Americans seem ready to excel at social distancing, which includes binge watching Netflix shows like “Self Made: Inspired by the Life of C.J. Walker.” Madam Walker lived over a century ago, but core marketing lessons from her life are still relevant today. No stranger to hard work or adversity, Madam Walker persevered against the odds and became the country’s first self-made female millionaire.
Lean on your community
One cornerstone of crowdfunding is the principle that success is better achieved when we involve those in our communities. People are invested in the success of their neighbours and the businesses around them, because 67% of each dollar spent at a small business stays in the community. Madam Walker paid her sales staff exceptionally well and she sought investors who shared her values. As such, her success translated to helping others and uplifting the entire community through philanthropy and social justice. Crowdfunding offers entrepreneurs their best shot at making their business a reality, and it creates local investors who own equity. Both parties win, at the expense of no one.
Millennials have a high bullshit detector that brands often struggle to understand; likely because the stewards of these companies often simply can’t relate. This was where Madam Walker thrived. Her personal experience with the miracle hair product she championed was infectious because it was relatable and genuine. People tend to know when they’re being sold to, which is why Madam Walker’s marketing messaging of authenticity stood out. She used her imagery on the packaging because she knew it was more relatable to her target market, rather than a stylized model.
Listen to your instincts
There were several times throughout Madam Walker’s life when others tried to talk her out of her vision and goals. Yet, she remained steadfast in her beliefs and dreams, and stopped at nothing to leave a legacy and help her community. She knew she had a successful product for a large niche of underserved customers. This instinct meant she wasn’t dissuaded by naysayers, and setbacks were nothing more than an opportunity to push forward.
As the coronavirus continues to wreak havoc on the global economy, these marketing lessons may possibly be more applicable today since small businesses and entrepreneurs will be tasked with revitalizing the economy.