Scott Robertson was recently quoted in a Medium story called “9 Things About Public Relations You May Have Not Known.” Check out #4! https://medium.com/@PRontheGO/9-things-about-public-relations-you-may-not-have-known-80dbf0657e62
I was recently at a pharmacy picking up a prescription and I had a quick question about the medicine, so I waited patiently for the clearly advertised service of “speak to a pharmacist.” Now, she wasn’t having a great day and you can really tell that when a person is rushing around, hurried, not smiling or making eye contact with you. She grabbed the package, ran through the caveats and instructions with the meds VERY QUICKLY and then she glanced up, made hard eye contact with me and said, You understand, right!” And it wasn’t a question. Yes, our time together on that lovely afternoon was over.
So “communications” is now (and has always been) about a sort of magical connection between sender and receiver where the intended message moves from one person to the other and the person on the other end gets it and provides that positive feedback to the sender to indicate the transfer has happened. But it rarely does.
I see this same approach sometimes at work in marketing & communications programs out there. A lot of companies are in a BIG hurry to sell you something and they won’t let a little thing like YOUR preferences or needs get in the way of THEIR goals!
So to help out here, let’s take a look at the things you need for people to understand a message:
- Clarity — If you confuse, you will lose. Your message MUST be clear.
- Empathy — If you do not ever consider the audience, their needs, their desires and even their right to be left alone, you will not achieve understanding.
- Response—This is REALLY important and often left out of many approaches — what did they think about what we said or did? I’m not saying send out more surveys (remember, people don’t like additional communications from you) but there are ways to see if it worked (If it’s social media, did people Like it? Did they share it? If e-mail —did they OPEN i t? Did they click on anything? …And the list goes on.)
Just firing out more messages with bad messaging and aggressive tactics DOES NOT increase understanding. And as of Jan. 1, 2020 when the California Consumer Privacy Act hits, you just might attract some of the WRONG type of attention.
There is a better way. Learn how to be an attractor, (not an interrupter) with your brand. Create fantastic messaging that gives YOUR BRAND a STORY that isn’t just about selling! Avoiding the “You understand, RIGHT!” syndrome in your marketing & communications begins with caring about whether your audience REALLY gets it or if they’re just a little sorry they waited in line for so long to talk to you.
Before you send anything to anyone human to human, you need to have permission. That’s just good manners, right? As a society, we’re pretty good at this behavior one on one. But when the sales and/or marketing dept gets involved, that’s not always the case. In fact, it rarely is.
As I say often, if marketing & communications is the business of building long lasting relationships with our target audiences, then one SURE FIRE way to destroy those relationships is to mess up on privacy and consent.
Marketing as a profession has an extremely poor track record re: privacy under the all-too-common mindset that if a little bit of marketing is good, then a whole bunch MUST be better. And of course, this isn’t true at all.
And a lot of times, we just don’t have time to stop and think about the audience in any way on our way to sell them something. Case in point, I made the mistake of buying some guitar strings from Musician’s Friend recently. Since that time, they have increased their e-mails from one every few days to one or two every single day. Come on, man. Turn OFF the automation and use that noodle resting on your shoulders just a little bit OR…I will block your company both in future sales and future e-mails…forever. I want to like you. Don’t be an idiot and wreck it. You’re not gonna sell me more stuff because you send me more e-mails.
That’s what’s at stake every time we make the decision to communicate — absolutely everything. The entire relationship (we’ve worked for SO many years to build up) is in jeopardy every single time—and yet we put software in charge of it. When’s the last time YOU built a meaning relationship with software? Thought so.
With all of this in mind, here’s just a few tips to get privacy right.
- Think before you communicate. Use that E word — empathy. Do they want to receive this now? Why? Would you? Empathy is VERY powerful stuff when used correctly.
- Make the message in your communications useful to THEM — people like things that are helpful useful and appear to be about them more than about selling some more stuff.
- Know the privacy laws — CAN-SPAM and GDPR are important but new privacy laws are coming from states and also at the federal level that will make “consent to communicate” language very important. Make sure your opt outs are being managed appropriately because there are legal and relationship penalties for getting this stuff wrong.
In marketing, we don’t automatically just have the right to communicate to the world. We must earn that right and we must ask for permission—and our stuff has to be GREAT once permission is given. Remember, we aren’t in the “let’s just sell you now” business, we are supposed to be in the long-term relationship business. And THAT business requires creativity, patience and discipline.
The prophet Ricky Bobby (portrayed by Will Ferrell) once said, “If you ain’t first…you’re last.” And while not technically accurate, he’s got a point. Especially in branding where your customers have to make a choice (possibly conscious or unconscious) about which brand of X to buy and which one gets left on the shelf. One brand gets picked, the rest are politely thanked for their time.
