I recently attended my 40th high school class reunion back
in Columbus, IN. Yes, I graduated in 1969.
Columbus is a small town about 40 miles south of Indianapolis with a population of around 40,000. It's the home of Cummins, Inc., #206 on the Fortune 500, and NASCAR bad boy, Tony Stewart. And while it has spread out a bit, there really hasn't been a lot of change in the atmosphere and attitude of the Columbus I grew up with.
Amazingly, about 200 people showed up for the reunion. I won the award for traveling the farthest, dragging my gray hair all the way from Seattle. But I wasn't the only one who went through TSA security checks to be there. We had people come in from all over the US.
Why do people go to a 40th class reunion? Certainly, everybody has personal reasons. I wanted to play Otter Creek, a Robert Trent Jones championship golf course where I learned how to play and competed in many junior tournaments. But just as big as that was the desire to see the old gang, which, obviously, ranked high for everyone.
I caught up with Harold and Debbie, Steve and Judy, Randy and Nancy, John and Debbie, Johnny, Brian, Pam, Roger, Jean Harry, Lazaro, Amy, Jo, and many others. Everybody had a different story, took a different path, had highs and lows, and varying degrees of success. Some are captains of their industry. Some are still hourly workers. Many have grandkids. But we all had fun connecting.
And that's what marketing is all about. Connecting. Connecting with the exact right target market. Connecting in a way they want to be connected with. Connecting at the right time.
But most important of all is connecting with PEOPLE. People don't do business with companies. They do business with people. And those people you are connecting with are just like the people at my reunion. They go to movies, watch their kids play soccer, mow the grass, and eat at McDonalds.
The next time you plan a marketing campaign, remember that. Remember first and foremost, those "targets" you're aiming at are people just like you. Connect with them as the people they are.
Excellent post Steve. The last two paragraphs are why I am doing what I do. I enjoy conversing with people all over the world and treating them how I would like to be treated.
I’ve met some of the coolest people on the planet in many levels of corporate America and not-so corporate America. I think I can safely say I have learned from all of them and can call many my friend.
Some years ago Nokia had that idea and made it real for there number one business, the slogan is: ” Nokia connecting people” ; )
I was still in that other war (Vietnam). Mustered out in late February and went to work and collage, but not before traveling to Canada to meet a Nurse Pen Pal from Australia.
One other thing about reunions – I also graduated in 1969 but I will miss my 40th this weekend. What I think I will miss the most is sharing good memories about my two best buddies who are gone. You’re right, everyone we deal with is not a number or a demographic but a person with many of the same experiences and feelings we all have. It is important to remember that everyday.