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7 Servant Marketing Principles to Live & Do Business By (+ Real-Life Examples)

Updated: Jun 22, 2020

I’m going to get right into it - because you’re here for good, meaty, meaningful content … not a drawn out intro. Adopt these 7 Servant Marketing Principles and you’ll transform your life and business:

1. Start with your customer - ALWAYS

Use customer research, data, and insights to drive everything you do. Focus on serving them, solving their problems, and fulfilling their dreams and you’ll build a large, loyal army of advocates for your business.

Who’s killing this in real life? Coca-Cola. Coca-Cola uses their digital loyalty program, MyCokeRewards to connect with customers by asking them to “explore a whole world of experiences.” You “sip & scan” Coca-Cola products on their mobile app to earn points towards experiences, prizes, and contests. They even have a community giving program where you can donate to the causes you care about the most. The best part? They use the customer data they collect in the program to provide customers with more meaningful experiences when they’re not expecting it. When interviewed by ADMA, Coca-Cola’s Director of Data Strategy Justin De Graaf, said this:

"When someone has an ice cold Coca-Cola, it's a moment of refreshment and enjoyment. We want our marketing to reinforce that great experience and will always work to make our consumer connections stronger. What consumers don't like is being bothered, interrupted or targeted with ads that aren't relevant to them. I don't like that in my own feeds, and neither do our consumers. We understand that. So we plan to use data and technology to continually improve on our brand experiences.”

LOVE IT! Here’s a link to the full interview if you want more insight.

2. Provide value FIRST

This applies to everything. Lead generation experiences, sales funnels, cross-sells, everything. If you’re asking someone to do something for you, whether it’s giving up their email address, opening their wallet, or referring a friend, you need to provide them with value before, during, and after – every time. This can be as simple as adding a video with educational value to your squeeze page, or as intricate as a retargeting strategy where there is no absolutely no ask from the customer on step 1. Try making your sales experience all about delivering value instead of a transaction and see what happens. Who’s killing this in real life? Il Makiage. Il Makiage is a beauty company that specializes in perfect-match foundation. Okay, before I lose all the men, let me quickly explain how they’re changing the game for make up lovers. One of the most stressful parts of buying foundation is when you pay a heavy price tag to try something new, get it home, try it on, and BAM, you end up looking like Donald Trump. But Il Makiage is setting a new standard for customer service in the beauty industry by letting you get the product and try it for 2 whole weeks before paying for it. That’s unheard of! Their mission is “to give you the quality you demand without ever compromising the flawless experience you deserve.” Fabulous. A+.

3. Get vulnerable

People don’t want to buy from businesses. People want to buy from people. Get vulnerable with your audience. Share your story. What do you believe in? Why should like-minded people join you? What can you accomplish together? Share your accomplishments, but also share your failures. Make a mistake? Own up to it, fix it. Say you’re sorry. Be human. Who’s killing this in real life? Air BnB. For this one, I want to share an example of a public apology from a big-name company, because this can be one of the hardest – but most vital – acts of vulnerability a business can make. It can mean the difference between gaining authentic customer forgiveness and loyalty or a PR train wreck after making a public mistake in business. In 2015, Air BnB was ripped to shreds in the media for racial profiling and discrimination. According to Hubspot, Harvard researchers released a working paper, which indicated that travelers with “distinctively African-American names are 16% less likely to be accepted relative to identical guests with distinctively White names.” Air BnB knew they needed to be quick, transparent, and forthcoming in their response. The following is their public apology that followed:

And staying committed to their values, they released the following SuperBowl ad in 2017:

Admitting you’re wrong or a mistake was made is NEVER an easy thing to do. But it could be exactly what you need to make things right and showcase the true values and beliefs of your brand. You can read more about this and other public apologies from big-name companies in this blog from Hubspot.

