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Flying Seraph

Stop Focusing On What Separates Us

I worked for an Advertising Agency CEO a number of years ago. A real wanker.

I’d have been about 35. He was in his 50s. He drove a Ferrari. I drove a Ford. He had been on the Worldwide Board of a multinational Agency group. I was Head of Planning in a Sydney Agency.

He was on his second marriage. With a second family. I still am in my first marriage (no intention of changing that, either).


You couldn’t find 2 more different people if you tried.

One day I remarked that he and I were in ‘the same market segment’. The horror was writ large across his face.

You see we both had young children. In a life-stage segmentation, we’d have been grouped together. On most criteria – we had nothing in common. In certain areas we were near-identical. We both purchased childcare, children’s clothes, schooling, baby food etc.

My memory of this was triggered by a gorgeous short (1 min.) video posted by Bruce Kasanoff.

Bruce claims to be a millennial.

Have a look:

If Bruce is a millennial, I’m Mother Theresa.

That said in jest, you’ll see that Bruce shares a lot in common with so-called millennials.

He makes a great point. You see, we’re doing an awful amount of ‘slicing and dicing’ these days.

Often because we can.

Not necessarily because it’s meaningful or productive.

We’re living such segmentation joy. Increased computing power and cheaper computing/software allow us to do this.

We can tell the finest differences between people.

That is only useful if we can adjust our business models and marketing to fit the subtle differences we’ve detected.

Which – in the case, I’d suggest, of 95% of marketers – we can’t.

So we roll our fine slivers of segments back up into groups and offer trade-offs between precise need-satisfaction and marketing capability/convenience.

That’s not so bad. Until we pretend we’re satisfying their needs without any compromise…

So here’s a wild idea: how about we take a lesson from Bruce?

How about we stop hunting for, and marketing to, differences?

How about we start looking for what binds people together, rather than what separates them?

How about we build brands as beacons? Let their light attract people with common values and beliefs toward them – a bit like attracting moths to a flame?

You see, in many respects, tomorrow I will be a millennial, too.

The next day I’ll be more of a Boomer (lowest part of the range, I hasten to add).

The following day, a bit of both. Within minutes.

Let’s stop worshipping blindly at the altar of difference. Let’s pay much more attention to things people have in common.

And have the good sense to know when to follow separate or blended approaches.

Please follow me on Twitter: @MarkSareff

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