Marketers, Stop Taking and Start Giving

Of course that’s an inflammatory headline; it’s supposed to get your attention.  Now the next thing I do is write a line or two of pain-centered content, then I begin to pull you in with my pitch.  That’s what good marketers do, right?

We send messages.  We pretend to communicate and fire away at our market with little regard to whether or not the message is received, decoded properly or feedback gathered.  In fact, in most marketing organizations I know of, the flow of thinking is: create the campaign, fire away, and start creating the next campaign (all without the concept of action-learning).  Not anymore.

The game has changed, but we’re still playing with our old tactics and strategies, yet wondering why are not able to capture more loyal customers or survive in a struggling economy. The bottom line is that our customers come second in line to ourselves and the gap between the two gets bigger with every level of management that stands between.  The future of marketing is changing faster than marketing management is able to.

Markets are not just ‘markets’ – they are people.  People don’t want to be talked at, they want you to listen.  People crave reliable relationships, interactions that validate them as individuals of worth and value resources that enable and empower them to at least feel like they can do more, even if they don’t.  Take the example of great customer service – at its most fundamental level, focused, personal customer service raises the perception of dignity in an individual and gives them the feeling that they are ‘worth it’. For most of us, whose back is to the wall on a daily basis, a simple experience of self-worth is priceless.  Marketers forget that.  We think it’s about us.  It’s not – it’s about THEM.

With the availability and flow of information today, marketers have to realize that they can rarely control online reputation through a carefully filtered stance of message-leaking.  If an organization does not speak enough, the market will speak for them, often to the chagrin of brand managers and boards of directors.  What’s worse is that even if a company is trying to speak volumes in cyberspace, today’s social spheres quickly attribute even the smallest departure from what they feel is honesty, transparency and moral motive and then do the branding and advertising for you, in a negative light.

Marketing, branding, positioning, etc. is not what we think or say, it’s the net result of everything we do.  Don’t be afraid to invite the customer in and give them a free pass to your world, because if you don’t, they’ll happily be standing there as you sort through your own rubble.

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