It’s the weekend prior to Martin Luther King Jr. Day, an important day for the country, and I’m struggling to find the words to express my emotions as I reflect on the world-shattering ideas and actions of this extraordinary man who catalyzed the civil rights movement. It is through this reflection that I elect to not only honor his memory but his deeply valued legacy that continues to fight resistance to change, nearly fifty years after his death.
While there are countless lessons we can learn from Dr. King’s courageous contribution and commitment to racial equality, there are five lessons that marketers can take away from Dr. King’s life and message:
- Have a dream (or vision)
Dr. King had a dream. One so clear and powerful that he devoted his life to achieving that dream. Without a dream, the chances of your experience coming to fruition are slim. Investing the time and effort into creating an unobstructed vision will steer you in the right direction by showing you where you are headed, providing motivation and inspiration to keep you going, moving you forward through the toughest obstacles, providing focus, and giving meaning and purpose to what you do.
- Be relevant
At a time of civil injustice and strife, Dr. King’s words were on point with the political climate and experiences of the 1960s. To be successful, your experience needs to be relevant to what is happening around you.
- Bring value and meaning
Your audience is counting on you to bring a meaningful and valuable experience. Start by listening and showing empathy to understand what is important. As stated by Dr. King himself, “Life’s most persistent and urgent question is, ‘what are you doing for others?’” As you develop your ideas, continually ask yourself this question. Remember, if the consumer does not see value, they will not engage, which will catalyze into a missed opportunity to share your message.
- Rally together
Dr. King taught us that change requires rallying together to achieve a greater goal. In marketing, the same principle applies. Bringing a meaningful experience to your customer requires more than one idea or one partner. You must rally together with your creative team, sponsors, partners and vendors to generate the strongest campaign.
- Motivate and inspire your audience
As one of the nation’s most motivating and inspiring leaders, it’s no surprise that Dr. King had a talent for painting a picture of a better future, all while connecting with people and using the power of persuasion to his advantage. Marketers can apply a similar approach by painting a picture of a place your customer wants to be part of. When delivering your message to your target audience, make sure the message is passionate, personal and that it rings true, while motivating and inspiring your audience through inclusion. Offer a way for them to participate and if they are passionate enough about your message, they will help move your message forward.
In conclusion, Dr. King was a true visionary with a dream larger than the times in which he lived. He was a passionate leader and inspirational figure who didn’t follow the status quo, but stayed committed to his vision even when it was unpopular and lacking support. When faced with adversity he peacefully and firmly stood his ground, but never gave up despite the risks, always giving 100%. He simply refused to give into fear because he understood that dedication, courage of conviction, tenacity, long-term determination and relentless persistence would see him through.
No matter if you are a content marketer, consultant, brand ambassador, leader or entrepreneur, applying some or all of Dr. King’s tenets will help you be the best you can be, while overcoming the challenges you face and carving out your own unique path to promoting your brand.
“If I cannot do great things, I can do small things in a great way.” – Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.
- Have a dream (or vision)