4. Create a community

Start a conversation with your marketing, create a community. People want to feel a part of something bigger than themselves, they want to feel connected to other people. Meet them where they are, bring them together. Invite everyone, but stay authentic and true to your values. A tribe of raving fans can be more fruitful than a sea of lukewarm customers. Who’s killing this in real life? Jeep. Okay, so I drive a jeep … but I’m not just biased! They have done an amazing job of creating a community, and making buyers and prospective buyers feel like a part of a family. They promote it as a community of adventurers. Buying a jeep promotes that you live a certain lifestyle of freedom, fun, and adventure – and that you’re a pretty cool dude (or dudette in my case). :-) And with exclusive events, statement apparel, and special deals, there are clear advantages to belonging to the Jeep community. But driving an even more human connection is the “Jeep Wave.” It’s customary for Jeepers to exchange waves every time they pass each other on the road. Personally, it brings a little more joy to my world daily – making me smile every. single. time. And Jeep capitalizes on that emotion in their marketing in the best ways... As an example, here’s an email I got from them - they use the sender profile “Jeep Wave”:

Every time I see an email from them I’m filled with the same emotion as when I get a real-life wave on the road. Ask most Jeepers and they’ll tell you they’ll never buy anything but. The community Jeep has created is one huge driver of that customer happiness and loyalty.

5. Make empathy your superpower

Most of the time all people want is to be heard, to be understood. So be understanding, and listen to them. Or go one step further and walk a mile in their shoes... Attempt to feel what they feel, and let them see themselves in your content and ads. But don’t just talk the talk, showcase personal testimonials with proven results. Treat them how you want to be treated. Who’s killing this in real life? Dove. Dove empathizes with consumers on the regular, but their 2013 ‘Real Beauty Sketches’ campaign hit the empathy nail on the head. This video campaign brought consumers to tears as Dove showcased our distorted reality of self-image.

Okay, if you’ve seen this video and didn’t cry … are you a robot? It’s so good... And a big part of what makes it so good is that it’s so relatable. We’ve all struggled with self-esteem issues at one point or another. And with its tagline, “You’re more beautiful than you think,” the campaign evoked an incredibly emotional and empathetic response climbing to over 8 million views.

6. Over-deliver. Every. Time.

One of the core values here at Servant Marketing Co. is to “only do work your mama would be proud of.” Make sure you’re doing the “mom test” on every marketing piece you put out. If you spent a little more time, would this ad be better? If you took the risk to get that once-in-a-lifetime shot for that video, would it make the difference? Do it, every time. Go further than most are willing to. Follow this one simple principle and you’ll beat out 90% of other businesses. (The other 10% are your people - work and connect with them!) Who’s killing this in real life? Apple. Okay, I know everyone has their opinion of Apple. You either love it or hate it (hmm … they must be doing a great job of speaking to their ideal customers :-) but what I don’t think anyone can really deny is that they go above and beyond for their ads... ...and they do so by putting their money where their mouth is and showcasing the exceptional quality of their products. A lot of their crisp, high-quality video ads are shot and edited using their very own iPhones. In March of 2020, Apple released an unprecedented and epic ad that was over 5 hours long, and shot in ONE TAKE on the iPhone 11 Pro, without one recharge of the battery! Or maybe you remember the following “Snowbrawl” ad released in 2019:

Apple goes above and beyond to showcase the exceptional quality of their products, but also the incredible opportunity they’re giving consumers to create whatever their heart desires, exceptionally. Go above and beyond for your customers and they’ll go above and beyond for your business (like camp overnight in front of an Apple store for their latest and greatest).

7. Show your gratitude

This one’s my favorite, because it’s guaranteed to also help you live a happier life… Tell your customers that you are grateful for them, often. Better yet, show them. Show them with random acts of gratitude. Slip a handwritten note into their product order, do a zero-profit giveaway, spotlight customers on the regular. Your customer is keeping you in business, thank them for it. Who’s killing this in real life? Maker’s Mark Maker’s Mark has a one-of-a-kind ambassador program that any loyal customer can be a part of. All you have to do to join the club is prove your fandom by acing a quick pop quiz. And to thank you for your loyalty, all new ambassadors are then assigned a barrel of Maker’s Mark where your name is engraved on a special place card. Once that barrel is finished aging, special ambassador bottles are made from the batch with your name on it. You also get some free swag around the holidays. Pretty sweet, right? Consumers want to do business with brands that make them feel special and appreciated. What are you doing to set your business apart? Adopt these 7 servant marketing principles and I guarantee you will transform your business, AND your life. Need help? Head over to and get a free strategy session. Got it all figured out? Post on social what you’re doing to shake up the industry and tag @ServantMarketingCo. We can’t wait to see how you’re changing lives! Cheers to our growth, Xoxo Sasha Canady Servant Marketing Co.

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