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Marketing in the ‘New Normal’: Inspiration from fairy tales & fables

By Karthik Nagendra (1200 words)
Posted in Marketing & Innovation on January 17, 2014

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It’s no longer round the corner. It’s here.  


We are wading through it… neck deep… feeling for pointers, directions and clues to help us move in the right direction.


Marketing in the ‘new normal’ has surely got us all worked up. And there are no signs of the challenges letting up.


What do we do?


Regress, I suggest, into childhood. Into the land of fairytales and fables.


No, seriously! Marketing analogies can be found anywhere. If only you are willing to change your perspective. 


5 Marketing Analogies That Can Improve Your Business


Marketing Analogy #1: Cinderella

For instance, if Cinderella were born today, in the ‘new normal’, would her story have remained the same? 


I highly doubt that. 


Why would any girl go out with a guy who doesn’t even remember her face?


In all probability, she would accept the lost shoe, thank the prince, and go her own way.


In the context of Marketing, Cinderella is the customer and the Prince, the Marketer: any organization keen on selling their product/service to the customer. If the Marketer doesn’t remember the customer’s details after the first transaction, hoping for a long lasting commitment would certainly be a tall order!


Moral of the story: Remember your customers. Remember their needs and requirements. Because your business is not about you, it is about your customer.

You see, all knowledge is ancient. Only perspectives are new. That’s why ancient fairy tales and fables never go out of fashion.



Marketing Analogy #2: The Crow and the Pitcher

Here’s another example. The tale about the thirsty crow still explains the virtue of sincerity and effort. However, the fable needs a 21st century ‘update’: a straw!


If the crow could find a straw, it would have saved a lot of effort and time dropping pebbles into the pot to raise the level of water. As a marketer, you must look for ways to work smarter, not just harder. Think out of the box. Leverage technology. Look beyond the obvious. Your ‘Everest’ might just turn out to be a molehill.  


Moral of the story: Where there is a will there is a way. And where there are tools, the way is much shorter.

Sometimes, no twist in the tale is required.



Marketing Analogy #3: The Hare and the Tortoise

Remember the hare and the tortoise? No points for being hasty, short sighted and fickle. Especially in the current economic climate, you need to understand your potential, and then take a determinedly steady approach towards building your reputation with a single minded goal of winning. You need to woo your customer and that takes time. Engage, build your reputation, earn your customers’ trust. This isn’t fast food, but slow cooking… over charcoal. The results are worth the wait!


Note that the tortoise saw the hare leaping ahead and could have become discouraged. But it decided to focus on its own efforts rather than comparing itself with the hare and persisted. Who knows what the future holds? Just do what is required of you at the moment. 


Moral of the story: Slow and steady still wins the race. 



Marketing Analogy #4: The Boy Who Cried ‘Wolf!’

I especially like the tale about the boy who cried ‘wolf!’ In Marketing parlance, if you make a huge hue and cry about every little product/service improvement, you will soon lose your audience’s attention. Create mystery. Balance the time spent briefing the press or populating the social media platforms with time spent cooking up something absolutely fantastic which would sweep your audience off their feet when finally announced. Space your announcements strategically apart for best response.


Like the villagers who ignored the boy’s cries for help, you don’t want your audience to think, “It’s just another update.” Do you?


Moral of the story: Don’t make a huge deal of every little improvement.



Marketing Analogy #5: The Man, the Boy, & the Donkey

However, I’ve saved the best for last. Do you remember the story about the man, the boy and their donkey? They tried to please everyone and ended up losing their donkey. If you try to please the entire world, you will never succeed.


Remember that as a Marketer (even an extremely smart one) you can’t reach everyone, can’t serve everyone. Choose your audience and focus only on making them happy. For a startup especially, it’s better to have a few happy customers rather than many unhappy customers.


Moral of the story: Don’t try to please everyone.



So, what’s your story?

Look closely. Your traditional methods of marketing are beyond their expiry date. Marketing in the ‘new normal’ requires new techniques such as thought leadership marketing. Like the tortoise, you need to aim at the big picture. You need to treat your Cinderella aka your customer right, by focusing on her needs, not yours, and thereby build trust. Unlike the boy who cried ‘wolf’, you must leverage content marketing appropriately to engage your customers. Be thirsty for success, but also be smart. Leverage technology and other tools to find more efficient solutions. And of course, don’t spread yourself thin amongst your audience by trying to cater to everyone. You can’t. 


Do you know any fairy tales or fables from which we can draw parallels in marketing? Do comment below. I always love to hear a good story!



{#/pub/images/KarthikNagendra.jpg}Written by Karthik Nagendra, Founder & Director of ThoughtLeaders. With more than a decade of core marketing experience with prime focus on brand positioning, communication strategy, executive communication & thought leadership marketing, Karthik & his team help businesses transform from sellers to influencers by helping them unearth their 'big idea' and thus brand them as experts in their field. He has authored papers & articles on thought leadership marketing in international journals & has been a guest speaker at the Wharton Business School, UCLA, Duke University among other Ivy league Universities globally.



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