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My grandmother passed away a little over a year ago. I had an interesting relationship with her – she was a combination of strong and difficult, kind and terse. She was strong, intense Appalachian stock and your experience with her was generally determined by what side of the bed she woke up on. Regardless of all her stubbornness, she was our family’s unstoppable matriarch, raising six kids on her own (in the ’50s!) in a very small town. I was also definitely her favorite – out of everyone in my family, I knew she would always have my back and would never let me down. She essentially raised me during my early years and I’m so grateful for her influence.

Because I had the opportunity to spend so much time with her when I was younger, I learned a ton of good lessons. I’ve been able to translate these over into my professional life as well as personal. So without further ado –

Five Things My Gramma Taught Me About Marketing (Without Knowing It)

Aaaaaaand let’s start in no particular order:

Always Have Someone Around Who Can Talk You Down.

My grandmother and grandfather loved each other very much – but he was the one person in her life who would always tell her what she needed to hear. Though they quibbled and argued from time to time, there was real love there – and being in their house, I felt it. I knew that despite any disagreements, they worked as a united front and I was in good hands.

You know who else should feel that way about your business partnerships and choices? Your clients.

Follow a Routine.

My grandmother’s routine kept her alive, even in the early stages of Dementia. If I’m an hour or two off schedule, it generally produces a pretty unpleasant feeling that follows me around the rest of the day. Following a routine also helps clients know when they can contact you. I’m not saying I have this down perfectly, but hey – I’m working on it!

Give People What They Want to See.

My gramma’s appearance was important to her. Not just in terms of dress, but in mannerisms – in the way she carried herself. She had a way about her that put strangers at ease and made her memorable. When it comes right down to it, people need to feel at ease – they need to like what they see – if they’re going to buy. This is true of any client we have. I know pain points are important but at the end of the day, we’re all here making things and providing services for each other to make life easier. My gramma was very good at making life easy for people when she wanted to.

Love Passionately.

You can’t sell something if you think it’s stupid or you don’t believe in it. I’ve tried again and again to hock things I know my clients believe in without believing in those things myself. In particular, I’m talking about diet pills and health care products that I really don’t think are going to add value to people’s lives.

You want a marketer who will love your product passionately, right? Because if the passion’s not there, the materials are mediocre. And people sniff mediocrity out verrrrry very quickly. It’s not worth the hassle of marketing a product you simply don’t believe in.

Know How to Build Trust

My grandmother was a great person who gave me the best possible care, but she was also eager to communicate every possible bad thing I ever did to my mom. As a child, my mom picking me up after work was always a nightmare. There would always be an informative meeting where every single bad word or thing I’d done and said was laid bare. Oy! What a bad kid I was. I never minded! At least, that’s what it seemed like.

On the way home, almost every day I’d ask, “Am I in trouble?” My mom would always assure me I was not. “I know what it’s like to have your grandmother watching everything you do,” she’d say. “Just try to chill out a little.”

As I got older, I did chill out. I was able to have conversations with my grandmother that showed me where she was coming from, what she had to offer as a human being and her opinions on life. This reminds me of those meetings where there’s bad news. Not every campaign is going to be successful, but handling the changes with a little growth, with a little dignity, grace and human relation can change the comfort level of marketer + client and make life a lot easier. Common ground is one of the most important things we can seek with our clients – and with their marketing materials and audience.

I’d love to hear more about how your family members shaped your businesses and careers! Shoot me a comment or contact and talk to me!

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