Not just a famous Shakespearian quote, "To thine own self be true," according to Ad Age editor, Bob Garfield, is a maxim to which marketers should adhere.
Garfield, host of NPR's On The Media and author of the forthcoming The Human Element, explains that in this new "Relationship Era," it's critical to "look inward" rather than mold your business to the public's "often fickle, shortsighted tastes.
In a recent Ad Age article, Ignore the Human Element of Marketing at Your Own Peril, Garfield claims that marketers in the "Consumer Era" strove to get into the heads and hearts of consumers by asking them what they wanted, attempting to deliver it, and seducing the target audience to buy it through advertising. However, in today's world, companies need to continually communicate their "essential self" or brand purpose via relationships with all stakeholders.
Garfield calls these relationships the "human element." In this new era, customers (as well as vendors, stockholders, and employees) are not "conquests" but rather members of a community, looking to a company's inner reason to decide if it merits adoration (or, potentially, hatred). The digital revolution has ushered in an age in which consumers are evaluating companies all the time across numerous conversations that go well beyond the latest advertising slogan. According to Garfield, these conversations "are about your brand's essential self—which behooves you to think very hard about your essential self."
See Bob Garfield speak about the Relationship Era and the Human Element at our BRITE '12 Conference (March 5-6, NYC).