If I could ban one phrase from our workplaces, it would be this, “It’s not personal, it’s just business.” That single phrase is the biggest lie we’ve ever told ourselves and it simply has to stop. For most people it IS personal. Every interaction we have with each other matters.Whatever business you are in, you’re in the people business

No matter what a company makes, sells, or does it is all in service of people in one way or another. On top of that, the company relies on people to make, sell, or do whatever it is they add to the world in exchange for money. People are by and large your greatest asset, and somehow things got confused over the years and people became a liability.

Whether you make hinges or build rockets, code software or write technical manuals, your work is in the service of people. So why do we focus so much on the product and not the people? Usually it’s for the worst of all possible reasons.

“We’ve always done it that way.”

Traditional marketing has always focused on the four “Ps;” product, promotion, price, and placement. Notice what is missing there? PEOPLE. With this model we don’t even call them people, we talk about “target customers,” which is pretty dehumanizing if you think about it. People are broken into demographic groups treated as a whole, as if all mothers who have children that play soccer are the stereotypical “soccer mom.”

Groups of seemingly similar people do not buy products and services. Individuals do. You know, regular human beings with complex webs of experience and culture, who face different kinds of challenges every day. So why do we build our businesses and our marketing around these demographic groups?

The usual process goes something like this:

  • Identify product/service the company wants to sell.
  • Create a promotion for that product/service.
  • Set a price for the promotion.
  • Place the product/service and the promotion in places the target customer might be. This usually is done using traditional advertising channels like radio, TV, print, billboards,

These three steps change everything

If you really want to be successful, the first thing you need to do is stop thinking about money. Follow these steps in order and apply them to everything that you do. Whether internal or external customers, regardless of function or department, product or service; it doesn’t matter. Always start with people.

  • People first
  • Promotion second
  • Product last

So how do you start with people?

You create something called personas. Once you’ve really taken the time to understand the people your business serves, you’ll be amazed how much more effective your promotions become.