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Principles of marketing #1: it’s always about people

You’ve seen the plethora of articles and posts about upheaval in the world of marketing … and we can all agree there have been plenty of changes. Yet there’s one basic principle of marketing at the core of every brand, every campaign, every marketing strategy …


Marketing is about people, not you or what you offer

Principles of marketing … number 1 … put people, your people, at the center.

Marketing is not just about which industry you’re in. Or about what you’re selling. Or about how long you’ve been in business or how you make what you sell.

It’s not about your competition. Or awards. Or your facility. Or your sales process or your network or your multi-level buying system.

It’s not about how big you are or how small you are. It’s not about your quality or your customer service or how innovative you are.

And please, please … use better, more descriptive, specific and interesting words than “quality, service and innovation.”

All of those things might matter … each might be important to how you communicate who you are and what you provide … but ONLY if they reflect what your audiences want and care about.

When you get down to the basic principles of marketing and what it takes to build an effective marketing strategy, it’s as simple as this.

          Know your audiences.

Choose how to reach, influence, guide and inspire response by knowing the people you must reach to be successful.

It’s that simple. But it’s still not easy.

That’s why WHAT you’re marketing is not the most important factor when you choose someone to help you with your marketing.

Sure, industry experience can be useful. There are nuances to be addressed in planning a complete program … B2B or B2C? Packaging for retail or online ecommerce sales? Price point? Decision process? Support for a sales team? Those can all vary by industry and impact choices of strategy and tactics.

But it’s still about your people, your audiences, first.

“How can you market for me if you haven’t marketed x before?”

Companies looking for marketing help have asked me many times if I’ve marketed for a company that sells what they sell. Some industries view themselves as completely unique, with their own, exclusive way of selling.

The assumption? If you haven’t worked in their industry before, how can you be effective for me?

  • If you haven’t marketed wine, how can you market my wine?
  • If you haven’t marketed for a dentist, how can you market my practice?
  • If you haven’t worked with a company selling widgets to businesses, how can you help me sell more unique widgits to different businesses?

My answer? It’s always about humans, the people you’re selling to, not what you’re selling.

If you’re successful at understanding audiences, their motivations and how they choose, then matching what they want with what the company offers, while defining where this product fits against that product (that’s where it can get complicated), you’re a marketer.

You have to be able to think like the people you’re reaching, step into their shoes, understand from their perspective.

You can build a successful campaign when you know how to reach and influence people. When you understand their motivations and expectations. When you can answer “what’s in it for me?” in a compelling way, in the right channels, you’re home.

Put your people first.

Not just anyone and everyone out there. Market to your people, those who are your best customers, who love what you provide and recommend you. And then find more people like them.

Focus on those people … who they are, how they find you, how they choose, what they expect, what they know or don’t know about what you do, what benefits they’re looking for, what experience they’ve had with your competitors.

Look at them as individuals, how they speak, how and where they communicate. Uncover what images and ideas resonate with them, the specific aspects of your goods and services which elicit the most response from them. Using their words will add authenticity to your marketing.

Listen to your best people for how they share your story, how they speak about what’s important to them, where and when they’re delighted with what you do and provide. When you really listen, you may discover it’s not what you thought it would be!

Understanding your people and who they are, their motivation and how and where they communicate or search for what you provide is vital to success.

No matter who you’re marketing to, how you sell or what you sell, it still comes down to the first principle of marketing: reach the right audiences with the right message in the right place.

How do you get that message focused once you know who your people are and what they expect? Messaging expresses those vital ideas that set you apart. Learn more in our messaging guide.


It’s simple. But it’s not easy.

Looking for further help or insight? These blog posts share more thinking on this vital topic. You can also download our audience worksheet below. For an objective review of who you are and who your audiences are, contact me.


About the author

Jennifer Larsen Morrow

Jennifer's four decades of work in the industry, starting as a designer and adding marketing, copywriting and digital marketing, has generated response for clients since 1978.

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  1. Great article! A new perspective Marketing. Keep up the good work.
    Thanks for sharing.


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