What Do Fashion and Marketing Have in Common?

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High heels red Dollarphotoclub_67190357Attended a marketing conference lately? Take a tour of just about any trade show floor today and you’re bound to see more than just an undistinguished, logo-branded tee with no-name jeans; on the contrary, you’re sure to encounter a wide array of personal styles – the prepster, the hipster, the techie. Nowhere was this diversity more pronounced than at this year’s Dreamforce, which brought all sorts of looks, attitudes, and accessories and helped shine a light on the eclectic make-up of the modern marketer.

Dreamforce is an event devoted to enhancing the user experience and accelerating innovation. It’s been described as the Super Bowl of cloud conferences (and also the Burning Man of…). This year it drew something like 135,000 people – attendees who were in perpetual motion between Moscone Center and the many other venues the event encompassed. The people-watching was excellent, and I began to see three themes that overlapped both marketing trends and fashion trends: simplicity, engagement, and personalization. Let’s take a closer look. (BTW, about those heels … I didn’t see many stilettos; most people were practical and wore comfortable shoes.)


We are all bogged down by information overload every day, in work, in play, at home. This creates a need for counter-balancing simplicity wherever we can manage to find it. Just like marketing (and, ahem, marketing automation), simplicity begins with ease of use. woman-blazerTrue simplicity takes a great deal of design and a lot of heavy lifting behind the curtain to make it look easy. Many hard decisions go into what to edit away from your campaign or your interface (or your outfit). Simplicity delivers complexity in the clearest and most concise way.

Those who look for simplicity in their personal style may choose neutral colors that might not need contrast to achieve a bold statement. For example, these simple black pants provide an elegant backdrop for the perfectly fitting, well-cut camel-colored blazer. Simplicity could mean little (or no) jewelry. Minimal makeup, unfussy hair, scant (but well-tailored) accessories.


As our marketing technologies continually evolve, we marketers have to stay up to date. The biggest trend (as I see it) is the great new opportunities we have to engage with our customers, clients, and leads. Look at all the channels we have, and look at all the ways social media gives us to engage one-on-one. It’s dazzling! According to Paul Greenberg, author and customer relationship management expert, customer engagement is defined as:

“The ongoing interactions between company and customer, offered by the company, chosen by the customer.”

Successful engagement requires a clutch of skills – you’re keeping up with current trends, you’re keeping your finger on the pulse of your customers and prospects; at the same time you’re looking ahead for what is coming next. Engagement is “high touch,” meaning a one-to-one personal connection, or an electronic communication that feels personal. Well-timed and managed engagement creates a constant exchange between marketers and customers, fostering open dialog and interaction.

Now, how does that translate into fashion? In the ability to look like a real, approachable person. For clothes, it’s about structured clothing that doesn’t look structured. Real fibers … silk, wool, linen, cotton, for authenticity that doesn’t have to shout. Nothing too formal or off-putting, but open collars and that warm and welcoming vibe.

One trend it doesn’t translate to: Google Glass. Glass may be cool or techno for a small slice of the bleeding-edge early adopters…but this wearable tech creates a barrier, discouraging engagement.


We’re all professional marketers … we’re all also consumers. And as consumers, we want to feel like we can connect and relate to the products we buy. We know first-hand the more personalized the messaging, the more engaged you (the customer) are as a result.

We like to put that knowledge to work in our own marketing. We’re always looking for new ways to add personalized touches that have meaning to our buyers, or brainstorming highly targeted campaigns that cater to specific customer behaviors.

Personalization wins again, in fashion. Marketers are a creative bunch. We like to add those special touches that set us apart. Maybe we have a unique hairstyle. Maybe we always wear turquoise jewelry, or a fedora, or socks with Birkenstocks – no matter the weather. Cufflinks with our initials.

Or maybe, like a stylish purse, we just wing it!

Did you attend this year’s Dreamforce? Share with us in the comments below your own ideal looks and fashion takeaways!



“Google Glass” photo © Rijans007/Wikimedia Commons, 2013, used under a Creative Commons 2.0 license