Men are from Mars, women are from Venus – everyone knows that. I’m referring, of course, to the blockbuster non-fiction book on relationships published in 1992. The book’s author, Dr. John Gray, asserts that men and women become so ingrained in their respective gender cultures, that they have a difficult time understanding the cultures and customs of the opposite gender. While the principles discussed in the book can be helpful in managing personal relationships, they also have application for other areas of life – including advertising. You may not have realized it, but clients are from Mars and advertising professionals are from Venus. Both planets boast great beauty and host intelligent life forms, but they are also very different from one another in many respects.

Mars is a wonderful planet filled with tall buildings made of glass and steel. For the most part, the planet’s inhabitants wear suits and ties, high heels and dresses. Martians, or clients, are concerned with annual budgets, quarterly performance reviews, and monthly board meetings. Prior to any sort of blast-off, they carefully compose a mission statement. They speak a strange language, often repeating words such as ROI, cost-savings, and key performance indicator.

Venus is also a wonderful place. On Venus, advertising professionals sit in beanbag chairs and on couches dreaming of their next creative award. Inhabitants abide in brightly colored dwellings, which usually feature odd angles, exposed brick and beams. They dress casually and speak of beauty, aesthetic, and design. Often, they forgo speaking altogether in favor of drawing pictures. They frequently bring their animals to work with them. They write on their windows and have a strange obsession with retro style.

When contact occurs between the two civilizations, frustration and confusion often result. Inter-planetary communication can be difficult. This is not because either world is better or because either civilization is more intelligent, more efficient, or more correct. Rather, it is because advertising professionals and their clients grow accustomed to the cultures and communication styles of their own planets and fail to learn the languages and customs of their galactic neighbors.

Fortunately, there is a simple method for avoiding dark energy, black holes, and big bangs. Not surprisingly, that method is communication. By taking the time to discuss strategies, goals, budgets, and schedules, advertising professionals and their clients can build productive and harmonious relationships. In doing so, it is important to stop looking at each other through telescopes and to start understanding and adopting the language and customs of the other. Frequent space voyages to each other’s planets can be especially effective. Advertising professionals and their clients may come from different worlds, but disciplined communication can lead to universal bliss.