A memo about the script for a new product introduction suggested a “catchy opening.” Who could argue, right? Isn’t catching someone’s attention always first on the agenda of any communication––perhaps especially when there’s a commercial transaction at stake? So why, besides my penchant for hyperbole and just plain orneriness, do I say that catchy openings are immoral? As in, not life-affirming.
Consider the headline of this very essay, created deliberately to get your attention by appealing solely to your silliness gene. If you’re a fellow crackpot, that headline may affirm your life on one level, but do you honestly believe that, by reading this essay, you’ll enjoy the rewards promised? If you do, I’ve got a moldy sock I’m willing to let you have for a mere 100K.
Marketing, to me, is a sacred undertaking, for at its core is the attempt to make a heart-to-heart connection between one party’s capability and another party’s need, particularly a need that serves their heart’s desire. For the marketer operating in this spirit, the essential motivation of every activity is being of service to another––not seducing somebody into buying your stuff.
The reason “catchy opening” is what I call immoral is that its implication is selfish. It’s all about, “Hey, pay attention to me!” rather than attempting to offer you an experience of value in response to which you gratefully point your attention in my direction. Your focus is not me, however, but rather on that which enriches your life.
Living in the world with others can be a terrific adventure in marketing. If the purpose of life is growing our capacity to love, our interactions with our fellows is certainly one of our finest teachers. Healthy relationships, wise folk say, are built upon being of service to one another. That’s how we learn the amazing truth that our differences mean little compared to the deepest desire of every heart––a desire for understanding, harmony and a peaceful smile. This is the desire that animates the very best marketing…the very best anything, for that matter.
Here’s my world. No matter the problem, if the intention we bring to it does not serve the human family for eternity, we’re not operating deeply enough. When it comes to that new product introduction, or any other form of human endeavor, the intention to serve others in a spirit that is playful, loving and deep will lead us naturally to the catchiest openings we could ever imagine.