A Challenge to all marketers – Get into some good trouble

Abena Perryman
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Marketing with purpose

Take some inspiration from John Lewis

Calling all marketers! How can you use your marketing skills to change the world? What ‘good trouble’ can you get into today?  For inspiration, I’m looking to the lessons we can learn by reflecting on the life of John Lewis.

It starts with one small action, every day. For example, one marketing message at a time. 

A true marketer with purpose

John Robert Lewis wasn’t a name I was familiar with as I grew up. In fact, his name was one I only learned a few weeks ago with his passing July 17, 2020. But, as I started to learn more about how he dedicated his life to fighting racism, I was in awe of his legacy of change. 

Freedom Fighter, Politician, Change-maker

Last Thursday I took the opportunity to watch some of John Lewis’ funeral service. Specifically, I watched the speeches by Presidents Bush and Clinton, and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, along with the eulogy by President Obama. The words they spoke had an impact on me as I learned more about this man they were honouring. Here was a man who was a freedom rider, the leader of the march on Selema, an influential politician and a well-known change-maker. He devoted his life to fighting racism, driving positive change for the world around him. John Lewis - NBC News

John was known for his phrase: “Getting into good trouble”. And that he did. In fact, he gave much of his life to create good, meaningful change – what he referred to as good trouble! It makes me wonder  – “how can those of us in marketing do the same?” 

Putting marketing with purpose into practice

The answer? It could be as grand as focusing on social impact marketing or as simple as marketing with purpose.  The key is to just do something. For example, how can we use our platform for good? More specifically, how can we influence brands, trends and/or create impactful marketing messages that:

  • respect people, 
  • help to heal the Earth, and 
  • hopefully contribute to a pandemic of love. 

Through his unwavering commitment to fighting against racial injustice, John was the living embodiment of this. After all, with his lasting legacy he created a meaningful, authentic, and now popular tag line!

Potential obstacles

Inevitably, this kind of  work will likely go against the common opinion of the day.  For instance, it may disrupt the comfort zone of those most comfortable with the status quo. And, it might even require walking away from a paycheck. But this only makes it more important.

For me, the first actions I plan to take to market with purpose will be based around the question – “how do I leave this world better off than how I found it?”  To take it a step further, how can I use my position and skills to help influence marketing decisions? Whether it’s more inclusive marketing materials, listening to all customer segments, or hiring diversity.

Taking the first step

There is so much more work to be done, but it’s not too late to start. So will you join me? What ‘good trouble’ are you going to get into today?

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