It was my pleasure to be interviewed by Chaya Weiner for this Medium piece called 5 Things You Need to Build a Trusted And Beloved Brand!
As we know, a publicity stunt is a planned event designed to attract the public’s attention to the event’s organizers or their cause. Publicity stunts can be professionally organized, or set up by amateurs. Such events are frequently utilized by commercial companies and by celebrities, who notably include athletes and politicians.
During the course of my 30-year PR career, I’ve found that there are basically two types of people—stunt people and non-stunt people. And it’s really a matter of preference and comfort rather than results because a strong case can probably be made either way.
I’ll start by saying that I am not a “stunt man” per se, but on occasion, I have been known to use celebrities and stunt-like tactics to make a point.
Now, PETA (the People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals) are big-time stunt people. And they get LOTS of media attention for dumb things like their latest one, writing a letter to a mayor in Idaho asking to rename “Chicken Dinner Road” to something more fowl-friendly. They wrote, “PETA is asking Mayor Nancolas to change this road’s name to one that celebrates chickens as individuals, not as beings to kill, chop up, and label as ‘dinner.’” Uh huh. And like most of their stunts, this one has been covered by every major news outlet you can name, so I guess mission accomplished, right?
Well, if PETA’s mission is to be known for doing really dumb things really loudly then yes, because that is the reputation the organization has cultivated over the years. So if you make a LOT of noise, but it doesn’t really serve your organization’s brand identity in a positive way, did you really win? See, I don’t think so.
The International House of Pancakes (ihop) is another one. Tons of press and awareness for its name change to ihob, not very much of it positive, and you’re left with a pretty empty feeling, not unlike the feeling after you’ve eaten a marginal quality breakfast for an affordable price.
To me, great PR is about relationships (that’s actually what the “R” stands for) and so when you’re making BIG headlines, you want that media/influencer coverage to somehow deepen your relationships or bring you new ones (preferably without damaging the existing ones). To me, that’s a real PR win.
One of the founders of my profession, P.T. Barnum, (yep) once said, “I don’t care what the newspapers say about me as long as they spell my name right.” And I get that. I really do. But as the profession has evolved and media audiences have become more complex and fragmented, I think he might agree with me that when publicity creates a negative perception of the brand, it’s probably not such a good thing.
So when you’re planning your next big PR stunt, just be sure to consider the consequences IF you don’t land it correctly.
Yeah, you’ve seen the creepy robot dogs opening doors and getting knocked down only to get back up again (which I know I’ve seen in a movie scene starring a certain Austrian-born muscle dude who may have possibly run the state of California at one time) But the machines are really coming to disrupt the marketing profession.
Like you, I receive a lot of e-mails trying to get my hard-earned dollars and promising me the world with very little risk involved. For example, I recently received one that said Learn the Full Stack of Digital Marketing Skills for $99 — EVERYTHING you need for marketing.
“Wow, everything for $99?,” I said, rethiinking my entire undergrad and graduate education. I was incredibly curious about what might be in this “full stack” I’d be getting.
Well, the “full stack” includes a very impressive array of tools like:
- Google Pay Per Click Advertising
- Search Engine Optimization
- Facebook/Instagram/SnapChat/LinkedIn Advertising
- Re-targeting (that is the practice invented by Satan of feeding you the same ad over and over again until you buy something, go insane or block the company from your view forever.)
- Landing Web Page Construction with Shopping Carts (to sell your amazing stuff)
And there you have it — the “full stack” you need to be an ace at marketing in 2019. Except, a few tiny things MIGHT be missing from this stack so I’ll just list those right here off the top of my head:
- Brand Messaging
- Inbound, Attraction-Based Tactics including Public Relations (Media/Influencer Relations) and Content Marketing (including video)
But the biggest list miss (to me) was the E word. Empathy.
Empathy is critically important in modern marketing because before you inflict your “full stack” of stuff on the world, you have to assume that the audience doesn’t really WANT to hear from you. This very useful assumption allows us to go deeper and create BETTER marketing that just might be able to earn the attention, trust and respect of today’s audiences.
And it’s missing. Audience empathy is entirely absent in the vast majority of marketing approaches I see. It’s not even considered. And yet, ironically, marketing’s main goal is to build relationships. You have to have empathy to do that. You can’t just talk, you must listen. You can’t just take, you must give. You can’t just sell, you must connect.
