by Lance Parman
Marketing has historically been a close cousin to Selling. That is to say, marketing used to be all about selling products and services. It was relatively straightforward and it didn’t matter that your marketing message was delivered in an impersonal, corporate voice across mass media channels.
These days, consumer expectations have shifted. The Internet and social media have connected consumers to a wealth of information in a way that has forever changed their relationship with marketers. As media is consumed throughout the day your customers move quickly between entertainment, social posts, photos, soundbites, videos, and informational nuggets. Where your marketing message is inserted into that free-flowing stream, it creates an abrupt disconnect and you run the risk of coming off as intrusive and stiff. Millennials in particular have acute radar—and low tolerance—for such old school communication.
As a result, a wise marketer balances mass media marketing with new content designed to deliver a more personal voice to their brand. Features and benefits are mixed with a helpful, entertaining, and educational content.
It’s no longer enough to give customers a steak, or even to let them hear the sizzle. Today’s marketers need to make their message more personal by also offering the staff’s favorite wine pairings, providing a guest chef’s video tips for grilling, or even featuring customer recommendations for the most mouth-watering sides.
Since digital marketing is evolving at lightning speed, figuring out how to make your brand personal and relevant can be both exciting and challenging. Here are a few ideas to get you started.
It’s time to break the habit of talking at your customer. Spend more time listening and paying attention to their behavior. This can happen on community forums, social networks, and through surveys. Once you’ve learned what they care about, talk to them the way you would talk to another human being. Find your voice—something that is distinctively, authentically you.
Well, don’t stop entirely. Just stop selling all of the time. If all you ever do is hype your own product, consumers will disengage. Make an effort to also include a healthy variety of information, entertainment, and value to your messaging.
This initially may fill you with fear, but encouraging your customers to talk about your product or service instantly humanizes your brand and infuses a note of authenticity into the process that no promotional message can every match. It creates a conversation between you and your customer.
Don’t be afraid to use words, pictures, and videos to feature your employees and how they interact with your organization. Give your company a face as opposed to a corporate voice that sounds like it was written by the legal department. People like to do business with people.
If you’re feeling overwhelmed by the ever-changing landscape and your ability to keep pace, don’t lose hope. Pick one or two tactics and get started. With each step forward you’ll gain confidence and momentum. Your customers will thank you for it.