Based on the title of this blog you might be scratching your head a little. What on earth do yoga pants have to do with financial marketing? Side-by-side – nothing. If you were thinking that, I’m with you. And, I’m going to go ahead and debunk that myth.
First things first, HELLO, actual human being on the other side of this screen. Allow me to introduce myself, because there is another actual human being on the other side of your screen as you read this. The more technology evolves to make actual human interaction unnecessary to communicate and accomplish common goals, the easier it is to feel siloed. Separate. But we aren’t. There is still a person behind most of what we touch every day. And the person behind this copy right now is named Stef, but most people call me Sauce.
I want to talk to you about yoga pants.
In 2013, I was at a real inflection point in my life. I’d just made the decision to step away from the career I’d built as a makeup artist and wanted to pursue something that felt more aligned in my soul. What that was going to be was a mystery. In the meantime, I needed a job. Enter – lululemon (intentionally not capitalized, by the way – #onbrand). Considering that I was doing yoga every day and needed something flexible schedule-wise, it was a no-brainer to apply. Little did I know that slinging yoga pants was about to change my path forever.
If you think you’re walking into your average retail operation when you set foot in lululemon, think again. The behind-the-scenes pulse of this brand is unlike anything you’ve ever understood. This isn’t the Gap, friends. We always said that stretchy pants were just the thing keeping the lights on so we could be up to the work we were really here to do in the world. If you’d have walked into the store and interacted with me, you’d assume I was just a “sales” person. Lifting the veil would reveal that I was in charge of our Community relationships and strategies, Brand identity/strategy, and People/Leadership development. My job in its essence was to be connected to people. To know them and support them.
You see, it’s never actually about the “thing” you’re selling. Over the course of my time with lululemon, I witnessed the actual magic of human connection as the currency of building entities that make an impact. People don’t go buy yoga pants to go buy yoga pants. What they’re buying is a feeling. Clothes are less about the job they perform and much, much more about how we feel in them as they are woven into the fabric of our lives. The conversion of potential “client” or “customer” to an actual one, is the investment we make in learning who they are, what they really need, and having an authentic interest in supporting them.
If you’re on the EmpowerFi blog it’s safe to assume that at least 8 out of 10 of you are in the financial marketing world. Make no mistake however, dear reader; you are in the business of relationships. What you do is fundamentally reliant on connections that are genuine. Someone’s financial planning, investments, and overall well-being are intimately connected to who they are and what is important to them; to their families and their goals and their visions for their lives. Can you run a business without caring about that? Sure you can. But you won’t build an impactful one. You might make a few bucks but you’ll always essentially be missing the real mark. You cannot flourish without connection.
How do you do it? How do you build real-ationships? You ask questions. You seek to know the story of the person in front of you. What matters to them? What are their dreams? Who do they love? What’s going on for them right now? How can you leverage all of the tools in your arsenal to be their ally? It’s so wonderfully uncomplicated – how would you show up for a friend? Now go do that for your clients, your employees, your people.
Zoom out. Forget the “product” you’re selling. If your job description was “care about the person in front of you” – what would that look like? You’d be amazed at what you can do with a cup of coffee, a question, and some yoga pants.
BRAND | CULTURE ENGINEER