That stuff I just said — THAT is actual marketing. And if your company’s “stack” doesn’t start with empathy and include a lot of giving and connection/engagement, you might be stuck with just doing an expensive digital advertising campaign and calling it effective marketing.
Yeah, you’ve seen the creepy robot dogs opening doors and getting knocked down only to get back up again (which I know I’ve seen in a movie scene starring a certain Austrian-born muscle dude who may have possibly run the state of California at one time) But the machines are really coming to disrupt the marketing profession.
As Google will be quick to point out, yes, a machine can more quickly identify shapes, categorize things, and not miss any. Much more so than our feeble human brains. But here comes the million dollar question — IF marketing organizations had more information about their customers, would it REALLY matter? SHOULD they have this info?Would they REALLY be smarter? Or would they still send out more e-mails, cram people into funnels and really use the technology to just do more stuff, more frequently and poorly. Because as I see it, that’s what is happening with machine learning.
The “promise” of machine language and marketing automation is SO lovely. Google says “As consumer expectations grow for more personalized, relevant, and assistive experiences, machine learning is becoming an invaluable tool to help meet those demands. It’s helping marketers create smarter customer segmentations, deliver more relevant creative campaigns, and measure performance more effectively. In fact, 85% of executives believe AI will allow their companies to obtain or sustain a competitive advantage.”
Uh-huh. And e-mail was supposed to help us communicate faster, more efficiently and more clearly than other methods too. Did it? I’ll wait while you go sort through the thousands of spam e-mails you received just since you started reading this one.
So according to Google, the phases where Machine Learning can get involved in marketing are as follows:
Audience discovery — Identify your most valuable customers. This is always good, BUT you CANNOT be creepy about it and this goes from zero to creepy in about two seconds if not monitored correctly.
Creative—Quickly serve the right message for every moment. This assumes the customer wants to hear from the brand at these moments and this isn’t accurate. Remember, your brand is at risk EVERY time you decide to communicate with someone so sending out more garbage is NOT the path to great relationships.
Optimization—Find the right customers in key moments. Again, you’re peeking through a lens that maybe you shouldn’t have access to so this must be done VERY carefully.
Measurement—Unlock the true value of each step on the path to purchase. Uh-huh, do I even need to say it again? Caution, caution, extreme caution should be used here.
Here’s your compass to navigating machine learning — what business are you REALLY in? How you answer will determine how comfortable you’ll be with the machines.
I WANT TO SELL, SELL, SELL — Congratulations! You’re in the “there are no limits to how creepy I’m gonna get to stuff my audiences down my funnel and sell some stuff to them! I want to know everything they are doing, feed it into a machine and use that information to serve up more ads during their “moments.”
I WANT TO CREATE LONG-TERM RELATIONSHIPS — Now, we’re talking. THIS is actual marketing right here where we exhibit Empathy, Trust, Brand Confidence, etc. And this is where we truly care about the AUDIENCE’s needs first and we know when to not be invasive, creepy and back off and let them have their “moments” ….without us.
You know, all comms technology was supposed to make things easier — the telephone, the TV, fax machines, computers and the Internet, e-mail, text messages — and NONE of it has worked this way. Mainly because aggressive marketing organizations are waiting right there to use every new tool to bother, annoy and generally creep out the audiences.
There is a much better way.
RobertsonComm helps our clients throw away their funnels and create powerful magnets to attract audiences, exhibit real empathy, not snoop on their data and their lives because that is NOT the way to win friends and influence people. New technologies like machine learning
When you cook or bake, the approach you take re: the dish will often determine your success or failure. I found this out recently while making a grilled cheese sandwich. The bread you use, amount of butter, amount of cheese all can either REALLY work, or in my case, REALLY turn into a mangled, soggy and rather sad grilled cheese. …So the approach matters.
Same with marketing. Now some marketing firms and companies are happy running Google ads and social ads and doing robocalls and even re-targeting customers with the same creepy ads from site to site and it calling it effective marketing. I disagree.
I disagree because I believe marketing is about the relationship. Not one sale, but a lifetime of them. So here’s how my approach is different and I’d say much better.
- Before we even think about beginning to communicate, we need a GREAT message. I define GREAT as messaging that is deep, powerful, emotion-based and 100 percent about the mental and emotional needs of the target audience(s).
- Next, I believe in ATTRACTION-based marketing. This means making sure our content (blogs, videos, news, reviews, etc.) is SO good that it attracts its own following. And we work to continue to surprise and delight them with each piece of communications that goes out. This also means that we turn our backs on INTERRUPTION-based marketing like advertising, sales calls, un-targeted awful (and yet frequent) e-mails and even sponsored social posts.
