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Oh, the data! Um, I mean humanity.

Oh, the data! Um, I mean humanity.

A piece of advice received at the first AWARD School lecture was to always respect the consumer.

I’m naturally empathetic, so having respect for others is not something I need to keep on a to-do list. It’s also something I expect would be in the minds of all marketing communication professionals, because I believe that we should treat others the way we’d like to be treated.

We watched two lectures about digital advertising and gamification, and I haven’t stopped seeing examples of poorly devised digital and social media campaigns, since.

It’s easy to elevate a tactic before strategy when it’s new, leverages the latest technology, and enables us to gather consumer data like nothing before – leaping tall buildings in a single bound.

However a tactics-driven approach is lazy and dispassionate.

Yes, the amount of data that can be collected is phenomenal and the ROI is enough to plant the cheesiest of grins on the most unflappable marketing exec, but it should not be at the expense of humanity.

Is it a problem data collection may come before respect? I think it is.

Sure, consumers might be a savvy bunch well aware of the opportunities that online experiences offer organisations to gather personal information about them – or not (I’ve heard it argued both ways) – but that’s irrelevant, as it doesn’t mean we shouldn’t regard them, first, as humans who deserve our respect.


Because every day, our customers are made redundant, have a baby, experience the death of a loved one, are diagnosed with cancer, get married and divorced, worry about mortgage payments, are hospitalised, have car accidents, break up with their partner, get a new job, are bullied at work or school, are trying to get fit, reassess the relevance of their insurances, make a choice between Nike and Adidas, seek quality, look for a bargain, donate to charities, tighten their purse strings, and, like us, live a life full of good and bad.

As reflective professionals, we do well to not get too caught up in shiny new toys at the expense of playing nice with our friends, who could be friends for life if we treat them well.

The quality of our relationships with customers, and approach to our work in trying to achieve that end, is an investment in products and services, jobs, creative possibilities and our humanity. 

Tia Psaras was one of 2014's 10 AWARD School students. She works as a freelance copywriter through her business, Little Bird. She also has a young family, is a wannabe children’s picture book author, a knitter of socks and a baker of scones, addicted to Pinterest, and a volunteer member of the Country Women’s Association’s Marketing, Promotions and Publicity Working Party.

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