Market Strategy, Spirituality, Nature, Water

Lessons from water in marketing strategy?

Think of thirst and it reminds you how important life is. That force of life and spirit is never so clear and definite, until it touches and acquaints you with your inner being; its energy binds nature and earth; its serenity is a reminder of values and morals; and the vehemence and depth draw out the pitfalls of corruption, sin, and cruelty.

While in a drop of water lies all meaning of life, we look at business lessons and marketing strategies today.

From a clear analogy of water we can derive the following lessons, both true for marketing and life:

  1. Nothing can beat an indispensable product and utility almost always overshadows packaging

The history of cultures began at the banks of great rivers. Mesopotamian, Egyptian, Chinese or Indian, water is so valuable that it’s sacred to all civilizations. The first lesson from water in marketing strategy: while we talk about marketing and branding, we often overlook substance for packaging.

Disneyland makes everything obvious with the tagline—The happiest place on Earth. In a busy world, this is a place you’d rather go.

Volkswagen introduced Beetle with the tagline—Think small. It was an instant hit because it spoke of utility. Among crowded streets, customers loved the idea of a car that is easy to park and maneuver.


  1. The viscosity of water symbolizes creativity, sexuality and the ability to adapt

Almost all religions give special importance to water. The Indian Samkhya philosophy symbolizes water as the apas tattva. In Sanskrit, ap is water and tattva means essence, reality, and principle. The second lesson from water in marketing strategy: adapting to change is the greatest power one can have.

Enterprises need to change with each passing day. Kodak failed because they couldn’t foresee the opportunities in digital photography. Xerox made the first Graphic User Interface and handed it over to Apple for free. Blackberry and Nokia from being key players fell down to fringes of smart phone industry because they didn’t innovate faster.


While on the surface it may seem that small businesses have less ‘viscosity’ than larger organizations due to budgetary limitations, there is increasing realization that customer perception and acceptance to changing identities is more flexible when it comes to start-ups.

Back in 1996, a search engine called BackRub began operations. In 1998, founders Larry Page and Serge Brin renamed it Google. When a store called Sound of Music opened in 1966, it was already successful but a tornado caused them to sell their damaged and excess stock in the company garage. The sale offered ‘best buys’ on all products. It was so successful that the store became Best Buy in 1983.

Apas tattva in water is the attribute of purification, sexuality, birth and mythical chaos (creativity). Be jeans, cigarettes or cars, brands have used sex as effective marketing tools since the beginning of commerce and trade. Like other life forms, we are most prone to the thoughts of food, danger, and sex. However, marketing that is too overt in displaying sex fails.

Abercrombie and Finch published a quarterly that was often referred by critics as ‘soft-porn.’ After a run of boycotts, it’s publication stopped in 2003.  It is indispensable to remember the mystical aspect of this device. The ads for Calvin Klein Jeans featured Brook Shields with the slogan: ‘Want to know what gets between me and my Calvin’s? Nothing.’ The campaign did really well for the brand.


  1. Never take anyone, especially the customer for granted

Bodhidharma, considered the first teacher of Zen Buddhism, says: “This mind is the Buddha.  I don’t talk about dicta, devotions or ascetic practices such as immersing yourself in water and fire, treading a wheel of knives, eating one meal a day, or never lying down.  These are fanatical, provisional teachings.  Once you recognize your moving, miraculously aware nature, yours is the mind of Buddha.” The greatest and the most important lesson that water teaches us in marketing strategy is not to underestimate your own strength. Enterprises in a bid to get more customers overlook their existing audiences. Also, deluging existing customers with promotional mailers and messages only detract them from returning.

Imagine a leader who sends his posters to household to influence them. Another leader takes time to build a relationship by constantly asking them how they have been. One way for business to build relationships is to offer satisfying experiences to new customers and use those to build conversations around new topics. This can happen only by connecting the customer service efforts to sales and marketing.

Examples of the ‘relationship’ approach:

‘10 ways to use [Product Last Bought] outdoors.’ [Content Marketing]

‘Hi ABC, this is Mark from XEcom. Hope you are enjoying your [Product Last Bought]. Just wanted to give you a heads-up for our LastDollar Sale.’   [Mailer]

  1. Everything can be controlled and further improved

To baptize, a body is either immersed or simply sprinkled with water. The ritual symbolizes purification, getting rid of the ‘original sin’. Baptism has origins in Israelites being led by Moses out of slavery and in the baptism of Jesus by John the Baptist of Jordan. If a business is facing a challenge, there’s always a solution. That solution is internal or external. Are you looking for support, funds or bigger deadlines?

The answer is in the problem. Identifying the challenge is the beginning of a solution. Do you need to network more? Do you need to have clearer goals? Are you setting unrealistic expectations? You have the power to purify yourself.



Thus, if we delve deeper, we realize that the real significance of water is even greater than religion itself. Lao-Tzu (c. 570B) the Chinese philosopher says, “In the world, there is nothing more submissive and weak than water. Yet for attacking that which is hard and strong nothing can surpass it.”

Posted in Marketing, Strategy.

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