Things I learned from my Dad #1

Things I learned from my Dad #1

After a friend commented on my penchant for using my father's 'wisdom' to support my points of view, I set about creating a list of my Dad's maxims that I tend to regurgitate. Needless to say it was a fairly long list, however three things struck me as I compiled it. 

One, how many of my father's maxims I use. 

Two, how many of my own maxims I'd developed along the way, and 

Three, how often these maxims were reflected in my work.  This makes perfect sense as the maxims are nearly entirely about people, and my work (marketing) is similarly all about people (specifically how to engage and persuade them). Upon realising this I decided that 'Things I learned from my Dad' would be a fun way to shed some light on ways that clients can improve their marketing and drive growth. So here goes:

The people who mind don't matter and the people who matter don't mind.

This one received heavy rotation in my home as a child, and why not, it seems like a great way to absolve yourself of any concern about the repercussions of your actions. But that's not really what it's 'saying', quite the opposite. The core of the maxim is really that you should 'say and do what you think is right and the people who are important will stand by you - the people who aren't won't, but that doesn't matter in the long run'.

One way I relate this to my working life is when it comes to demographics and targeting. Many of the companies I deal with fear change. That's fair enough, the vast majority of humans do as well. The problem is that change is how we grow, and if the change you're considering doesn't negatively affect your customers and bottom line, why should you care? 

Rebranding is the classic example where this happens, yet a rebrand typically has no affect on existing customers at all. They've moved beyond a superficial relationship with your company to the point where the 'brand' is the people, products, services and interactions that the customer enjoys, not a piece of artwork. In other words, changing the brand doesn't change the experience the customer has, so it has minimal impact. In fact in most cases the impact is positive as it reinvigorates the customer's relationship with the company and gives them a reason to touch base again.

The group of people the rebrand does affect is prospects, and if the rebrand is warranted and done well, the prospects will be more likely to engage after the rebrand is finished. That's clearly a positive affect, so where's the issue?

The answer is there is no issue, unless of course the company's CEO let's their fear get in the way and they fail to identify the people who will 'matter' in the aftermath of the rebrand - prospects. Now don't take this the wrong way, I'm not saying existing customers don't matter. Of course they do, they're the lifeblood of the business. It's just that they won't be scared off by a rebrand, so don't you be scared off by doing one. At least don't be scared off for that particular reason.

Calvin Klein's underwear

I saw a classic example years ago of a company that never misunderstood who really 'mattered', from a marketing standpoint. The company was Calvin Klein and they ran a series of billboards in America for their underwear range using children in the photos. The billboards weren't smutty or inappropriate, however the use of children to sell underwear set off a number of social commentators and they used a lot of space in newspapers to criticise the marketing approach. A few weeks later CK took down the billboards, after garnering millions of dollars in free publicity. Publicity that CK were confident wouldn't hurt sales because the people complaining about the billboards weren't their buyers, and the people who listened to those social commentators also weren't their buyers. However the people who noticed the fuss and didn't care, were CK's buyers and they responded with their wallets/purses.


This maxim influences my thinking in a range of ways. It really is something of a 'cornerstone' in terms of ethics, both commercially and personally (not that there really is a difference, because the person you are is the most significant factor determining how you operate at work). I guess in a nutshell, it's saying 'Don't be a wind vane'. Be consistently true to your beliefs and act accordingly both personally and professionally, even if the outcome has potential drawbacks. It's better to die for something than stand for nothing, and in my experience the simple act of sticking to your guns reaps far more pleasure than pain.

Everyone grows up with different influences, educations and beliefs, and in my experience, everyone carries some core guiding principles or maxims into adulthood. These have been learned and embedded over many years from many sources, even if you don't realise it. It’s also my experience that these maxims can and should be carried into your day-to-day life as ultimately, they define who you are and how you conduct yourself. Identify your personal maxims and ask yourself whether you're applying them in your day-to-day professional life/business, and if not, whether you should.

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