Motivation Behind Marketing: What’s Your Motivation?

“It’s important in life to know what our motivation is.” –DeVon Franklin

It’s also important in marketing and advertising to know what our motivation is. And that’s what I’m going to focus on here today.

What is your motivation?

Be honest. If your motivation is to sell products, you might see some success, but you will not continue to be successful.

A Greater Motivation

Photo of Steve Jobs with quote

Let’s look at Apple. What would you say their motivation is?

You could probably argue that selling products at least factors into their motivation, but it is secondary. Bob Borchers, a former iPhone product marketing engineer, said (I’m quoting from the article “Former Apple employee recounts how Jobs motivated iPhone team”):

Steve Jobs didn’t have a specific device in mind, but instead gave the team a mission: create a phone that people would love so much that they’d never leave the house without it.

Does that sound like a man or a company whose primary motivation is to sell?

No. That’s what once made Apple unique and what other companies, especially Samsung, are now catching up with. Your motivation has to be to make great products people will love. The bonus with that is that those products then kind of market themselves.

Motivated by Money

We all know people who are motivated by money. We can see it a mile away. Their sales pitch is disconnected from customers, it’s truly all about them. And you get a sense that they will tell you anything just so they get what they want. Is that who you want to be?

I admit, there are exceptions. Some people, some companies who are motivated purely or mostly by money can be successful. But they are often successful at the cost of something greater—humanity, the environment, other people’s economies.

Look at the finance industry and all the wrongdoing that caused the U.S economic collapse. Those bankers, Wall Street traders, etc.—the ones who caused this mess—were all motivated by money. Greed.

Look at the oil industry. Sure, their advertising makes it seem like they’re interested in the environment or the earth’s future, but we all know they’re interested (at least for now) in one thing above all else—profits. And they do quite well in that category.

Eventually, I hope, that will change as consumers become more aware and demand more change. For now, it’s up to you to be the change. Ask yourself who you want to be. Which type of motivation sounds better to you?

What about You?

For me, I like Apple’s motivation—to make great products people will love. I find it authentic and more fulfilling. Imagine what would happen if every company were motivated by that—what a wonderful world we’d live in.

So, if you’re not getting the response you want on social media or in sales, maybe it’s time to rethink your motivation.

Are you just trying to sell to people? Or do you want to give them great products and services they will love?


Same brand, different actions

Don't be afraid of change poster w/ woman at typewriterIn my last blog post, I talked about the future of marketing. I talked about the need to take risks and create opportunity. What does that mean?

I think I can sum it up in three words—mix it up. Or two—stay interesting.

Many companies think that being true to their brand means saying or doing the same thing over and over again. Not true.

Your audience is not one homogenous, monochromatic, unilateral, single anything. Your audience is a mass of living, breathing, different human beings.

You know what happens when human beings are presented with the same thing over and over again? They get bored. They stop responding to you and go looking for something interesting.

Do different things

So what’s a marketer to do? Mix it up. Do different things.

Oh, and FYI, marketing the same message in different media is not doing different things! It’s merely doing the same thing differently. Don’t get the two confused.

Sending the same messages out through different channels simply means that you’re using different ways to reach your audience. The question is: What are you doing to keep them interested?

Comfort becomes boredom

The New Coke disaster made too many marketers afraid of change. Companies decided to be comfortable rather than creative. But what does this comfort translate to with your audience? Say it with me—boredom!

Look at Apple. What were they known for before 2000? They were a computer company. But they kept asking “What do our customers want beyond what we give them now?” They kept looking for ways to apply their strengths to different products. And the iPod was born. And then the iPhone. (Timeline here if you’re interested.)

My guess is they looked at Sony and thought “Hmm, if an electronics company (known for TVs, stereos, the Walkman, etc.) can be successful making computers, why can’t we successfully sell electronics?” (Think this sounds far-fetched? Apple’s first attempt at a TV used Sony components and recent rumors speculate that Apple is considering buying Sony.)

My point? Apple did it their own way. They knew their brand and their customer and acted proactively. And when something didn’t work (their first attempt at TV), they went back to the drawing board to find something better (iPod, iPhone, and now Apple TV).

Your competition is not just companies selling the same products. It’s any company trying to reach the same audience you are. Learn from them.

Borders gets a kick from coffee

A coffee shop and a bookstore. They’re not competition but their audience does share a similar demographic.

Borders knew bookstores were in trouble. Starbucks was successful at selling overpriced coffee, customer retention and growth. Borders was smart enough to realize the similarities in audience and add cafes—with the help of Starbucks.

Will that move alone save them? No. But that type of thinking will.

A push in the right direction

Stuck for ideas for your own company? Ask yourself:

  • Where else does your customer go?
  • Who else does your customer favor and why?
  • What can you do to appeal to that favor?

Answer these questions and change the actions you take without changing your brand, except for maybe making it stronger.

Cynics, you might be thinking, “Oh, these companies just do these things to try to stay alive.” Yes, that’s exactly what they’re doing. After all, how do you stay alive? By continuing to please and interest your customers.

How do you please and interest your customers? By keeping things interesting while staying true to your brand.


This post was inspired by My Life as an Experiment, by A.J. Jacobs. It’s not a marketing book. But I loved the fact that he was always so willing to try something different and learn from his experience. (Photo/poster credit: I found on Passion of the Weiss blog.)

Even with a bad Apple, breaking up is hard to do

I am a Mac user and a fan of Apple products, but lately I can’t help but think that I’m in a sort of abusive relationship—along with all other Apple customers. So, I’ve made a list of positives and negatives to help decide if I should stay or go.

Turn ons

1. Better products.

Face it, almost everyone wants a Mac, an iPad, an iPod or an iPhone. Apple products aren’t just better, they’re cooler. Like the gorgeous star quarterback in high school, Apple knows everyone wants it and so can get away with almost anything.

