In the 2006 classic Lage Raho Munnabhai, Mahatma Gandhi’s spirit advises Munna that if he follows the Gandhian path, he can obtain what he desires (his ladylove), yet following that way is the most challenging thing. Rajkumar Hirani then guides us into the values Mahatma Gandhi stood for throughout his life – truth, compassion, perseverance, simplicity; and calls it Gandhigiri when people put them into practice in their daily lives.
Today, when most corporations are perceived as greedy, money-minded, and self-serving, it is essential for businesses to learn from Mahatma and champion his values. I believe we marketers can be the catalysts for change. It probably will be difficult and stressful sometimes because there might not be quick fixes and quicker wins. But, like Munna, if we follow the path of Gandhigiri, it will help us be better marketers and perhaps even better people.
Here are four reasons why Gandhigiri by marketers can help turn around the perception of many brands and corporations.
Truth and Transparency
Gandhi was a firm believer in truth and transparency. He thought everything should be out in the open for people to see and make their own judgments. The same rule applies to businesses and brands.
In today’s day and age of social media, it is very easy for businesses to get caught in a web of lies. Once that happens, it is difficult to come back from it. Being truthful and transparent from the start will help businesses build trust with their consumers, which is essential for any long-term relationship.
With omnipresent social media and 24-hour news at their disposal, today’s consumers are savvy and can see through dishonesty a mile away.
Marketers must be transparent with the audience. Tell your customers what they need to know, even if it’s not what they want to hear. Don’t make false promises that your product or service can’t deliver on. Be honest about what your business does and doesn’t do.
If you’re not being honest in your marketing efforts, it will eventually catch up to you. In the long run, honesty is always the best policy.
Gandhi had compassion for his fellow compatriots regardless of their caste, creed, or religion and even the British rulers he was fighting against. He believed that everyone deserved to be treated with respect and dignity.
The same rule applies to businesses and brands. Consumers today want to know if businesses care about more than just making a profit. They want to know that businesses care about their customers, employees, and the world around them.
Consumers are becoming more socially and environmentally conscious and looking for brands that align with their values. In one study by Nielson, 66% of respondents said they would pay more for products and services from companies committed to positive social and environmental impact.
So, marketers must show their consumers that they care more than just making money. There are many ways to do this, such as supporting causes that align with your values, being environmentally friendly, raising awareness for important causes, or treating your employees well.
Customers who see that your brand cares more than just making a profit will be more likely to support you.
Gandhi was a man of great perseverance. He never gave up on his goals, no matter how difficult they may have seemed. He believed that anything worth doing was worth doing well, and he always gave 100% to everything he did.
This is a valuable lesson for businesses and brands as well. Things you do, including marketing campaigns, will never be perfect, and there will always be setbacks, but it’s essential to persevere and never give up on your goals. If you believe in your product or service, don’t give up just because you hit a bump in the road. Soon enough, your hard work will pay off.
Show your consumers that you’re committed to your goals, that these goals are aligned with their interests, and that you’re in it for the long haul. They’ll appreciate your dedication and will be more likely to support you.
Gandhi was the epitome of simplicity and believed in leading a simple life free from unnecessary distractions or complications. He thought that material possessions only held people back and that true happiness came from within.
This is a valuable lesson for businesses as well. In today’s day and age, it’s easy to get caught up in the latest trends and try to keep up with the Joneses. But, what customers really want is simplicity. They don’t want to be bombarded with a million different messages or complicated offers. They just want something easy to understand and that meets their needs.
Businesses must keep their outbound communication simple and focused and the touchpoints approachable. When customers can easily understand your message and connect with you frictionlessly when in distress, you are on the right track to humanizing your organization.
In the fictional world of Munnabhai, Gandhian philosophy, aka Gandhigiri, helped Munna change and drive change. But Gandhigiri can teach us much about being better marketers in the real world. By being honest, showing compassion, developing perseverance, and practicing simplicity, we can help connect our organizations and brands with our consumers (and society) on a deeper level and build long-lasting relationships.