Branding, which was invented and perfected by Procter & Gamble is all about emotions.But not your emotions — theirs. Not your story — theirs. So even though it INVOLVESyou and your company, it’s not really about you at all. And that’s a tough thing for some people to understand. Which is why most brands are pretty terrible.
So with that intro, I present what I think winning brands do better than their competitors:
- They have great messaging all about you— your journey, your story and what you want and could possibly get from them. — One of Apple’s memorable recent tag lines was “You are more powerful than you think.” And again, this is the world’s largest company talking NOT about themselves, but about you. And hint, that is why they are the world’s largest company.
- They create great content that tells their story and keeps you on the ride with them longer — Most sponsored content companies create and push is garbage. It is boring, non-helpful, sales-driven crap that someone had to create because their boss told them to. Great brands know how to continuously tell their story using blogs, video, infographics, memes, and keep you engaged with them.
- They have 3rd parties backing them up — PR, earned media – Oh yeah, public relations is a big part of this. PR builds trust and trust is invaluable to brands. Ironically, PR was created when advertising stopped working so well.
- They avoid doing stupid things and if they do step in it, they apologize well — The world is filled with stupid these days, but the winning brands tend to stear clear of it.
- They respect the consumer’s right to be left alone – -they have confidence you’ll buy when you’re ready. — Apple is another fine example here. They don’t send you a million e-mails to move you down the sales funnel. They say – hey, we have a new product and you let us know if you’re cool enough to have one. I mean, you’re cool and we’d like to think so, but you know, it’s really up to you. :). Yeah, that’s the genius of branding right there.
When you think about it, branding is a great deal easier than WE think it is. The customer WANTS to buy things, they WANT things. Our job is to figure out those real emotions and needs and position our brand as a possible pathway to get it. Do that and the rest of your marketing will be primed to come in first place.
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
I always wanted to go into advertising. I was a musician who could easily write catchy radio jingles and produce the music to go along with them, so I thought that’s probably how it would go. But a funny thing happened on my way to the ad agency, advertising kinda stopped working. 🙁
And you see, I’m a big fan of things actually working, not just looking or feeling like they do. The appearance of marketing-looking work is NOT marketing in my opinion. The RESULTS are. And the thing that works the best for me (and my clients) is public relations. Good old PR.
PR is a tough one to describe in 2019 mainly because there has been quite a blurring of marketing disciplines in the digital age. But, here’s a really good way to keep it straight. PR is fundamentally about trust and credibility. And no other marketing arrow is gonna give you that. Not advertising, not promotions, not events, not social media —only PR.
And we live in a world where trust and credibility are at all-time lows, but somehow no one in the entire marketing profession wants to talk about that. Because marketing is actually the villain in that story.
Smoke, exaggerations, hype and just outright lies are the tools of some marketers, and we as consumers (both b2b and b2c) have learned from a very early age that they are NOT to be trusted. If trust is the goal, none of these paths will get you there. They won’t.
Now, some people (even PR people) will say PR’s primary role is “brand awareness”and “we don’t want to be measured by sales and things we cannot control.” LOL. Ok. Brand awareness is good, but the real treasure we’re seeking is trust and credibility. Because without those things, you aren’t selling a darn thing to anyone.
PR looks for credible and trustworthy messengers (media, analysts, influencers) to take our clients’ messages to their audiences and somehow transfer that trust to us. That’s the whole game right there. And it REALLY works. One of my clients recently SOLD OUT of two complete runs of a very cool product simply because we put the gadget on TV, radio, online and lots of credible people were saying “Wow, this is super cool — you have to have this.” …And so they did.
Now I love advertising. I love the control, the power, the creativity — everything about it. Except the fact that it just doesn’t deliver very much value except in a supporting role. The star of the marketing show in the trust-free world of today must be PR.
And we are SO much more than simple brand awareness. We do something that simply cannot be done in any other way. We systematically EARN trust and credibility for brands, which leads to sales and growth and all of the good stuff. And maybe, done in this way, marketing doesn’t have to be such a villain after all?
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.
In the day-to-day hustle of getting messages out the door to audiences, I’ve noticed that my profession has a dirty little secret that few either acknowledge or discuss. Risk. I’m talking about brand and relationship risk that is present ANY TIME an organization communicates.
It’s real. We know that in branding EVERYTHING counts so I’m fascinated as to why so many organizations will still interrupt and beat their audiences to death with their messages (ahem- telemarketing, retargeting, robocalls) when they know full well that over-communication can actually drive people away from brands.
