2014 Marketing: A Lesson from Shel Silverstein

Cyndi Crawford

January 17, 2014

Do you remember the book The Giving Tree by Shel Silverstein? Well, if not, spoiler alert, it’s the one where a tree gives away everything it has–from its apples right down to its trunk. After the tree has given away everything it can, the last sentence in the book reads that “the tree was happy.” I’ve often questioned: How could one give away everything they have and still be happy?

The late British ad-man Paul Arden once said, “Give away everything you know, and more will come back to you.” What a great statement! Perhaps we can all consider it as our mantra for our 2014 marketing.

Tim Williams, founder of Ignition Consulting Group, said, “If your firm would spend more time and energy developing and marketing a relevant, differentiated ‘product’, you could spend a lot less time and energy trying to sell it.” Consider Apple. Have you ever seen a sales representative for the iPhone, or iPad? Sure, there are the blue shirt Specialists wandering around the stores to assist with iPhone sales, but people usually don’t need to be sold on the product. It may actually be the opposite in their case. On release days, customers will literally wait hours outside of their stores anticipating the latest and greatest products. Apple creates and manufactures products so essential and interesting that they basically sell themselves. Isn’t this one of the ideal goals of marketing?

Now, I know it might be a change to stray away from the typical cold calls of selling, but we’re all big kids here and sometimes we need to pull on our big kid pants and market effectively. In today’s technology based culture, avoiding phone calls and email strategies has never been easier. Frankly, some of the traditional methods of marketing just don’t cut it anymore. Moving forward in 2014, make it a goal to “stop selling” and instead, focus on creating a compelling positioning strategy. Give your audience everything you’ve got, and just like the Giving Tree, you’ll find that you can be happy too.