What makes marketing masterful enough to deserve kudos and awards?

It must demonstrate and succeed at being High Performance Communication.

The criteria may vary.

Yet the message and presentation must be impactful and move its intended audience.

Must marketing always offer a commercial product or service?


Of course it is easy to recognize marketing in the efforts of commercial businesses whose products and services succeed in attracting a growing and loyal clientele.

And many established Not-for-Profit organizations use marketing to build a community to support their efforts and serve a cause or need.

And then there are grass roots movements.

They arise spontaneously by definition, only later becoming organizations if they stand the trials and tests of time.

It is often easy to overlook the role of marketing in a brand new grass roots movement. After all, many think of marketing as manipulative and insincere.

Yet is essential to understand marketing’s power to attract enough support to allow a fledging cause to attract the loyalty that allows it to fulfill its purpose.

A grass roots movement must first develop the four core elements for survival and growth.

Controversial though it may be, this month’s TMD Marketing Mastery Award must go to “March for Our Lives.”

MarchforOurLives.com website

More than any alternately riveting headlines in our tumultuous news cycles lately, the students at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, authentically embody grass roots marketing. Here’s what they have done at lightning speed, all while grieving and caring for each other:

  • Goals. Their mission statement begins with this stripped down sentence: Not one more. It gets right to their purpose, then fills out the details with precision and clear vision.
  • People. These students have put themselves on the line personally for something much bigger than even their young lives. They have reached out even further to other students, to people of all ages, and have done so magnificently.
  • Goods. What “goods” they offer is at once intangible— to create a sense of safety that is no longer part of school life; and maturely grounded— in five specific intentions relating to gun violence
  • Profit. Just as any business or venture requires, operating profit is necessary to move forward. Their operating profit is more than money, i.e., funds for the event and funds to keep working on their  mission. It is a voter registration drive and persuasion campaigns to elect officials who will address the issues at the core of their movement. All properly structured and set up in a not-for-profit organization. These teens are grounded about money and resources.

Readers of my book series The Marketing Deck will recognize the four “suits”  above (which parallel spades, hearts, clubs, and diamonds; the traditional playing cards adapted for a solid foundation to build marketing excellence.)

But there there are two more “suits” required to create superior marketing value. Marketing must motivate people to spread the word. I added two suits of cards to highlight the need for ethics and energy— both are required for marketing to be truly effective and contribute to those it touches.

  • Source. This suit reminds us of the principles, talents and gifts needed in any marketing effort, to inspire others to align with you. These students demonstrated Awareness, which matches the cards for commitment and collaboration. They chose Initiative, which matches the cards for  with action and creativity.
  • Success. This suit reminds us that there are many roles one can play in marketing. But your desired audience needs to see you as legitimate in order to commit to participate with you. These students chose the role of Explorer, discovering and doing what matches the cards for producers and inventors. They also chose the role of Mountaineer, climbing and doing what matches the cards for innovators and champions.

Did these students read my book? Not likely. But that only proves what I have seen over and over about marketing, and why I wrote it the way I did.

Marketing done with ethics and energy, with purpose and the community betterment at its heart, is High Performance Communication.

Twitter Page: @AMarch4OurLives

Do we have proof of marketing success?

March for Our Lives was on March 24th, a spontaneous, constructive response to the school killings they survived just five and a half weeks earlier on February 14th.

Totals are still being tabulated, but upwards of 800,000 people marched peacefully in Washington, D.C. that day. About 847 equally peaceful sister marches happened the same day in cities across the U.S. and the world, from handfuls of people to hundreds of thousands more.

As I observed about our local march of 4,000 people, it was “joyful, peaceful, energetic, and focused with Kids, Babies, Teens, Parents, Singles, Seniors, many enlightened Doggies, AND Congressman Adam Schiff.”

Yet because they have a clearly defined mission and benchmarks to meet, these teens are not resting on laurels or calling it one-and-done. They are moving forward with the next tasks.

March for Our Lives Facebook Group

Which brings me to my final Marketing Mastery accolade for these students.

I mentioned collaboration earlier. I have seen them thrust into the media limelight, both admired and reviled.

Yet not one of them has showboated, or been egotistical, or stooped low in their comments, despite being teenagers inexperienced with the heat of media’s glare and pundit barbs.

Marketing Mastery is at its finest when it brings out the best in people.

These and other teens are showing us all the path, as they walk their talk.

Appreciation goes to a new generation of leaders taking their mantles early.

— Diane A. Curran

P.S. (4/3/18 update) The energy is real for not calling it one-and-done. 10 days later, this article surfaced in cyberspace, bringing its own reality check: “Voices of black and brown youth: ‘We march for our lives every day.” With speeches, slam poetry, and an irrefutable grasp of the awful statistics of Chicago’s local gun violence, these voices remind us that they face danger in or out of school on a daily basis, and they are willing to say it like it is. #MarketingGetsGritty #MarketingOnPurpose

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