Guest post by Ali Lawrence
Though these two women had very different backgrounds, they actually had a great deal in common. They were both performers, and they were both seen as fonts of wisdom and honesty, Angelou based on her incredible series of beautifully written autobiographies and Davis because of her role as a no-nonsense housekeeper.
They were both role models to me growing up. I appreciated their strong sense of self and their commitment to their art. And they both, surprisingly, taught me lessons about marketing.
Maya Angelou’s Honesty
Perhaps the thing I admired most about Angelou was her unwavering self-confidence. She was unapologetic about her past, which included a stint as a prostitute in a brothel. She believed it was important to acknowledge your past, and not to cover it up, because there’s simply no point in it. People will figure it out sooner or later. Wouldn’t, she argued, you rather explain to your children why you made mistakes, and in turn offer them forgiveness and understanding for theirs, rather adopt a fake piety?
The same is true in marketing. Any attempt at dishonesty is eventually uncovered. Whether you’re dealing with a PR crisis or trying a new marketing technique, honesty is always the best policy. Despite your past or what you’ve done, people will respect you if your honest about it. Nobody likes to be duped.
Ann Davis’ Sense of Humor
What always came across about Davis on screen was her genuine funniness. She did not put on airs in her performances. The Bradys’ longtime housekeeper, Alice, shared many of Davis’ finest qualities. She was funny and caring and forgiving. She was also tolerant. Though Davis was an accomplished actress who had won Emmy awards before “Brady Bunch,” for most of her career she was recognized as only “the Bradys’ housekeeper.” She kept good humor about it and appreciated that she had brought people happiness in the iconic Alice role.
The ability to bring a smile to your audience is also appreciated in marketing. A campaign with a funny theme or message really resonates with people, because they like to laugh. You’re much more likely to respond to something that makes you smile than frown, and tickling someone’s funny bone is a great way to form a connection that can last much longer than the campaign itself.
Taking a Cue from Real Life
Marketing is like anything else: There are lessons to learn from life, you just have to be paying attention. Maya Angelou and Ann Davis are two outstanding examples of what you can achieve when you work hard. We’d be wise to emulate their approach to achieve our own success as well.