Marketing Miracles

The term “marketing miracles” is miraculous for marketing purposes. I get it. And for those who are not aware of it, the best selling book, Marketing Miracles, by Dan S. Kennedy is full of practical ideas, especially for those in sales.

But, there is nothing miraculous about marketing, or to be more precise, marketing miracles. That term is just an odd oxymoron for me.

Why? Because while marketing can result in an amazing or unusual event, the word “miracle” implies that supernatural forces outside of our mortal control generate miracles. Or, perhaps the word signals that an unexpected and surprising result occurred, possibly exceeding our expectations because of something not planned.

Marketing that achieves goals and fulfills the needs of the customer is thoughtful and deliberate, or at least it should be. As the English author, Sir Terry Pratchett, wrote, “Just because you can explain it doesn’t mean it’s not still a miracle.”

In this inaugural article I want to put forth the principles that guide how marketing miracles happen. Because even if someone just by chance stumbled into a marketing miracle and can’t explain how it happened, my money is on the fact that one of the following five principles was in play.

1. Our decisions as humans have both rational and emotional components. Coffee is not just a product with its attributes of taste, smell, smoothness, caffeine, etc.; it delivers an experience. We consume coffee because of its product benefits, and these benefits fulfill powerful emotional needs such as socializing, being productive, reducing stress, and even fulfilling the desire for routine.
Application: Align the benefits of your product with consumer benefits; persuade by reason, motivate by emotion.

2. Perceptions and experiences with products, services, or brands have both positive and negative dimensions. These perceptions will vary by your audience and by loyalty. A few years ago research was conducted on a national coffeehouse brand, and it revealed a strongly negative perception among infrequent coffee drinkers that its product had a bitter taste because of its roast profile. Despite having a wide selection of other choices and a strong, core loyal audience, the learning led to this company launching a blonde roast in order to convince these persuadable consumers to try a cup.
Application: Leverage your positives and neutralize your negatives; know your loyalty continuum.

3. The choices we make are affected by the context in which they are made. Everyday we make decisions and we are presented with choices. In the coffee category, these choices and decisions are made within day parts, occasions, locations, our personal needs, influences from others, and a host of other factors.
Application: Market your brand to match the context or situation in which it is used or could be used.

4. Marketing and how we think about products is not linear. A consumer can go from being aware of your product to being loyal, even if they are not familiar with it. For example, how many people do you know always vote Democrat or Republican, but can they really explain why they are so loyal to these “brands”? Perhaps not all of them can do so, which demonstrates that they do not linearly move along some magical funnel from awareness to commitment. We see this often in coffee as well, where because of taste profiles or geographic pride, many people are loyal to certain brands despite not knowing that much about them.
Application: Brands must quickly engage across multiple touch points and channels.

5. A marketing strategy is only as good as its results. Marketing should fulfill some larger objective and goal. Not all marketing campaigns are geared toward sales. Rather, sometimes the objective is to raise awareness. But eventually, that awareness should land sales and ultimately drive the business goal.
Application: Measure results to confirm success and guide future efforts.

I believe in miracles. After 45 years of discipline, regimentation, and education from Jesuit priests, Holy Cross brothers, and St. Joseph sisters, you can trust that I believe in miracles. But even miracles, and marketing miracles, happen for a reason. The principles detailed in this article shed light on how you the reader can cause a miracle in marketing.

In future articles, we’ll use these principles and this framework to go in depth and illuminate how people, products, services, and brands made marketing miracles happen.

Mike Dabadie is the founder of Heart+Mind Strategies, LLC, a research consultancy that continues to pioneer the use of personal-values insights and marketing. He can be reached at

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