- Finally, I believe in EMPATHY, considering and respecting the audience’s right to be left alone and again, only reaching out when we have something GREAT for them.
And here’s a little secret. It REALLY works. You see, the clock is running out on interruption-based marketing. The government (state and fed) will be coming very soon with new laws to lock down privacy and fine anyone who doesn’t comply. Plus, if we’re really in the relationship business, why would we do anything that could jeopardize that relationship.
I think the future is very bright for the marketing profession. We do great and amazing work for our clients and build credibility and trust in a world where those things are in very short supply. Once we REALLY learn how to attract people, I’m sure we’ll wonder why anyone would ever consider interrupting them again.
Just like a grilled cheese sandwich, a marketing relationship is a very fragile thing. But done correctly, it can be AMAZING!
Did you know that nearly half of all Internet traffic today is fake?
Studies generally suggest that, year after year, less than 60 percent
of web traffic is human; some years, according to some researchers, a healthy majority of it is bot.
What’s a bot? Well, it’s a software program designed to do one very specific thing—impersonate a human being. Some are so sophisticated in their multi-level behaviors, they can fool the software designed to find and filter out the bots, which is kinda like bot on bot crime. And this is all done to inflate audience numbers so sites can charge more for advertising — oh you knew the money was gonna be a part of this somewhere, didn’t you?
Now in the glorious profession of marketing and communications, we’re all about reaching and building relationships with people. We have no interest in bots. And we have no interest in bots acting like people. We’d just like the people, thank you.
Heres a good stat from Facebook for you. FB claimed that 75 million people watched at least a minute of Facebook Watch videos every day — though, as Facebook admitted, the 60 seconds in that one minute didn’t need to be watched consecutively. Real videos, real people, fake minutes. Because people do not watch portions of a minute of videos and add them up. It kinda messes up the story, you know?
Traffic isn’t the only fake thing out there. Instagram this week reported more fake followers, fake profiles and fake metrics. Twitter shut down more than one million fake accounts designed to fake follow real brands and people. Sheesh!
Today in marketing we have more data and more metrics than at any time in my career, yet I trust those metrics much less. Mainly because of all of the fake traffic and the bots. So how do we REACH actual people in 2019 and beyond?
1. Make YOUR message all about THEM — I don’t know about bots, but people are REALLY into themselves and the stuff that’s going on with them, their needs, wants, desires, dreams. etc.
2. Help THEM get what THEY want — Again, the nuances of marketing these days should be about connecting the hero (your customers) with the things they need.
3. Get someone else (besides you) to carry the message — the media or influencers are a great place to start. When you find a channel that your audience trusts, see if you can get them to tell your story.
And yes, I’ve just described modern public relations. Great message, great delivery, great measurement. Repeat as needed until you retire or the bots take over everything and enslave our race. After walking the halls of CES, don’t worry, it’s coming. We had a good run. 🙂
The real people are out there and they WANT to connect with brands and believe in brands–for their reasons, probably not ours. And WE want to believe we’re reaching them. Maybe just maybe there’s something real out there after all.
Someone recently asked a bunch of marketing pros in a online forum, “..in your opinion, what is the purpose of marketing?” And as you might expect, the answers varied, but were pretty much centered around the idea of sales or making money for the company/org. (hey, not a bad thing for anyone).
My answer was different. I said trust (and of those hundreds of responses and comments, I was the only one who said that). Trust is a human emotion that is very difficult to understand and explain. It’s elusive and the rules don’t always make perfect sense. In fact, the feeling of trust is as unique as the individual experiencing it. But once you have it, you have a relationship with that audience member that can lead to many good things including of course, incoming $$$ for the particular company or organization.
Generally, consumers (both b2b and b2c) do NOT trust marketing. And WHY would they? We have created a society where companies think it’s PERFECTLY fine to call, e-mail, text, interrupt and just bludgeon the customer or prospect over the head until they finally fall to their knees, give in and BUY something. I mean, that’s the plan, right? Wrong.
I believe trust should be the fundamental goal of ALL marketing efforts and IF it was, you would see some tactical changes from these companies who are SO in love with tactics…often at the expense of strategy.
When a company or brand is trusted, you can:
1. Communicate more freely—Hey, you’re like a famished vampire and the human just opened the door saying COME ON IN! (Note: this invitation can be easily revoked).
