- Fri, August 12 2011
- Filed under: Marketing essentials
I taught at American University yesterday, and I found one of the biggest challenges for the communications class was focusing not on our agenda but rather that of our audience. I was reminded of the below example from my book, so I thought I’d share it. Good marketing is not about our own attributes. It’s about the benefits we deliver for others.
“Just Do It.” In three words, Nike conveyed one of the best known brands and oft-repeated slogans in marketing history. “Just Do It” instantly fills our heads with images of the Nike swoosh, the grace of Michael Jordan, and the grit and glory of a can-do attitude to stretching our own limits. We feel inspired – perhaps not to go work up a serious sweat right this minute, but certainly to buy the shoes that imply we are the kind of person who could.
The campaign, launched in 1988, helped Nike sprint past competitor Reebok and establish itself as the market leader at a time when the jogging and fitness craze were taking off and athletic shoes were increasingly fashionable. It has since earned a place in the Smithsonian Institution and is viewed as a gold standard of marketing. So what makes those three words so powerful and the campaign so successful? “Just Do It” focuses less on the product and more on us. Nike often quotes co-founder Bill Bowerman as saying, “If you have a body, you are an athlete.” And if you’re an athlete, you are a potential Nike customer. The athlete-customer is the centerpiece of “Just Do It.” Adman Dan Weiden, who created the campaign, explicitly and elegantly focused on us and what Nike wants us to do: to see ourselves as athletes, to desire a determined self-image, and to buy Nike shoes.
The key to marketing is to focus on our audiences and not ourselves. Nike succeeds by focusing on the people who buy the shoes, not just the shoes. We must focus on the people we need to take action, not just our mission and organization.
I’m not saying we are putting our audiences before our mission. Every organization, including Nike, has a mission. It’s why we exist and what guides our work. But to achieve that mission, we need marketing. And to do marketing, we need more than just a mission statement – we need a clear idea of what people need to take which actions in order for us to achieve our mission.
Go beyond the big-picture mission and focus on getting people to do something specific. It works far better than fuzzy ideals. Just do it!