Acting like a friend as a guiding marketing strategy

acting like a friend

A few weeks ago, I had the honor of teaching a graduate-level class for Barcelona-based Harbour Space University. The class was called “New Marketing Realities.” My kind of class!

I don’t know how Harbour Space does it, but they attract a remarkable caliber of students. Ambitious. Forward-thinking. Hungry. They came from all over the world. Russia, Viet Nam, Iran, Portugal, Japan. Some from Asia were listening to me at 3 a.m. their time. And they were great.

So, it was inspiring and I learned as much from them as they learned from me.

About midway through the class, a young guy from Germany said, “After listening to you for a few days, marketing seems a lot more straightforward to me. I think what you’re saying is, acting like a friend is a great marketing strategy. Treat people like you’re their friend, and you’ll be OK.”


I’ve often said that the first move toward human-centered marketing is 1) stop doing what people hate; 2) be more human in every customer touchpoint.

A few years ago, I published a Manifesto for Human-Centered Marketing in the Marketing Rebellion book. It means more than ever today. (BTW here is a colorful, hand-drawn version of this).

A Manifesto for Human-Centered Marketing

1) Stop doing what customers hate. Get out there and discover what customers love. Do that (at least).

2) Technology should be invisible to your customer and only used to help your company be more compassionate, receptive, fascinating, and useful.

3) You can’t “own” customers, a buyer’s journey, or a sales funnel. Claim a market space and help people belong to it.

4) Never intercept, never interrupt. Earn the invitation.

5) Be relevant, consistent, and superior. Build trust into everything you do.

6) Be fans of your fans. Make them the heroes of your story.

7) Transcend the public’s inherent mistrust of your company through relentless honesty.

8) Don’t be “in” the customer community. Be “of” the customer community.

9) Marketing is never about your “why.” It’s about your customer’s “why.”

10) The most human company wins.

Mark Schaefer is the executive director of Schaefer Marketing Solutions. He is the author of some of the world’s bestselling digital marketing books and is an acclaimed keynote speaker, college educator, and business consultant. The Marketing Companion podcast is among the top business podcasts in the world. Contact Mark to have him speak at your company event or conference soon.

Follow Mark on TwitterLinkedInYouTube, and Instagram.

All posts

The Marketing Companion Podcast

Why not tune into the world’s most entertaining marketing podcast!

View details

Let's plot a strategy together

Want to solve big marketing problems for a little bit of money? Sign up for an hour of Mark’s time and put your business on the fast-track.

View details

Share via