To me, there are two kinds of risk associated with communications that must be addressed with clients or any organizations who decide to communicate:
1. Legal Risk—with GDPR (General Data Protection Regulation) in full swing in the UK and Washington gearing up to send out its own digital privacy protection laws next year, getting digital communications wrong can come with stiff penalties and soon will be enforced state by state just like labor and tax laws. And soon you will need a lawyer, IT person and marketing pro to all agree when something is “ok to send.” Oh yes, WE did this btw — it’s marketing’s fault. Consumer data was our golden goose and rather than wait and get an egg every day, we decided to cut the fat little sucker open and see what would happen. GDPR happened and that is just the beginning.
2. Reputation/Relationship Risk— The irony is we communicate to forge stronger relationships with our audiences, but when our communications is untargeted, unwanted, boring or bad, the audience may like us less than if we did nothing at all. Yep.
Now, there is one solution to both of these types of risk and it’s the big “e” word that is absent from most organizational communications — Empathy. Actually taking the time to think about the messages we are sending out and how they might affect people and THEIR lives is a BIG deal and needs to be done FAR more often. Spoiler: It isn’t.
In the past week, I’ve gotten 8 emails from a supermarket (I go to the store once per week on the same day), 10 from an online music retailer (I buy strings about once every other month) and 7 from a tech deals web site (I’ve purchased one time in the past two years). You see, they are trying to move me down their “funnel” or my “customer journey,” but all they are actually doing is annoying me and tainting their brands in my eyes. And I’m sure they don’t see it that way because they are laser focused on THEIR needs, not mine and by doing this they are saying THEIR time is more precious than mine. I disagree. And don’t forget the very first link on my mail app is Unsubscribe— just begging me to dissolve the relationship and make them a bad memory.
A little thought and empathy would solve it. Instead we have armies of “digital marketers” or worse A.I. programs “optimizing the funnel” by sending garbage out constantly. Doesn’t matter if it’s good, just that it’s going out. (Sigh)
Let’s be better. Let’s do better and think about our audiences for a change. Remember, that is the actual job of marketing — to build relationships…and ironically you also possess the exact same tools that can destroy them. Choose wisely. The future of marketing may depend on it.
Our CEO, Scott Robertson, was recently quoted in this great story about mobile app marketing by Emily Clark. Feedback can be vital to improving an app and answering customer demands, said Scott Robertson, CEO and founder of Robertson Communications, a PR firm.
“Great marketing is about listening and responding [to customers],” Robertson said. “If you don’t listen you can’t respond very well.”
Read the entire article right here!
How to Measure Your Mobile App Marketing
I went to J-school at The University of Missouri-Columbia. If you know me, you know it’s no secret that I really wanted to be a “rockstar,” like Def Leppard and Poison. But even with the long hair (yes, I had some once upon a time) and earring, my parents weren’t going to fund that particular career path, so I chose “advertising and public relations” and that field of study was housed in the J-school. They made me learn about journalism there and I studied among people who were going to become professional journalists and “change the world.”
Unfortunately, they did…and not really for the better. Of course, a few things happened along the way including a massive reduction in the amount of people actually working in journalism. In the past two decades, we’ve lost basically 70 percent of the profession at every level and that is because none of us want to actually pay for good editorial content because we perceive it to be “free” and “everywhere.” Money is the root of all evil and I believe that all of the “evil” in journalism we see today comes from a huge LACK of money.
That led to the quiet consolidation of our TV stations, radio stations and newspapers into conglomerates that (for efficiency reasons) serve the same news to local markets along with the same bias, etc. Those of us in PR know this because we see the “feed behind the feed” as we monitor news, but your average person might not know that messages can be pushed out into local markets in exactly the same way (same exact words read by news anchors actually) and delivered into hundreds of communities. Hey, when we get a nice holiday gift piece for a product or service on a local station, would we rather see that in one market or 1,000? So you can start to see the problem, right?
The national media have always leaned a bit to the left and most people know that. But that gentle lean has turned into a full-on downward dog pose right into an almost insane level of liberal bias. 92 percent of the news media coverage of President Trump has been negative in tone and that’s just crazy. Unfortunately, this has been noticed by all and as of 2018, the media enjoy the LOWEST credibility levels in history among both Democrats and Republicans alike. Yikes.
As you can see from the graphic above, it is also now commonplace and acceptable at Gizmodo (a leading tech outlet) to call the President of the United States (the most powerful position in the free world) an “idiot” and amplify an individual reporter’s opinion into what could be perceived as fact. Journalism has fallen into a very dark place and it’s taking all of us there.
What was supposed to inform people, now incites them. What was designed to increase the intelligence of the American people, now limits it. What was supposed to give us interesting things to discuss has now cut off all discussion altogether. And I would like to see our friends in the media, take a breath, take that amazing First Amendment, read it through, realize the immense responsibility it bestows and get back to some actual journalism.
