The other day, I was listening to an episode of The Age of Persuasion called Big and Small. One of the things that the host, Terry O’Reilly, touched on was how marketing and advertising agencies fall victim to Stockholm syndrome.
You see, in our eagerness to understand a client’s brand, we live, breath, and eat it, and start seeing it in the very same light that our clients do. We stop seeing the forest from the trees, and start seeing just the one tree.
We end up losing sight of the big picture and how our client’s brand fits into for the average consumer. For the average consumer, our client’s brand is just another tree in the forest. They’re just not that big of a deal.
And our job as marketers isn’t to make consumers see our clients as the most important tree in the forest. Our job as marketers is to help consumers realize that the forest just wouldn’t be the same without that tree — without our client.
But when we fall victim to Stockholm syndrome, we start believing that our client is the most important tree in the forest. And when that happens, we are no longer able to relate to consumers, and that means that we are no longer able to do our job.
Of course, the catch is that if we’re going to do our job and help consumers relate to our clients brand, we’re going to cast our clients in a light that doesn’t make them look like the most important tree in the forest. And how are we supposed to pitch that to our clients? How do we tell them that what they live, eat, and breath isn’t all that much of a big deal after all?