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Marketing: A Love Story, Bernadette Jiwa

Charles Cherney

Passionate about teaching after graduating from Harvard, I ultimately found myself drawn into the world of real estate in Cambridge and Somerville...

Passionate about teaching after graduating from Harvard, I ultimately found myself drawn into the world of real estate in Cambridge and Somerville...

Dec 7 6 minutes read

Marketing: A Love Story (2014) is by Bernadette Jiwa. I learned of Jiwa's book from Seth Godin. Marketing: A Love Story  is the best marketing book I have ever read.

Jiwa's premise is that "if we can find ways to authentically show our customers that they matter to us, then we have a better chance of mattering to them." According to Jiwa, "Marketing is the way we communicate how our ideas translate to value for people in a marketplace." Meaningful marketing is not about promoting or coercing. Rather, it is about reaching out to help people solve problems.

"We have a choice. To either do work we care about or not. To put ourselves into our work. To love what we do and care about the people we do it for."

A great brand is something we want to belong to. Your customers deserve your very best. Don't just do your job - do it well and make a positive difference.


What is your mission statement? The mission statement of the Charles Cherney Team is "To help you buy the right home and sell for the best price." Jiwa says if you are in doubt about your mission statement or how to create value, "simply work out how to make your customers feel good. Then do that." How you make your customers feel matters. And Jiwa believes "It's far more important to reach out to the people who care than to take aim at everyone."

Jiwa's point of view is that the best marketing happens in the moment and when we are empathetic - "when we see the world through the eyes of the person we're trying to matter to." That means thinking about our customers rather than ourselves. And it also means putting your energy into building trust. One of the best ways to do that is with great content marketing. "Don't see your content as a big old sales funnel," says Jiwa. "Treat it more like a flame, a campfire that people want to come back to. Intention is everything." As for your website, Jiwa says it needs to make people feel like they belong. "When they do, they want to return and to become members, customers and advocates."

"Don't make people click.
Find ways to make people care."

A modern-day marketer is focused on how much difference they can create rather than on how much they can sell. As for your competition, don't focus on them. Rather, focus on the people you want to serve. And the only way to matter to the people you want to serve is to give them something they want. And to do so in the moment. Do the right thing today and build on that by doing it over and over again.

Attention is hard to come by. Harder still to come by "is a feeling of connection and belonging." Work on developing that with your customers. Smart brands don't focus on making a sale but rather on "building for belonging." What's important, Jiwa believes, is "to create deeper connections with the right people to make your business sustainable." Your customers want to feel like they matter. So pay attention to them and make sure you let them know they matter. It's not enough to open the door. "Smart marketers understand that it's how the door is opened - and what happens after the door is opened - that matters."


Success is about more than delivering a good product or service. You have to understand your customers and care about your customers. "When you innovate and build your business from a place of empathy and a desire to create difference for your customers, those values bubble up into everything you do." The brands that we care about "make us feel like better versions of ourselves. They take into account what we believe, how we act and who we might want to become." Aim to be such a brand. "Don't sell the guitar. Sell the music."

Jiwa writes, "You might not have control over the increasing cost of reaching people or their decreasing attention spans, but you do have control over what happens before, after and in the moment that you meet your customers where they are. The future success of your business is less likely to be shaped by all the attention money can buy and much more likely to be shaped by your intention - which is free to choose."


The story - the stories - you tell matter. Marketing is "the story of how you create difference for your customers." And marketing done right, Jiwa contends, is a love story. As such, "instead of trying to describe what it is you're selling, set out to change how people feel the moment they read your copy or visit your website."

Here are 10 takeaways from Bernadette Jiwa:

"1. There is no excuse for being lazy about telling your story. You may not get another chance.

2. A lot of people think marketing is advertising.

3. Marketing is a transfer of emotion. We buy with our hearts and justify our decisions with our heads.

4. People make judgments based on their worldview.

5. Don't try to convince people that they are wrong because you want to be right.

6. Listen twice as much as you talk.

7. Be yourself.

8. Generosity scales.

9. Always carry cards.

10. You don't have to matter to everyone."

Remember this - whatever you are selling, what you're really selling is a story. Your customers want to feel the love. Specifically, love for themselves. "They want to know how you're going to enable them to do what they want to do." As Jiwa notes, the best salespeople and marketers and brands don't sell us things we want or need. Rather, "they simply sell us the story that we already want to live and believe." Marketing is "about giving people frames of reference and context. And above all, marketing is about becoming part of people's stories."

There is no shortcut to mattering to your customers. Build little by little for the long term. Form a relationship. Aim for trust and loyalty. Pay attention and connect. Stop trying to be seen and learn how to see instead.

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