2. Get more information from your audience about their real wants and needs—Trusted brands who listen to their customers can really bring in some fascinating data.
3. Make mistakes—It can happen to anyone—and having a bank account full of trust is SO important when occasionally you have to make a withdrawal.
When RobertsonComm works with clients, we design programs to attract audiences, be helpful to THEM and generate trust. The tactics of these programs can and do include: brand messaging redesign, creating great content, public relations, some influencer marketing as well as plenty of social media amplification and listening.
But we don’t just “do” tactics, we carefully figure out the best way to build trust and position our clients favorably to win—AND absolutely destroy any competitors (who by the way are busy “selling stuff” and have neglected the whole “build trust in the brand” thing). It’s really not even a fair fight.
Because once you have trust, everything else is just marketing.
In wartime, when an army crosses a strategic position such as a bridge, often the order is given to blow the bridge up behind the advancing forces so the enemy cannot follow. But what about the people who also needed that bridge or even those who might get caught in the dangerous blast? This is known as “collateral damage” and no matter what it is (lives destroyed or lost) it’s justified by the accomplishment of the military objective.
In other words, “that’s not my problem.” or “we don’t really care about that.”
But brands sometimes have this same thinking in place in the ongoing quest for sales, conversions or any other term that means “money coming in.” Some companies are happy to sacrifice long-term relationships for short-term money—and that’s just not good.
If RobertsonComm branding rule #1 is “Everything Counts” then #2 surely is “Think Things Through.” I’m telling you, it doesn’t happen as often as it should and that’s why so many companies place their faith and their brands in the hands of horrible tactics like:
Telemarketing—Don’t EVER let your brand be associated with the almost always negative emotions encountered on telemarketing calls. No one wants them and they WILL remember you long after they’ve hung up in anger.
Re-targeted Online Advertising—TRUST your buyer and seriously, back off because the FTC is coming.
Banner ads — especially ones on your site that block the viewer from seeing content so they can sign up for your e-news and get 10 percent off. Just stop it!
Chat Bots—If it’s not important enough for YOU to actually be there, why should the customer participate in the conversation?
Sponsored Posts—No one is logging into THEIR social worlds looking for YOUR promotion. Learn it.
Marketing Automation—Instead of sending more stuff, more frequently and making it easier on YOU — why don’t you create something that ATTRACTS them to YOU. I know, it’s novel thinking, but try it.
Your brand is your most valuable and most important business asset. Every time a potential client, customer or audience member encounters it, try to make it a pleasant experience for them. Remember, we are supposed to be in the LONG-TERM relationship business and that means trusting your audience to make the right call without so much prodding.
If you are truly great at what you offer, whether it be a product, service or just a cause, then they will find you and they will behave like you want them to.
So let’s end the vicious cycle of collateral brand damage and think everything we do ALL the way through. Just remember, if they would’ve done that in Jurassic Park, everyone would’ve lived. (but it wouldn’t have been a very good movie I guess) Think about it.
There exists a marketing axiom, a rule of sorts (which started in advertising) that you’ve probably heard. It goes like this — In order to reach your target, on average your audience must see a message at least seven times. It sounds great. Very believable and it even has a seven in there, which is a comfortable number to most people.
The “seven exposure rule” deals with reach and frequency. Now, just so we all know, Reach is the number of people you touch with your marketing message or the number of people that are exposed to your message. Frequency is the number of times you touch each person with your message. And as we’ve learned from Hollywood’s scandals recently, you want to be REALLY careful who you touch and expose your message to and how often. 🙂
Now, your modern digital marketers will look at their reach and frequency calculators (yes those awful things do exist) and come up with some kind of defensible number that they say helps a client increase awareness leading to the purchase of a product or service as we move people down the sales funnel. (Gag) They will insist that “retargeting” the message (those creepy ads that follow us around from site to site) does lead to purchases once the audience finally succumbs to the onslaught. Of course, they NEVER quite measure the amount of people they ANNOY to the point of never becoming customers. You see, that’s a different spreadsheet.
To me, this excessive pummeling the customer with marketing messages is not smart and it’s not marketing. In 2018, marketing is about RELATIONSHIPS and those evolve naturally usually led by the audience’s wants and desires somehow intersecting with the marketer’s products and services. But marketers trying to force a relationship by “exposing” an audience to their message multiple times is much like you trying to get a date by catcalling a woman MULTIPLE times from your car. Dude, she is not interested — back off and move on.
