The Three Musketeers and Marketing

Posted by Amy Peveto on February 13, 2012

Last week I finally gave up on trying to read Alexandre Dumas’ classic novel The Three Musketeers. It was a valiant effort, but in the end it just wasn’t worth the confusion. Reading felt vaguely like torture, so I sent the tale packing. What does this have to do with marketing, you ask? Excellent question!

I love reading, but I gave up on The Three Musketeers for the same reasons I give up on doing business with a company: I couldn’t tell who anyone is, what they were doing, or why they were doing it.

Who are you?

The titular musketeers are Aramis, Athos, and Porthos. Dumas didn’t do a great job of describing them physically, and they all behave similarly — if you asked me to list a defining feature of any of them, I’d be at a loss.

Who is your company? What sets you apart? If you look and behave like everyone else, you’ll blend into the crowd and be forgotten.

What do you do?

The Three Musketeers was particularly frustrating to me because I could never figure out the plot. When I got to page 156 (of over 600) and I still didn’t know what was happening, I threw in the towel.

What’s your objective, and can you state it clearly? If I come to your website or read your printed promotional material and I can’t understand what you do, something’s wrong; if I get almost a quarter of the way through your website or your sales pitch and can’t articulate your business objectives, something needs to change or I’m going to disappear.

Why do you do it?

Dumas’ musketeers didn’t seem to have much reasoning behind their actions. Why do they hate Cardinal Richelieu so much? Why do they insist on dueling and killing everyone they meet?

Why do you do what you do? Why are your recommendations and actions what they are? The word “transparency” is thrown around a lot, but it’s important — if I can’t make sense of your business practices or recommendations, I’m not likely to follow them.

The moral of the story

In marketing, as in reading, being clear matters. Are you making an effort to stand apart and state clearly what you do and why, or are people giving up on you a quarter of the way through?

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Submitted by Dave Huffman on Fri, 02/17/2012 - 1:23pm

A nice book marker of an article Amy...

"Have I been clear enough here?" is one of those foundational questions I try to ask myself with every piece of content I publish.

I remember when I played music for a living, the absolute hardest thing to do was answer the "million dollar question"...which was "What do you sound like, man?"

When I could finally nail it down, I had crafted it to a quick elevator-ish pitch and you could just see the clarity come over someone's face when you'd tell them.

Some of the time, anyways... ;)

Submitted by Amy Peveto on Fri, 02/17/2012 - 2:40pm

Thanks, Dave. That's a good question to ask yourself with every article, and certainly shouldn't be ignored during the sales and communication process either.

Most musicians get that question. :) Just like authors get, "What's your writing like?"

That's a hard one, though. People gravitate to what's familiar, and so if you mention a band or sound they like, they're more likely to give your stuff a try. But if you sound like everyone get an article like this one. :)