Being normal is not a point of differentiation

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I recently received an email from a brand manager excitedly telling me about a new promotion his company was running.

The company was sponsoring a woman’s sports team and announced in bold headlines that they were going to begin supporting this team at the same level they’ve supported the men’s team for years.

I told my friend that I didn’t get it. What the message here is: “Hey everyone! We’ve stopped being unfair!”

Being normal … is normal

It drives me crazy when companies spend money on ads to promote some diversity achievement or environmental milestone.

“Hey! Guess what? We’ve stopped polluting the earth!”

Being fair, being diverse, being environmentally responsible is normal. Welcome to the club. Your company is normal. Congratulations.

Get into the streets

I’ve worked for and with big companies all my life. I truly understand the pride that comes with being normal. You can finally stop hiding and covering things up.

But the rest of the world doesn’t really care and they probably don’t believe you any way. Deep down we know you’re promoting this because you have to, because it nudges your stock price in the right direction or helps you avoid a lawsuit. Maybe you’re taking the action as a result of a lawsuit!

What we really want is to see you.

Come into our city. Show up in our meetings, in our neighborhoods, in our celebrations. Make a difference in a way that is tangible and believable.

Today, you can’t just promote your progress. Show us. Don’t be in our community. Be of our community.

Mark Schaefer is the chief blogger for {grow}, executive director of Schaefer Marketing Solutions, and the author of several best-selling digital marketing books. He is an acclaimed keynote speaker, college educator, and business consultant. The Marketing Companion podcast is among the top business podcasts in the world. Contact Mark to have him speak to your company event or conference soon.

Originally published at on May 9, 2019.

Written by

Chieftain of the blog {grow}, strategy consultant, educator, podcaster, author of Return On Influence, The Content Code, and The Tao of Twitter.

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