That’s what they taught me at Mizzou J-School and I still believe that journalism can be saved. We’d all better hope so.
We want certain people in our lives to REALLY know us and hopefully like (or love) us. It’s said that one of man’s greatest wishes is to be truly known and loved. And when asked by survey companies, we (the people) tend to tell them that we want “more personalized” marketing. In fact, a recent survey by Salesforce demonstrates that 84 percent of consumers say “being treated like a person, not a number,” is very important to winning their business.
But at what cost? This is the very tricky tightrope that marketing must walk in the coming years. We want to create personalized content just for you, but to do that we need information about you. And marketers do have a metric ton of this information, but so far, really don’t do the best job of creating this Holy Grail of personalized content. Why?
Honestly, because it’s more work, takes a lot more time and marketing is notoriously lazy. Why send a targeted blast when you can send that same thing to hundreds of thousands of people (because it’s free, right?) and hope for a 1-2 percent “conversion” rate. And of course, we don’t measure the cavalcade of individuals we’ve upset or annoyed along the way. We just measure the conversions.
But in marketing, EVERYTHING counts. Every brand touch point, every letter on every piece of communication, every image, everything the CEO says (…or smokes in the case of Elon Musk). It ALL counts. And that is why building trusted brands is so damn difficult. Because you can do everything right for decades and blow the whole thing in a long weekend. We’ve seen it happen — yes, hello Chipotle, Bill Cosby, Papa John’s, Gibson, United Airlines, Nike, Facebook and definitely the NFL.
And the federal and state governments are coming to shut down the modern advertising practices of “mining” your personal online data and using it to create ad content for you. Get ready — they are coming for the $750 billion ad powerhouse Google, the $600 billion behemoth Facebook (yes, Instagram too), the $1 billion Twitter and anyone else that has profited from these practices over the past 15 years or so.
You see, the ad business is pretty much all automated now — there aren’t actual people deciding what you see and when and how often— there are algorithms determining what message will make you buy and convert you from a viewer to a profit center. And they’ll keep hitting you with that same message UNTIL you buy in a process clearly developed by Satan himself and known as “retargeting.” Folks, there is nothing that will destroy the rest of your relationship-building marketing efforts than hitting them with the same ad over and over in a creepy and needy fashion. I mean I guess you could say that’s “personalized content” – you clicked on it, you were interested and so now we must have the right to just beat you over the head with it until you submit and buy. This is not real marketing and it’s not even human.
You know, sometimes I have an answer or two, but not so much on this topic. Every brand and company needs to think VERY carefully about how to balance the desire for personalized messages to your audience, the ever-evolving legal requirements to do it and what it might do to the relationship with your customer if/when you get it wrong.
And folks, there aren’t any algorithms that will be able to do that job. That’s all experience, intelligence, creativity and judgment — and of course taking the time out of our busy schedules to THINK about marketing before we actually do it. I realize that’s a lot to ask, but to me, marketing is very personal.
Here in lovely and scenic Orange County, Calif., new home construction is at an all-time high. Which is exactly what you want to see when there aren’t enough schools, restaurants, infrastructure and even water to support the new people pouring into the area. (a story for another time). But as you’re driving by some of these massive developments, you see something interesting — a whole lot of unfinished houses.Don’t worry, they’ll be finished soon enough and new people will join us on the freeways and in line at the grocery stores. Yay!
When I look at the world of marketing, (all of the ads, websites, e-mails, sponsored posts, etc.) I see a ton of unfinished houses out there. Companies/organizations settling for poorly done, self-directed messaging with no compelling story or ability to attract the interest of an audience. Yet…they are still marketing. Still a part of the noise level. Almost every website I see either isn’t clear or isn’t very strong. And I think the problem here is that a lot of digital marketers and techno-savvy web firms who construct a lot of today’s marketing tools and tactics don’t have the first clue what messaging really is and why we spend so much time on it. There is no substitute for an actual education in marketing & communications.
It’s there you learn that messaging is not a punchline and it’s not something you “get” from the client. Messaging is the absolute core of any communications effort and must be viewed that way. When I find a company at a trade show and ask them “what is the emotional core of this brand?” and they can’t answer, yet they have a website, catchy name, full product line, corp ID materials and maybe even a mission statement (gag), I know that they’ve spent a bunch of time building decks, skylights and fancy sun porches on houses with NO foundation. So…they will probably collapse.
No matter how much marketing changes, this will ALWAYS be true. Sender. Receiver. Message. Boom! That’s the communications model you were taught in junior high and if you’re smart you need to still be using it. Truthfully, not enough people are using it. They get SO caught up in the various ways we’re going to communicate through influencer marketing, sales funnel optimization, marketing automation, etc. (insert BS buzzwords here) that they’ve missed the very simple point. Have. a. Message.
