The practical philosophy of promoting the right products,
the right way, to combine profit and impact with a higher purpose.
We marketers are a despised bunch.
It's with fair reason.
Junk mail, cold calling, spammy cold email, annoying jingles, and poorly-thought-out adverts interrupt, annoy and distract us - their selfish aim being to push us onto crap we don't want or need.
It's a pain in the backside. What's more, it's usually a waste of good money by nonsensical "creatives" who'd rather be making movies than creating something of value to their clients and the world.
But not all marketing mail is junk mail.
Not all cold email is spammy.
Not all marketing is poorly thought out.
Good marketing - the kind where you know your customer and offer something of value and interest to them - is necessary and welcome.
Good marketing is about what you sell, how you sell it, and to whom you sell it.
For me, the solution is clear.
We must learn the lessons from Florence, Italy, 1469.
We need humane marketing.
Read on as I explain more about what it is and how it's a great deal more than just a fancy new buzzword.
Let me tell you the story of Lorenzo de Medici, Marsilio Ficino, and Michelangelo.
The Banker, The Philosopher, and The Artist.
It explains in large part the Medici family's genius marketing strategy for a better Florence.
It's responsible for a great deal of the well-directed wealth and power that created perhaps the most beautiful and admired period in human history.
Say what you like about the Medici family as a whole but, for a moment, in Lorenzo de Medici's time, Florence prospered in every way imaginable. And it wasn't be chance. It was by design.
On Decemeber 2nd, 1469, Piero de Medici - Patriarch and leader of the powerful Medici bank - died and his son, 20 year old Lorenzo, took his place.
The bank had, since 1367, become the most respected financial institution in Europe, lending enormous sums to Rulers, Rebels, Popes, and Princes.
The Medici patriarchs had proven themselves as ambitious about making money as Lorenzo would prove himself about using it wisely.
A writer, poet, talented diplomat, strong leader, and fearsome enemy, Lorenzo set about using his wealth (and power as de-facto ruler of Florence) to promote beauty, truth, and wisdom.
He did so under the guidance of his philosopher and friend, Marsilio Ficino.
Ficino would lead discussion at dinner each day about responsible leadership.
A young guest at these daily dinners for five years, from the age of fifteen, was Michelangelo.
They taught Michelangelo that the purpose of art was to teach philosophical truths to the people.
It's why art in the renaissance became sexualised with real-looking naked women for the first time in human history. The goal was to attract attention to the art so people would learn about its lessons of kindness, compassion, and integrity.
It was Ficino the philospher's idea. You'll come to understand the idea better shortly.
It wasn't a freak flash of fortune.
It wasn't the result of an unusual number of talented people being born at the same time.
It's likely there are latent Da Vincis, Michelangelos, Brunelleschis, Donatellos, Rafaels, Boticellis, and Galileos that can shape our world through art, science, literature, medicine, technology, and philosophy at any time.
The difference is that the Florentines knew what to do with it. They rewarded it and encouraged it so it came to the fore.
Parents wanted their children to prosper as artists and scientists and creatives because it was respected. It was prestigious. Similar to how in our prestige is bestowed on lawyers, doctors, and accountants.
Let us not forget the lessons of history.
Let's dare to believe that we, you and me, here, now, today, with greater resources in the world, and greater technology, and greater knowledge in our minds, standing on the shoulders of the best who went before us, that we can set about building something better, that we can make things better, and prosper doing so.
What could be more worthy than that?
One idea in particular we can learn from is that which I mentioned before from Marsilio Ficino.
Because of that man's philosophical influence, we can look at the Renaissance as a golden age of advertising with purpose.
That purpose, as stated in the introduction, was to improve society through beauty, truth, and wisdom.
Ficino noted, in an age where rationality was coming to the fore, that humans are in fact emotional creatures.
We are beings that love, in one way or another.
But we rarely, if ever, begin with love.
Usually love is attracted first by beauty.
Beauty, in the first instant, is often encountered as sexiness.
What we wish people to love, then, we'd best make beautiful, or sexy, even.
He convinced Lorenzo de Medici to use what you might consider superficial means to serve the highest goals of humanity.
It worked, and it made the world a little better.
It still works today, only we use more effectively in selling nice but unnecessary consumer goods, more than we do psychology, philosophy, art or science.
