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Marketing Meditations: Are You Speaking Their Language?

Marketing Meditations from CMO Zen is a blog about marketing designed for founders. 

In every edition we try to deliver on these three things:

  • Something to think about
  • A “how-to” resource
  • A marketing topic deep dive.

It’s snackable. A little here, a little there. Just consume what you want.


Something to Think About

I do love Emerson.

And this quote. Because the stretch he’s talking about feels great.

Want to hear a funny story? ChatGPT first gave me this quote misattributed to Al Reis. Watch out for those AI hallucinations out there and check your sources!

One "How To" Resource

The “How-To” resource I’m sharing this time is Lincoln Murphy’s blog.

I think my favorite thing about Lincoln’s resources is that he’s always got a fresh take. Like the link above on Ideal Customer Profiles. If you drop ICPs into Grandpa Google, the first 8 articles or so will regurgitate the same thing.

You’ll get these lists of firmographic profiles that are all the same with minor tweaks.

And then there’s Lincoln’s take. He might actually miss a few things from the generic articles, but his take will always provide a fresh perspective. Well worth the read/follow.

A Marketing Deep Dive

Speaking Their Language

This past month, I took my son to a barber shop.

It’s the one we always go to. The woman who shears us is a smidge over five feet and in her early twenties. She’s surrounded by all these giant dudes and is not intimidated at all. That’s why I like her. She’s fierce.

Now my son is four, so he doesn’t really get the ambiance of this place.

And this time I’m sitting waiting while the pro does her thing.

At the chair next to me is a tough-as-rocks looking Samoan guy. You’d think his calling in life was breaking tree trunks with his bare hands, not shaming Michelangelo with a pair of shears. And he’s chatting away to one of his regulars in the chair.

How do I know it’s one of his regulars?

Because when the guy sat down, he said maybe two words about his hair before The Rock went to work.

They slip easily in an out of English and Samoan talking about BYU football, cracking jokes, and shooting the bull.

Their relationship obviously comfortable and totally unguarded. They’re literally speaking each others language, um… languages, and finding it seamless and familiar. The way they communicate is reinforcing to their identity and relationship.

It’s a beautiful thing.

They have no idea (nor do they care) that I’m tapping this out on my phone barely six feet away.

And they aren’t the only ones. Another pair chatters away in Spanish. Another in English.

After all these years in marketing, I can’t not listen. 😬

Inside the hum of these conversations is the vibration of one person telling stories to another and finding the love in it.

What strikes me about this is that’s what we ALL aspire to.

Nothing inauthentic. Just here I am, there you are. What can we find in common; what brings us together?

In linguistics they call these isolationist languages or language isolates. They are ways of speaking that are unique to a small group of people. One tight community (Haida is an indigenous language of Western Canada that is spoken by only 24 people).

But it doesn’t have to be an official language. It’s particular phrases and language among an in-group that they both understand.

You probably have some phrases like this from your family growing up. Maybe movie quotes or something someone said that everyone remembers. And now, those words have special meaning that you would have to explain to an outsider.

And that’s the kind of easiness and closeness, we aspire to have with our customers.

They should feel like we’re alike. Like we get them.

The best personalization is like that. It’s not Instagram showing me an ad for something I bought last week (or creepily spoke about to someone else).

It is invisible.

As you’re crafting your message try to feel how it lands for your target customer.

Does it feel like you’re shouting to a foreigner from across the room?

Or are these your peeps?

You’re catching up with old friends or family you haven’t seen in awhile.

Nothing impeding the raw flow of communication from one person to another.

It’s amazing when you get it, worth aspiring to.


Until next time… namaste.

Chad Jardine, Founder & CEO




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