Paul McCartney and Tim Sanders Are Still Right: Love Is the Killer (Marketing) App

Tim Sanders' insightful, best-selling book, "Love Is The Killer App" is written as helpful guidance for individuals looking to advance their own brand, careers and the companies for whom they work. First published in 2002, it’s even more relevant today and just as useful for organizational brands as it is for personal. 

Hopefully we’ve all already accepted that the marketing clutter is deafening and the challenge in cutting through it is enormous. Turning up the volume in pursuit of effective marketing can be a fool’s errand. There are other means much more effective; love chief among them.

Tim promotes three specific ways of expressing love in the work setting that drive results. For the details, you’ve got to read the book, but to simplify the idea, I can tell you that he promotes the concept that those who give love -- in the various forms appropriate to each situation -- often get it in return. If you want to connect with people, love can be the shortest distance between two points, even when we’re not talking about the romantic kind.

What does this mean for brands? If I may put my own spin on Sanders’ guidance and expand it, it doesn’t mean giving the product away for free. This isn’t a product sampling or “tryvertising” concept, although doing that in the right doses, in the right ways, and at the right times, can sometimes be an effective component of this approach. Rather though, this is all about giving away some kind of other value that’s helpful to the prospect and fits to the brand context. For instance, manufacturers of smart phones with video cameras might offer free online modules about taking, editing and posting videos optimized for the third screen. Want to make it even stronger? Provide a way of interacting while learning, perhaps by allowing the user to post their videos with questions that get expert responses.

Through this interactive love sharing, the prospect gets the sense that the brand cares about them, and the experience of mastery the brand provides fosters a sense of potential for self-accomplishment and maybe even a little self-esteem. It offers consumers a chance to engage with and get to know the brand in a non-obligatory, feel-good setting through which the brand builds credibility. If repeated often enough, a bond can be established. Once bonded people are more likely to purchase. This cuts through the clutter like no slogan or funny commercial ever could, because it goes deep and resides in the hearts and minds of the market.

The trick though for marketers is to remember that, just like romantic love, if this expression of caring is  too infrequent, the bond eventually dies. This means that marketing love has to be constantly worked in order to keep it fresh, or the customer falls prey to the seduction of other suitors.

Paul McCartney said it best when he wrote: “In the end, the love you take is equal to the love you make.” John Lennon said it was the best lyric Paul ever wrote. Tim Sanders gives us the valuable "how-to" details in his book. I can think of no better gift you can give yourself as a marketer on this Valentine’s Day than a copy of Tim’s “Love Is The Killer App.” Read it and as you do, ask yourself how its concepts can translate towards creating great brands and organizations, and you’ll see that love is in fact still the killer (marketing) app. Thanks Tim, and Paul.

Happy Valentine’s Day.


  1. Call it "love", if you will, for the sake of making your point....but it's all the more argument to choose a career that you are passionate about. Nobody's stupid anymore. Sincerity, enthusiasm and passion speak louder than new spins and sales tactics.

  2. This is a good clarification. We're definitely not advocating for "spin." Spin is the thing that disqualifies you from the game quickest. This is all about offering value to people out of passion for doing it; out of the knowledge that it truly helps people and it allows us to do so in the context of a brand, category or endeavor we believe in deeply.

  3. Oops, I mistakenly credited John Lennon with the "And in the end, the love you take is equal to the love you make" lyric when it was actually Paul McCartney who wrote it. Apologies and congratulations Paul. John said it was the best lyric he ever wrote and I have to agree.