He loves breakfast food, meat, the outdoors and privacy.
He hates government, vegetables, human interaction and his ex-wives.
He buries gold. He builds chairs. He moonlights as jazz saxophonist Duke Silver.
And deep down, he’s a marketing genius, although he would likely scoff at the notion.
He’s Ron Swanson, Director of the Parks and Recreation Department of Pawnee, Indiana. Here are nine quotes that provide valuable lessons about marketing and the customer experience.
1) There’s only one thing I hate more than lying – skim milk. Which is water that is lying about being milk.
When clients are unsure if a statement in their content is bold or impressive enough, they’ll often ask, “Can we say it this way?”
My response is always the same.
Is it accurate? Is it truthful? Can you prove it?
Even the slightest hint of dishonesty is enough to send prospects running for the hills. Where they’ll find your competitors.
Be honest. And communicate your honesty in a way that’s real, transparent and believable. That’s how you achieve authenticity.
2) I’d wish you the best of luck but I believe luck is a concept created by the weak to explain their failures.
I’ve heard too many business owners, and their marketing consultants, chalk up failed campaigns to bad luck. If they dug deeper, they would probably find that lack of planning, research and accountability, as well as insufficient investment in the right talent, were the real problems.
Hope is not a strategy. “Getting your name out there” is not a strategy. “Say it and spray it” is not a strategy. Finding the cheapest option to create and execute a marketing campaign is a doomed strategy. All depend heavily on luck to succeed.
Which steak is more satisfying – the prime cut from the local butcher or the $2 per pound “meat” from the discount grocery store?
There are no shortcuts in marketing. Do the heavy lifting and invest in the right talent and expertise to make it work.
3) There has never been a sadness that can’t been cured by breakfast food.
People don’t want your product or service. They want solutions to their problems. They want a better life.
People who have the same problems might desire different solutions. It’s your job as a business owner to figure out who needs your help, how they want to be helped, and how you fit into their lives.
4) (on bowling) Straight down the middle. No hook, no spin, no fuss. Anything more and this becomes figure skating.
Many marketing messages have been destroyed because someone try to be creative for the sake of being creative. They were too interested in making people laugh or “going viral.”
Meanwhile, the core message was lost. The value proposition wasn’t communicated. The audience might belly laugh and even talk about you on Facebook, but they had no idea what you were selling.
The most important characteristic of effective marketing content is clarity. I’m all for creativity, but any creative technique should be used to support your core message and make it clearer. Anything else is just a distraction.
Years ago, “sell the sizzle, not the steak” was a popular marketing mantra. Today, people are too informed and too skeptical to fall for sizzle. They want to know about the steak.
5) Just give me all the bacon and eggs you have. Wait… wait. I worry what you just heard was, “Give me a lot of bacon and eggs.” What I said was, “Give me all the bacon and eggs you have.” Do you understand?
Confusion and doubt are sales killers. Make sure the message you’re trying to deliver is the message received. Be clear, be specific, and leave nothing to chance.
What problem do you solve? How do you solve it? What result should someone expect you to deliver? These three questions, at the very least, should be answered as clearly and concisely as possible by your marketing.
6) I don’t want to paint with a broad brush here, but every single contractor in the world is a miserable, incompetent thief.
There are certain professions and industries that have negative stereotypes. People in those professions and industries need to work harder to earn the trust of potential clients. Sorry, but that’s reality.
Share your knowledge. Establish your expertise. Tell the stories of your satisfied clients. Prove your worth and your integrity. Use blogs, newsletters, case studies and white papers to make your case.
And when people do contact you, have processes and standards in place that enable you to live up to every claim and promise you made in your marketing.
7) Never half-ass two things. Whole-ass one thing.
Back in my radio days, advertisers would always ask me to stuff more information into their commercials. For example, if the purpose of a restaurant commercial was to promote Sunday brunch, they would want to add a line about catering. Or happy hour. Or corporate events.
How about a meat metaphor in honor of Ron Swanson?
Think of your marketing content as filet mignon, not sausage. Instead of jamming everything under the sun into every marketing piece, focus on one thing. Keep it lean and tender. Trim the fat.
Let people consume and digest a focused message instead of overloading them with information that goes in five different directions.
8) Don’t start chasing applause and acclaim. That way lies madness.
Your company and your products and services deserve to be recognized for your achievements. But don’t expect your audience to care.
Most industry awards are irrelevant to the people who want to do business with you. If you’re going to mention any type of industry award, recognition or designation, explain how they’re relevant to your audience.
If you can’t, they’re probably not worth mentioning.
9) Ron: (after being served salad at a wedding) There’s been a mistake. You’ve accidentally given me the food that my food eats.
Server: Salad is traditionally the first course at a wedding.
Ron: Is a gerbil marrying a rabbit?
Know your audience. Segment your audience. Customize your message.
If you have business clients and individual clients, for example, develop different types of content that speak to the specific needs of each segment.
If you expect people to pay attention to what you have to say, you have to be relevant and deliver value. Every single time.
The general principles of marketing, like Ron Swanson, are rather simple.
Know your audience. Communicate value. Differentiate from the competition. Deliver a clear, compelling message. Focus on helping people and solving problems. Then deliver on everything you say. If you don’t have the in-house resources to manage your marketing, seek out and invest in qualified people.
Follow these principles and you’ll have a strong foundation for growth. In other words, market like Swanson.
I’m a content writer, marketing consultant, lifelong New Jersey resident, husband to a beautiful wife and father to two beautiful girls. I love playing with my daughters, a day at the boardwalk, sarcasm, craft beer and grilling. I despise beating around the bush, synchronized swimming, Toddlers & Tiaras and onions. Most people don’t know I used to be a radio DJ and once wrote, produced and voiced a commercial for the TV show 24. Two places I want to visit before I die are Ireland and Norway, the homes of my ancestors. One place I never want to revisit is my first apartment because my creepy landlord, Monty, freaked me out. That just about covers it.