And make that message about who? That’s right, all about them. Count the number of personal pronouns in your current messaging. If the number of “we” and “us” outnumbers the “you” and “your” start over. No one cares about you, your company, your WHY WE DO THIS statement, your mission statement and any other bunch of personal branding marketing B.S. that’s been made up and thrown at you during your career. They only care about themselves. Better said, WE only care about OURSELVES. And it’s not a character flaw, it’s biology. I think it comes from our survival instinct. Yes, I’m sorry there’s a velociraptor chowing down on YOU, but let’s get back to ME. When push comes to shove, we are self-centered creatures.
The first step to making this whole thing called marketing better is having something to say…to them…about them. And if you’re super clever, you can find a way to intersect your message with the internal perceptions that our audiences either believe to be true about themselves or desperately want/need to be true. Doing this is called neuromarketing, but that’s a really fancy term for giving people EXACTLY what they want and need to hear at the deepest level. My company transforms ordinary businesses into extraordinary ones and we always start by fixing the message. Because you don’t want an unfinished house in a very crowded neighborhood.
There was a time when I believed in common sense. I thought that people grew up, became educated and while making a mistake here and there along the way, generally got things right. But I was wrong.
Sense (as in “that makes sense, so yes”) isn’t “common” at all in our world today. We don’t all share a common viewpoint that says when X happens, Y is the correct course. There are exceptions of course — things like traffic laws, paying taxes and watching videos of cool-looking dogs. But I’ve learned that things that make sense to me might ONLY make sense to me and that you cannot assume the power of common sense will take over and guide people. It won’t and baby, I can prove it. How much time do you have?
For example, in marketing here are three things that don’t make sense, but really should (to me at least):
- Brand Messaging — Should always be 100 percent about the audience, their needs, wants, desires. But thousands of companies fail at this and thus their marketing efforts will be somewhat less effective and wasted. We work hard to fix this problem with every new client we take on, but that’s a pretty limited reach.
- Privacy — Should be defended vigorously by the marketing dept. since we are supposed to be in the “let’s build a relationship” business—and yet marketing fights back on privacy looking for new and inventive ways to be creepy and invasive. So much so, that governments have now gotten involved in creating new privacy laws that draw the edges of the sandbox for marketing. (Yay?) And yet…even under the threat of fines and non-compliance, marketing will foolishly communicate WITHOUT consent, destroying any chance of a relationship which is both short-sighted and dumb.
- Ongoing Stupidity — From Henry J. at Gibson blaming his customers for not wanting new “technologically advanced” guitars to United Airlines’ massive mishandling of crisis after crisis you just have to wonder — who is running these programs? All of the things I cover on the Winning and Losing segment of my weekly radio show are EASILY avoidable with just like a little bit of thinking being applied PRIOR to the execution. And yet, it’s like a big corporate game of Who Can Sink Lower, Faster with the next company up saying, “Ha, that was good. …Hold my beer!”
So if sense isn’t as “common” as we thought, then how do we manage communications? Here’s everything you will ever need to know from a 25-year MarCom veteran. First, begin with empathy for your audience. Second, trust your audience to behave (they will when the message is right for them). Third, don’t step in it. (and if you do, then really apologize for it and move on). Instead of a laundry list of tactics, timelines, marketing automation, A.I. and whatever else you’ve got, this is what your marketing plan should look like. Are we considering them? Do we really trust them? And when presented with the opportunity to do something really dumb that will create work for the PR dept, let’s just not.
Marketing and communications should be pretty simple. We listen, we respond and we do our best to earn our very small place in someone’s very busy life. If nothing else, maybe we could at least have this in common?
Data. Like most things in life it can be used for good and it can be used for evil, depending on the user. Here in the digital age, data just seems to fall out of the sky into marketers’ waiting little hands. But, data always comes at a price, and I’m not talking about the cost of buying of an e-mail list.
Case in point — the new General Data Protection Regulations (GDPR) enacted by our friends across the pond in the EU/UK. The rules state that if you run a website that COULD be accessed by citizens of these regions, then these new laws apply to you. It’s basically a digital bill of rights for EU/UK consumers in the wake of Facebook’s Cambridge Analytica scandal (among others) that govern how consumer data can be collected, used and stored. And the fines are BIG — $25 million Euro to start. See, that gets everyone’s attention very quickly.
Facebook’s new apology tour ads even say that — Hey, we’re going to do better. And you can almost hear people saying — Yeah, well why didn’t you do better before the government told you to do better? Are you sorry or are you just sorry you got caught.
