How can marketers engage and inspire customers in the digital age? Be more human. Our guest blogger Judy Olbrych unpacks a new book on the topic, and shares tips for putting this advice into practice.
The sales funnel is dead, according to Mark Schaefer. His new book, Marketing Rebellion: The Most Human Company Wins, tells the story of why advertising as we know it is failing and what today’s marketers need to do differently.
Whatever you believe about the funnel, times are changing. And change brings both the good and bad.
Let’s start with the bad. For instance, my spam box is packed with “personalized” emails. I’m a copywriter. I’m 50. So surely, I must want web design … Senior River Cruises … Male power potions? Other online marketers try to talk to me like they know me—then ask me to buy products I’ve already purchased, or try to sell me services I provide.
But the good news is, right now, thoughtful marketers have the perfect opportunity to stand out with authentically personal, human-to-human communication.
The End of Lies, Secrets, and Control
Let’s take a walk down marketing memory lane to see how, one by one, shady marketing practices have been called out—and rejected—by the public.
In the early 20th-century, reporters and consumers fought back against unscrupulous salesmen and false claims for products such as Clark Stanley’s Snake Oil Liniment. Legislators won the war, protecting purchasers with the Pure Food and Drug Act of 1906. Schaefer calls this the first marketing rebellion: “The War against Lies.”
The Second marketing rebellion brought the “End of Secrets.” When internet access became available to the public, users gained access to vast amounts of information. They wielded new power to expose scams and spread rumors about pink slime in Chicken McNuggets. Consumers could now independently buy cars, invest in the stock market, and choose their own health insurance plans.
Companies embraced transparency. McDonald’s responded to concerns on social media with its “Our Food, Your Questions” campaign. Representatives answered over 30,000 questions about everything from conspiracy theories to the pink slime rumor. Consumers had won the second rebellion.
Today’s marketing rebellion, “The End of Control,” marks a revolt against an explosion of technology-driven ads and marketing messages. We block them in our inboxes, browsers, and social feeds. We screen the robo-calls. And we ignore what’s left.
As a result, businesses now lack control over most of their own marketing messages. According to Schaefer, two-thirds of marketing is consumer-driven through social media, word of mouth, and customer-generated content. 80% of consumers mistrust half of all advertising. And an IDC study found 84% of C-level and VP execs use social media to make purchasing decisions.
How Will Your Business Thrive in the New Marketing Rebellion?
The marketing industry has long recognized that knowing, liking, and trusting come before buying. Consumers now rely on other consumers for guidance. The company with the greatest automation, SEO strategy, and Artificial Intelligence won’t win if it doesn’t take those consumer voices into account.
According to Schaefer, buyers are basing decisions on shared values, beliefs, and relationships. To influence their choices, we need to find out what matters most to our readers by bringing them into dialogue and listening to their stories.
Here are five writing strategies marketers can use now for authentic, personal communication:
1. Schedule a chat
Talk to ten of your best customers. What do they love about your product and why? What would they change? Learn to serve them better with relevant products and marketing messages. Then empower them to tell and share their stories.
2. Share customer-fueled content
How can you showcase testimonials in your ads, landing pages, and success stories? Where can you display Instagram posts of happy customers using your products or attending events? How can you celebrate their wins?
3. Use tech for good
Segment and tag subscribers to send the right message at the right time. Avoid info-bombing with overly-frequent emails. And go beyond personalized to make your communication personal: where can you call instead of emailing or replace a text with a custom video message?
4. Offer a case study
How is your customer the hero? What evil powers did they face? And how did you give them superpowers to meet the challenge? Tell the story. Bring on the drama. And build trust with crystal clear transparency—what did and didn’t work along the way?
5. Communicate your core values
What’s your founder’s story? What’s their why? Their manifesto? Their dream happy ending that changes the world? Find where that touches the hearts and minds of your readers and invite them to join the mission.
The revolution will be humanized
In his book, Schaefer recounts an interview with Dr. Robert Cialdini, bestselling author of Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion. At the end of the conversation, Schafer asked, ”In this very noisy, overwhelming world, what can anybody do to stand out?” Cialdini answered with three words:”Be. More. Human.”
Ultimately, that’s the message of Marketing Rebellion—and the rallying cry that launched MarketSmiths in 2010. If you’re on board, and ready to win the hearts and minds of your readers with clear, compelling, and human copy, reach out to MarketSmiths today.