Rather than EXPOSING our message with high levels of REACH and FREQUENCY, why don’t we try ATTRACTING an audience to us like a band attracts a loyal following. How do you do it? Simple — by being GREAT at what you do and finding a way to intersect what you do into what your audience WANTS.
If you’re an expert in a field, demonstrating that expertise and helping people via your blogs, videos and other findable content is one of the best ways to create a relationship with them. If you’re a products company, getting people talking about your product and what it did for them via PR and other methods is by far the best way to that relationship and make others want the same kind of relationship. It’s not quick and it ain’t easy. Relationships never are.
Always remember, the relationship with the customer is your primary goal. And never forget that your puppy-like eagerness to communicate to them might just be THE thing that sends them away from your brand forever. It certainly will be if you “expose” them to your sales-driven garbage seven or more times. Sheesh.
In this New Year, I have hope that all marketers out there will abandon these silly axioms of old and adopt a new way of thinking — one that leads to long-term relationships with their audiences and the kind of marketing that doesn’t need to be exposed frequently to be effective.
Happy New Year!
The purpose of communications is to convey meaning from one life form to another. Need to warn another caveperson that a big honkin’ Velociraptor is coming up FAST and ready to chow down? That’s a great time for extremely DIRECT communication like “DUDE…RUN!!!”
The first communicators really got it done. But somewhere in the mystical magical world of getting more “evolved” and “older” we just start spouting out stuff that we COMPLETELY understand, but the audience has no idea what we’re saying. Tech companies are REALLY guilty of this and it comes from just knowing your stuff SO well that you assume EVERYONE knows it too.
Well, remember what Samuel L. Jackson said about making an assumption? (You’re making an ass out of “u” and “mption.”) And I’ve found that professional communicators can be the worst communicators of all when it comes to this. Oh, we find super smart and clever ways to make all the words start with the same letter, rhyme and just SOUND really good but often, an audience says to themselves — Uh…what? Chomp. Too late, kid. What’s missing is that little thing I like to call audience empathy.
It’s actually just putting YOURSELF in THEIR place and now reading it and saying “I wonder if they’re gonna get it?” If the purpose of communication is to convey meaning between life forms then taking a second to determine whether they are going to make sense of it seems logical to me. And YET…how many things do you see and read daily and they just become NOISE because there is ZERO meaning?
We’re all communicators and need to make our point. Make sure that your personal and corporate communications do not sound like someone in the marketing department created them. Be clear, not clever. Be factual, not fluffy and above all be ABOUT THEM, not about YOU.
In the movie Jurassic Park, Jeff Goldblum’s character Dr. Ian Malcolm makes a miraculous observation when he says “your scientists were so preoccupied with whether or not they could (make dinosaurs) that they didn’t stop to think if they should.” Ahhh the difference between can and should is important when making dinosaurs — and it’s equally important in marketing and communications.
You see, back in prehistoric times (before the Internet) yes, the 1990’s, marketing used to cost money. You had to invest some resources, buy things, have things printed, mailed and THAT put your skin in the game. Thus, there was a consideration step to determine whether this target was appropriate, etc. I remember it well. But today, thanks to technology, many believe that marketing is “free” and why send one free e-mail (or freemail) when you can send one million? Why indeed!
I will submit to you that marketing still costs something — your credibility, your reputation, your customer relationships—and you put these very valuable items on the line every time you decide to communicate. Believe it. Marketing’s guiding light is something we haven’t seen in since dinosaurs roamed the earth—EMPATHY.
My fellow Missourian Mark Twain wrote and said a lot of great things, but my all-time favorite is “It ain’t what you don’t know that gets you into trouble. It’s what you know for sure that just ain’t so.” Man, is that ever true regarding marketing and communications. And what you know quickly becomes what you knew as the profession continuously evolves. So with that in mind, let’s do a little bit of marketing mythbusting.
Myth 1: The customer wants to hear from us. They do not. Their lives are 100 percent complete without you and your message. Knowing that and assuming that from the beginning puts the responsibility back on you to EARN your way into their hearts and minds and that comes from creativity and meeting their needs (yes, especially the emotional and psychological ones) like no one else can!
Myth 2: Our metrics look good so we’re reaching people. Digital marketers are in love with their “metrics” like web visits, click throughs etc. But, here’s a little digital reality check for you — more than half of all Internet traffic comes from bots (programs designed to visit web sites many times and artificially inflate numbers) So here’s my question back to you — is it real? What’s real? How do you know? I like to measure one metric — sales. As a business owner, that’s the only one that really counts and bots and algorithims don’t affect it.