To me, the problem is a lack of empathy at the organizational level. Marketing departments lack the ability to act like actual human people and realize that their super-creepy retargeting, list buying, info collecting tendencies MAY not be in the best interests of the audiences they are trying to reach.
When you begin your communications program with empathy, trust and respect of your audience, you really don’t need any government to tell you what is right and wrong anymore. Give it a try and see what you think.
GREAT communications efforts begin with EMPATHY!
If a tree falls in the woods and there’s no one around to hear it, did it make a sound? That’s the classic and fairly famous philosophical question and the second most famous “in the woods” question (the first involves the preferred restroom of bears). But in marketing here’s the thing — if YOU receive a targeted marketing message from a sender and don’t understand it, then WHY on earth was it sent out? Why indeed!
Here are a few examples of meaningless marketing that companies create and inflict on audiences:
Vision/Mission Statements — These went out with pleated pants in the 90’s yet some companies and old-school marketing firms still create them. Here’s a quick tip – No one cares about your mission, they ONLY care about their own needs and how your thing might possibly help them get closer to their thing. Don’t have a mission statement unless you take out all of the “we” and “us” pronouns and substitute for “our customers” “our audience,” etc. Your mission (should you choose to accept it) should be ALL about them or it’s 100 percent worthless.
CEO Quotes in Press Releases — Man, there are words strung together where the quote should be, but I challenge you to find any meaning. Words like “upward trajectory” and “synergies” are used, but unless you’re trying to set up the perfect card in Buzzword Bingo, just speak like a human would and try to deliver an opinion or unique thought that could really only appear in a quote. Or, better yet — leave it out because if your quote sucks, then reporters will definitely be happy to handle this part for you.
Marketing Sounding Language — For this, I include cutesy words that all start with the same letter and end up saying nothing or just those dumb words and phrases that can only come from marketing like “disruption” and “turnkey solution” (FYI — NEVER use solution — it’s trite). Really anything that SOUNDS like it was written by the marketing or PR department should be closely reviewed and promptly canned. Instead, let’s SOUND like humans. Novel I realize, but give it a try. And for your futher reading enjoyment, here’s a list from Spin Sucks of PR and Marketing Buzzwords that need to die. https://spinsucks.com/social-media/big-question-pr-buzzwords-must-die/
And here’s the main point — Marketing is about trust and relationships—and every single time you hit send to a single person or en masse on behalf of an organization, you’re at risk of damaging or ending that relationship. (Yes, it should be pretty scary every time). The good news is that you also could build and strengthen those relationships and create new ones. But it’s all in the choices made before it’s sent. So make it clear and make it great (for them). Then your audience will keep riding along with YOUR brand for a little while longer!
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.
Did you ever get the feeling you were being played by someone? Wait, don’t answer yet. Allow me to explain. According to recent polls, more than 80 percent of Americans get their news primarily from social media sites these days.The stories still come from our news media (mostly) but it’s really that almost pathological need to attract Likes and clicks that is fundamentally changing the journalistic landscape.
A long time ago, I was a journalism major at the University of Missouri-Columbia School of Journalism, regarded as one of the best J-schools on Earth (and with one of the most up and down college football teams you’re ever gonna see), In these hallowed halls, I was taught how to report news clearly, accurately and WITHOUT showing bias. In fact, I remember my News 105 professor circling my news stories in red ink with the big word “BIAS” and telling me to rewrite and stop showing my cards. In those days, a journalist was supposed to report the facts, the truth and let the reader decide the outcome.
But that’s not the case anymore. Journalistic bias is evident everywhere from each journalist’s Twitter feed full of snarky comments, weird likes and snappy retorts to their actual stories and coverage where they seem to no longer trust the people with the heavy lifting of decision making and want to handle THAT part for all of us. As much as we all long for the good old days of truth, justice and the American way (not the airline), actually, there were always two schools of thought journalism even WAY back to the 1920’s where you first start to see the profession solidified. (yes, it goes back much further but really became a business around the early 20th century)
Walter Lippman — To Lippmann, the journalist fulfilled the role of mediator, or translator, between the general public and policy-making elites. Lippmann reasoned that the public could not assess modern society’s growingly complex flurry of facts; therefore, it needed an intermediary to filter its news. (Show no bias and do not lead people)
John Dewey — Dewey believed not only that the public was capable of understanding the issues created or responded to by the elite, but also that it was in the public forum that decisions should be made after discussion and debate. When issues were thoroughly vetted, then the best ideas would bubble to the surface. Dewey believed journalists should do more than simply pass on information. He believed they should weigh the consequences of the policies being enacted. (It’s ok to show bias and lead people) But I think it would surprise both Lippman and Dewey to see news that appears to be actually designed to anger and upset people.
