are questions worth taking the time to answer. Why are we doing this? Why are we the people to do it? Why is now the time to start? What will happen because this idea exists? How will this change how people feel about x? Who is it for? Why will they care? What do the people we hope to serve want? What do they believe? How do they feel about the problem we solve? What do they do—where, when, why and with whom? What will customers say to their friends to recommend this product or service? How can we make customers feel good because they recommend the product or service? What are we really selling beyond the utility of the product or service? How can we add more value? What happens because our business or project exists? How will people find us? Where are they already looking, or not looking? What’s our greatest strength? What weakness might get in the way if we don’t address it? What does success look like today, this year, next year and five years from now? What do we value? What do we want to change? What promises do we want to make and keep? What matters most right now? What’s going to matter more three, six or eighteen months from now? What’s our difference? What do we need to do today, to make sure that we can keep doing the things we want to do tomorrow? If we could do anything today, would this be it? If not this, then what? When you know what you want, where you’re headed and why, almost nothing can stop you.
  • Great content changes how people feel by being either useful, entertaining or inspiring.
  • Your products and services help clients and customers to be better versions of themselves every day, so your content should be designed to do that, too.
  • Content marketing, like all your marketing, isn’t something separate from your work but is an extension of it.
  • Don’t see your content as a big old sales funnel.


Your website needs to make people feel like they belong.

  • Helping people to feel like they belong is a better long-term strategy than finding ways to make them click and pay.
  • The platforms and tactics we use to reach our customers in a digital world keep changing, but the strategy for touching human beings who make decisions with their hearts and not their heads remains the same.
  • What if we began with a new set of questions? Who exactly do we want talking about our product or service? What do we want them to say? How will we make sure it happens?

The modern marketers at technology startups call this technique ‘growth hacking’. Growth hackers optimise their businesses to acquire new customers by first delighting one customer and then making it easy for that customer to share the story with friends.

When we market for long-term growth and not just sales, we adopt a different posture. We’re in the business of doing the right thing by every customer over time and we begin each day by asking a different set of questions.

  • The salesperson asks, ‘How much can I sell?’ The gifted modern marketer asks, ‘How much difference can I create?’
  • THE QUESTION YOUR CUSTOMERS ARE REALLY ASKING And the one you must spend a great deal of your time answering: Why should I care?
  • The only way to matter is to first determine what matters. You need to give people a reason to stop and listen to your song.

But if we hit our targets, it’s not because we continually focus on them; we know the target is there, but the target is not the focus. The focus is on how we aim—on doing the right thing today and then building on that by doing it over and over again. Your target is not some distant outcome or a metric of tomorrow; your target is how you’re aiming right now.

There’s something that’s harder to cultivate than attention. Something that there is no formula for getting. Something that can’t be captured, but has to be nurtured instead. That something is a feeling of connection and belonging.

I know, I know—I really do—but it’s more important to create deeper connections with the right people to make your business sustainable.

  • You’ve got to find a way to be ‘that guy’ for the people you want to serve. The one who is patient enough to take the time to make them feel like they belong. If you’re in this for the long haul, you don’t need the shortcuts that you’re hoping will magically deliver more people to your door today.
  • ATTENTION IS A TWO-WAY STREET Do you know what’s really ironic? Businesses spend thousands of dollars, plus manpower, head space and creative energy, trying to get the attention of potential customers, and when they get it, they waste it. The question for all of us (not just in business but also in life) is, how can we expect what we’re not prepared to give?
  • It seems that hardly anyone takes the time to properly pay attention anymore, to do just one thing. Your customers want to be that one thing. They want to feel like they matter. If you don’t make them feel that way when they walk through the door, what’s the point of opening the door in the first place?

The secret of all great companies (big and small) is that they choose. They understand how they create value and they do it on purpose, with intention. What are you choosing to lead with?

it’s no longer good enough to show up and open the door. Smart marketers understand that it’s how the door is opened—and what happens after the door is opened—that matters.

