In The United States, we the people have the freedom to express ourselves. We have the ability to make our own choices. We can choose what to believe and then what to say and do, if anything, in support of those beliefs. We can choose what to buy or not buy based on whatever criteria we deem to be relevant. Freedom of choice is the fundamental driver of marketing. I believe the entire field owes it’s very existence to the choices that come from living in a free and democratic society.
Consumers today are empowered. Not only do they have the freedom to choose, thanks to technology, they have infinite choices. People have more information than ever, more options than ever, and thus a broader group of reasons to make choices about what to buy and whom to buy it from. People have choices.
Choices in a free society can be driven by any number of factors – price, product, politics, personal affinity, proximity, perception or just coolness. As my hero Seth Godin so wisely stated years ago “Everything a company does is marketing.” Marketing is not just a logo or ad campaign, or packaging, product, promotion, placement, or price. It’s everything – and in the digital age there is a lot more everything to deal with. Today, there is far less separation between personal and professional. There are no private conversations, secret donations, or silent actions. Every choice is known and thus every choice is marketing. Every choice matters or at least has the potential to matter to individuals, groups, and society as a whole because consumers have information, connections, and freedom.
Freedom of choice applies to everyone, regardless of worldview. It’s ok to make choices. It’s ok if not everyone agrees with your choices. In fact, trying to please everyone is one of the biggest marketing mistakes a business can make. Still, from a marketing perspective you have to remember that your choices have consequences – positive and negative. The choices you make may well give some a reason to support you and others a reason to hate you. Left, right, or center, your business has every right to make choices, but If you expect people not to respond to your actions with their own choices you are ether irrelevant or ignorant. Realize up front that people now have the ability to understand far more about you and the activities of your organization.
Great marketing involves making smart choices. Choices about what to do and what not to do. Understand the purpose of your business and choose wisely.