Myth 3: Automating our marketing is a good thing. Man, there are lots of “solutions” out there to help companies send out more garbage which will get caught in spam filters or be instantly deleted or blocked. Marketing doesn’t need an automated way to send out more things more frequently — we need to send out better things less frequently and build LONG-TERM customer relationships through our communications. That is the actual game here, folks.
Challenging dumb myths is one way we can all improve marketing and the marketing profession. I advise my clients to use marketing & communications very carefully and always be aware of the sharp edges that can come back to cut your own brand (while you’re busy cutting through the clutter).
Knowing your fundamentals — why are we special? what emotional core are we trying to hit? and tempering that with a good deal of empathy for the audience and putting their needs above yours makes communications tolerable and maybe even great.
Today, you can own all of your own media channels. Yes, with absolutely zero experience in how to actually “run” a media channel, you can get one (or several) for FREE and just blast out your lovely marketing messages to a whole bunch of people. But…you shouldn’t. Social media, defined as computer-mediated technologies that allow the creating and sharing of information, ideas, career interests and other forms of expression via virtual communities and networks can be an important part of every communications strategy, but just like guns, you’d better know how to use them correctly before you pull that trigger. With that, I’ll present my quick list of things that work using various social networks out there. Note: Once again, there is no “one-size fits all approach” here so make sure YOUR choices are tailored to YOUR business needs.
- Facebook’s Facebook — getting your brand’s friends/fans to share cool things about the brand. Also a good place for your events, content, etc., but it has to be great, informative and relevant (which is a sliding scale depending on the user).
- Private Investors’ Twitter — news related to your brand or your space, blog posts (only great ones) and useful content for YOUR audience.
- Google’s YouTube — great videos produced and/or curated by your brand that can be shared – show people something great, something unexpected and of course something useful to them.
- Microsoft’s LinkedIn — news, original posts (great ones), useful, non-salesy stuff, infographics, definitely more business-to-business in nature.
- Facebook’s Instagram — photo moments (and now albums) that tell/contribute to brand stories without those annoying “words” getting in the way.
- Private Investors’ Pinterest — digital boards filled with images, short vids, infographics. Obviously, be visual about it, but also focused on YOUR storytelling.
Tips for Mastering Your Social Channels
- Realize you’re going to have to earn attention with your great content (and that’s “great” in audience’s eyes, not yours)
- Make sure you listen with your social channels at least as much as you talk — You can gain some great insight from this.
- Your brand doesn’t have to be on every channel known to mankind — choose wisely and with intent.
- Be sure to amplify any news coverage or great reviews using YOUR channels — tag, hashtag appropriately.
- No matter what, don’t EVER delete your posts or accounts — That just oozes guilt/shame and can tear down all of the positive bricks in the brand’s wall that you’ve built over the years.
Social media is important, yet there are ways to be great and ways to really step in it. You have all the power in the world at your fingertips, but you need to use that power responsibly in order to do great things. The marketing profession is on a laser-guided mission to pollute and destroy all social media — they’re trying with sponsored posts, salesy “discount offer” messages, unwanted ads and a host of other maladies, but YOUR social feeds can be exceptional if you listen to your audience and give them the things they want and need.
You did well in 2016. You pushed it harder than ever before and you relaxed some too. That was nice, right? Now it’s 2017 and we have a new president, new trade shows, new technologies, new business and YOU will have to find that next gear you didn’t even know you had to go faster, do more and remain in the lead. But how? And why must we ALWAYS raise the bar on ourselves and others?
First of all, the term “raise the bar” comes from sports and refers to high jumping and pole vaulting with the bar being the top height of an obstacle and supposedly “the highest you can go.” But there are limits to how high you can actually go. Those are what we might call “biology” and “physics.” No such trivial forces are stopping us from finding that next gear in 2017 though. But it’s important to know what that means to YOU. You see, setting and raising bars is something we do to OURSELVES and it can be good and it can be quite bad, too. So what we’re really talking about is setting our own expectations.
Now we’re talking! What if YOUR next bar looked like this — This year, our marketing is going to talk less and listen more, which will make us smarter This year, our marketing will not sacrifice long term relationships for short term sales This year, our marketing will have a stronger brand message that really resonates emotionally with our audiences.
