resonance in marketing

I want you to think of your favourite cafe or restaurant in town. You know the one. You take all your friends there. They know you by first name. There is so much affection in you for it. It’s a place that resonates for you. You feel like you fit. I bet the first time you ever walked in – you felt like you were at home. ‘These,’ you thought. ‘Are my people.’

And I want to suggest that resonance comes from a few things – none of which are marketing tactics.

Simon Sinek hits this point home hard in his book Start With Why.

Typical manipulations include: dropping the price; running a promotion; using fear, peer pressure or aspirational messages; and promising innovation to influence behaviour – be it a purchase, a vote or support. When companies or organizations do not have a clear sense of why their customers are their customers, they tend to rely on a disproportionate number of manipulations to get what they need. It’s because manipulations work.

If fear motivates us to move away from something horrible, aspirational messages tempt us toward something desirable. Marketers often talk about the importance of being aspirational, offering someone something they desire to achieve and the ability to get their more easily with a particular product or service.

Six steps to a happier life!

Work those abs to your dream dress size!

In six short weeks you can be rich!

All these messages manipulate.

They tempt us with the things we want to have or to be the person we wish we were.

I cannot dispute that manipulations work.

Every one of them can indeed help influence behaviour and every one of them can help a company become quite succesful. But there are trade offs.

Not a single one of them breeds loyalty.

Over the course of time, they cost more and more. The gains are only short term. And they increase the level of stress for both the buyer and the seller. If you have exceptionally deep pockets or are looking to achieve only a short term gain with no consideration for the long term, then these strategies and tactics are perfect.

Beyond the business world, manipulations are the norm in politics today as well. Just as manipulations can drive a sale but not create loyalty, so too can they help a candidate get elected, but they don’t create a foundation for leadership. Leadership requires people to stick with you through thick and thin. Leadership is the ability to rally people not for a single event, but for years. [Manipulative] tactics win elections, but they do not seed loyalties among the voters.

In business, leadership means that customers will continue to support your company even when you slip up. If manipulation is the only strategy, what happens the next time a purchase decision is required. What happens after the election is won?

There is a big difference between repeat business and loyalty. Repeat business is when people do business with you multiple times. Loyalty is when people are willing to turn down a better product or a better price to continue doing business with you. Loyal customers don’t often bother to research to the competition or entertain other options. Loyalty is not easily won. Repeat business, however, is. All it takes is more manipulations.

Manipulations lead to transactions, not loyalty.

So, if manipulations don’t work, what does?


Marketing tactics are like the searchlight form of marketing – that people run away from.

Resonance is the lighthouse that draws the ships into safe harbour.

Resonance is when we express ourselves so beautifully and honestly that people can’t help but feel it. Resonance is when we focus more on the quality of the light our lighthouse is putting out and the brightness of it than who might be seeing it. Resonance is preparing your home so beautifully for guests. Resonance is when we follow up with someone, not because they’re an ‘excellent contact to add to our network’ but because they give our heart a pretty little hum when we’ve around them. Resonance is when we trust the universe is a friendly place.

Resonance comes when we can relax and be comfortable in our own skin.


“Stress is who you think you should be. Relaxation is who you are.”

– Chinese Proverb

And resonance comes from a number of things – here are the ones that come to mind most quickly . . .

  • a genuine, human vibe: people are, increasingly, running away from people who are posturing, pretending to be more together than they are, fake, phony, pretentious etc. They are drawn to people who are genuine, real, authentic and just plain honest. This doesn’t mean ‘granola’. It means that whatever you are – you embrace it fully. You open to the world as that. It’s like the line in Breakfast at Tiffany’s about Audrey Hepburn’s character, ‘she’s a phony. but she’s a real phony.’ It means we’re not doing what we’re doing to impress people, win approval or become something else. We’re just enjoying being us. We’re even embracing our own weaknesses. We’re okay with having needs – including the need to eat and live in this world – so we’re okay with needing to have some money. We’re okay with our clients supporting us – and we feel so grateful and amazed whenever it happens.
  • an unattached mindset: we give equal weight to ‘yes’ and ‘no’ from potential clients because we only want to work with people for whom it’s a fit and who want to work with us. If it’s not a fit, we bless and release. We don’t chase, we replace. We love people as they are – we’re not trying to change them. We’re not trying to get them to be anything they aren’t or to do anything they don’t want to do. We’re not pitching anything – we’re just sharing what we have with the world. We’re not trying to convince anyone of anything – we’re just sharing our truth and letting the world change if it wants to. We know that people will either love what we have or they won’t. We’re okay with either.
  • a crystal clear, unapologetic point of view:  we have know where we stand, we have an opinion, a take, a worldview, a diagnosis, a perspective on the way things oughta be. It’s clear to us and it’s clear to the market place. It’s not an ideology – but it’s a clear set of guiding principles and ideas and beliefs that guide our work and that people can count on. We have a clear map that people can understand of how we’ll be guiding them on their journey.
  • an inspiring ‘why’: people know why we’re doing what we’re doing. They get the deeper cause behind it for us. They know that we’re not in it for the money. They know the kind of world we dream of and are working towards. They see how everything in our little business is all wrapped around and expressing this core, beating heart of our business. We don’t see the market place as full of competitors – we see it as full of potential collaborators who are all working together (or could work together) towards something bigger. We’ve got no interest in being a leader of a movement – but we’re so deeply passionate about movement happening in the world.
  • a solid structure and container: we prepare our home to receive the guests. We make sure we’re ready for when they show up. We are craftsmen of our arts. Attention to details. Small things matter. We lay strong foundations for our business. This gives us a sense of pride. We’re excited to send people to our website. We can’t wait to show off our cafe. We know that the details are handled so we don’t fuss about them. We can relax. The container, we find. not only holds the potential client – it holds us too.
  • a good strategy: we are ready to have clients and now, instead of chasing them down, we make it easy and safe for them to find us. We make it risk free and easy for people to say yes to working with us. We pick marketing tactics and strategies that feel authentic and real to us and then we make sure we implement them in the most genuine ways possible. When we create a strategy that we know will work – we can relax. We know that we’ll get enough clients because we have a plan. And our plan is not only something that gets us clients – our marketing is actually an expression of our deeper cause and our point of view. Our marketing feels really genuine and easy. Our clients feel that and relax too.

Resonance is different than relevance. Relevance says, ‘yes – that can help me on the journey I’m on. That can help solve my problem. That could get me what I’m craving.’ But there are likely many, many options out there that are relevant to them. Why should they pick you? They will, at the end of the day, pick the one who most deeply resonates with them.

Don’t you resonate with that idea?


It works.



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