On Making People Happy

Best Practices, engagement, Maren Hogan, Marketing, Uncategorized

Making people happy is at the heart of service. And the promise that you will make people happy is at the heart of marketing. IMHO, a good marketer will always try to keep that promise, no matter what.

Maren and BFF Jill in Santa Cruz

Me at 13

When I was 12-14, I had the world’s largest crush. His name was Kevin, he was at least three years my senior, he was a surfer boy and invited me to his church youth group. Tan, stunning with perfect teeth he had a girlfriend who was equally beautiful, thin and had certainly figured out how to handle her hair (a battle I was still fighting and losing).

I went to every prayer meeting, every bonfire, even to his church in the sincere hope that this Santa Cruz Adonis would notice me. He did, but sort of in a cute, dorky little sister way. Nuts. I never really gave up and carried a torch for that boy for a couple of years as I blossomed (sorta).

Fast forward to my 14th birthday. I’m pretty sure we didn’t have very much money at the time and my dad was trying to make the day special for me in some intangible way. When I opened my card, I saw an unfamiliar scrawl on the top of the card. Looking closer, the name was “Kevin Moon”.


As I was freaking out in the manner that only 14 year old girls in the 90s could, I heard a knock on my door. As I opened it, there stood the Taylor Lautner of MY teenage years, holding a bouquet of flowers and smiling adoringly AT ME.

After that, it gets a little blurry. I know we played catch (it was a different time, shut up) on the lawn, took a walk and talked into the evening.

It was all very innocent. I never dated Kevin but it was a fun night and my dad had given me exactly what I wanted. Here’s how:

-He paid attention. He knew what my teenage pain points were.

Dad's been making me smile for 32 years!

-My dad recognized what my real needs were. Sometimes recognition and response it all it really takes to make someone feel valued.

He did his research. My dad found out where this kid worked and when he’d be there, not to mention finding out what kind of person Kevin was and whether he’d even do such a sweet thing.

-Then, Dad made the pitch. He went out and, on my behalf, negotiated a deal to thrill me.

I don’t remember a single gift I got that year, or several teenage birthdays afterward, but that night still has the power to make my heart beat faster. Not just with the puppy love of a smitten pre-teen but with the knowledge that I was and AM so valued.

Because my dad did lots of things like that, and continues to thrill and delight people with his music, humor and writing, I learned really early on what it takes to make people happy. And the thing is? It’s not that hard.

PS Please take the above lessons as they were intended and don’t start setting up your clients with surprise dates.