It’s winter solstice today in the Northern Hemisphere: the shortest day of the year.
I’m fascinated by winter solstice because of the knowledge our ancestors had about it. People in different cultures built giant monuments to mark its passing.
Marketing Nurture System readers will be familiar with this example, but this is Maeshowe on the Scottish island of Orkney.
Maeshowe is a stone-age tomb constructed around 3000BC. It’s one of the largest neolithic man-made structures found anywhere in the world.
At sunset on winter solstice, something amazing happens.
For one day only, the setting sun aligns perfectly with the passage, lighting up the inner chamber of the tomb. In times past this would have lit up the remains inside, providing a connection between the living and the dead.
This better-known example is Stonehenge, in Wiltshire.
Many people visit Stonehenge at sunrise on summer solstice, but we now think they may be there at the wrong time of year, facing the wrong way. No animal bones or evidence of feasting has ever been found at Stonehenge, making it possible this was a monument for the dead.
The bluestones which make up the smaller outer henge were dragged all the way from South Wales. We still have no idea how this was achieved, but it took a huge communal effort, and a big belief in something.
This is the Egyptian temple at Karnak, built around 1500BC for the sun god Amun-Ra.
Like the other monuments we’ve seen, the temple is astronomically aligned with the setting sun at winter solstice, lighting up the temple inside.
What strikes me about all three examples is the deep understanding of astronomy and engineering that building these monuments required. It represents a deep understanding of the environment which has become disconnected by modern living.
I really believe that good marketing is all about connection. If you want to improve your results, you have to understand your customers as well as our ancestors understood the changing seasons.
I think people today feel a numb disconnect with the companies we buy from. We’re tired of being labelled as ‘consumers’ (I’m much more than a ‘consumer’, thank you). We’re tired of being endlessly sledge-hammered with the same dumb marketing messages.
You build connection by having something valuable to say, and by allowing yourself to be vulnerable. By telling your story, and by building trust.
Sadly, this isn’t a ‘quick fix’, ‘trick’, or ‘ninja tactic’. It’s actually a big commitment to your audience and a lot of work, even if you outsource the work itself.
It’s a lot of thinking work, even if you outsource the doing.
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