I did a bit of my own research over a 30-day-period and noticed that: Fox News pushes out stories about the “GOP,” “race,” “religion (attacks of Christianity), liberty/freedom,” and anything involving “traditional values”, etc. CNN pushes stories about “threats against the U.S.” “climate change” “social issues — drugs, bullying,” “stories about tyranny” “science scare stories”, etc. There were patterns that could I see in the feed. Now, here’s where the plot thickens.
I did all of this with my OWN social media feed and of course, everyone’s is a bit different, so I checked using a few other feeds (not mine) and found something very interesting — the stories were NOT the same. That’s when I got it. You see, when we click on a story to read more or comment, etc, it’s logged in a file about us that Facebook keeps and uses in a very complex algorithm designed to provide us with the content we want. So when we angrily click on any story that outrages us about say, “NFL players not standing for the National Anthem,” the system thinks we want MORE of that and serves up more, which only makes us .
We ARE being played…and the villain behind it…is us! (it’s always the quiet ones). BTW — the villain is ALSO Russia who is really enjoying playing with our heads with a very focused and expensive ad and sponsored post campaign that Congress is sorting out right now. As a pro communicator, here’s my advice to all of us — stop reacting. We have a choice of how to respond to any stimulus and among those choices is to do nothing, to not get angry, to not feel threatened and really just to move on to the next thing.
THAT will change the feed and your world. Remember, you are creating your own little world in social media almost like a huge mirror. And keep in mind the beast you’re feeding may not be the one you wish to face.
A somewhat euphemistic way of describing an individual who has no filter has always been “Oh…she’s very…direct.” And of course we mean something else when that is said. adidas original But I will submit to you that as we sit here in 2017, communications is evolving and a more direct communications approach is going to be the winner. We’ve lived through “the spin years” where corporate communications just couldn’t be any more clever with the ways they said things. Goedkoop Nike Schoenen 2017 Making every first letter match up and finding three words of about the same length that start with the same letter — Whoohooo I can play around with the alphabet. Look at me! I am SOOOO clever! So much, in fact, that wikipedia has an entry for Marketing Speak and it says: “Marketing speak is a related label for wording styles used to promote a product or service to a wide audience by seeking to create the impression that the vendors of the service possess a high level of sophistication, skill, and technical knowledge. ugg classic mini Such language is often used in marketing press releases, advertising copy, and prepared statements read by executives and politicians” LOL. There’s our legacy folks, right there. A bunch of BS language shoved into everything and used to promote and create the impression that the vendors know what they are talking about. I seriously hope it’s not too late to become a pro bass player. At least people respect that. nike …Drummers, not so much 🙂 WHY do marketers (and the people who employ them/us) think this is ok? I can think of a few reasons including:
- Lack of good teaching re: principles and practices of MODERN (not 10-15 years ago, but right now) marketing.
- Growing up in the corp world doing it and don’t see any reason to change because the emperor is wearing some FINE clothes!
- Audiences don’t push back loudly enough. nike air max 1 For example, when Roger Goodell, commissioner of the NFL, speaks anywhere, he is greeted by a hail of boos because NFL fans do not trust him and pretty much see through his many “prepared statements” through the years.
- Communicators don’t feel they have permission to speak any differently.
Now that last one is big. So right here, right now, I’d like to go ahead and give each of you permission to create direct and non-marketing-speak communications for your companies. Don’t make your stuff just sound good with the right “marketing sounding” flow, make it actually communicate something and connect with people and be about the things they need, not what you need to sell this month. That is the real job we’re supposed to be doing. And I just hope that years from now, the wikipedia entry for Marketing Speak will say — Note: this practice was abandoned in the first part of the 21st century when marketers FINALLY woke up.
Robertson Communications Celebrates Five Years of Providing Public Relations, Branding and Marketing Services to Music, Audio, Tech and Professional Service Business Clients
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE RANCHO SANTA MARGARITA, Calif., March 2, 2017 — Today, RobertsonComm, a full-service public relations and branding firm specializing in helping some of the best music/audio, technology, non-profit association and professional service business clients win in the marketplace through stronger communications, celebrated its fifth anniversary. The company had its strongest year yet in 2016, being selected by clients including, Taylor Guitars, BandLab/MONO, VocoPro, Moore Benefits Inc., Benefit Equity and Recover & Heal among others. asics chaussures RobertsonComm continues to provide top-level counsel, strategy and implementation of programs to increase sales, build market share and strengthen corporate reputations. nike blazer The firm also was named to the Orange County Business Journal‘s list of Top PR Firms in Orange County for the second year in a row. “Building this company has been the wildest and best ride of my career thus far,” said Scott Robertson, CEO, RobertsonComm. ugg boots bailey “At RobertsonComm we are guided by our philosophy that PR and marketing shouldn’t just be something you do because you can, it should be something you do very well every single day to generate real business outcomes.” Interested parties can hear more of Robertson’s educational and entertaining views about marketing and PR every Friday at 2 p.m. nike internationalist PST live on Entertalk Radio, (www.entertalkradio.com) the undisputed leader in music biz talk, as he presents his popular podcast show May the Best Brand Win.