  • Ditch the business plan and write a letter to your future customer.
  • While most retailers were showing people what they had in stock, Apple was showing people what their products could help them become.
  • He didn’t give people reasons to choose. He gave them reasons to crave, to covet and to belong. How could you do that for your customers?
  • How to ‘go viral’ with intention Create something that people want. Know whom you want to infect. Have a great reason for wanting to infect them. Matter to one person first. Speak to that person. Change how people feel, before you try to change what they do. Notice what your customers care about most. Do more of that. Work hard to give people something to talk about. Kittens don’t count. Consciously bake word-of-mouth into your product or service. Most people skip this step. Make giving people a reason to talk about your products and services part of your culture, not just your marketing. Do it on purpose. Then do it over and over again.
  • THE BIGGEST PROBLEM FACING ENTREPRENEURS …is love. People with great ideas (and average ones, too) are in love with the ideas themselves. Because we’re human, we become irrationally seduced by the potential of our own solutions. This infatuation blinds us to what matters most, to the thing that gives an idea the best chance to fly.
  • But what you need more than a love of your product is love for your customers. You have to care about them to want to make something for them. And you have to understand them to care about them.
  • When you innovate and build your business from a place of empathy and a desire to create difference for your customers, those values bubble up into everything you do.
  • Brands big and small connect people through a culture that’s bigger than themselves—through provenance, adventure, sustainability, entrepreneurship, self-expression, conscious consumption, sisterhood and real food, to name a few movements. So tell me, what beliefs are you connecting your customers to?
  • Here’s a handy list of questions to ask before you bring your product, service or idea to market. Why are we making this? Why doesn’t this exist already? Why us? Why now? Why do people need this product? Why will people want this product? Why will people pay for this? Why will this make people do/feel/be what they want to do/feel/be? Why would people buy from our competitors? Why will people cross the street to buy from us? Why does this idea matter?
  • In a world of infinite choices, where faster and cheaper are two clicks away, and free overnight shipping makes closer increasingly irrelevant, every business must question why people will pay for their services.
  • If you can’t add value in the moment, then the only opportunity open to you is to add meaning.
  • What reason are you giving your customers to bypass a hundred (or maybe 100 million) other choices and get in their cars or cross the street to come to you?
  • THE MOST DANGEROUS THING ABOUT YOUR COMPETITION …is your obsession with them. Yes, we live in a giant digital goldfish bowl. This makes it possible to get stuck watching and worrying about what our competitors are doing. Almost every move they make—every accolade, acquisition and award—is there for the world to see.
  • Becoming the competition doesn’t always mean using the same old rules to beat others at their own game. Focusing on the tiniest gap in your customers’ desires might be a better strategy.
  • The number-one reason a salesperson fails to close a sale is that she can’t effectively communicate the value of the product. Of course it makes sense that if you can’t help your customers to understand why they should care, then you’re not likely to be able to convince them to buy.
  • A winning sales strategy doesn’t just involve working out how to sell more of what you make. A better plan is to understand what people really value and then to give them exactly that.
  • Don’t sell the guitar. Sell the music.
  • One of the reasons that upstart companies like GoPro have been able to steal a march on their much-better-resourced competitors, like Sony, has been their ability to develop products for their customers by truly understanding who those customers are and what they want.
  • There really is no substitute for standing in your customers’ shoes. You can have the best product in the world, but if people don’t buy into the story, you’ve got an uphill struggle on your hands.
  • We might know that our product really is the best in the world, but we’re not the ones who get to decide. What we do and what we ask customers to believe are only part of the story. It’s humbling to realise that the people we serve, not our technologists, publishers, innovators, designers or marketing departments, decide what’s worthy and what wins.
  • Not everyone stopped buying newspapers back in 2007 when Twitter launched. It isn’t one sudden seismic shift that creates change, but a billion tiny incremental movements in the moment.
  • We are often impatient when we want to change how people act (which is why marketing exists, after all). This impatience is the reason health campaigns and other traditional marketing efforts often fail. They try to change everything and everyone all at once. But lasting change doesn’t happen that way. If you want to disrupt your market, look for opportunities to change a single micro-moment, one person at a time.
  • Allowing customers to define what value is for them in this situation makes good business sense, and yet hotels have been using a cookie-cutter guest-services formula forever.
  • customers. Increasingly, what matters to people is not how you show up, but why you show up.
  • Understanding what makes people tick and why is far more valuable than we think.
  • The Fogg Behaviour Model suggests that for a behaviour to occur, three things need to be in place: Trigger—Do this now Ability—Can do it Motivation—Want to do it
  • If you care enough to figure out what people are hungry for and why (it’s usually not another doughnut or more stuff), then you’ll find you do a lot less marketing.
  • It’s easy to get caught up in the ‘how to’ of telling your brand story and even easier still to believe that the primary reason to invest in telling it is to sell more. But brand storytelling should primarily be the driver of participation, not sales. Storytelling is the way we enable our customers to attach meaning to our products, and it’s the reason they want to belong.
  • How to create emotional points of difference with your product and service descriptions: 1. Resist relying on the description of features and benefits. Tell people what they can do with your product, not what the product does. 2. Let your current customers do the talking. Build trust, using proof with testimonials and customer stories. 3. Show how customers are using your product to make their lives better. Use images, videos, case studies and stories. 4. Think about how you want the people who use your products and services to feel. Write descriptions and create content that helps people to experience those feelings before they ever use the product or service. 5. Behave like a lover, or at least a very dear friend. Because if you’re going about your business the right way, that’s exactly what you are. Now go write like one.
  • I created the ‘value proposition hack’ so that you would have a way to explain the value of your idea succinctly, in just one sentence. Simply fill in the blanks and then finesse as required. We do _______ so that you can do/feel/be _____\_. We created ______ so you don’t have to do/feel/be _______.
  • We use only natural ingredients in Chobani so you can experience the taste of real, good, simple yogurt. We created Chobani so that you don’t have to worry about artificial ingredients in your yogurt.