Marketing language has always been riddled with words like targeting, conquering new markets, strategizing, stealing market share, building brand alliances, launching a campaign, etc. You’d think we were planning epic battles from our marbled agency palaces.

And I confess, when I was running the new business department at Arnold, I used to set up what I called “War Rooms” for my pitch team to post ideas, insights, have strategy meetings, plot out our attack, etc.

In our defense, when consumers were a passive bunch, this kind of rhetorical battle-speak made some sense. It amped up the internal aggressions of both client and agency alike. It made them acutely aware that we were on a business mission and wouldn’t stop until victory was ours.

But it’s time we changed the language we’re using. And not for namby-pamby, politically correct semantic reasons. But because the battle-speak conjures up the wrong imagery for today’s marketing. It primes creative people for one-way, us-versus-them, communications ideas that are designed to convince people to do something, perhaps even against their will.

It’s time for less targeting and more attracting.


Some of you fellow grayish-haired vets may remember when “One-To-One” marketing was all the rage in the late 1990’s. It was the handle for the then-emerging digital promise, and it proved to be quite an important shift from the previous broadcast model of “One-To-Many.” But we’re going through another shift today. Let’s call it, “Many-To-One,” where many people can be attracted to one brand. Where marketing is not about conquering impersonalized markets but about invitations. Where brands behave in such compelling ways that people take notice and either decide to join up or they don’t.

How do you attract people? As in, really attract people? The same way people attract each other. It’s not through words. It’s through actions. And it’s not just any actions, but actions your brand, in all its animated glory, would “like” to take.

And this, my fellow Creators, is where it gets fun. It’s not easy to pull off, but “Many-To-One Marketing,” as we’ve described it above, is actually easier than “Target Marketing” because it’s about looking inwards (the One), not out (the Many). It’s about understanding your brand, its products, its services, its people, its story, its everything, to the point where the brand almost “speaks” to you and “tells” you where it wants to be, how it wants to be, what it wants to do and how it wants to do it. Like what charities to support, what musical acts to sponsor (and, more importantly, how best to sponsor them), what inventive events to hold in cities, what unexpected experiences to create in train stations, what revolutionary ad units to pitch to highly trafficked web sites, and on and on. The behaviors the brand chooses can’t help but be authentic, and authenticity is attractive. But only if we let the brand really be.


These three previous blog posts address the development of “Many-To-One Marketing” (though I admit I didn’t know it at the time):

  1. Brands And The Magical Illusion Of Animation – a primer on the importance of understanding who your brand is in the first place, and how to know it when you truly do let the brand be.
  2. Creativity Has Moved Upstream. Grab A Paddle – the importance of hiring the right kinds of creative people to think in an “Many-To-One” kind of way.
  3. The Marketing Morality Curve – the benefit of being true to the brand is you’ll attract more people who actually want or need your product and less of those who (sometimes audibly) don’t.

So, let’s lay down our swords. Let’s change the language we’re using so that we prime ourselves during creative development for the mutual forces of brand attraction, not the rebelling annoyance of forced marketing. No more war rooms, no more targeting or conquering. Galvanize yourselves and your brands around a vibe of attraction, attraction, attraction.

Because if you be it, they will come.