Tuesday, June 25, 2013

We Need An Enemy

Rabbi Nachman of Breslov was a Hasid, a mystic, who sought in the forest holiness.

His thinking could be considered existential psychology. He knew that humans are prone to despair. He offered   pragmatic self-help techniques like meditation, music, and direct personal dialogue with G-d.

Along the way Breslov left a body of insightful writings about human nature. 

He taught: Man (humanity) is perpetually at war. If not with an external enemy, then on the inside, with himself or herself.

Think about what this means, really.

We not only ARE at war against something all the time.

Rather, we NEED to have an enemy.

In politics it's well-known that the quickest way to galvanize people is to invent a crisis.

But the need is really deeper than that.

If you want to win a PR war, sell a product or change a culture (all of this is marketing) you have to understand the fighting nature of a person. Of the group. 

We are always and forever at war. We want to vanquish the enemy -- whoever they are and whatever they may be. We don't care; it's biological!

The smart leader recognizes that fighting spirit, validates it and unleashes it toward a worthy cause.

If you use that fighting energy for the wrong thing, in the short term you may win till people catch on to you. 

That is why marketers (of every stripe) find their products sell temporarily, but over time customers walk away in disdain, disloyalty, distrust. 

Why? Over and above the failure to deliver on a "brand promise" -- they haven't made it a war of good versus evil, truthfully. And if they do, it's a superficial, short-term sell at best, or worse hypocritical.

Marketing is a war that mirrors day-to-day existence and has a parallel in the human brain. 

It is up to the marketer to not only take sides, but to create them. 

Ideally in a way that truly results in weakening (if not killing altogether) some fundamental injustice.

* All opinions my own.