I'm not against selling consumer goods. We all must earn a living. I just prefer working with higher aspirations.
Why don't we put the same effort and devilish ingenuity into selling higher minded products and services?
Good marketers who've studied Eugene Schwartz know you can't create demand, you must channel existing desire into your product or service.
The desire to feel attractive, loved, worthy, important, better.
Let's get better at channelling desires towards higher minded ambitions and create something worthy of ourselves, a legacy to rival the renaissance.
It's asking too much of people to know what they need when they're so easily distracted by what they want. That's why we must sell them what they want and give them what they need.
To some that may sound tyrannical and god-like. Who are we to decide what others need?
Well, take the work of Noble Prize Winner Richard Thaler as an example. We know fruit and veg is better for children than sweets and chocolate. So let's nudge them towards that.
We're not saying don't sell sweets. We're saying lets encourage healthy eating more.
It's Libertarian Paternalism: "the idea that it is both possible and legitimate for private and public institutions to affect behaviour while also respecting freedom of choice, as well as the implementation of that idea."
We wouldn't remember the renaissance for its wealth alone.
We remember and admire the geniuses of the age for their accomplishments, their vision, and the world that led to.
I'm no scholar. That's to say, I don't study history for interest alone.
Like Lorenzo de Medici, I take a practical view of life.
I'm interested in how we can use the best ideas from the past to create a better present and a better future.
As a marketer, the best way for me to do that is to help leaders build better businesses for themselves and their community. Businesses that give you money and meaning, wealth and purpose.
It's better to have than to have not, but as many successful people will attest, money alone is not enough.
That's why our aim is to help businesses whose existence serves a greater purpose than just money. Businesses who serve the world and make it better.
We'll do so with rationality, order, and harmony - just like they did in the renaissance when they gave beauty a greater purpose in art and architecture.
Good marketing, like good town planning, rarely happens by chance.
There are rules.
There are principles.
We know what works. And we know what to avoid.
In Renaissance Florence, they wanted to encourage integration of the classes by avoiding what they called "Publice Egestas, Privatim Opulentia." Public squalor, private opulence.
To do so they made the architecture of town squares beautiful.
The squares were small enough so a mother could call to her daughter from one side to another with an elaborate fountain in the middle with five-storey, modestly decorated buildings around the edge that cover arcades that let the public enjoy the square in all weathers.
You'll now find squares like this all over Europe because they work.
Research into effective marketing shows what works, and what doesn't, too.
Things like this from David Ogilvy and his research with the Gallup Institute:
1. Your most important job is positioning: what benefit are you going to promise?
2. Unless you campaign is built around a big idea, it will flop.
3. If you create a winning campaign, repeat it until it stops winning.
4. Never write an ad you wouldn't want your family to read.
5. Every headline should appeal to the reader's self-interest and offer the main benefit.
6. The two most powerful words you can use in a headline are FREE and NEW.
7. Headlines work best when they arouse curiosity: use relevant surprise.
I have complied, and continue to compile, list of marketing principles in copywriting, headline writing, layout and art direction, the use of images in advertising, and more.
They are research backed and proven.
If you'd like, enter your email below and I'll send them to you when they're ready.
They'll help you improve your marketing and give you the confidence to know what you're doing is based on solid, proven ideas.
We believe in the possibility of stimulating a renaissance in our world by improving what we sell and how we sell it.
We believe in making the good things of the world more attractive and desirable.
We believe in ambitious people with aspirations that go beyond money to include meaning and purpose.
That's why my business partner Jacob and I are starting a new marketing agency based on our concept of humane marketing.
Some will call us idealists. Some will call us dreamers. That's fine. But no reasonable person can call us impractical or lacking the desire to build something worth building. Something that will move the needle to help the world be a little bit better for our work.
We have no intentions of bringing knives to a gun fight.
We're just bringing bigger guns to the side we want to fight for.
If you're building a business you believe in, that will make you wealthy and have a positive impact on those you serve, let's get to know each other. You can book a free 30 minute call at the bottom of the page.
Alternatively, you can write to me at firstname.lastname@example.org with your questions.
We're happy to talk to anyone who'd like to learn more about our humane marketing philosophy.
However, we're only considering clients who...