A lesson politicians can learn from marketers and rock stars

May 26, 2016
May 26, 2016 smz-blog

A lesson politicians can learn from marketers and rock stars

“It’s not always rainbows and butterflies, it’s compromise that moves us along.”


With divisive politics littering media channels now more than ever, compromise has become a repulsive trait in today’s polarized society. Compromise has now evolved into a sure sign of weakness rather than a pragmatic way forward.  Pronouncements of “we will never compromise” are common themes in Washington and Lansing.  And all that hard-line rhetoric happens prior to any sort of discussion or dialog on issues of importance.  This rigid, seemingly principled attitude just disguises an inability to do two things that we in marketing practice instinctively: engage and listen, core attributes for any healthy conversation and key elements in in how we approach every assignment at SMZ Listen. Think. Do.

Make no mistake: compromise is challenging. It requires us to understand, even anticipate views other than our own. It’s far easier to remain entrenched in your own ideas. But where would business, our world or the institution of marriage ever be without the advancements enabled by centuries of compromise? Amputating a valuable method for dealing with different views or disagreements is as intellectually and psychologically dysfunctional as it is just plain ludicrous.  When issues are complex or disagreements threaten a common good or goal, compromise is the bridge that gaps differing positions.

Nelson Mandela understood the virtue of compromise. Many of his defining moments involved acts of compromise, pragmatism and reconciliation.  Mandela and other great leaders realize that compromise is a quality that leverages persuasion.  The more strategies available that build bridges to facilitate common ground, the better.

The advertising business thrives in an environment of opposing imperatives: educate/entertain, rational/emotional.  That can often create gaps on how best to present a proposition. In the end our clients and we agree how to communicate.  Actively listening, thinking, doing makes for powerful marketing – all created on the principles of compromise.

Rich Williams, SVP/Strategic Business Development

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