It started with an evil laugh outside my back door. I was working in my living room, as usual, on my couch — even though I have a home office I could use.
It must have been fate for me to be sitting here — because, I looked outside and saw, to my horror, the Joker. With his pasty-white face, painted-on grin and wild green hair, I knew he was up to no good. I’ve seen The Dark Knight, after all.
Luckily, I have a way with words — and with people — and was able to engage the Joker in conversation outside on my back patio without enduring bodily harm. (There was no way I’d invite him inside. He’d scare my two dogs.)
I love to talk to people about marketing and how marketing needs to show empathy, care and consideration. I wasn’t sure if the Joker, who is known for his total lack of empathy, would relate to what I wanted to say. But, being the eternal optimist, I looked into his eyes and began my story.
I told the Joker that, like him, some people think marketing — and marketers — are evil beings who try to take advantage of people. In the case of a marketer, it could be selling people things they don’t want to be sold.
Fearing some sort of reprisal, I slowly told him, “But … I’m not like you.” This really got his attention, and he leaned in closer to me.
“I believe marketing, Mr. Joker, is inherently good, unlike you. Marketing can help companies get the word out about their products and services. Marketing can assure customers that they made the right decision in buying something from you. And marketing can inform prospective customers about why they should be working with you.”
Feeling bold, I continued. “Unlike you, sir, who will do most anything to cause havoc and mayhem, marketing is — or at least should be — grounded in truth and all things good. If marketing lies, customers often learn the truth. If marketing confuses or is careless, potential customers will turn away. And current customers may leave, too.”
We sat silently for a few moments, willing the other person to say the next word. But since he said nothing, I kept going.
“You, sir, can bring destruction and harm to people in a variety of ways. Marketing reaches people in many ways, too. Marketing is your company’s brand, your key messages about your business’ strengths and differentiators, your website and social media accounts and the promotional material your company sends out. Marketing is even taking place when you answer your business phone or return a business email. Have you ever considered all this?”
He sat silent for a moment. Then I noticed the Joker was starting to shift uncomfortably in his seat. I got scared and asked, “Is everything ok? Did you have a plan for coming here?”
He stared at me for a moment, laughed his maniacal laugh and said, “Do I really look like a guy with a plan? You know what I am? I’m a dog chasing cars. I wouldn’t know what to do with one if I caught it! You know, I just … do things.”
Summoning up my courage, I asked, “Well what do you want to do, Joker?”
“Well, I came here to kill you,” he said. “But now I want to hire you to help with a couple of marketing projects that have been keeping wrecking my dreams and keeping me up at night.”
“Great,” I said. “Where should we begin?”