Last night, I was sitting and watching television with my girlfriend and an odd thought struck me.  Let me paint a picture…

A couple is walking around looking for a certain product…The couple is cute, middle-aged, and probably has a dog and one child. They are the stereotypical American family. The couple finds the product… there is a punch line…. everyone laughs. The couple buys the product. They both smile and their entire life is complete.

Let me paint another masterpiece…

I am driving down the freeway and look up to see a billboard with a smiling face. The face is handsome, even stoic. However, the picture is clearly stock photography. The man looks like a doctor but I can’t figure out if that is truth… or maybe he is a model that failed medical school. The billboard says… We are COMMITTED to our community. I smile because… hell… he looks like someone that I would trust with my health (I think) and he must be committed to me.

And the thought hits me again…

Brian Lauterbach (founder and one of my partners at MindFrame) and I were speaking to a group of nonprofits in northern Indiana last week. Brian was discussing concepts of marketing the mission of your organization and he said something that really stuck with me. While holding a year end gift letter and a post card from a national organization he said:

We are becoming lazy. We are becoming lazy in how we communicate! We are marketing to people who are extremely passionate about a cause… our cause! We are disgracing them by becoming lazy in the way we tell our story! If you are not passionate in developing marketing and the story of your organization… HOW.. are you suppose to convince people to give or become advocates?

And now we come full circle…

What Brian said is not only applicable to nonprofits. The message clearly applies to every communication strategy… from your local pet supplier to a national brand.

What happened to caring more about the product you sell? When did we (as marketers) become lazy? What the hell is wrong with us? And the worst part of all this is not the stock photography or models…

We are not measuring anything but that is for a different post.

This is my official call to all marketers…. all C-level executives… all business owners… to anyone involved in leading the communications strategy for a company or organization.

And ESPECIALLY to all advertising and marketing firms.

We have become lazy. We are using communication strategies that haven’t changed for forty-five years.

The world is changing.

Technology is changing.

People are changing.

Preferences are changing.

And we sit back… stupefied… because our “brand awareness” and “sales” are dropping in a region where we put even more money in marketing the “brand.”

Let the customers tell the story and become more loyal to THEM… not the other way around.