Lessons from Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Every Marketer and Leader Should Learn

There’s not an American alive today who doesn’t know of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and those most famous words he spoke: “I have a dream.” On Monday, as our country takes the time to honor the man that changed the United States forever for the better, we wanted to reflect on the amazing legacy of leadership he left behind. While we certainly can’t draw any comparisons between our daily marketing efforts and the enormity of the cause Dr. King championed, we can look to him as a model for effectively captivating, motivating and inspiring others. Here are our favorite stand-out lessons from Martin Luther King, Jr.:


Lessons Learned from Dr. MLK Jr

Have a vision and share it

Dr. King is known for being an incredible visionary, and he made it a point to clearly articulate his vision for our future during his famous speech: “My four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin, but by the content of their character.” As marketers and leaders, we too need to have a vision for the future of our brands and we must articulate that vision to our peers to be successful. Why does your company do what it does? How can your brand make a difference in people’s day-to-day lives? It may not be easy to arrive at the answer, but asking these questions is a step in the right direction to understanding and harnessing your vision.

You must disrupt the status quo to create change

While we take the time to revere Dr. King, it’s important to remember that he unfortunately was not thought of this fondly during his life. His ideas went against the status quo of the time, and as a result, many people did not understand (much less follow) him. As marketers in a historically commodity-centric industry, our ideas don’t always resonate with company leadership or those who are comfortable sticking to the norm. If we desire evolution as an industry and ongoing relevance as a brand, it might be necessary to have the heart to shake up the status quo and stand by your vision even when others don’t understand the “why.” Which brings us to the next lesson…

Don’t expect change overnight

Nothing that’s worth doing is easy, and disrupting the status quo certainly is not. Dr. King and his followers worked tirelessly for years to bring their vision to fruition. Without their efforts, where would we be today? Imagine the same in regards to your brand and your company’s future. It will take time and hard work to accomplish the successes you dream of, but they are possible as long as you have a plan and are willing to keep chipping away at your vision, piece by piece, until the bigger picture is realized.

Align with like-minded partners

Dr. King knew that he couldn’t accomplish his vision entirely on his own. He needed to work with other like-minded leaders and influencers to inspire the community and get his message out. As a result, he aligned himself with other religious leaders, activists and even President Lyndon B. Johnson to reach others. For marketers and leaders, this is a powerful example of strength in numbers. There are endless opportunities to align with like-minded companies both inside and outside of the industry, as well as teaming up with powerful influencers and bloggers who will champion not just your products, but your vision.

Don’t be afraid to be emotional

One of the reasons Dr. King’s speech was so effective was not only because of his powerful confidence, but also because he wasn’t afraid to demonstrate raw emotion to his listeners. People connect to emotion, and marketers and leaders can use this same approach to bring followers into their fold. And remember: this emotion can’t be about you. Marketers that successfully utilize emotional appeals do so successfully by being bigger than the products or services that you sell.

Repeat, repeat, repeat!

Some marketing experts say it takes 7 or more times of seeing a message before someone will remember it. Dr. King made sure to repeat his dream and message to people as often as possible with powerful and clear words. While your message might not be as paramount as King’s, you can still find success with the repetition approach in your marketing strategy by being consistent across all of your brand’s touchpoints.

These are powerful lessons for leaders of all types across all industries. We hope that during this time of reverence for the iconic Dr. King, fresh produce marketers will take time to consider what they can learn from him in their professional as well as personal lives, to become better marketers, better Americans and better humans.

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