This year, we’ll think of the audience BEFORE we inflict our marketing upon them This year, we CAN be better. And we must. Because even darker forces (than marketing) are gathering their strength to stop any messages deemed unworthy by the recipient.
1. Blockers, Skippers and Unsubscribers — Ad blockers on every browser, Ad skipping features on TV shows and other content and extremely easy to use unsubscribe functionality add to the ongoing pressure and the challenge of producing marketing that people not only tolerate, but actually desire. 2. Big Brother Steps In — The FTC and the FCC will be busy creating a whole new set of rules to protect consumers from marketing’s deceptive ways/ 3. Trust Me — With the mass media’s trust level falling below 30 percent for the first time in history (esp political news media), PR will need to look for new fountains of trust out there.
Hopefully these numbers will again climb outside of the presidential election cycle, but who knows? In 2017, all companies can find a new gear, but to do so will require courage, discipline and no small amount of empathy for their audiences — things that are usually absent from the marketing plan.
Once upon a time in corporate and industrial communications, there was a wise guru who helped tell the company just what to say using the power of flowery and poofy language that almost made the company’s rather poor behavior disappear. Sometimes called a “doctor” of spin, this individual made a good living on a mountain of half-truths and sometimes pure lies. That was then, people. Today, we have a U.S. President who communicates using ALL CAPS on Twitter and THAT’s the channel where you’re gonna hear the news. Raw, hard and unfiltered like a rolled cigarette in an old Western.
And if you lack the tolerance for the dead-honest truth, it’s gonna hit you like one as you double over coughing. We are now (and have been for some time) in the anti-spin zone. Case in point, United Airlines, who has really been doing its best to unseat anyone else in the worst brand disasters of 2017 stories.
After its security forcibly removed a paying passenger so that one of its employees could make a flight, its CEO, who PRWeek recently named “Communicator of the Year” said this — “This is an upsetting event to all of us here at United. I apologize for having to re-accomodate these customers. Our team is moving with a sense of urgency to work with the authorities and conduct our own detailed review of what happened. We are also reaching out to this passenger to talk directly to him and further address and resolve this situation.” Re-accommodate? Yeah, no. We all SAW the videos.
That was nothing short of full-blown assault..with blood pouring down the victim at the end. There comes a time when you must use those awesome “Communicator of the Year” skills and actually communicate. Maybe something like: “We were truly horrified to see this and Holy Good God this just isn’t us! Some people in Chicago clearly acted unilaterally and those people are going to be seeking new employment by the time I hit send on this.”
Ok, legal won’t let you send that — Then try to — Talk. Like. An. Actual. Person. Here’s the lesson and moral of the story — Stop spinning things and just talk. When you try to sound all “professional” and “smooth” you can end up sounding like a cold, uncaring robot (like United did during the recent leggings scandal) and those probably aren’t the “optics” you’re gunning for. Just like company press releases that brag about having a “robust b2b end-to-end solution.” You don’t have one.
And even if you did, NO ONE knows what that is or what it means to them. Business communications and business communicators need to take a hard lesson from President Donald J. Trump.
Zero spin directly from him and it’s at least 50 percent likely to offend someone. But…that’s where we are. That’s what we’re called to do.
Pssst wanna know a secret? You are probably pretty creative. I say “probably” because I don’t know you and it’s at least possible that you’re an accountant or an actuary. air max pas cher 🙂 But barring that, I’ll bet you’re more creative than you think. Defined as “the use of the imagination or original ideas, especially in the production of an artistic work,” Adobe did a survey a few years back on creativity and here in the good ol’ USA, about 52 percent of respondents described themselves as “creative.” So about half of all people would label themselves in this way. Ok, I can buy that, especially if you think of creativity ONLY in this way. nike kwazi soldes nike air max 1 I’ll submit to you that any time someone is zigging when everyone else in their space is zagging, that is creativity. In the 1990s, Amazon had a different vision for the future of buying things based on the Web and much improved supply chain logistics. asics gel lyte 5 Not super sexy, but I’ll tell you that today, you can open your mobile device, buy just about anything on there and have it at your door the next day or even the same day. adidas pas cher It’s like The Jetsons! All from a different creative path. asics nimbus And I think it’s not just the spark of a creative idea, but the guts to implement it and the discipline to see it through. It takes all of that for true creativity to manifest itself in the marketplace. Creating something from nothing is really cool, but it’s nothing without those more “common” elements. nike air max 90 femme Adidas soldes And that’s why I think you are probably pretty creative.
