What Jimmy Buffet and Bruce Cockburn can teach Marketers about Nailing a Persona?


While at the gym this morning I was listening to my iPod to take my mind off the workout. I guess I hit “shuffle” and in the middle of the upbeat songs I try to keep up with a song by Jimmy Buffet grabbed me. His song; “Pacing the cage” so intimately captured a feeling that so many leaders experience at some time, but more often when the supposedly “made it”.

Maybe it’s because today is my 48th birthday and I am always a bit reflective on my birthday, but this song totally nailed my feelings, and the feelings of a number of the executives I have helped.

If you have not heard the song, below are to lyrics I downloaded from one of the song Lyric web sites for you.

by: Bruce Cockburn
Sunset is an angel weeping
Holding out a bloody sword
No matter how I squint I cannot
Sometimes you feel like you’ve lived too long
Days drip slowly on the page
And You catch yourself
Pacing the cage
I’ve proven who I am so many times
The magnetic strip’s worn thin
And each time I was someone else
And everyone was taken in
Powers chatter in high places
Stir up eddies in the dust of rage
Set me to pacing the cage
[ Jimmy Buffett Lyrics are found on http://www.songlyrics.com ]
I never knew what you all wanted
So I gave you everything
All that I could pillage
All the spells that I could sing
It’s as if the thing were written
In the constitution of the age
Sooner or later you’ll wind up
Pacing the cage
Sometimes the best map will not guide you
You can’t see what’s round the bend
Sometimes the road leads through dark places
Sometimes the darkness is your friend
Today these eyes scan bleached-out land
For the coming of the outbound stage
Pacing the cage
Pacing the cage

The way I feel and what I hear other executives share is our lives can be broken into three phases if you will;

Go get it

Don’t lose it

Give it away.

When I was in the “Go Get it” phase I was working 6-7 days a week, traveling 4-5 days per week, with 18 hour days. I thought it was about building wealth, about building safety for me and my family, but the truth was this time was about self justification and proving my metal. A bad choice as I reflect because lost so many memories with my young children and my wife while I was…on the road.

So you have moved up through the ranks, and now “you da man” and you have teams reporting to you. You still are full of the “piss and vinegar” that got you hear, but now you also focus on growing what you captured as well as protecting it in the “don’t lose it phase”. At some point you have a wakeup call moment, something that happens that makes you say “is this all there is?”

At that moment you have a wakeup call and realize all your focus, all your driving for success is kind of a hollow victory. Some of the worst times in my career were when I achieved a goal early. (Now what?) Sometimes I hear executives say it happens when they are sitting quietly at their big desk when everyone has gone home for the night, and they realize they just missed their daughter’s musical recital.

Then we move into “Give it away” in which success becomes second to significance. In this phase, the phase I am in now, we want to not just “kick ass and take names” but we want significance, we want to make a difference in this world and the lives of others. Studying the Word and becoming a Christ Follower has helped me in this phase more than I can share.

For me, I get much more joy in helping others than the thrill of the conquest I once had in my “Go get it” phase. Each morning before my feet hit the floor I pray “Lord, please help me to help someone today.”

If you are a marketer you need to intimately know your buyer. Jimmy Buffet does an amazing job of capturing an intimate understanding of a feeling a number of us feel. I recommend you buy this song and listen to it today.

My question: Do you have an understanding of your buyer’s that Bruce Cockburn had when he wrote this song?

Hit songs, like hit products happen when we intimately understand a buyer persona and their needs, and that takes work. But once you have it, and speak in that person’s voice you will experience explosive sales growth.

If you are in the go get or don’t loose them phase, make a conscious effort to focus on what really matters, what you will realize, often too late in the give it away phase. Put your family, friends and others intentionally into your schedule, and when you are with them, be with them 100%.


7 thoughts on “What Jimmy Buffet and Bruce Cockburn can teach Marketers about Nailing a Persona?

  1. This makes worlds of sense to me in so many ways. When I read thsi article I reflected on my own career to this point. I had a difficult time moving from the “don’t lose it” phase to the “Give it away” phase because in my minds eye I feel that I can still do it easier, better, and faster than my subordinates but ‘its no longer my place’. My place is to guide, mentor, evaluate, promote, and pass on to the next generation.

    Like the author, I am in my late 40’s and am undergoing many professional and personal challenges. I find much greater satsifacation in teaching the up and comers at nearly every level of the job; (from police academy new recruit, first line supervisor (sergeant), to mid level management (lieutenant) and seeing the results as they flourish.

  2. Mark, your reflections so mirror my career in manufacturing management. I was promoted to production supervisor at 21 years of age. I became the youngest Assistant Plant Manager in the history of Dap, Inc at the age of 22. I was serving as a Plant Manager at the age of 26 and was running a 40 million dollar per year operation by the age of 29. Later assignments included Corporate Operations Manager, Assistant Director of Operations, Director of Operations, Director of manufacturing and Engineering, and General Manager. I worked 50-60 hours per week regularly and often more hours rationalizing at the time that I was better able to provide for my family and provide a more secure future for my wife and me. The truth is that I was commiting my life to this career path more so for my self esteem and self worth than for the benefit of my family. My wife and I have been self employed for seven years. Our income is much less than I earned in Corporate America, but the intangible rewards are so worth it. I can not replace everything I lost as a father and husband while I was “married” to my pursuit of the ultimate corporate career path dream. My adult children and my wife of 32 years much prefer the time I now spend with them over the spendable dollars I use to provide. I hope God now has my attention more often. I seek to be more available to Him to perform Kingdom work.

    Your thoughts have totally connected with me! Thank You!

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