By Emily Soccorsy + Justin Foster

In our world, the most egregious violators of the Golden Rule are marketers.

By in large, they do not market unto others as they would like to be marketed unto.

Sadly, the marketing industry supports this disconnection between humanity and marketing.

Way too many marketers go for tactics that use the ball peen hammers of coercion, scarcity, and intrusive, repetitive exposure to market their businesses. These tactics are typically based on rapidly evoking fear, lust and envy as motivation for a sale.

Even sadder still, far too often business folks see no problem with these tactics. Unless, of course, they are the target of said tactics themselves.

As Hugh MacLeod illustrates, “If you talked to people the way advertising talks to people, they’d punch you in the face.”

Here are a few additional, less obvious Golden-Rule-breaking behaviors:

  • Interruption – the entire advertising model is based off interruption
  • Manipulation – playing on the primal fear of missing out
  • Over-explaining – inciting insecurity about your value
  • Clinical – sterile, soul-less language, visuals and experience
  • Pushy – a cult-like obsession to recruit people

Marketers who embrace the Golden Rule typically follow a few best practices. In addition to doing the exact opposite of the above list, they utilize timeless principles such as focusing on relationships, creating compelling experiences, telling true stories and making art with their brands.

Following the Golden Rule means replacing persuasion with invitation, replacing FUD (fear, uncertainty, doubt) with love, replacing selling features with creating an experience, ceasing managing perception with simply telling the truth.

Brands that excel in following the Golden Rule in marketing include Nike, Southwest, Apple, Subaru, Volvo and Intercontinental Hotels. These brands view marketing as an extension of their mission, culture and story — not as an external construct. They are not afraid to express what they feel, see and believe in with their brand.

They have a deep understanding of who they are as a brand and how they want to show up in the world. And because they are connected to their own humanity, they are able to speak to the hearts of their respective audiences.

This why we emphasize going inward in our Root Sessions. In order to live the Golden Rule, you must be rooted in who you are. You have to be bold enough to take an inward journey to elucidate the foundational elements of you — your beliefs, your standards, your mission.

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