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Mythical creatures and marketing – an unlikely combination

By Jess Baldock

Jess Baldock

Shapeshifters are the stuff of lore and legend – using their powers to assume the identity of another. Often seen
as a power for evil, this skill can be used to imagine great things.

The ability to transform (in mind if not body) enables us to put ourselves in other people’s shoes; to feel their pain and understand their challenges. To encourage people to immerse themselves in your world, you must first become immersed in theirs.

As children in creative writing classes, we’re taught to explain things as if you’re talking to an alien, someone who has never visited planet Earth before and has no idea what you’re talking about. Our job is to become that alien, to discover and learn about the world anew each time we wake up.

You’ve been given all of the tools you could possibly need to become a shapeshifter; the research methods, the building of personas, the vision to execute the big ideas, but it’s only by being immersed in your audience and understanding what is important to them (not what you think is important to them) that you can genuinely connect with them.

Human beings are creatures of habit: we don’t like change, and we hate to be told we’re wrong. Your target audience is made up of human beings – it sounds silly, but too often we encounter people who have forgotten this crucial point. So, how do you connect with a human being? How do you convince these creatures, so set in their ways, to shift their paths in your direction? It’s all about shapeshifting.

A readiness to listen is essential. We have two ears and one mouth so, in theory, we should do twice as much listening as we do talking. It’s only by doing this and applying our imagination as another layer on top that we can begin to solve issues that our audiences haven’t even realised are issues.

Communication happens on the listener’s terms. This is as true in everyday life as it is in marketing. You might not want to admit it, but unless people want to listen (or, more importantly, you give them a reason to), they won’t.

The process of immersing yourself in the world of your audience gives you an insight into precisely what they want to hear and how they want to hear it – we call it active consideration.

So how do you do it? Put simply, practise, but it’s not easy – and we know that. But by practising these three steps, you’ll be well on your way to becoming the mythical creature you need to be.

1. Insight

You need to know about the person you want to become. This isn’t just a case of a quick Google search. Get out there, get in among the people who you are trying to embody and pretty soon you’ll pick up on what you need to do.

2. Confirmation bias

Forget all about it. Marketers are always thinking about the confirmation bias; how their experiences impact the way they view the world. To understand your audience fully, you need to leave your confirmation bias at the door. If you don’t, you will only ever see things from your own perspective.

3. Immersion

When children are very young, they learn by mimicking. It’s a skill we lose – thanks to overthinking – but it’s one that we need to re-learn to ensure we can put our minds in the thoughts of others. Audiences evolve, so it’s not good enough to immerse yourself once and then walk away; we need to ensure that we keep pace with their world if we want to remain relevant.

In his book, Man and Superman, George Bernard Shaw wrote: ‘The only man I know who behaves sensibly is my tailor; he takes my measurements anew each time he sees me. The rest go on with their old measurements and expect me to fit them.’ People change daily; their views on the world, the issues they face and their opinions on brands and products.

Jess Baldock is a Phygitalist at Page & Page

In association with

Page & Page

4th December 2019


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