Here’s one for you. Asics 2017 Do you think it’s ethical to persuade someone to do or buy something, even if it’s something they don’t want? Like so many things in marketing, I think the answer is a resounding “it depends.” I know, spoken like a true consultant. yeezy adidas …But hear me out. adidas x nike roshe run 2017 Ethics in marketing is really an area of applied ethics which deals with the moral principles (yes we have them, why do you ask?) behind the operation and regulation of marketing. Asics 2017 This area covers fun stuff like: invasion of privacy, stereotyping, targeting (and re-targeting) the vulnerable, excluding potential customers from the market and pricing ethics. When you think hard about how to persuade human beings you realize it’s not going to be easy. nike air max 2017 soldes Getting into and out of consumers’ heads is a very messy business because our brains most of the time resemble Times Square on New Years Eve. It’s lit-up, exciting and electric, but watch where you step. (gross). adidas pas cher The problem with the lion’s share of marketing approaches I see is they lack actual thought and are treated more like a to-do list of boxes to check rather than a series of steps that lead to the goal of persuasion. But it doesn’t have to be that way. adidas zx 500 pas cher A little thought, a little empathy and application of the The Golden Rule will get you quite far. Here’s a few tips —
- Understand from the beginning that your presence is neither requested nor welcomed. Your message is an interruption. ugg pas cher Now, with that in mind, earn your place in their minds and it better be great. (or don’t send it out).
- Always take long-term relationships over short-term sales
- Look for ways to attract people to your brand and not have to interrupt them so much.
- If it feels wrong to you, just don’t do it. Marketers were given this intuition for a reason.
- Listen to your consumers twice as much as you talk. Your insight about how to serve them will most likely come from them and the tools we have today allow you to listen like never before.
Dale Carnegie said, “a man convinced against his will, holds the same opinion still.” There’s a whole lotta truth right there for us marketers. Persuasion is the very subtle and gentle art of getting your audience to do and think the things that will benefit your brand. But there is an ethical and dare I say “respectful” way to do it that will get you what everyone really wants — strong long-term relationships leading to ongoing business and brand loyalty. nike air max command soldes Also, check out my latest episode of the May the Best Brand Win on this subject.
You’re special, did you know that? Some (like probably your Mom) would say “unique” and no one sees or does things quite like you. bottes ugg bailey button pas cher In marketing & communications, our goal is almost always some sort of “differentiation” expressed as “how do we make our organizations and clients stand apart from competitors in the minds of those they are trying to reach?” …And it’s the million dollar question, baby. How indeed. You know, Donald J. Trump was a very different kind of presidential candidate. Just a few years ago, you could tune in and see him fire people on NBC’s Celebrity Apprentice and now the American people have voted this outsider to the highest seat of power in the free world. adidas zx 850 Just FYI — the new host is Arnold Schwarzenegger so obviously we’re grooming our next world leader right there on NBC’s Sunday nights. nike air max 1 Apple is different than other technology companies mainly in that it never really considered itself a tech company — more a problem solver for people frustrated BY technology companies. ….And that reputation has made them the largest and most powerful company on planet Earth. So we could say that different is good, right? Not so fast. I think it is and it isn’t. Being perceived as different in the marketplace can be good when it creates a unique position (and thus fewer choices) in the consumer’s mind leading to a direct purchase. You want a LayBag inflatable couch thing for your pool in early 2016 — there’s only that one out there so you have that one choice. louboutin chaussures Of course, cheaper copycats will come a clawing for your business soon enough. air jordan 14 retro nike air max pas cher But being different is also difficult. Human beings as a whole resist the idea as demonstrated beautifully in the movie Dead Poets Society in the scene where the boys all started off walking in a circle with different strides and steps, but quickly began to march together and even clap in unison. Something about that just feels better to us. air max 90 femme And because of it, when you get what you’re finally after in marketing, it’s going to feel weird, too. Alone, apart and sometimes challenged and ridiculed by those not brave enough to stand apart. Getting your differentiation can be an uncomfortable position and it truly does take courage to withstand the scrutiny and be that way. So different is good, yet uncomfortable, but still good so we should do it? I’m going to give the consultant’s answer and say “it depends.” It really depends on you and your courage, which seems like an odd thing to mention in a marketing story, but I believe that it takes courage to do something truly great in this world. ugg noir Chaussure Asics Gel Noosa Tri 11 Something really different.