2. Ongoing workshops

One of the highlights of buying a Mac is that you can take free workshops any time they’re offered. Run by enthusiastic Apple “Creatives,” these are a highlight of the Apple experience. And every time I go to one, they restore my faith in the company.

Turn offs

1. Arrogant CEO who treats customers poorly.

Customers camped out overnight for the iPhone 4, giving Apple about $1.7 million in sales in three days. When they complained about poor reception, what did they get? Steve Jobs told customers it’s their own fault. And you can get a quick fix if you buy a $29.99 “Bumper.”

Don’t we have a reasonable expectation to have a product work out of the box without having to buy add-ons?

2. High prices with no sales.

Speaking of the money we spend, Apple products are priced at the premium end of the scale. I’m somewhat ok with this because normally their products are superior. However, once a new version is introduced, the price of the previous version should drop.

3. “Experts” and “Specialists” help you only until you agree to buy.

Do high prices necessitate rude service? I think not. But, in an Apple store, often the salesperson is very happy to help you…until you decide to buy the product. Then you’re on your own. (This happened to me and I’ve seen it happen to others.)

4. The Genius Bar.

Isn’t the hallmark of a Mac the fact that it’s simpler to use than a PC? If it’s so easy, why do I need a genius to help me? And why do I hear so many stories of these so-called geniuses being rude to customers seeking help? (See example here.) Oh, I know. It’s because the whole “genius” thing has gone to their heads.

5. Response to poor data service from AT&T? They extend contract.

If Apple is a company filled with geniuses, why do they still insist on partnering with AT&T? Even people without iPhones have heard how frequently calls drop with the iPhone on AT&T. Customers made it known they wanted different choices. But, what did we expect? Geniuses know it all—why should they listen to lowly customers?

6. Questionable labor practices in China factory.

More than 10 worker suicides this year certainly make me question conditions at the factory Apple uses to make its iPhones and iPads. Apple and FoxConn have both publicly committed to improving things. But this situation is disturbing enough to make you wonder.

7. Doesn’t play nice with others.

Steve Jobs’ notorious inability to play well with others (See Adobe and Google) worries me. While he has valid concerns about security of Flash®, he seems to be welcoming a battle that would leave Apple customers with very few choices.

As we get closer to Internet television being a reality, I would like to know that having a Mac won’t handicap me when it comes to choosing other services. What makes Jobs think everyone should do things his way?

Is it time to break up?

Putting up with all of this, why do we still buy? When you buy a so-called elite brand, isn’t one of the perks better service? When will we finally stand up for better treatment?

I have to admit, I cut boyfriends away much faster. But I’m not ready to kiss Apple goodbye. Am I crazy?

How about you—what would it take for you to say no to Apple?


For more on Apple, check out these Apple and Mac blogs: Cult of Mac, The Unofficial Apple Weblog, The Apple Core, and for fun, The Secret Diary of Steve Jobs. There are many more out there, so Google away.

AT&T: Rethinking their brand

The smartest thing AT&T has done lately is rethink their brand and advertising strategy. Yes, I know I’ve talked about them before, but these changes warrant a revisit.

“Rethink Possible” is more than a new tagline—it’s a new strategy. But is it the right strategy?

According to AT&T, “Rethink Possible is a promise to our customers about what they can expect from us and what we can achieve together.”

I’m sure iPhone users would like AT&T to rethink whether it’s possible to keep a call from dropping without customers having to pay extra for a MicroCell power boost.

Another statement on their website says, “Our brand promise is Rethink Possible. But it’s more than a slogan—it’s the expression of what we stand for. It’s what we strive to do every day so you can stay connected to the people and things that matter to you most.”

So here’s my question: Should a brand be something you strive for? Or should it be something you already do and do well?

AT&T’s Esther Lee (Senior Vice President of Brand, Marketing and Advertising) said, “There’s so much innovation happening at the company that I think people don’t know.”

That sounds like a problem to me. If AT&T truly is innovative, why wouldn’t we already know?  (And why wouldn’t the intro on their website be better?)

Let’s compare them to two companies with similar taglines.

Apple: Think Different

Apple claims to be innovative (or revolutionary) and consumers agree because Apple regularly introduces new products that change the way we think and act. “Think Different” works because consumers know Apple thinks different and acts different than most other companies.

Is AT&T trying to pretend they’re Apple? Worse, are they trying to take on Apple?

I hope not in both cases. But it does look like AT&T is hoping for the same type of turnaround Apple got from Think Different.

Adidas: Impossible is Nothing

This tagline works because it expresses an attitude athletes and other people who buy Adidas products already have or want to have.

It expresses an attitude their consumers strive for compared to AT&T expressing something both they and their consumers strive for. Hmm, am I being unfair by saying AT&T is not ready for this tagline yet?

AT&T: Rethink Possible

Rethink Possible to me, for AT&T, sounds a little cart before the horse and chicken before the egg. Rethink Possible is also what you want your employees to do, especially in a company that seems to be stuck in a rut.

In fact, I think it makes a terrific internal slogan that would motivate their employees to come up with new and better ways to serve their customers. I just don’t think they have proven enough yet to have that as their brand.

I do applaud AT&T for finally focusing on the customer instead of the competition. As Ms. Lee said, it’s time to “get past the competitive conversation and talk about what’s in it for the consumers.”

Agreed. The Verizon battle was killing them. It was time for them to rethink their brand, rethink their advertising, and rethink their future. I don’t think they were ready to claim Rethink Possible as their new brand.

And until I actually see innovation from AT&T and witness that customer focus, I’m not yet convinced. Are you?


Interested in other blogs on marketing and innovation? Check out FutureLab.