We humans LOVE to tell ourselves little stories. From the time we are very small, we learn about our world through them, entertain ourselves with them and literally create reality for ourselves using them. adidas sandali But are they really true? And if so, what makes them true. I mean, what are we if not the stories we tell ourselves? Well, if you’re gonna talk about “true” then you’d better be prepared to talk about “the truth.” The latest neuroscience (yes, marketers need to study this) confirms that there is not one absolute truth to which everyone agrees, but instead there are things we see and believe to be true on an individual level. Also, our eyes tend to “project” as much as they “see,” which is why two people can see the same movie and come up with different reviews (refer to the gospel of RottenTomatoes.com to see this in action for yourself.) Knowing this simple truth about truth makes your job as a marketer MUCH easier. Buy MU Online Legend Power Leveling If you’re trying to convince mothers of teenagers to get them into music lessons and you know some of the mothers in your target audience had some negative experiences with music in their own lives, your messaging can (and should) be different to those people and thus have a better shot at working. If you create messages to these mothers through your own eyes or some surface level messaging, you have a very good chance at missing them because it’s clear you don’t have the same issues they do. And it’s beyond simple empathy here — I’m talking about studying what you know about the target audience, really digging into it and really forming the right message that might have a chance at moving them. That, ladies and gentlemen is actual marketing — Moving people to action with the right messages, right product, right price, right timing and getting that behavior we’re seeking. When you’re doing marketing for-real and not just sending stuff out and hoping for the best, you realize why great marketing is so critical to any organization’s success. With that, here are a few tips to help you get better at these marketing mind games.
- Put down your prism and try to see YOUR world through theirs
- Attract those you can attract, and it won’t be everybody. You cannot please everyone.
- Always work to build trust and strengthen relationships — weigh EVERY business decision this way.
- Mental movement is still success even if behavior doesn’t immediately follow. Marketing is about movement — sometimes it’s gradual
- Understand that we only know a fraction about how our brains really work and give yourself permission to keep learning and growing in your knowledge of this topic.
Marketing to the mind is a terrible thing to waste. Don’t punt and just talk about yourself (hint — they don’t care) or something that’s safe and cozy for you. You Are In Bags Backpack Cases Take a risk and really learn about your customers, then craft better messaging that will help them get connected with whatever product, service or idea you’re promoting. There are millions of marketing messages launched every single day.
Enjoy! http://entertalkradio.com/maythebestbrandwin/052716-episode-14-marketing-mythbusting/ Today’s show we’re talking about myths in marketing. ugg boots pas cher There are some things people believe about marketing that were once true, ugg australia classic but aren’t anymore and some things that were never true that people believe anyway. ugg boots bailey It’s hard to be a hit in marketing when you’re surrounded by so many myths, nike pas cher so we’re going to debunk them all right here today.
This subject has come up twice in the past week for me. Once when I read Don Henley’s quote about Glenn Frey talking his “life’s work” and again when a colleague said “listen, I know PR is your life’s work, but do you ever feel like you’re pushing against the ocean with all of this, marketing is evil stuff?” Your life’s work. Interesting phrase. adidas zx flux pas cher And it got me thinking a bit about the choices we make and how it guides our reputation and this concept known as our life’s work. First, I do want to say that I hope my life’s work is really just getting started since my own company, RobertsonComm, is now only four years old. And like any four-year-old, it’s glorious to watch grow, but has its moments of sheer horror and surprise, both good and bad. I’ll take it. ugg pour homme If I had to categorize it, I’d say my life’s work is about helping and entertaining people and the way I do that is through better marketing, PR and branding done with a good sense of humor and some talent here and there. asics pulse soldes I don’t take myself too seriously and I hope to be an example that doing this, no matter what you’ve been taught is “correct,” can really work well. nike blazer It’s actually more “real” than a varnished approach to communications and in case you missed it, real is “in” right now. I believe that marketing can and should be better. It really has to get better or the audiences will find ways to simply tune it completely out in the coming years. You can already see it happening re: web ads, TV and radio ads, e-newsletters, social posts and even mobile ads. Marketing should work to be useful and great enough to attract an audience and deliver a message rather than being an interruption delivered to an audience that clearly would rather not be bothered. And marketers everywhere need to get on this program, right now, while there is still time to save communications from this torrent of horrific marketing practices.