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The Best Marketing Doesn't Feel Like Marketing

Updated: Jun 11, 2020

No truer words have been spoken – in marketing at least. This quote by Tom Fishburne, the founder of Marketoonist, brilliantly relays what seems to be a marketer’s catch-22. Modern consumers know that marketing is everywhere. Skilled marketers create marketing that serves a need for customers, marketing that adds value. Why? Because today’s consumer doesn’t want to be sold to.

The old used car salesman hard sell is completely ineffective for today’s consumer. The same sales pitch, pushing people to buy, does not work. Access to information is everywhere, and with consumers having infinite choices, top marketing agencies know that the most effective marketing strategy builds a personal relationship. It is critical to know your consumer, where to find them and to connect with them personally; all which in turn builds their investment in your brand. But how? With strategic content, consumer insight, and personal connection.


When many people think of “content” they think text. Nope. It’s so much more than that. Content consists of visuals, graphics, charts, podcasts, gifs, quizzes, contests, apps, video, along with blogs, articles and captions. Get to know your customers with content. Ask them questions, encourage their comments, inspire a debate. Be relevant to current events, trends and states of mind. Share a relevant instructional video, a recipe, an e-book or live webinar, or even a blog like this – for free. Providing information is not only valuable, but it gets away from the consumer feeling sold to.

Oprah – yes, that Oprah - is a well-known master at the giveaway. Her marketing brilliance shines through again on her latest 2020 Vision Tour. These massive live events are all about guests gaining personal insight with extraordinary guest speakers shedding light on fun, intuition, and interactive steps on how to get to living a life in focus. During the event, Oprah speaks about the body, health and weight loss. Oprah, who is a major shareholder of WW (formerly Weight Watchers), has Mindy Grossman, CEO of WW, as an inspirational guest speaker. Ms. Grossman not only shares her career journey as a major female executive, but also speaks about helping others in their health goals – hello WW. And the lunch that is provided to all guests – choices of perfectly proportioned meals, perfectly suited to fit within point balances for WW. No hard sell on joining, but brilliant content via an informative live speaker and lunch!

Consumer Insight

People like knowing that others think of them as actual human beings. So, when a company treats them like real people instead of numbers, it goes a long way. Marketing should be more about your customer than about your own company, and customers appreciate messaging that involves them. Get to know your customers – their likes, wants, needs, goals and how you can help them get there. Also, knowing your customers dislikes, turn-offs, setbacks and fears helps you show how you can protect them from it. Let your messaging be a conversation.

One of our marketing partners recently lost their beloved dog of fifteen years. A week later, a beautiful condolence card was mailed to them from their vet’s office. But this wasn’t just a standard branded, condolence note. Rather, it was an unbranded, beautiful card, signed with a personal message by every staff member at the vet’s office. The only place showing the vet’s company name was on the mailing envelope in the return address. This personal touch showed such time and care by everyone at the company, so undoubtedly, they have loyal customers for life.

Another partner recently complained to Chick-fil-A over a missed item in a drive through order. The local franchisee mailed a hand-written apology card containing a few coupons for free food. They could have just mailed a coupon, or sent a form letter apology, but instead they took the time to hand write out a note on a card, which turned an unhappy customer into a raving fan.

The moral of the story, this “invisible” marketing doesn’t have to cost a lot. It just means adding value at an important touch point in your customer’s journey with the company.

Personal Connection

Along with gaining insight into consumers, establishing a personal connection is an important component in invisible marketing. In addition to empathy, real-life experiences, empowerment, compassion and humor all go a long way in establishing a personal connection. Take for instance Dove’s Campaign for Real Beauty. Dove decided to empower women by featuring real women in their advertising versus the typical, perfectly sized model. Far from just selling soap, their message was about making a positive social change in the way beauty is perceived. By having a message that resonated with so many women, their social media marketing campaigns went viral globally very quickly. And as far as selling soap? Sales went from $2.5 billion to over $4 billion over the campaign.

Wrap Up

Now, how do you go about making it so your marketing seem like it is not marketing? With a top marketing agency of course! At Thompson Marketing Partners, we specialize in marketing with consumer insight, strategic content and personal connection – all the components needed for effective marketing that doesn’t feel like marketing! Contact us so we can help!

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